Forum Summary: God’s Way Works

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 3 seconds.

Mr. Stephen Elliot is the Area Pastor of New Mexico and Arizona. In his Assembly, Mr. Elliot shared with the students a broad sketch of what it was like in Ambassador College (AC) and the Worldwide Church of God. “I recognize that to you and even to me that’s ancient history, but I want to put it into perspective for you.”

Some Perspective

Mr. Elliot’s father was the first Church member hired as a teacher at AC. He was hired in 1949 when competitive and political issues were beginning to arise from employing non-members as instructors. He became the first Dean of Students and was head over the campus grounds. In those early years, Dr. Meredith babysat Mr. Elliot. In 1947, only four students attended the college, but by the mid-60s, when Mr. Elliot attended, both the Big Sandy and Pasadena campuses had grown to around 500 students each. At a college reunion years later, Mr. Elliot found that most of his peers had left the Church and were glad they had been “liberated” from what they now considered a cult. There were around 1200 ministers in the 1980s—nine out of ten have since left the Church. By the late 90s, ninety percent of the membership had left the Church, with the remaining ten percent split now between almost 500 different organizations. Mr. Elliot asked, “How could we all have been taught the same things, grown up believing the same things, and most of us drift away?”

Do You Want the Answers?

After college, Mr. Elliot shared how he became disillusioned by Church politics and poor examples and stopped attending. But after he got married and his family began to grow, he returned. “I came back for a very selfish reason. I knew the Church had the answers and I wanted those principles for my marriage and family… The world was no longer shiny and glossy.”

God provides answers to life through His Church. “This is the reason that I stayed in the Church—not because people are perfect. Everyone is flawed, and no matter how hard we try, we are going to fall short. God only calls humans.” Yet there are always those who don’t want answers—they never get better, and they don’t change. While it is easy to become anxious about those who are not concerned with improving their lives, Mr. Elliot shared some sound advice he had gotten in the past: “Why are you worried about them? They’re not.” This is not meant to be cynical but real. Each person must choose to seek the truth individually. “It isn’t really selfish to want the answers to this life—it’s why we’re here.”

“You should experience struggles.”

Mr. Elliot said, “What do I wish you to get from your Living Ed experience?” Years ago, Mr. Armstrong instituted a rule that students being considered for the ministry had to have attended AC for at least two years—why? So that they had practiced the right way of thinking and the right way of living. You don’t need Living Ed to become educated, but it is an opportunity to learn a way of life. “It’s not always easy—you probably will experience some struggles. I hope you will because if you’re not, you may not be taking this way of life seriously… Before we have anything to teach others, we have to practice it ourselves. We have to have a track record.”

A Way of Living

Mr. Elliot concluded the Assembly, “Out of seven and a half billion people, God chose to call you. At Headquarters, you have an opportunity to know how the Church works. Living Education is not all book-learning—you can get that anywhere. It’s about a way of living.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Assembly Summary: The War Against God

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2021

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds.

“If God has opened your mind to the truth, you are going to be in Satan’s crosshairs.”

Dr. Douglas Winnail, the Director of Church Administration, began the Assembly with a PowerPoint slide with the following statements:

The Bible is outdated. The miracles of the Bible never happened. Moral absolutes are old fashioned. There is no ultimate purpose in life. You are stupid if you believe the Bible.

These are ideas that are prevalent in a society that is waging a war against true Christianity. Dr. Winnail asked the Living Ed students, “Where do these ideas come from—why are they here?” The first step in understanding the modern war against God is knowing where these ideas come from.

Know Your Enemy

The struggle is not a physical one—it is Satan’s fight to win hearts and minds and pit them against their Creator. Dr. Winnail said, “Modern cultural wars are more than just liberals versus conservatives—it’s a spiritual war.” And if we know who is behind this war, we can understand that, as Dr. Winnail quoted, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against… spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).

“Who are the warriors in these cultural wars against God?”

