Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 47—Books and Authors in Our Schools

I have some matters which I wish to present before you in regard to education. The teachers in our schools have great respect for authors and books that are current in most of our educational institutions. All heaven has been looking upon our institutions of learning, and asking you, What is the chaff to the wheat? The Lord has given us the most precious instructions in His word, teaching us what characters we must form in this life to prepare us for the future, immortal life. It has been the custom to exalt books and authors that do not present the proper foundation for true education. From what source did these authors obtain their wisdom, a large share of which does not deserve our respect, even if the authors are regarded as being wise men? Have they taken their lessons from the greatest Teacher that the world ever knew? If not, they are decidedly in the fault. Those who are preparing for the heavenly abodes should be recommended to make the Bible their chief book of study. FE 381.1

These popular authors have not pointed out to the students the way that leads to eternal life. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. The authors of the books current in our schools are recommended and exalted as learned men; their education is in every way deficient, unless they themselves have been educated in the school of Christ, and by practical knowledge bear witness to the word of God as the most essential study for children and youth. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Books should have been prepared to place in the hands of students that would educate them to have a sincere, reverent love for truth and steadfast integrity. The class of studies which are positively essential in the formation of character to give them a preparation for the future life should be kept ever before them. Christ should be uplifted as the first great teacher, the only-begotten Son of God, who was with the Father from eternal ages. The Son of God was the great teacher sent into the world as the light of the world. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The Father was represented in Christ, and the attention in education must be of that character that they will look to Him and believe in Him as the likeness of God. He had a most wonderful mission to this world, and His work was not in a line to give a full relation of His personal claims to deity, but His humiliation was a concealment of His claims. This is why the Jewish nation did not acknowledge Christ as the Prince of life; because He did not come with display and outward appearance, for He hid under the garb of humanity His glorious character. FE 381.2

The human family was to consider Him in the light of the holy Scriptures, which were to testify of the manner of His coming. Had He come, displaying His glory that He had with His Father, then His pathway toward the cross would have been thwarted by the purpose of men, who would have taken Him by force, and made Him king. He was to close His life by making a solemn oblation of Himself. Type was to reach antitype in Jesus Christ. His whole life was a preface to His death on the cross. His character was a life of obedience to all God's commandments, and was to be a sample for all men upon the earth. His life was the living of the law in humanity. That law Adam transgressed. But Christ, by His perfect obedience to the law redeemed Adam's disgraceful failure and fall. FE 382.1

The prophecies are to be studied, and the life of Christ compared with the writings of the prophets. He identifies Himself with the prophecies, stating over and over again, They wrote of Me; they testify of Me. The Bible is the only book giving a positive description of Christ Jesus; and if every human being would study it as his lesson book, and obey it, not a soul would be lost. FE 382.2

All the rays of light shining in the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ, and testify of Him, linking together the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Christ is presented as the author and finisher of their faith, Himself the one in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” FE 383.1

What book can begin to compare with the Bible? It is essential for every child, for youth, and for those of mature age to understand; for it is the word of God, the word to guide all the human family to heaven. Then why does not the word from God contain the chief elements which constitute education? Uninspired authors are placed in the hands of children and youth in our schools as lesson books—books from which they are to be educated. They are kept before the youth, taking up their precious time in studying those things which they can never use. Many books have been introduced into the schools which should never have been placed there. These books do not in any sense voice the words of John, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The whole line of study in our schools should be to prepare a people for the future, immortal life. FE 383.2

Jesus Christ is the knowledge of the Father, and Christ is our great teacher sent from God. Christ has declared in the sixth chapter of John that He is that bread sent down from heaven. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” The disciples did not comprehend His words. Says Christ, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” FE 383.3

It is of immense importance, in the light of the lessons of Christ, that every human being should study the Scriptures, that he may be convinced in whom his hopes of eternal life are centered. The Bible should ever have been made the great, grand book of study, which has come down to us from heaven, and is the word of life. Should that book which tells us what we must do in order to be saved, be set aside in a corner, and human productions be exalted as the great wisdom in education? The very knowledge children and youth need to obtain for usefulness in this life, and that they may carry with them in the future life, is found in the word of God. But this is not encouraged and presented before them as the most essential knowledge, and as that which will give the most correct information of the true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. There are gods many and doctrines many. There are maxims and commandments placed before our youth as the commandments of God. It is impossible for them to understand what is truth, what is the sacred, and what is the common, only as they understand the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. FE 384.1

The word of God is to stand as the highest educating book in our world, and is to be treated with reverential awe. It is our guidebook; we shall receive from it the truth. We need to present the Bible as the great lesson book to place in the hands of our children and youth, that they may know Christ, whom to know aright is life eternal. It is the book to be studied by those of middle age, and those who are aged. The word contains promises, warnings, encouragement, and assurances of the love of God to all who accept Him as their Saviour. Then place the holy word in their hands. Encourage them to search the word, and they will in so doing find hidden treasures of inestimable value to them in this present life, and in receiving Christ as the bread of life they have the promise of eternal life. FE 384.2

