Fundamentals of Christian Education

Chapter 46—Diligent and Thorough Education

No movement should be made to lower the standard of education in our school at Battle Creek. The students should tax the mental powers; every faculty should reach the highest possible development. Many students come to the college with intellectual habits partially formed that are a hindrance to them. The most difficult to manage is the habit of performing their work as a matter of routine, instead of bringing to their studies thoughtful, determined effort to master difficulties, and to grasp the principles at the foundation of every subject under consideration. Through the grace of Christ it is in their power to change this habit of routine, and it is for their best interest and future usefulness rightly to direct the mental faculties, training them to do service for the wisest Teacher, whose power they may claim by faith. This will give them success in their intellectual efforts, in accordance with the laws of God. Each student should feel that, under God, he is to have special training, individual culture; and he should realize that the Lord requires of him to make all of himself that he possibly can, that he may teach others also. Indolence, apathy, irregularity, are to be dreaded, and the binding of one's self to routine is just as much to be dreaded. FE 373.1

I hope that no one will receive the impression from any words I have written, that the standard of the school is to be in any way lowered. There should be most diligent and thorough education in our school, and in order to secure this, the wisdom that comes from God must be made first and most important. The religion of Christ never sanctions physical or mental laziness. FE 373.2

We have before us the case of Daniel and his fellows, who made the most of their opportunities to obtain an education in the courts of Babylon. When tested by those who questioned both their faith and their knowledge, they were able to give a reason of the hope that was in them, and, as well, to stand the examination as to their knowledge in all learning and wisdom; and it was found that Daniel had understanding also in all visions and dreams, showing that he had a living connection with the God of all wisdom. “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.” Daniel's history is given us for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” Daniel was in close connection with God. When the decree went forth from an angry, furious king, commanding that all the wise men of Babylon should be destroyed, Daniel and his fellows were sought for to be slain. Then Daniel answered, not with retaliation, but “with counsel and wisdom,” the captain of the king's guard, who was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon. Daniel asked, “Why is the decree so hasty from the king?” He presented himself before the king, requesting that time be given him, and his faith in the God he served prompted him to say that he would show the king the interpretation. “Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” (Read Daniel 2:20-28.) Here the interpretation was made known to Daniel. FE 373.3

The close application of those Hebrew students under the training of God was richly rewarded. While they made diligent effort to secure knowledge, the Lord gave them heavenly wisdom. The knowledge they gained was of great service to them when brought into strait places. The Lord God of heaven will not supply the deficiencies that result from mental and spiritual indolence. When the human agents shall exercise their faculties to acquire knowledge, to become deep-thinking men; when they, as the greatest witnesses for God and the truth, shall have won in the field of investigation of vital doctrines concerning the salvation of the soul, that glory may be given to the God of heaven as supreme, then even judges and kings will be brought to acknowledge, in the courts of justice, in parliaments and councils, that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the only true and living God, the author of Christianity, the author of all truth, who instituted the seventh-day Sabbath when the foundations of the world were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted together for joy. All nature will bear testimony, as designed, for the illustration of the word of God. FE 374.1

The natural and the spiritual are to be combined in the studies of our schools. The operations of agriculture illustrate the Bible lessons. The laws obeyed by the earth reveal the fact that it is under the masterly power of an infinite God. The same principles run through the spiritual and the natural world. Divorce God and His wisdom from the acquisition of knowledge, and you have a lame, one-sided education, dead to all the saving qualities which give power to man, so that he is incapable of acquiring immortality through faith in Christ. The author of nature is the author of the Bible. Creation and Christianity have one God. All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should aim to reach the highest round of progress. Let them advance as fast and as far as they can; let their field of study be as broad as their powers can compass, making God their wisdom, clinging to Him who is infinite in knowledge, who can reveal the secrets hidden for ages, who can solve the most difficult problems for minds that believe in Him who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light that no man can approach unto. The living witness for Christ, following on to know the Lord, shall know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” By honesty and industry, with a proper care of the body, applying every power of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom in spiritual things, every soul may be complete in Christ, who is the perfect pattern of a complete man. FE 375.1

He who chooses a course of disobedience to God's law is deciding his future destiny; he is sowing to the flesh, earning the wages of sin, even eternal destruction, the opposite of life eternal. Submission to God and obedience to His holy law bring the sure result. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” This is a knowledge of such value that no language can describe it; it is of highest worth in this world, and is far-reaching as eternity. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” FE 376.1