There are several recent figures instrumental in tearing down belief in God and the Bible. The renowned atheist Richard Dawkins has called creationism, “God’s gift to the ignorant” and religious faith, “the great cop-out.” Christopher Hitchens, a social critic and another antagonist against Christianity, believes the real axis of evil in the world is “Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is a prominent critic of modern Christianity, authoring numerous books that seek to discredit the New Testament and the Christian belief in God. James Tabor, a former teacher at Ambassador College, is another scholarly skeptic who had commented, “If you find the bones of Jesus, the resurrection is off.”

Yet, Dr. Winnail emphasized, these skeptics are “merely the latest versions of people who have been doing this for years.” In the 19th century, Robert Ingersoll said concerning the Bible, “It has lost power in the proportion that man has gained knowledge.” Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution planted doubts on the biblical account of creation. The philosophers, Voltaire and Rousseau, played a role in turning “cathedrals into temples of reason” during the Enlightenment. Even in the first several centuries A.D., many philosophers—Porphyr and Celsus, for example—were bent on discrediting Christ and the Bible.

Critics of the Critics

Yet these warriors against God are not without their critics. John Gray, an English philosopher from the London School of Economics, calls Dawkins closed-minded, saying, “His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion.” Peter Hitchens, brother of Christopher Hitchens, was also an atheist but returned to religious faith later in life. He is a sharp critic of his brother’s book, God Is Not Great. James Tabor has been called out for his speculation on the nature of Christ because his ideas are built on the shaky ground of the Gnostic gospels.

“How do you prepare to fight?”

Dr. Winnail turned to Ephesians 6:10-18 to conclude his talk. God gives His servants weapons for defending themselves. The students were inspired to “put on the whole armor of God…”  Christians must arm themselves with the spiritual belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword to fight for the truth in a world at war with God. Dr. Winnail encouraged, “Seek God’s help; win the war against God.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: Skilled People Have Choices

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 42 seconds.

Mr. Rick Stafford is the Regional Director of the Caribbean and Area Pastor of South Texas. After studying geology for two years at the University of Oregon, in 1965, Mr. Stafford enrolled at Ambassador College. At Ambassador, Mr. Armstrong encouraged the students to not only prove God’s existence and His Way of life but also to learn skills. Mr. Stafford discussed the importance of skills in the Living Ed Forum.

“God created us to work.”

God commanded man to work from Creation (Genesis 2:16-17). Parents ought to instill the value of work into their children at a young age. Mr. Stafford quoted an old Jewish proverb, “He who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.” Traditionally, Jewish boys were taught some skill very early in their lives—often by the age of twelve. When pogroms and social persecution uprooted and relocated them, “they could take their skills with them.”  This is especially important if you are Sabbath keeper.

Don’t be a square peg in a round hole.

When he attended Ambassador, Mr. Stafford had no idea what career he wanted. Yet, he explained this is normal. As young people mature, they discover their abilities and begin to harness them in their lives. “Find out what that ability is and get your interests behind it.” Align your interests and abilities, for “much of your happiness in life will depend on whether you’re a square peg in a round hole.”

“Whatever you’re doing, if you have a mindset that your work is a paid education, you will become skilled.”

Mr. Stafford advised the students to wholeheartedly catch their organization’s vision. Work must be one’s study and passion. “People are not just overnight successes. They’ve probably worked on that one thing for years.”  Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”Treat work like your ongoing education.

Career or job?

Mr. Stafford defined a career as “a pursuit of a lifelong ambition.” On the other hand, “a job is an activity in which an individual can earn money.” While a job is short-term and competitive and doesn’t require one to grow and adapt their skills, a career is long-term, secure, and requires one to hone their skills and talents and be flexible. A young person needs to build skills that apply to their life-long aims and not just earn money. “I’ve seen this too many times—young people who have wasted their youth. It is a time when you need to build your foundation.” Mr. Stafford said, “You’ll find your education wasn’t lost time.”

“You’ll never get to perfection,” Mr. Stafford wrapped up, “you’ll always be improving—so do it with all of your might. You are working for God using the talents He has given you to serve.  Getting skilled and being diligent leads to a blessed, full and abundant life.”

Over the years, Mr. Stafford worked over thirty different jobs—from career counselor, sales engineer, and carpenter to cowboy in Colorado, roping, branding, and herding livestock. Yet, he said, he’s already submitted his request to God for his future work in the Kingdom. He said, “I want to be a tour guide, taking people to where no man has been and colonizing the universe!”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Digging Deeper: Daily Benefits

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading time: 6 min.

