Fundamentals of Christian Education

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Chapter 39—Words to Students

Every soul is surrounded with an atmosphere peculiar to the individual. This atmosphere may be full of spiritual malaria that is poisonous to the principles of righteousness. But when brought into association with others, it need not take us days or weeks to ascertain whether the atmosphere of the spirit is of Christ or of Satan. The influence of association is never stronger than in school life; but the student who comes to school with an earnest desire to be a help and a blessing to his fellows, will be careful to cast his influence on the right side, and seek companions who will join with him in cultivating right principles and practices. FE 297.1

Students should feel their responsibility in the matter of making their school life a success. They should bend every effort in the right direction, so that they may not disappoint their parents or guardians who work hard to keep them in school, and who are deeply anxious for their present and eternal welfare. Students should determine that they will make a record that they will not be ashamed to meet in the day of judgment. A student who is circumspect in his deportment, who will not be swayed to the right or left by wrong influences, will exercise a restraining power over those in the school who take pleasure in showing their independence, and in engaging in wicked sports in disobedience to the rules, and who fill the hearts of their teachers with sorrow and discouragement. FE 297.2

Life is a problem which we must individually work out for ourselves. No one can form a character for another; we each have a part to act in deciding our own destiny. We are God's free, responsible agents, and each one must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, while God works in him to will and to do of His own good pleasure. Students may do good, or they may do evil, but “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” FE 297.3

We are individually on trial under the proving of God. The intelligences of heaven are all enlisted to help every soul who will be drawn to Jesus, and every true lover of Jesus will co-operate with the heavenly agents in seeking to draw souls away from that which is foolish, low, and frivolous. The followers of Christ will not work on the side of Satan to weaken faith in true religion, to deprave others by casting about them an atmosphere which is ruinous to the morals and the character. But we are sorry to say that even in our schools there are persons who are Christians only in name. It will not take a long acquaintance with these professors to ascertain that they are successful agents of Satan. There are in our schools persons who are corrupt at heart, who yet have a pleasing address, and who are successful in fascinating a certain class of people, and before the unwary are aware of it, the influence of these persons has changed their sentiments, and fashioned them after the objectionable characters of these corrupt persons. But those who wear the garb of Christianity, and yet who are governed by the fashions and maxims of the world, are moral corrupters. They claim to be seeking heavenly treasures, but the atmosphere with which their souls are surrounded is one that is charged with a deadly spiritual miasma, and they should be shunned by those who would remain unspotted by the world. FE 298.1

The youth who has discernment can readily see what kind of persons these are, even though he lays no claim to Christianity; for he knows that they are not Christlike. But shall he allow them to be as stumblingblocks to him? He has a guidebook that describes those who are on the Lord's side. If he knows that their course is inconsistent with a profession of Christianity, if he understands what it means to live a godly life, he will be held accountable for the light and knowledge he has. He will be responsible for doing the Master's will, for showing to the world what is the true idea of Christianity—what it is to have a Christlike life and character. FE 298.2

We have a powerful enemy, and not only does he hate every human being made in the image of God, but with bitterest enmity he hates God and His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. When men give themselves over to be the slaves of Satan, he does not manifest the enmity toward them which he does to those who bear the name of Christ, and give themselves to the service of God. He hates them with a deadly hatred. He knows that he can grieve Jesus by bringing them under the power of his deceptions, by injuring them, by weakening their faith, by making them incapable of doing God service as they are required to serve under their Captain Jesus Christ. Satan will permit those to have a degree of rest who are bound as slaves to his chariot, for they are his willing captives; but his enmity is aroused when the message of mercy reaches his bondslaves, and they seek to wrench themselves away from his power, that they may follow the true Shepherd. Then it is that he seeks to bind them with additional chains to hold them in their captivity. The conflict between the soul and Satan begins when the captive begins to tug at the chain, and longs to be free; for it is then that the human agent begins to co-operate with heavenly intelligences, when faith takes hold on Christ. Then it is that the Stronger than the strong man armed, is the helper of the soul, and the poor captive is strengthened by the Holy Spirit to obtain his freedom. FE 299.1

God has a deep and earnest love for every member of the human family; not one is forgotten, not one is left helpless and deceived to be overcome by the enemy. And if those who have enlisted in the army of Christ will put on the whole armor of God, and wear it, they will be proof against all the assaults of the enemy. Those who really desire to be taught of God, and to walk in His way, have the sure promise that if they feel their lack of wisdom and ask of God, He will give liberally, and upbraid not. The apostle says, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” God is behind every promise, and we cannot dishonor Him more than by questioning and hesitating, by asking and not believing, and then by talking doubt. If you do not immediately receive what you have asked for, will you go on in sullenness and unbelief? Believe; believe that God will do just what He has promised. Keep your prayers ascending, and watch, work, and wait. Fight the good fight of faith. Say to your heart, “God has invited me to come. He has heard my prayer. He has pledged His word that he will receive me, and He will fulfil His promise. I can trust God; for He so loved me that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for me. The Son of God is my Redeemer.” “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” FE 299.2

