Special Testimonies On Education


Chapter 24—The Holy Spirit in the Schools

I ask you who are living at the very heart of the work to review the experience of years, and see if the “well done” can truthfully be spoken to you. I ask the teachers in the school to consider carefully, prayerfully, have you individually watched for your own soul as one who is cooperating with God for its purification from all sin and for its entire sanctification unto God? Can you by precept and example teach the youth sanctification, not devotion to the arch deceiver, but sanctification through the truth, unto holiness, obedience to God? SpTEd 202.1

Have you not been afraid of the Holy Spirit? At times it has come with all-pervading influence into the school at Battle Creek, and into the schools at other localities. Did you recognize it? Did you accord it the honor due to a heavenly messenger? When the Spirit seemed to be striving with the youth, did you say, Let us put aside all study; for it is evident that we have among us a heavenly guest? Let us give praise and honor to God. Did you, with contrite hearts, bow in prayer with your students, pleading that you might receive the blessing which the Lord was presenting to you? The Great Teacher himself was among you. How did you honor him? Was he a stranger to some of the educators? Was there need to send for some one of supposed authority to welcome or repel this messenger from heaven? Though unseen, his presence was among you. But was not the thought expressed that in school the time ought to be given to study, and that there was a time for everything, as if the hours devoted to common study were too precious to be given up for the working of the heavenly messenger? SpTEd 203.1

If you have in this way restricted and repulsed the Holy Spirit of God, I entreat you to repent of it as quickly as possible. If any of the educators have not opened the door of their own hearts to the Spirit of God, but closed and padlocked it, I urge you to unlock the door, and pray with earnestness, “Abide with me.” When the Holy Spirit reveals his presence in your schoolroom, tell your students, The Lord signifies that he has for us today a lesson of heavenly import, of more value than our lessons in ordinary lines. Let us listen; let us bow before God, and seek him with the whole heart. SpTEd 203.2

Let me tell you what I know of this heavenly Guest. The Holy Spirit was brooding over the youth during the school hours: but some hearts were so cold and dark that they had no desire for the Spirit's presence, and the light of God was withdrawn. That heavenly visitant would have opened the understanding, would have given wisdom and knowledge in all lines of study that would be employed to the glory of God. The Lord's messenger came to convince of sin, and to soften the heart hardened by long estrangement from God. He came to reveal the great love wherewith God has loved those youth. They are God's heritage, and educators need the “higher education” before they are qualified to be instructors and guides of youth. SpTEd 204.1

The teacher may understand many things in regard to the physical universe; he may know all about the structure of living things, the inventions of mechanical art, the discoveries of natural science; but he cannot be called educated unless he has a knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. A principle of divine origin must pervade our conduct and bind us to God. This will not be in any way a hindrance to the study of true science. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the man who consents to be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude, is the noblest specimen of the work of God. All who live in communion with our Creator will have an understanding of his designs in their creation, and they will have a sense of their own accountability to God to employ their faculties to the very best purpose. They will seek neither to glorify nor to depreciate themselves. SpTEd 204.2

The knowledge of God is obtained from his word. The experimental knowledge of true godliness, in daily consecration and service to God, insures the highest culture of mind, soul, and body; and this consecration of all our powers to God prevents self-exaltation. The impartation of divine power honors our sincere striving after wisdom for the conscientious use of our highest faculties to honor God and bless our fellow men. As these faculties are derived from God, and not self-created, they should be appreciated as talents from God to be employed in his service. SpTEd 205.1

The heaven-entrusted faculties of the mind are to be treated as the higher powers, to rule the kingdom of the body. The natural appetites and passions are to be brought under control of the conscience and the spiritual affections. SpTEd 205.2

The word of God is to be the foundation of all study, and the words of revelation, carefully studied, appeal to and strengthen the intellect as well as the heart. The culture of the intellect is required, that we may understand the revelation of the will of God to us. It cannot be neglected by those who are obedient to his commandment. God has not given us the faculties of the mind to be devoted to cheap and frivolous pursuits. SpTEd 205.3

The case of Daniel is an instructive one. Daniel was taught by God, and he co-operated with God. He exerted all his powers to work out his own salvation, and God worked in him, to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Of Daniel and his companions it is written, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” These youth were sincere, faithful Christians. True education must be all-sided, not one-sided. Such an education Daniel and his fellows were determined to have. They sought to acquire knowledge for a purpose—to honor and glorify God. They must perfect a Christian character, and have a clear intellect, in order to stand as the representatives of the true religion amid the false religions of heathenism. To them the will of God was the supreme law of life. They practised temperance in eating and drinking, that they might not enfeeble brain or muscle. In order to preserve health, they felt that they must avoid the luxuries of the king's table, and they would not partake of wine or any stimulating drink. Under God they were in perfect training, that all their faculties might do highest service for him. God required these youth to keep themselves from idols. SpTEd 205.4

The religion of Jesus Christ never degrades the receiver, it never makes him coarse or rough, discourteous or self-important, passionate or hard-hearted. On the contrary, it refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and purifies and ennobles the thoughts, by bringing them into captivity to Jesus Christ. God's ideal for his children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. The living God has given in his holy law a transcript of his character. The greatest teacher the world has ever known is Jesus Christ. And what is the standard he has given for all who believe in him to reach? — “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” As God is perfect in his high sphere of action, so man may be perfect in his human sphere. The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. There is opened before us a path of continual advancement. We have an object to reach, a standard to gain, which includes everything good and pure and noble and elevated. There should be continual striving and constant progress onward and upward toward perfection of character. (See 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4; Colossians 2:8-10.) SpTEd 206.1