Did you know that God showers us with blessings daily?

The year 2020 has been a year unlike any other in the memory of many people and one that most wish to leave behind rapidly. As a new civil year begins, their hopes are for a better year to come. The world has focused on the coronavirus, economic downturn, natural disasters, ethnic conflict, wars, terrorism, political chaos, and many other horrors. Because of this many have been absorbed with life’s travails. For a change of pace, we will learn in this Digging Deeper that, despite all this, God supplies His people daily blessings. An old hymn admonishes us to “name them [blessings] one by one.” Let us remind ourselves of God’s many daily blessings that will help us concentrate on a broad perspective of the Christian life itself.

Our focus verse is: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19 KJV). This verse challenges us to stop and take a big picture view of life to discover the many ways God is good to us because of His grace – whether it be “common grace” for all humankind (Matthew 5:45) or “particular grace” for His called ones (John 1:16). Yes, we certainly have many more challenges than we did a year ago. Nonetheless, it will benefit us to stop and consider this verse in light of the present alarming and dangerous experience.

Blessings or burdens?

There is a textual matter about this verse to consider first. Henry Morris in his article “Loaded with Blessing” for December 31, 2020 in the Days of Praise daily newsletter explains: “In our text verse, the words ‘with benefits’ have been supplied by the translators. Some might, therefore, conclude that the verse could mean that God is daily loading us with burdens instead of benefits. The context, however, assures us that the emphasis is really on His blessings. For that matter, even a burden can become a blessing if we take it as a gift from God for our spiritual benefit.” In many ways, God bears our burdens – many times without our even realizing it. Let us now consider our focus verse incrementally.

The annotation for our verse in Joseph S. Exell’s The Biblical Illustrator provides material for careful consideration:

“II. What God does for us: He ‘daily loadeth us with benefits.’

1. The nature of God’s gift. ‘Benefits,’ not deserts.

2. Their number. ‘Loadeth.’

3. The frequency of their communication. ‘Daily.’ And these benefits flow to us freely, unsolicited, unimplored, unsought. Seasonably, exactly as we need them. Critics state that it should be read ‘who bears our burdens, or supports us, every day.’ In the wilderness God bare Israel as a man doth bear his son (Deuteronomy 1:31). Or as an eagle bears her young on her wings (Deuteronomy 32:11). The promise is (Isaiah 46:4). We have our cares, and burdens, and anxieties, but God invites us to cast them upon Him (Psalm 55:22) (e-Sword 12.2).”

Don’t Forget His Daily Gifts

We may confidently roll our troubles into His strong arms. We need not bear them alone. Concurrently, our challenge is to not forget His daily benefits: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2 KJV). We live busy lives, thinking often of our current and coming experiences. Our danger is forgetting the many benefits He has already afforded us and those He is providing presently. For one thing, we should daily praise Him for His salvation. Notice this compelling verse: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV).

Our focus verse instructs us to bless the LORD for these benefits. How do we bless God? We usually think of His blessing us. Exell’s The Biblical Illustrator again provides food for thought on how to accomplish this:

“III. What we should do in return. ‘Blessed be the Lord.’ To bless signifies to extol, exalt, or speak well of a person; and to bless the Lord is to speak good of His name.

1. We should bless the Lord sincerely. Hypocrisy is hateful to God.

2. We should bless the Lord affectionately. Our gratitude should be the effusion of love.

3. We should bless the Lord constantly. ‘I will bless the Lord at all times.’

4. We should bless the Lord practically. To say, ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord,’ while we practically violate His laws, must be abominable in His sight. Let us ‘praise Him not only with our lips but by our lives,’ etc. (e-Sword 12.2).”

How could we ever repay the Almighty for these benefits? Notice: “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me” (Psalm 116:12 KJV)? We can never fully recompense our Father sufficiently for all He does for us. Without a doubt, He intervenes to spare us from accidents and other calamities without our realizing it. We may have suffered defeats, losses, disappointments, and injuries of all sorts this past year. Yet, if we were to count His benefits they would still outnumber these difficulties.

