Dear Brethren around the world,
Warm Christian greetings with the following words from Inspiration, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” ().
“Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent’ (). If this is the price of heaven, shall not our education be conducted on these lines?”—Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 53.
I just finished reading Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 126–167, Section 3, entitled “Education—The Need of Educational Reform.” This is a very solemn message that demands special attention from our leaders at all levels, and especially from our ministers, elders, Field leaders, and teachers. However, we believe that all our members, especially parents, should give special attention to this message.
We are greatly concerned about our schools in various countries. If we follow the divine blueprint concerning true education, our schools will be the best instruments to win souls for the kingdom of God.
Taking into consideration that the above-mentioned chapter contains a large amount of material, I have selected the most striking paragraphs from it for your reading. However, I would strongly recommend the reading of the entire section by Ellen G. White (excerpts follow with emphasis added throughout):
The Need of Educational Reform
“And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.” “And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”; . These words of Inspiration present before believers in present truth the work that should now be done in the education of our children and youth. When the truth for these last days came to the world in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angel’s messages, we were shown that in the education of our children a different order of things must be brought in; but it has taken much time to understand what changes should be made.
Our work is reformatory; and it is the purpose of God that through the excellence of the work done in our educational institutions the attention of the people shall be called to the last great effort to save the perishing….
Most earnest attention must be given to the education which will impart a knowledge of salvation, and will conform the life and character to the divine similitude. It is the love of God, the purity of soul woven into the life like threads of gold, that is of true worth. The height man may thus reach has not been fully realized.
For the accomplishment of this work a broad foundation must be laid. A new purpose must be brought in and find place, and students must be aided in applying Bible principles in all they do. Whatever is crooked, whatever is twisted out of the right line, is to be plainly pointed out and avoided; for it is iniquity not to be perpetuated. It is important that every teacher should love and cherish sound principles and doctrines, for this is the light to be reflected upon the pathway of all students.
The Third Angel’s Message in our Schools
In the book of Revelation we read of a special work that God desires to have His people do in these last days. He has revealed His law and shown us the truth for this time. This truth is constantly unfolding, and God designs that we shall be intelligent in regard to it, that we may be able to distinguish between right and wrong, between righteousness and unrighteousness.
The third angel’s message, the great testing truth for this time, is to be taught in all our institutions….
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”, , . This is the education that is to be patiently given. Let our lessons be appropriate for the day in which we live, and let our religious instruction be given in accordance with the message God sends.
We shall have to stand before magistrates to answer for our allegiance to the law of God, to make known the reasons of our faith. And the youth should understand these things. They should know the things that will come to pass before the closing up of the world’s history. These things concern our eternal welfare, and teachers and students should give more attention to them. By pen and voice, knowledge should be imparted which will be meat in due season, not only to the young, but to those of mature years also….
Will we as a people do this God-given work? Will we carefully heed all the light that has been given, keeping constantly before us the one object of fitting students for the kingdom of God? …
We are living in the closing scenes of these perilous times. The Lord foresaw the unbelief that now prevails respecting His coming; and again and again He has given warning in His word that this event will be unexpected. The great day will come as a snare “on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”. But there are two classes. To one the apostle gives these encouraging words: “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” ….
The great, grand work of bringing out a people who will have Christlike characters, and who will be able to stand in the day of the Lord, is to be accomplished. As long as we sail with the current of the world we need neither canvas nor oar. It is when we turn squarely about to stem the current that our labors begin. Satan will bring in every kind of theory to pervert the truth. The work will go hard, for since the fall of Adam it has been the fashion of the world to sin….
Then let no more time be lost in dwelling on the many things which are not essential and which have no bearing upon the present necessities of God’s people. Let no more time be lost in exalting men who know not the truth, “for the time is at hand.” There is no time now to fill the mind with theories of what is popularly called “higher education.” The time devoted to that which does not tend to assimilate the soul to the likeness of Christ is so much time lost for eternity. This we cannot afford, for every moment is freighted with eternal interests. Now, when the great work of judging the living is about to begin, shall we allow unsanctified ambition to take possession of the heart and lead us to neglect the education required to meet the needs in this day of peril? …
Bible study is especially needed in the schools. Students should be rooted and grounded in divine truth. Their attention should be called, not to the assertions of men, but to the word of God. Above all other books, the word of God must be our study, the great textbook, the basis of all education; and our children are to be educated in the truths found therein, irrespective of previous habits and customs. In doing this, teachers and students will find the hidden treasure, the higher education.
