Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 33—Students Deciding their Eternal Destiny

Let the students remember that to form characters that will stand the test of the judgment, is very serious business. You yourselves are responsible for the kind of character you build. No professor in an institution of learning can make your character. You yourselves decide your own eternal destiny. It is necessary to contemplate such characters as are worthy of imitation. We refer you to Joseph in Egypt, and to Daniel in Babylon. These youths were tried and proved; and because they stood firm to principle, they became representative men, and patterns of integrity. I would say to the youth at our institutions of learning, whether you profess to believe or not, that you are now in probationary time, and a second probation will not come to any of you. This is the only opportunity you will have of standing the test and proving of God. FE 245.1

With the deepest interest the angels of God in the heavenly courts are watching the development of character; and from the records in the books of heaven, actions are weighed, and moral worth is measured. Every day the record of your life is passed unto God, just as it is, whether it is one of merit or of demerit. You are lacking in true elevation and nobility of soul, and no man can give you the character you need. The only way you can attain to the standard of moral worth by which you are to be measured, is to depend upon Christ, and co-operate with Him in steadfast, earnest, determined purpose. FE 245.2

Those who do this will not bring into their work a spirit of lightness, of frivolity, and of love of amusement. They will consider that at no small cost to their parents or to themselves, they have come to the school to obtain a better knowledge of the sciences, and to get a more comprehensive understanding of both the Old and New Testament. I would address you as those who have reasoning minds, and who have an intelligent understanding of your privileges and duties. Would it not be best for you to co-operate with your teachers, in order that you may reach the very highest standard that it is possible for you to attain? Time is more valuable to you than gold, and you should improve every precious moment. You should consider what will be your influence upon others. If one pupil is reckless, and indulges an excessive love of amusements, he should bring himself under the control of principle, lest he may become a working agent for Satan, to counteract, by his wrong influence, the work which teachers are trying to do, and mar that which heavenly intelligences are seeking to accomplish through human agents. He may frustrate the design of God, and fail to accept Christ and to become indeed a son of God. FE 245.3

Obligations between teachers and pupils are mutual. Teachers should make diligent effort that their own souls may be sanctified through the grace of Christ, and that they may labor in Christ's lines for the salvation of their pupils. On the other hand, students should not pursue such a course of action as will make it hard and trying to their teachers, and bring upon them temptations hard to resist. Pupils should not, by a wrong course of action, lower the high standing and reputation of the school, and give reason for the report to go abroad among believers and unbelievers, that Seventh-day Adventist schools, though purporting to be established for giving the best of education to those who attend, are no better than the common schools throughout the world. This is not the character nor the reputation that God would have our schools bear; and those who have lent the influence with which God has intrusted them, to give such a character or reputation to the school, have lent it in a wrong direction. Those who have shown disrespect for rules, and who have sought to break down authority, whether they are believers or unbelievers, are registered in the books of heaven as those who cannot be trusted as members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. The teachers who carry the burden of the work that they should, will have sufficient responsibility, care, and burden, without having the added burden of your disobedience. They will appreciate every effort that is made on the part of the students to co-operate with them in the work. FE 246.1

One careless, insubordinate student, who does not cultivate self-respect, who is not well disposed, and who does not try to do his best, is doing himself great injury. He is deciding what shall be the tone of his character, and is inducing others to depart from truth and uprightness, who, if it were not for his pernicious influence, would dare to be true and noble. One student who feels his accountability to be faithful in helping his instructors, will help himself more than he helps all others. Heaven looks down with approbation upon the students who strive to do right, and have a firm purpose to be true to God. They will receive help from God. Of Daniel and his companions who stood firm as a rock to truth, it is written, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: ... and in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” FE 247.1

If you do not intend to improve your opportunities and privileges, why do you spend, in attending the school, money that your parents have worked hard to obtain? They have sent you away from the home roof, with high hopes that you would be educated and benefited by your sojourn at college. They have followed you with letters and with prayers, and every line you have written them has been read with eagerness. They have thanked God for every indication that you would make a success of your Christian life, and they have wept for gladness at the indications of your advancement in scientific and spiritual knowledge. O I want to beseech of you to do nothing that is questionable. Consider in what light your parents would regard your actions, and forbear to do anything that would put thorns in their pillows. Do not be thoughtless, careless, and lawless. Your actions do not end with yourselves; they reflect credit or discredit upon the school, according as they are good or bad. If you do evil, you grieve Jesus Christ, who bought you with the price of His own blood, hurt the soul of your principal, wound the hearts of your teachers, and injure and mar your own soul. You make a blot upon your record, of which you will be ashamed. Will it pay? It is always best and safe to do right because it is right. Will you not now do some serious thinking? Right thinking lies at the foundation of right action. Make up your mind that you will respond to the expectations your parents have of you, that you will make faithful efforts to excel, that you will see to it that the money expended for you has not been misapplied and misused. Have a determined purpose to co-operate with the efforts made by parents and teachers, and reach a high standard of knowledge and character. Be determined not to disappoint those who love you well enough to trust you. It is manly to do right, and Jesus will help you to do right, if you seek to do it because it is right. FE 247.2