The youth who enter and continue their school life with the true object before them, will not be homesick or disappointed. They will not be restless and uneasy, not knowing what to do with themselves. They will find a helper in the Omnipotent One. They will have one aim in view, and that is to be men and women of principle, who will meet God's standard, and benefit humanity and glorify God. They will not regard their school life as a time for pleasure seeking, for idle amusement and foolish frolic, but will endeavor to make the most of their God-given opportunities and privileges, so that they shall not disappoint their parents and teachers, or grieve God and heavenly intelligences. FE 300.1

It is a solemn thing to die, but it is a far more solemn thing to live, and to form a character that will qualify us to enter the school in the heavenly courts above. We are living in an enemy's land, and we may expect difficulty and conflict. The youth will have to be able to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. It is not best that their path should be made perfectly smooth and easy, that they should be supplied with money, and not taught to feel the necessity of practicing self-denial and economy. FE 300.2

When a youth is making up his mind that he wants to obtain an education, he should carefully consider what is his motive in going to school? He should ask himself, How shall I best employ my time so as to reap all the benefit possible from my opportunities and privileges? Shall I put on the whole armor of God which has been provided for me by the gift of the only-begotten Son of God? Shall I open my heart to the Holy Spirit, that every faculty and energy may be aroused, which God has given me in trust? I am Christ's property, and am employed in His service. I am a steward of His grace. FE 301.1

Although, to your human judgment, some who profess Christianity do not meet your measurement of Christian character, you should not grieve the heart of Christ by living an inconsistent life; for others are in danger of being influenced by your wrong course of action. You are fighting for the crown of life, and should not rest satisfied in meeting a low standard. FE 301.2

The Lord accepts no halfway work; there must be on your part no blundering in the sacred work of God. Do not trust yourself, but surrender your will and ideas and ways to God, and do His will alone. Live to please Him who thought you of such value that He gave Jesus, His only-begotten Son, to save you from your sins. Through His merit, you may be accepted. In your school life ever keep before you the thought that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well. Depend upon God for wisdom, that you may not discourage one soul in right doing. Work with Christ in drawing souls to Him. But it will not do for you, while condemning half-hearted work in others, while pointing out their errors, to fail to do as well as they do, because you will not place yourself on the side of right and loyalty. Even though the rules and regulations seem needlessly exacting, be obedient to them; for you may err in your experience. Do your very best in everything you undertake. Jesus is your Saviour, and rely upon Him to help you day by day, that you may not sow tares, but the good seed of the kingdom. FE 301.3

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” As a student, you must learn to see with your brain as well as your eyes. You must educate your judgment so that it shall not be feeble and inefficient. You must pray for guidance, and commit your way unto the Lord. You must close your heart against all foolishness and sin, and open it to every heavenly influence. You must make the most of your time and opportunities, in order to develop a symmetrical character. Fun and folly and indolence cannot be entertained as your guests, if you copy the pattern, Christ Jesus, and become daily more intelligent as to what you shall do to be saved. FE 302.1

Youthful students, your life cannot be governed by impulse without proving an entire failure. You cannot follow your natural inclinations without meeting with a great loss. If you would move securely, you must keep the way of the Lord. Your understanding must be refined and purified; you must work according to God's plan, or fail to make a success. You must ever be growing and advancing in grace and knowledge. You will be able to do nothing acceptably in your school life without practicing habits of system and order. Haphazard work will bring certain failure. FE 302.2

You need to study carefully the question of amusements. Ask yourself, What is the influence of amusements on mind and character, and on the work which I have come to do? Ask yourself, What bearing has the question of amusements on my religious life, on my character as a Christian? Do the games in which you participate, fit you to engage in prayer and in the service of God? Do they aid you to bring as much zeal and earnestness into the Lord's work as you put into the games you play? Have not these amusements in which you have engaged, absorbed your interest so that you have not been able to put as much fervor into the learning of your lessons as you should have done? Which is to have the supremacy—the service of God, or the service of self? Let every student closely examine the ground on which he is standing. FE 302.3