Bible rules are to be the guide of the daily life. The cross of Christ is to be the theme, revealing the lessons we must learn and practice. Christ must be brought into all the studies, that students may drink in the knowledge of God and may represent Him in character. His excellence is to be our study in time as well as in eternity. The word of God, spoken by Christ in the Old and New Testaments, is the bread from heaven; but much that is called science is as dishes of human invention, adulterated food; it is not the true manna.…
The study of God’s word should take the place of the study of those books that have led minds into mysticism and away from the truth. Its living principles, woven into our lives, will be our safeguard in trials and temptations; its divine instruction is the only way to success. As the test comes to every soul, there will be apostasies. Some will prove to be traitors, heady, high-minded, and self-sufficient, and will turn away from the truth, making shipwreck of faith. Why? Because they did not live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” They did not dig deep and make their foundation sure.
When the words of the Lord through His chosen messengers are brought to them, they murmur and think the way is made too strait. In the sixth chapter of John we read of some who were thought to be disciples of Christ, but who, when the plain truth was presented to them, were displeased and walked no more with Him. In like manner these superficial students also will turn away from Christ.
Everyone who has been converted to God is called upon to grow in capability by using his talents; every branch of the living Vine that does not grow is pruned off and cast away as rubbish. What, then, shall be the character of the education given in our schools? Shall it be according to the wisdom of this world or according to that wisdom that is from above? Will not teachers awake to their responsibility in this matter and see that the word of God has a larger place in the instruction given in our schools?
The Training of Workers
One great object of our schools is the training of youth to engage in service in our institutions and in different lines of gospel work. The people everywhere are to have the Bible opened to them. The time has come, the important time when through God’s messengers the scroll is being unrolled to the world. The truth comprised in the first, second, and third angels’ messages must go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; it must lighten the darkness of every continent and extend to the islands of the sea. Nothing of human invention must be allowed to retard this work. That this may be accomplished, there is need of cultivated and consecrated talent; there is need of persons who can do excellent work in the meekness of Christ because self is hid in Christ….
There is an urgent demand for laborers in the gospel field. Young men are needed for this work; God calls for them. Their education is of primary importance in our colleges, and in no case should it be ignored or regarded as a secondary matter. It is entirely wrong for teachers, by suggesting other occupations, to discourage young men who might be qualified to do acceptable work in the ministry. Those who present hindrances to prevent young men from fitting themselves for this work are counterworking the plans of God, and they will have to give an account of their course. There is among us more than an average of men of ability. If their capabilities were brought into use, we should have twenty ministers where we now have one….
In our schools missionary nurses should receive lessons from well-qualified physicians, and as a part of their education should learn how to battle with disease and to show the value of nature’s remedies. This work is greatly needed….
The best ministerial talent should be employed in teaching the Bible in our schools. Those selected for this work need to be thorough Bible students and to have a deep Christian experience, and their salary should be paid from the tithe….
Elements of Success
In the work of reform, teachers and students should cooperate, each working to the best advantage to make our schools such as God can approve. Unity of action is necessary to success….
Hindrances to Reform
To some extent the Bible has been introduced into our schools, and some efforts have been made in the direction of reform; but it is most difficult to adopt right principles after having been so long accustomed to popular methods. The first attempts to change the old customs brought severe trials upon those who would walk in the way which God has pointed out. Mistakes have been made, and great loss has resulted. There have been hindrances which have tended to keep us in common, worldly lines, and to prevent us from grasping true educational principles. To the unconverted, who view matters from the lowlands of human selfishness, unbelief, and indifference, right principles and methods have appeared wrong….
We need now to begin over again. Reforms must be entered into with heart and soul and will. Errors may be hoary with age; but age does not make error truth, nor truth error. Altogether too long have the old customs and habits been followed. The Lord would now have every idea that is false put away from teachers and students. We are not at liberty to teach that which shall meet the world’s standard or the standard of the church, simply because it is the custom to do so. The lessons which Christ taught are to be the standard. That which the Lord has spoken concerning the instruction to be given in our schools is to be strictly regarded; for if there is not in some respects an education of an altogether different character from that which has been carried on in some of our schools, we need not have gone to the expense of purchasing lands and erecting school buildings.