Remembering His Purpose

As we continue to face the global problems brought on by the coronavirus, here is a verse that directs us to never forget to thank the Great God for his daily benefits: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV). Even burdens we are enduring now have a purpose in God’s grand scheme of salvation. God’s people are especially assured of His continuing grace in this well-known verse: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV). God allows even these serious problems to strengthen our faith in His overall superintendence of our salvation. Henry Morris provides a fitting conclusion to help us keep our perspective: “Each day we have the indwelling presence of His Spirit, the illuminating guidance of His Word, the daily provision of all real needs, and the assurance of His love. He has surely loaded us with benefits!” (Days of Praise, December 31, 2020).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA, and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: Seven Keys to Effective Prayer

Prayer is a vital part of maintaining our personal relationship with God. What are some steps we can take to make sure that we are praying effectively?

Course Spotlight From Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer

Assembly Summary: Having the Heart of a Teacher

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 51 seconds. 

Mr. Gene Hilgenberg, the area pastor for Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, Western Arkansas, and Oklahoma, spoke via WebEx for the Living Education students on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Mr. Hilgenberg reminded the students in his assembly that they are preparing to be teachers. “That is our role in the Kingdom, if not now—to help others.” Yet teaching is more than just instruction. Mr. Hilgenberg said, “Our attitude is very important to God. How we think, what motivates and drives us comes from the heart.” God wants His servants to have a heart for teaching.

Great teachers love what they teach and who they teach.

Love what you’re teaching. Developing a deep, loving reverence for God’s way of life is essential to being a great teacher. To develop that love, Mr. Hilgenberg advised the students to study, pray, and devote themselves to learning God’s laws. “You cannot teach what you don’t know” was a lesson he learned after years of teaching at Crowder College as an Agriculture instructor. Also, a good example is powerful evidence that a teacher truly loves what they’re teaching—not to mention a compelling tool for teaching.

Great teachers control their hearts.

Love who you’re teaching. While great teachers should love their students, Mr. Hilgenberg said teachers should control their hearts. A teacher of God’s way cannot let their passions and feelings have free reign but are to refine their hearts to “love the sinner and not the sin,” as the proverbial saying goes. Mr. Hilgenberg explained, “Christ treats us like lambs. He cares for us, and He loves us.” Just as Christ treats His servants like a shepherd tending his lambs, great teachers show compassion and caring to their students.

Prepare Your Heart.

Mr. Hilgenberg encouraged the students to take advantage of Living Ed to prepare to teach in their families, communities, and church areas. “You’re able to develop those leadership traits to go back and serve in your local congregations.” Yet, God’s servant’s future teaching role is that of a teacher’s in the Kingdom of God. Just as Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach,” (Ezra 7:10) Mr. Hilgenberg encouraged the students to develop the heart of a teacher.

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Children’s Bible Program – Level 1: NT Lesson 9 “The Wind and the Waves”

Featured Passage: Luke 8


Jesus picked twelve men from among His disciples to travel with Him and to be taught by Him firsthand. Others also followed Jesus throughout the region as He preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, performed miracles, and healed the sick.  Often, large crowds came to see Jesus and to hear Him preach. They wondered who He could be and what was the meaning of the things He said. His disciples believed that He was the Messiah, but did they really know what that meant? They would soon begin to see.



  1. Who were some of the women that traveled with Jesus? 
  2. What is a parable? Why did Jesus speak to the people in parables? 
  3. What happened after Jesus and the disciples set out to sea? What was Jesus doing? 
  4. Why do you think the disciples wanted Jesus to wake up? What happened when Jesus woke up? What does the word “rebuke” mean? 
  5. How was Jesus able to calm the storm? What were the disciples’ reactions when the storm ceased? Do you think they were surprised?

Memory Challenge:

Luke 8:25 

“Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him.”

Forum Summary: Biblical Scientific Proofs that Prove God Inspired the Bible

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 14 seconds.

“It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if you’ve proved the reality of God but not the authorship of the Bible.”