This is the will of God concerning every human being, even your sanctification. In urging our way upward, heavenward, every faculty must be kept in the most healthy condition, to do the most faithful service. The powers with which God has endowed men are to be put to the stretch. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Man cannot possibly do this of himself; he must have divine power. What shall the human agent do in the great work?—“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” SpTEd 207.1

Without the divine working, man could do no good thing. God calls every man to repentance, yet man cannot even repent unless the Holy Spirit works upon his heart. But the Lord wants no man to wait until he thinks he has repented before he takes his steps toward Jesus. The Saviour is continually drawing men to repentance; they need only to submit to be drawn, and their hearts will be melted in penitence. SpTEd 207.2

Man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life; he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, and the Spirit works in him to accomplish this. But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality; yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence. The Lord bids us, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” SpTEd 207.3

I entreat the students in our schools to be sober-minded. The frivolity of the young is not pleasing to God. Their sports and games open the door to a flood of temptations. You are in possession of God's heavenly endowment in your intellectual faculties, and you should not allow your thoughts to be cheap and low. A character formed in accordance with the precepts of God's word will reveal steadfast principles, pure, noble aspirations, The Holy Spirit co-operates with the powers of the human mind, and high and holy impulses are the sure result. SpTEd 208.1

Daniel and his companions had a conscience void of offense toward God. But this is not preserved without a struggle. What a test was brought on the three associates of Daniel when they were required to worship the great image set up by king Nebuchadnezzar in the plains of Dura! Their principles forbade them to pay homage to the idol; for it was a rival to the God of heaven. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed, and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves entirely loyal to their God. To meet the appeals of the king and his counselors that they should comply with the royal edict, they had a store of arguments set forth most eloquently. The demand appeared contemptible to them. With Daniel as their companion, they had prayed and fasted, that they might understand the dream which God gave the king. The Lord had heard their cries, and had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream; thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to his servants, were led by envy and jealousy to secure the decree in regard to the worshiping of the golden image. SpTEd 208.2

The king declared to the three Hebrew youth, if “ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hand?” The youth said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” These faithful youth were cast into the fire, but God manifested his power for the deliverance of his servants. One like unto the Son of God walked with them in the midst of the flame, and when they were brought forth, not even the smell of fire had passed on them. “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” SpTEd 209.1

Thus these youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith, that He whom they worshiped was the only true and living God. This demonstration of their own faith was the most eloquent presentation of their principles. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, his servants must reveal their own reverence for God. They must make it manifest that he is the only object of their honor and worship, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to idolatry. SpTEd 210.1

These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days. My soul is deeply stirred at the things that have been represented before me. I feel an indignation of spirit that in our institutions so little honor has been given to the living God, and so much honor to what is supposed to be human talent, but with which the Holy Spirit has no connection. The Spirit of God is not acknowledged and respected; men have passed judgment upon it; its operations have been condemned as fanaticism, enthusiasm, undue excitement. SpTEd 210.2

God sees that which the blind eyes of the educators cannot discern, that immorality of every kind and degree is striving for the mastery, working against the manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The commonest of conversation, and low, perverted ideas are woven into the texture of character, and defile the soul. SpTEd 211.1

The low, common, pleasure parties, gatherings for eating and drinking, singing and playing on instruments of music, are inspired by a spirit that is from beneath. They are an oblation unto Satan. The exhibitions in the bicycle craze are an offense to God. His wrath is kindled against those that do such things. For in these gratifications the mind becomes besotted, even as in liquor-drinking. The door is opened to vulgar associations. The thoughts, allowed to run in a low channel, soon pervert all the powers of the being. Like Israel of old, the pleasure-lovers eat and drink, and rise up to play. There is mirth and carousing, hilarity and glee. In all this the youth follow the example of the authors of books that are placed in their hands for study. The greatest evil of it all is the permanent effect these things have upon the character. SpTEd 211.2

Those who take the lead in these things bring upon the cause a stain not easily effaced. They wound their own souls, and will carry the scars through their lifetime. The evil-doer may see his sins and repent; God may pardon the transgressor; but the power of discernment which ought ever to be kept keen and sensitive to distinguish between the sacred and the common, is in a great measure destroyed. Too often human devices and imaginations are accepted as divine. Some souls will act in blindness and insensibility, ready to grasp cheap, common, even infidel sentiments, while they turn against the demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. SpTEd 211.3

It is a fearful thing for any soul to place himself on Satan's side of the question; for as soon as he does this, a change passes over him, as it is said of the king of Babylon, that his visage changed toward the three faithful Hebrews. Past history will be repeated. Men will reject the Holy Spirit's working, and open the door of the mind to Satanic attributes that separate them from God. They will turn against the very messengers through whom God sends the messages of warning. Even now I fear that the very things I am seeking to make plain will be misapplied, misinterpreted, and falsified; some have felt it a virtue to educate themselves in this line, and by their misapplication they make of no effect the messages God sends. SpTEd 212.1

I urge upon all to whom these words shall come: Review your own course of action, and “take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” SpTEd 212.2