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Fundamentals of Christian Education

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    Chapter 45—The Essential Education

    I have written largely in reference to students spending an unreasonably long time in gaining an education; but I hope I shall not be misunderstood in regard to what is essential education. I do not mean that a superficial work should be done as is illustrated by the way in which some portions of the land are worked in Australia. The plow was only put in the depth of a few inches, the ground was not prepared for the seed, and the harvest was meager, corresponding to the superficial preparation that was given to the land.FE 368.1

    God has given inquiring minds to youth and children. Their reasoning powers are intrusted to them as precious talents. It is the duty of parents to keep the matter of their education before them in its true meaning; for it comprehends many lines. They should be taught to improve every talent and organ, expecting that they will be used in the service of Christ for the uplifting of fallen humanity. Our schools are the Lord's special instrumentality to fit up the children and youth for missionary work. Parents should understand their responsibility, and help their children to appreciate the great privileges and blessings that God has provided for them in educational advantages.FE 368.2

    But their domestic education should keep pace with their education in literary lines. In childhood and youth practical and literary training should be combined, and the mind stored with knowledge. Parents should feel that they have a solemn work to do, and should take hold of it earnestly. They are to train and mold the characters of their children. They should not be satisfied with doing surface work. Before every child is opened up a life involved with highest interests; for they are to be made complete in Christ through the instrumentalities which God has furnished. The soil of the heart should be preoccupied; the seeds of truth should be sown therein in the earliest years. If parents are careless in this matter, they will be called to account for their unfaithful stewardship. Children should be dealt with tenderly and lovingly, and taught that Christ is their personal Saviour, and that by the simple process of giving their hearts and minds to Him they become His disciples.FE 368.3

    Children should be taught to have a part in domestic duties. They should be instructed how to help father and mother in the little things that they can do. Their minds should be trained to think, their memories taxed to remember their appointed work; and in the training to habits of usefulness in the home, they are being educated in doing practical duties appropriate to their age. If children have proper home training, they will not be found upon the streets receiving the haphazard education that so many receive. Parents who love their children in a sensible way will not permit them to grow up with lazy habits, and ignorant of how to do home duties. Ignorance is not acceptable to God, and is unfavorable for the doing of His work. To be ignorant is not to be considered a mark of humility, or something for which men should be praised. But God works for people in spite of their ignorance. Those who have had no opportunity for acquiring knowledge, or who have had opportunity and have failed to improve it, and become converted to God, can be useful in the service of the Lord through the operation of His Holy Spirit. But those who have education, and who consecrate themselves to the service of God, can do service in a greater variety of ways, and can accomplish a much more extensive work in bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth than can those who are uneducated. They are on vantage ground, because of the discipline of mind which they have had. We would not depreciate education in the least, but would counsel that it be carried forward with a full sense of the shortness of time, and the great work that is to be accomplished before the coming of Christ. We would not have the students receive the idea that they can spend many years in acquiring an education. Let them use the education that they can acquire in a reasonable length of time, in carrying forward the work of God. Our Saviour is in the sanctuary pleading in our behalf. He is our interceding High Priest, making an atoning sacrifice for us, pleading in our behalf the efficacy of His blood. Parents should seek to represent this Saviour to their children to establish in their minds the plan of salvation, how that because of transgression of the law of God, Christ became our sin-bearer. The fact that the only-begotten Son of God gave His life because of man's transgression, to satisfy justice and to vindicate the honor of God's law, should be constantly kept before the minds of children and youth. The object of this great sacrifice should also be kept before them; for it was to uplift fallen man degraded by sin that this great sacrifice was made. Christ suffered in order that through faith in Him our sins might be pardoned. He became man's substitute and surety, Himself taking the punishment, though all undeserving, that we who deserved it might be free, and return to our allegiance to God through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. He is our only hope of salvation. Through His sacrifice we who are now on probation are prisoners of hope. We are to reveal to the universe, to the world fallen and to worlds unfallen, that there is forgiveness with God, that through the love of God we may be reconciled to God. Man repents, becomes contrite in heart, believes in Christ as His atoning sacrifice, and realizes that God is reconciled to him.FE 369.1

    We should cherish gratitude of heart all the days of our life because the Lord has put on record these words: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” The reconciliation of God to man, and man to God, is sure when certain conditions are met. The Lord says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Again He says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” “Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off.” “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” The psalmist writes, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Though He is the restorer of fallen humanity, yet “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifteth up the meek: He casteth the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God.... The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.”FE 370.1

    How precious are the lessons of this psalm. We might well devote study to the last four psalms of David. The words also of the prophet are very precious: “Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten Me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.” “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”—Special Testimonies On Education, April 22, 1895.FE 371.1

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