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“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29

Thomas the twin was perhaps a lot like me — he was neither an optimist or a pessimist but a realist — he saw things for what they were and wanted proof before he would believe. When, because Lazarus had died, Jesus wanted to return to Judea where the religious rulers sought to kill Him, the Scriptures tells us, “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). When Jesus spoke of His return to the Father, Thomas was blunt and “saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5).

There are a lot of us who are skeptics in this world. With Thomas, we would say: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Jesus cared enough for Thomas that He appeared again eight days later, specifically for Thomas that he too might believe! Jesus appeared and said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). And, when Thomas saw Jesus, he “answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

I, for one, am so thankful that God has graciously brought me to believe despite my skepticism and despite my need for definitive proof. The Holy Spirit convinced me of the truthfulness of the Scriptures, both by definitive evidence related to the manuscripts and by the fact that what the Scriptures say accurately describes me and all I see in this world. I guess I could almost say that I’ve touched with my fingers and hands the very things described in the Scriptures — my own sinful nature and the curse of sin upon this world.

By the grace of God, I’ve come to see why only Jesus, the Son of God made man, could redeem me from my sin and death by living a holy life in my stead and by making full atonement for my sins by bearing my guilt and shame and dying upon the cross, condemned and forsaken of God, for my transgressions. As Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years before Christ Jesus, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

And, what a blessing it is to believe that Jesus died for all our sins and rose again victorious on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)! Why? Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have peace with God — the peace of sins forgiven and of being made acceptable to God (cf. Romans 5:1; Ephesians 1:6-7). We have the sure hope that, as Christ was raised from the dead on the third day, so also we will be raised up on the last day unto life everlasting (1 Corinthians 15:20ff.; John 14:1ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.; 1 Peter 1:3ff.).

Jesus’ words to Thomas are true: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for revealing Yourself to me through Your Word that I too might believe and share in the blessings of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting which You won for all when You made atonement upon the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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While public education serves an important purpose by providing a basic education to America’s youth, it suffers from its inability to provide a full and well-balanced education to our children and grandchildren. Public education essentially goes to bat with two strikes against it before the first pitch.

I will be the first to acknowledge that a public education is probably better than no education at all, and no education is what many, if not most, American children would get if it were not for public schools. This is true, in part, because so many parents do not have the time or the resources to teach their children at home.

But parents should know that public education is flawed from the start because of weaknesses built into the entire concept — weaknesses which can only be overcome by parents dedicated to providing what public schools cannot provide. I’m not criticizing public school teachers but pointing out flaws inherent in the concept of public education which affect the outcome.

What are the flaws and what is missing?

So that you know upfront, I approach this issue with a Christian and Biblical worldview. Proverbs 1:7 states: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”; and Proverbs 9:10 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

How can the public schools teach the fear of the LORD God when the Bible is not permitted to be publicly used or taught in the schools? How can students be taught to know the LORD when the Biblical doctrines of creation, sin and redemption cannot be taught in schools? And how can public schools provide knowledge and teach wisdom when the basis for knowledge and wisdom are first removed?

Without teaching the fear and respect of the LORD God, the basis for moral principles is gone. Without God as the creator and lawgiver, who is to say lying, bullying, stealing, rape or even murder are wrong? Instead of words, thoughts and actions being judged as right or wrong by God’s law, they are only limited by policies and possible negative consequences. And, what’s considered inappropriate behavior today might be viewed as the Constitutionally-protected norm of tomorrow. It pretty much comes down to things being wrong only if there are negative consequences or if a person is caught and punished in some way.

And, if knowledge of the LORD God of the Bible and respect for the true God cannot be taught in public schools, how can students begin to understand the world in which we live, the scientific and mathematical principles built into God’s creation, or God’s purpose and plan for their lives? Without God, everything is only a result of chance existence, and life itself is meaningless. Indeed, it’s no wonder that some kids think nothing of shooting up schools and killing other students and teachers, and many take their own lives!