When we aim at a low standard, we shall reach only a low standard. We commend to every student the Book of books as the grandest study for the human intelligence, as the education essential for this life, and for eternal life. But I did not contemplate a letting down of the educational standard in the study of the sciences. The light that has been given on these subjects is clear, and should in no case be disregarded. But if the word of God which giveth light, and giveth understanding to the simple, had been welcomed into the mind and the soul-temple, as a counselor, as a guide and instructor, the human agent living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, there would have been no need of reproof because of the backslidings of the students after the blessing of God had come to them in rich rays of divine light, to glow in heaven's holy fire upon the altar of their hearts. Many allowed amusements to have the supremacy. This was not the course that Daniel pursued in obtaining the education which revealed through him the supremacy of heavenly wisdom above all the wisdom and knowledge of the highest schools in the courts of proud Babylon. God opens the understanding of men in a marked manner if His words are brought into the practical life of the student, and the Bible is recognized as the precious, wonderful book that it is. Nothing is to come between this book and the student as more essential; for it is that wisdom which, brought into the practical life, makes men wise through time and through eternity. God is revealed in nature; God is revealed in His word. The Bible is the most wonderful of all histories, for it is the production of God, not of the finite mind. It carries us back through the centuries to the beginning of all things, presenting the history of times and scenes which would otherwise never have been known. It reveals the glory of God in the working of His providence to save a fallen world. It presents in the simplest language the mighty power of the gospel, which, received, would cut the chains that bind men to Satan's chariot. FE 376.2

The light shines from the sacred pages, in clear, glorious beams, showing us God, the living God, as represented in the laws of His government, in the creation of the world, in the heavens which He hath garnished. His power is to be recognized as the only means of redeeming a world from degrading superstitions which are so dishonoring to God and man. Every student of the Bible who not only becomes familiar with revealed truth through the education of the intellect, but also through its transforming power upon heart and character, will represent the character of God to our world in a well-ordered life and a godly conversation. The entrance of the word giveth light. The mind is expanded, elevated, purified. But many have pursued a course of action inconsistent with the knowledge of truth and the wonderful light through the descent of the Holy Spirit of God in so marked a manner upon hearts in Battle Creek. Great sin and loss resulted from the neglect to walk in the light from heaven. In plunging into amusements, match games, pugilistic performances, they declared to the world that Christ was not their leader in any of these things. All this called forth the warning from God. Now that which burdens me is the danger of going into extremes on the other side; there is no necessity for this; if the Bible is made the guide, the counselor, it is calculated to have an influence on the mind and heart of the unconverted. Its study, more than any other, will leave a divine impress. It will enlarge the mind of the candid student, it will endow it with new impulses and fresh vigor. It will give greater efficiency to the faculties by bringing them in contact with grand and far-reaching truths. It is ever working, drawing; it is an effective instrument in the converting of the soul. If the human mind becomes dwarfed and feeble and inefficient, it is because it is left to deal with commonplace subjects only. FE 377.1

God can and will do a great work for every human being who will open the heart to the word of God, and let it enter the soul-temple and expel every idol. Summoned to the effort, mind and heart take in the wonderful disclosures of the revealed will of God. The soul that is converted will be made stronger to resist evil. In the study of the Bible the converted soul eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of God, which He himself interprets as the receiving and doing of His words, that are spirit and life. The Word is made flesh, and dwells among us, in those who receive the holy precepts of the word of God. The Saviour of the world has left a holy, pure example for all men. It illuminates, uplifts, and brings immortality to all who obey the divine requirements. This is my reason for writing to you as I did. God forbid that through lack of discernment errors should be committed through misunderstanding of my words addressed to you. I have had no other feeling than that of pleasure in knowing that students could come forth from the study of the words of life with minds expanded, elevated, ennobled, and with their slumbering powers aroused to engage in the study of the sciences with a keener appreciation; they may become learned as did Daniel, with a purpose to develop and employ every power to glorify God. But it becomes every student to learn of God, who giveth wisdom, how to learn to the best advantage; for all are candidates for immortality. FE 378.1

The Lord God came down to our world clothed with the habiliments of humanity, that He might work out in His own life the mysterious controversy between Christ and Satan. He discomfited the powers of darkness. All this history is saying to man, I, your substitute and surety, have taken your nature upon Me, showing you that every son and daughter of Adam is privileged to become a partaker of the divine nature, and through Christ Jesus lay hold upon immortality. Those who are candidates for this great blessing should in everything act in a manner to represent the advantages of their association with the Lord through His revealed truth and through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit. This will enlarge the mind of the human agent, fasten it upon sacred things, set it to receive truth, to comprehend truth, which will lead to the working out of truth through the sanctification of heart, soul, and character. FE 379.1

Those who have this experience will not condescend to engage in the amusements that have been so absorbing and so misleading in their influence, revealing that the soul has not been eating and drinking the words of eternal life. The departure from the simplicity of true godliness on the part of the students was having an influence to weaken character and lessen mental vigor. Their advancement in the sciences was retarded, while if they were like Daniel, hearers and doers of the word of God, they would advance as he did in all branches of learning they entered upon. Being pure minded, they would become strong minded. Every intellectual faculty would be sharpened. Let the Bible be received as the only food for the soul, as it is the very best and most effectual for the purifying and strengthening of the intellect.—Special Testimonies On Education, April 22, 1895. FE 379.2