The lesson book, the Bible, contains the instruction of the character they must have, the moral excellence of character which must be cultivated, which God and heaven require. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” FE 385.1

This all-important knowledge is to be kept before children and youth, not in an arbitrary, dictatorial manner, but as divine disclosures, which are of the highest value to secure their present peace, quietude, and rest of mind in this present world of turmoil and strife, and as a preparation for the future, eternal life in the kingdom of God, where they shall see God, and know God and Jesus Christ, who gave His precious life to redeem them. FE 385.2

Christ came in the form of humanity to live the law of God. He was the word of life. He came to be the gospel of salvation to the world, and to fulfil every specification of the law. Jesus is the word, the guidebook, which must be received and obeyed in every particular. How necessary that this mine of truth be explored, and the precious treasures of truth be discovered and secured as rich jewels. The incarnation of Christ, His divinity, His atonement, His wonderful life in heaven as our advocate, the office of the Holy Spirit,—all these living, vital themes of Christianity are revealed from Genesis to Revelation. The golden links of truth form a chain of evangelical truth, and the first, and staple, is found in the great teachings of Christ Jesus. Why, then, should not the Scriptures be ennobled and exalted in every school in our land? How little children are educated to study the Bible as the word of God, and feed upon its truths, which are the flesh and blood of the Son of God! “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood [that is, continues to receive the words of Christ, and practice them], hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” “And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” FE 385.3

There is necessity for every family to make the Bible the book of their study. Christ's sayings are pure gold, without one particle of dross, unless men, with their human understanding, shall try to put it there, and make falsehood appear as a portion of truth. To those who have received the false interpretation of the word, when they search the Scriptures with the determined effort to obtain the very marrow of truth contained in them, the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of their understanding, and the truths of the word are to them as a new revelation. Their hearts are quickened to a new and living faith, and they behold wondrous things out of His law. The teachings of Christ have a breadth and depth to many which they have never understood before. FE 386.1

The doctrines of grace and truth are not really understood by the larger number of our students and church members. Blindness of mind has happened to Israel. For human agents to misconstrue and put a forced, half truthful, and mystical construction upon the oracles of God, is an act which endangers their own souls, and the souls of others. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18, 19. Those who, by their human construction, shall make the Scripture to utter that which Christ has never placed upon it, weaken its force, making the voice of God in instruction and warnings to testify falsehood, to avoid the inconvenience incurred by obedience to God's requirements, have become signboards, pointing in the wrong direction, into false paths, which lead to transgression and death. FE 386.2

The testimony of the Alpha and Omega in regard to the punishment for making nonessential one word spoken by the mouth of God, is the fearful denunciation that they shall receive of the plagues that are written in the book; their names shall be taken out of the book of life, and from the holy city. FE 387.1

How many can truthfully answer this question, What is the essential education for this time? Education means much more than many suppose. True education embraces physical, mental, and moral training, in order that all the powers shall be fitted for the best development, to do service for God, and to work for the uplifting of humanity. To seek for self-recognition, for self-glorification, will leave the human agent destitute of the Spirit of God, destitute of that grace which will make him a useful, efficient worker for Christ. Those who desire only to glorify God will not be striving to bring their supposed merits into notice, or striving for recognition, or for the highest place. They that hear the call of the world's Redeemer, and obey that call, will be recognized as a distinct, self-sacrificing, holy people. FE 387.2

If the students in our schools will listen for the purpose of hearing and obeying the invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light,” they will be living epistles, known and read of all men. “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The youth are in need of educators who shall keep the word of God ever before them in living principles. If they will keep Bible precepts ever as their textbook, they will have greater influence over the youth; for the teachers will be learners, having a living touch with God. All the time they are inculcating ideas and principles that will lead to a greater knowledge of God, and earnest, growing faith in their behalf in the blood of Jesus, and the power and efficiency of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to keep them from falling; because they are constantly seeking the strongholds of a healthful and well-balanced Christian experience, carrying with them qualifications for future usefulness, and intelligence, and piety. The teachers see and feel that they must labor not to dwarf and taint the minds of their associates, with a sickly half-religious service. There is need of separating from our educational institutions an erroneous, polluted literature, so that ideas will not be received as seeds of sin. Let none suppose that education means a study of books that will lead to the reception of ideas of authors that will sow seed and spring up to bear fruit that must be bound up in bundles with the world, separating them from the Source of all wisdom, all efficiency, and all power, leaving them the sport of Satan's arch-deceiving power. A pure education for youth in our schools, undiluted with heathen philosophy, is a positive necessity in literary lines. FE 387.3

The well-being, the happiness, of the religious life in the families with which they are connected, the prosperity and piety of the church of which they are members, are largely dependent upon the religious education that the youth have received in our schools.—Special Testimonies On Education, June 12, 1895. FE 388.1