Those interested in your behalf have flattering hopes for you, that you will become useful men, who will be filled with moral worth and unswerving integrity. For the youth who have gone from New Zealand to America, much has been ventured; and I will say to these students, Set your aim high, and then step by step ascend to reach the standard, even though it may be by painful effort, through self-denial and self-sacrifice. Christ will be to you a present help in every time of need, if you call upon Him, that you may be like Daniel, whom no temptation could corrupt. Do not disappoint your parents and your friends; but above all, do not disappoint Him who so loved you that He gave His own life in order to cancel your sins and become your personal Saviour. Jesus said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” Bear this in mind. If you have made mistakes, you may gain a victory by discerning these mistakes, and by regarding them as beacons of warning, to enable you to shun their repetition. I need not tell you that this will be turning your defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy, and honoring your Redeemer, whose property you are. FE 248.1

We feel sorry indeed that any weakness of character should have marred the record of the past, because we know it is an evidence that you did not watch unto prayer. We feel sorry that mistakes have been made, because they have placed upon the teachers burdens which they ought not to have borne. Teachers have their own natural weaknesses of character to contend with, and they are capable of moving unwisely under the stress of temptation. They may think they are doing right when they are enforcing strict discipline, and yet they may be making mistakes in the case with which they are dealing. How much better would it be for both pupils and teachers, if students would place themselves upon their honor, and act from pure and noble motives, so that their very course of action would recommend them to those who were their teachers and educators. If in every possible way and under every circumstance, they would treat those who are in positions of trust, and bearing responsibility, as they themselves would like to be treated, what peace and success would attend the school. FE 249.1

Why should students link themselves with the great apostate, to become his agents in tempting others, and through others causing the fall of many? Every human being has his own individual trials, peculiar to himself, and no one is free from temptation. If teachers are disciples of Christ, and are engaging in the work in a way which is approved of God, Satan will surely assail them with his temptations. If the great deceiver can stir up evil elements of character in the students, and through them bring perplexity and discouragement upon the educators, he has succeeded in gaining his purpose. If under the temptation the teacher reveals weakness, in any respect, then his influence is marred; but he who proves an agent for the great adversary of souls, must render an account to God for the part he acted in causing the teacher to stumble. Let students carefully consider this phase of the subject, and let them rather study how to encourage and sustain their teachers, than how to bring discouragement and temptation upon them. In so doing, they will not be sowing tares that will spring up among the wheat. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7-10. FE 249.2

Students will be tempted to do lawless things, when it is only to please themselves and to have what they call “fun.” If they will put themselves upon their honor, and consider the fact that in doing these things they bless no one, they benefit no one, but involve others as well as themselves in difficulty, they will be more likely to take a manly and honorable course, and put their will on the side of Christ's will. They will work in Christ's lines, and help their teachers to carry their burdens, which Satan would make more discouraging by employing thoughtless minds in vain tricks. They will seek to make an atmosphere in the school, which, instead of being depressing and enfeebling to the moral powers, will be healthful and exhilarating. In thus doing, students can have a consciousness that they have acted their part on Christ's side of the question, and have not given one jot of influence or ability to the great adversary of all that is good. With how much more satisfaction can students recall such a course of action, than a course of action where they have sanctioned secret plans to disrespect and disregard authority. They will have reason to praise God that they have resisted the clamorings of inclination, and have put their influence on the side of order, diligence, and obedience. Let every student remember that it is in his power to help, and not hinder, the cause of education. FE 250.1

Students in our institutions of learning may either form characters after the divine similitude, or degrade their God-given powers, and bring themselves down to a low level, and they will have no one to blame but themselves if they degrade themselves. Everything that God could do has been done in behalf of man. Every want has been anticipated; every difficulty, every emergency, has been provided for. The crooked places have been made straight, the rough places smooth, and therefore no one will be excused in the day of judgment, if he has cherished unbelief and resisted the workings of the Holy Spirit. FE 251.1

Jesus Christ has given Himself as a complete offering in behalf of every fallen son and daughter of Adam. O what humiliation He bore! How He descended, step after step, lower and lower in the path of humiliation, yet He never degraded His soul with one foul blot of sin! All this He suffered, that He might lift you up, cleanse, refine, and ennoble you, and place you as a joint heir with Himself upon His throne. How shall you make your calling and election sure? What is the way of salvation? Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” However sinful, however guilty you may be, you are called, you are chosen. “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” Not one will be forced against his will to come to Jesus Christ. The Majesty of heaven, the only-begotten Son of the true and living God, opened the way for you to come to Him, by giving His life as a sacrifice on Calvary's cross. But while He suffered all this for you, He is too pure, He is too just, to behold iniquity. But even this need not keep you away from Him; for He says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Let perishing souls come to Him just as they are, without one plea, and plead the atoning blood of Christ, and they will find acceptance with God, who dwelleth in glory between the cherubim above the mercy seat. The blood of Jesus is a never-failing passport, by which all your petitions may find access to the throne of God.—“Christian Education” (Supplement), 1893. FE 251.2