Dr. Jeffrey Fall, the regional director of the U.S. Western Region, gave the first Living Ed forum of 2021 on WebEx. For a young person establishing their faith, proving God exists is only step one—step two is proving that God is the author of the Bible. Dr. Fall shared several scientific proofs in the Bible that predate their more recent acceptance as scientific truth.

First, “The earth free-floats in space without observable means of support.”

Job 26:7 states that God “hangs the earth on nothing.” While this is physically provable in modern times, it defied common sense anciently. In ancient Norse religion, they believed dwarves sustained the earth by holding up its four corners. The Mayans believed their gods held the earth like a burden between them. Thousands of years in advance of modern science, God revealed the earth’s nature.

A second Biblical proof is that God created an expanding universe.

For millennia, people believed the dimensions of the universe were in a steady state—yet Isaiah 40:22 reads “[God] stretches out the heavens like a curtain.” The word “stretches” is a present-progressive verb denoting an ongoing process. Yet this fact was denied by many prestigious scientists, including Albert Einstein, until Edwin Hubble proved it beyond doubt in 1929.

A third point was, “The earth has more than enough water to cover the planet in a worldwide flood.”

Many scoffed at the possibility of a worldwide flood as recorded in Genesis. But in the last few years, scientists discovered huge reservoirs of pressurized water 250-400 miles underneath the earth’s surface. There are ocean springs that continually vent hot water. It is believed that there is more water under the earth’s crust than all the water held on the earth’s surface. Yet, God revealed “the springs of the sea” (Job 38:16) and the “fountains of the deep” (Genesis 7:11) millennia before man discovered them.

A fourth point was, “The Bible revealed ocean currents long before mankind discovered them.

Matthew Maury (1806-1873) noticed the scripture of Psalm 8:8 where “paths of the seas” are mentioned. Maury spent the rest of his life looking for and categorizing previously unknown ocean currents. He became the “father of oceanography” and proved the Bible scientifically accurate.

A fifth point was, The Bible reveals that the sun travels through space.”

Psalm 19:6 states: “(The sun’s) rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end….” Scientists ridiculed this verse for many years, because everyone assumed the sun was stationary and did not move. In recent years, astronomers discovered that the sun moves through space at the blistering speed of 600,000 miles per hour. It does indeed travel through our galaxy on a circuit, taking some 200 million years to make one complete circuit.

The Bible also reveals the fate of the universe. Dr. Fall summarized the second law of thermodynamics, “Organized energy always disperses in time… Mountains erode, stars burn out, and people die.” Paul hints at this in Romans 8:21 “… the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption [decay] into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

“The Bible reveals that the universe won’t disperse into cold, lifeless, empty space. God will use us to liberate the universe from its state of decay and finish the Creation—however He has in mind!”

Proving the reality of God is only the first step in solidifying your faith. Dr. Fall emphasized the next vital step—proving the Bible’s divine authorship. The scientific truths recorded in the Bible millennia before man discovered their existence prove that God inspired this book and compel readers to live their lives by its truths.

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Digging Deeper: Abraham the Teacher

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading time: 7 min., 46 sec.

Did you know that the first mention of teaching children God’s ways is in the same chapter of Genesis in which God’s angels came down to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?

The cities of the plain (Genesis 19:29) had become so wicked that God was left with no choice but to execute judgment upon them. However, tucked in the middle of this story is likely the first direct reference to what we today call education – the instruction of students. This Digging Deeper dives into this topic to discover the surprising account behind God’s commendation of his prophet, Abraham (Genesis 20:7).

Our focus verse for this study is: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19 KJV). This verse occurs in the context of God’s decision to reveal to Abraham His intent to destroy these wicked cities (Genesis 18:17-21). The reason God decided to inform Abraham of His mission was that He knew Abraham would direct his children and household servants in God’s ways and not the ways of the world that lead to such evil. Much of the way cities and cultures develop depends on what their citizens are taught as children.

Teaching the two great commandments

Notice that the content of Abraham’s instruction for his family and servants is equivalent to the two great commandments, to love God supremely and one’s neighbors as oneself, that Jesus expounded in the Book of Matthew: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV).