Dear youth, you are now deciding your own eternal destiny. You must put persistent effort into your Christian life if you would perfect a right character. It will be to your eternal loss if you have a dwarfed, weakly, babyish religious experience. We are to be “complete in Him.” “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” This means that you are to study the life of Christ. You are to study it with as much more earnestness than you study secular lines of knowledge, as eternal interests are more important than temporal, earthly pursuits. If you appreciate the value and sacredness of eternal things, you will bring your sharpest thoughts, your best energies, to the solving of the problem that involves your eternal well-being; for every other interest sinks into nothingness in comparison with that. FE 303.1

You have the Pattern, Christ Jesus; walk in His footsteps, and you will be qualified to fill any and every position that you may be called upon to occupy. You will be “rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” You are not to feel that you are a bondslave, but a son of God; that you are highly favored in that you have been regarded of so great value that God has made you His by paying an infinite ransom for your freedom. Jesus says, “I call you not servants; ... but I have called you friends.” When you appreciate His wondrous love, love and gratitude will be in your heart as a wellspring of joy. FE 303.2

Do not receive flattery, even in your religious life. Flattery is an art by which Satan lieth in wait to deceive and to puff up the human agent with high thoughts of himself. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Flattery has been the food upon which many of our youth have been nourished; and those who have praised and flattered have supposed that they were doing right; but they have been doing wrong. Praise, flattery, and indulgence have done more toward leading precious souls into false paths, than any other art that Satan has devised. FE 304.1

Flattery is a part of the world's policy, but it is no part of Christ's policy. Through flattery poor human beings, full of frailty and infirmities, come to think that they are efficient and worthy, and become puffed up in their fleshly mind. They become intoxicated with the idea that they possess ability beyond what they do have, and their religious experience becomes unbalanced. Unless in the providence of God they shall be turned from these deceptions, and become converted, and learn the A B C of religion in the school of Christ, they will lose their souls. FE 304.2

Many a youth has been flattered that he has ability as a natural gift; when the ability he thinks he has, can be attained only through diligent training and culture, learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ. Believing he is naturally gifted, he thinks there is no necessity of putting his mind to the task of mastering his lessons; and before he is aware, he is fast in the snare of Satan. God permits him to be attacked by the enemy, in order that he may understand his own weakness. He is permitted to make some decided blunder, and is plunged into painful humiliation. But when he is writhing under a sense of his own weakness, he is not to be judged harshly. This is the time above all others when he needs a judicious counselor, a true friend, who has discernment of character. This is the time when he needs a friend who is led by the Spirit of God, and who will deal patiently and faithfully with the erring, and lift up the soul that is bowed down. He is not to be lifted up by the aid of flattery. No one is authorized to deal out to the soul this delusive intoxicant of Satan. Rather he is to be pointed to the first rounds of the ladder, and his stumbling feet are to be placed on the lowest round of the ladder of progress. Peter says, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” FE 304.3

Let the erring one be encouraged to climb step by step, round by round. The effort may be painful to him, but it will be by far the best lesson he has ever learned; for by so doing he will become acquainted with his own weakness, and thus be enabled to avoid in the future the errors of the past. Through the aid of wise counselors, his defeat will be turned into victory. But let no one attempt to begin at the top of the ladder. Let everyone start at the lowest round, and mount step by step, climbing up by Christ, clinging to Christ, ascending to the height of Christ. This is the only way to advance heavenward. Let nothing turn the attention away from the great work that is to be done. Let the thoughts, the aptitude, the keen exercise of the brain power, be put to the highest uses in studying the word and will of God. The Lord has a place for the very best ability He has intrusted to men. In the work of building up His kingdom, we may employ every capacity given of God, as faithfully and earnestly as did Daniel in Babylon, when he was found faithful to every duty to man, and loyal to his God. FE 305.1

God calls for far more tact, more wise generalship, than has yet been given Him by His human agents. There is need of sharp, sanctified thinking, and keen work to counteract the ingenious plans of Satan. There is a call for a higher standard to be met, a holier, more determined, self-sacrificing effort to be put forth in the Lord's work. Our youth must be educated to meet a higher standard, to understand that they are now deciding their own eternal destiny. There is no safeguard for any one, save in having in the heart the truth as it is in Jesus. This must be planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Much that is now called religion will sink out of sight when it is assailed by the hosts of Satan. Nothing will stand but the truth,—the wisdom that is from above, which will sanctify the soul. FE 306.1

Let no one imagine that self-indulgence is religion. Let not selfishness be pampered. Let the youth learn to restrict their desires, and to beware of extravagance in the use of means. Let all look unto Jesus, contemplate His character, and follow in His footsteps. “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.”—The Youth's Instructor, May 3, 10, 17, 24, 1894. FE 306.2