Some will urge that if religious teaching is to be made prominent our schools will become unpopular; that those who are not of our faith will not patronize them. Very well; then let them go to other schools, where they will find a system of education that suits their taste. It is Satan’s purpose by these considerations to prevent the attainment of the object for which our schools were established. Hindered by his devices, the managers reason after the manner of the world and copy its plans and imitate its customs. Many have so far shown their lack of wisdom from above as to join with the enemies of God and the truth in providing worldly entertainments for the students. In doing this they bring upon themselves the frown of God, for they mislead the youth and do a work for Satan. This work, with all its results, they must meet at the bar of God.
Those who pursue such a course show that they cannot be trusted. After the evil has been done, they may confess their error; but can they undo the influence they have exerted? Will the “well done” be spoken to those who have been false to their trust? These unfaithful workmen have not built upon the eternal Rock, and their foundation will prove to be sliding sand. When the Lord requires us to be distinct and peculiar, how can we crave popularity or seek to imitate the customs and practices of the world? “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”.
To lower the standard in order to secure popularity and an increase of numbers, and then to make this increase a cause of rejoicing, shows great blindness. If numbers were an evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for in this world his followers are largely in the majority. It is the degree of moral power pervading a school that is a test of its prosperity. It is the virtue, intelligence, and piety of the people composing our schools, not their numbers, that should be a source of joy and thankfulness. Then shall our schools become converted to the world and follow its customs and fashions? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye ... be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”, .
Men will employ every means to make less prominent the difference between Seventh-day Adventists and observers of the first day of the week. A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner, or sign, which makes us a distinct people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed that this was not the best policy in order to secure success to our institutions. But this is not a time to haul down our colors, to be ashamed of our faith. This distinctive banner, described in the words, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,” is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. While efforts should be increased to advance in different localities, there must be no cloaking of our faith to secure patronage. Truth must come to souls ready to perish; and if it is in any way hidden, God is dishonored, and the blood of souls will be upon our garments.
Just as long as those in connection with our institutions walk humbly with God, heavenly intelligences will cooperate with them; but let all bear in mind the fact that God has said: “Them that honor Me I will honor.”. Never for one moment should the impression be given to anyone that it would be for his profit to hide his faith and doctrines from the unbelieving people of the world, fearing that he may not be so highly esteemed if his principles are known. Christ requires from all His followers open, manly confession of faith. Each must take his position and be what God designed he should be, a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. The whole universe is looking with inexpressible interest to see the closing work of the great controversy between Christ and Satan…. Never, from cowardice or worldly policy, let the truth of God be placed in the background.…
To Teachers and Managers
I call upon our school faculties to use sound judgment and to work on a higher plane. Our educational facilities must be purified from all dross. Our institutions must be conducted on Christian principles if they would triumph over opposing obstacles….
We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world’s standard, but we are to make the distinction decidedly apparent. The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that there has been so little decided difference between our practices and those of the world….
If we ever reach heaven, it will be by linking our souls to Christ, leaning upon Him, and cutting loose from the world, its follies and enchantments….
It is not men whom we are to exalt, but God, the only true and living God. The unselfish life, the generous, self-sacrificing spirit, the sympathy and love of those who hold positions of trust in our institutions, should have a purifying, ennobling influence which would be eloquent for good. Their words in counsel would not then come from a self-sufficient, self-exalted spirit; but their unobtrusive virtues would be of more value than gold….
Reformers are not destroyers. They will never seek to ruin those who do not harmonize with their plans and assimilate to them. Reformers must advance, not retreat. They must be decided, firm, resolute, unflinching; but firmness must not degenerate into a domineering spirit. God desires to have all who serve Him firm as a rock where principle is concerned, but meek and lowly of heart, as was Christ. Then, abiding in Christ, they can do the work He would do were He in their place. A rude, condemnatory spirit is not essential to heroism in the reforms for this time. All selfish methods in the service of God are an abomination in His sight….
It may be difficult for teachers to give up long-cherished ideas and methods; but if they will honestly and humbly inquire at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” and will yield to His guidance, He will lead them in safe paths, and their views will change by experience….
None but He who has created man can effect a change in the human heart. God alone can give the increase. Every teacher is to realize that he is to be moved by divine agencies. The human judgment and ideas of the most experienced are liable to be imperfect and faulty, and the frail instrument, subject to his own hereditary traits of character, has need to submit to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit every day, else self will gather the reins and want to drive. In the meek and lowly spirit of the learner all human methods and plans and ideas must be brought to God for His correction and endorsement; otherwise the restless energy of Paul or the skillful logic of Apollos will be powerless to effect the conversion of souls.
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 126–167.
Your brother in the blessed hope,
Davi Paes Silva