Genesis 18:19 describes these two great commandments as “the way of the LORD” and “to do justice and judgment.” John Gill in his Exposition of the Bible defines justice and judgment: ” … to attend to all the laws, statutes, and judgments of God; to do that which is just and right between man and man; not as a justifying righteousness, by which Abraham himself was not justified before God; but to show their regard to the will of God, in gratitude for favours received from him, and to glorify him, as well as for the good of their fellow creatures” (e-Sword 12.2). Paul explains the value of a believer’s example: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:8 KJV).

Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments explains God’s decision to reveal His plan to Abraham: “This is a bright part of Abraham’s character. He not only prayed with his family, but he taught them, as a man of knowledge; nay, he commanded them, as a man in authority, and was prophet and king, as well as priest, in his own house. And he not only took care of his children, but of his household: his servants were catechised [instructed] servants. Masters of families should instruct, and inspect the manners of all under their roof” (e-Sword 12.2). Abraham and his family were exceptions to the people living in this region. They needed to know why God would execute such violent retribution on the cities of the plain. This household was spared because they served the one true God.

Their survival was a means of evangelism in the righteous ways of the LORD, as described by the Cambridge Bible for Colleges and Schools: “The purpose for which God has known and sought out Abraham is here epitomized; (1) that, through the obedience of him and his folk, a true righteousness, according to ‘the way of the Lord,’ may be propagated; (2) that the Divine fulfilment of the promise may be carried out unhindered. Family life is the sphere of chosen service” (e-Sword 12.2). As a household, they were an example of God’s grace who set a sterling example of serving the one true God during an evil era.

The responsibility of parents

Henry Morris in his Defender’s Study Bible comments on Genesis 18:19: “This is the first specific reference in the Bible to the teaching of children, indicating that such instruction is the primary responsibility of the father and should take the form of commandments, centering first on the ways of the Lord, then on justice and judgment to fellow-men” (e-Sword 12.2). Home spiritual education begins with the father as head of the household as supported by his wife. In homes where the father is an unbeliever, the mother should provide this necessary instruction as discreetly as possible in such a difficult circumstance. We will see below an example of just such a mother and grandmother who did.

A supporting statement to Henry Morris’ comment comes from his “Days of Praise” article for December 29, 2020, entitled  True Education: “This is a very important verse comprising the first direct reference in the Bible to what we today would call education, and it is given in connection with God’s approving testimony concerning Abraham. Note that nothing is said concerning degrees or diplomas, the sciences or humanities, school buildings or textbooks.” It makes the case that God’s highest priority of fathers (and supporting mothers) is teaching children love for God and neighbor. This article continues: “Such instruction is the responsibility of the home—not of the government or some educational association. It is to be given in the context of God’s promises and plans (thus in the context of divine revelation) and is to be framed in terms of ‘commands.'”

Examples of Education

The Bible contains many references to teaching, instruction, and learning. One of the major themes of the Book of Proverbs is training those referred to as the simple (i.e., the inexperienced, immature, innocent, guileless, and harmless young people who have not yet developed biblical wisdom) (Proverbs 1:4 KJV). A companion New Testament command to fathers is: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 KJV). Of his protege, Timothy, Paul writes: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15 KJV). Timothy’s father was a Greek (Acts 16:1 KJV) and apparently an unbeliever. Nonetheless, Timothy had been instructed in God’s truth by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5 KJV). Paul continued to develop Timothy’s spiritual education by writing two epistles (1 and 2 Timothy) to him with instructions on how to organize and pastor first-century Churches of God.

During the time of Moses after the Exodus, God incorporated a command to parents to accept this responsibility seriously: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 KJV). Abraham and Timothy’s mother and grandmother understood and fulfilled this responsibility.

Teaching the next generation

Abraham knew his obligation to God about 600 years before the law was codified in the time of Moses. God’s expectation of parents has remained the same throughout human history. The lesson for us today is to examine our response to this duty if we are parents or even grandparents (Deuteronomy 4:9-10 KJV). This is one way God’s truth is propagated from generation to generation. Genesis 18:19 is one of the first statements of the law of parental authority. Joshua, Moses’ protege, asserted his family’s loyalty to God this way: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15 KJV).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA, and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.