Though some would argue for the teaching of the Bible in public schools, the second flaw inherent in public education is that public schools cannot dictate in regard to the teaching of religious views. If the Bible were reintroduced into the public school system, what doctrinal position would a school hold? Which religious views would be taught? Would schools teach the Bible as truth or as myth? Would Jesus be presented as the Son of God or just an important religious teacher? Or would it all be up to each teacher, with one teacher saying one thing and another something entirely different?

That’s why I say public education comes to bat with two strikes against it. It can’t teach the fear and knowledge of the LORD God, making the rest of education baseless and unguided; and it is not really possible to bring back the Bible and Biblical teaching into public schools because the schools, as public and government-run institutions, are not permitted to teach one religious belief system over another.

What’s the solution? I offer three suggestions: parochial schools, home schools and supplementing public education with a strong religious education at home and in one’s church.

I am a strong supporter of parochial or church schools. Such schools can teach the Bible so that students learn to honor and respect the LORD God who created and redeemed them. And teaching the Bible provides a basis for moral teaching and for the rest of education — math, science, language, social studies, geography, etc. Parochial schools can teach the same doctrine as one’s church and thereby prepare students for life in this world and for life in God’s kingdom.

Home schools are increasingly the choice of many and can be a good choice, especially when no good parochial schools are available. If parents are dedicated to education, they can often move their children along at a faster pace and give them a better education than a system which is designed to move a mass of students through basic state-dictated curricula. It also allows parents to teach the Bible and Biblical values, in addition to providing a quality education in subjects like reading, language, math and science.

The weakness of homeschooling is that not all parents have the time or expertise to teach their children. So, homeschooling may work great for some but provide a poor education for others, depending on the time and abilities applied to education by parents.

The third option is to utilize public education but supplement that education with a strong Christian education at home and at one’s church. Christian teaching needs to include Biblical doctrine as well as answers to the many contrary “doctrines” taught in the public schools.

Sadly, many who take this latter route fail to diligently do their part to teach Biblical truth and to refute the errors of secular worldviews.

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“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

On the evening of that first Easter Day, Jesus appeared to His disciples where they were gathered together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews and showed them His hands and His side to prove to them that He truly was Jesus and that He really had risen from the dead (John 20:19-20).

Two times Jesus said to them: “Peace be unto you.” Since Christ had died upon the cross for their sins and was risen again in victory, they had peace with God – the peace of having all sins pardoned and forgiven through faith in the shed blood of Jesus (cf. Eph. 2:11ff.; 1 John 2:1-2).

The Bible says: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).

Not only did Jesus bless them with the peace of sins forgiven, He breathed on them, gave them His Holy Spirit and commissioned them to forgive the sins of penitent sinners and to retain (not forgive) the sins of impenitent sinners as long as they do not repent (John 20:21-23). We often speak of this as the Office of the Keys because it opens the gates of heaven to those who are sorry for their sins and look to Christ and His redemptive work and closes the gates of heaven to those who are not sorry for their sins or do not trust in Christ for forgiveness. Indeed, it takes the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to rightly use and apply these keys to others, but this is what Christ our Savior would have us do!

Some would object and say, “How can we, as believers in Christ, forgive and retain sins? Only God can do that!” This power is given us precisely because of Christ’s death upon the cross for the sins of all mankind and His glorious resurrection on the third day. Since Christ has paid for all sin and is risen in victory, we can announce and proclaim God’s pardon and peace to penitent sinners. And since Christ is the only way of salvation, we must also warn those who continue in sin and unbelief of the coming judgment of God upon all who do not repent.

As Jesus says, “He that believeth on Him [the Son] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we thank and praise You for Your death on the cross for our sins and for Your glorious resurrection and ascension. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may always trust in You and find peace in the pardon You have won for us, and help us to rightly apply Your Word to others that they too might receive the comfort and peace of knowing their sins are forgiven and that they too might have life everlasting through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture Quotations from the King James Version of the Bible]

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