In today’s society we have been placed in a position where we are now calling good evil, and evil good. Remember, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20. The measure of one’s usefulness in life is no longer seen through the lens of God’s Kingdom. Thus, the education sought to prepare for one’s work in this life is often contrary to that which God recommends. As a worldly education precedes worldly work, so godly education precedes godly work. The very elements inculcated through God’s education plan—humility, self-distrust, a sense of one’s own weakness—are eroded by the enemy through worldly education, which instead produces attributes of self-confidence, pride, self-sufficiency and a sense of being competent. Are you being qualified to be used by God, or has a worldly education qualified you to be used by men only? You cannot serve God and mammon. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.
Those who have received a worldly education, but wish to serve Christ, would do well to study the life of Moses. Moses had gained an education from the Lord through his mother in childhood, but upon entering the courts of Egypt he was groomed for Egyptian royalty. The Spirit of Prophecy says of Moses: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” 3SG 182.2. He entered the pinnacle of worldly education, and from such a school he would emerge a murderer. Much like Cain, he discovered that he relied on self to solve his problems. The Bible speaks of two classes of people as being either sheep or goats. Moses, like the goat when it uses its horns to protect itself against an attacker, sought to take matters into his own hands. Moses needed to learn to be a sheep, to rely on the Master Shepherd for his direction and defense. Changing enrollment, He then entered the school of Christ in the wilderness, there he learned in a more practical environment the valuable lessons that his Great Teacher, the Creator of the universe, would have him learn. “For forty years God tested and disciplined him, preparing him for his important work. For forty years Moses dwelt in the wilderness and receiving from God an education that made him a wise, tender, and humble man. When this time was ended, his self-confidence was gone; he was meek and lowly, so divested of self that God could communicate to him his will in regard to the people he had chosen, and whom he designed to educate and discipline in their wilderness life, while he was preparing for them a home in the land of Canaan.” YI, December 13, 1900 par. 7. Stripped of self, he emerged from this school the most humble man on earth. Meekness and humility would henceforth characterize everything he did. He was now fully prepared to lead God’s pupils—the children of Israel—in the wilderness school.
“None are too highly educated to become humble disciples of Christ. Those who feel it a privilege to give the best of their life and learning to Him from whom they received them, will shun no labor, no sacrifice, to render back to God in highest service His entrusted talents. In the great battle of life many of the workers lose sight of the solemnity and sacred character of their mission.” 5T 583.1. Thus, Wycliffe, though thoroughly educated in the schools of his day, understood that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Speaking of Wycliffe, the Spirit of Prophecy says, “The Lord saw fit to intrust the work of reform to one whose intellectual ability would give character and dignity to his labors. This silenced the voice of contempt, and prevented the adversaries of truth from attempting to put discredit upon his cause by ridiculing the ignorance of the advocate.” 4SP 86.2.
There are few who have entered within the jaws of worldly education and survive to be used by God. Daniel and his three Hebrew companions, not out of choice but as a result of enslavement, were put through the three years of worldly Babylonian education. However, they maintained the standard of Jehovah through it all. They did not yield in the smallest measure to any demand placed on them that contradicted the requirements of God. They emerged from this school, brilliant, for God’s wisdom sustained them. When called to serve, they made it plain that it was God who gave them their wisdom. In Babylon, the wisdom of God was revealed to surpass the wisdom of man. Time and time again the wisdom of God was able to shine through his servants, solving some of the greatest mysteries in Babylon which none of the worldly wise men could solve. While the king thought that he was training them to fit into a Babylonian society, God was educating them to be witnesses to the entire kingdom and to make His name known throughout the earth.
In the history of the Waldenses, there came a time when some of the youth were sent out to the universities around them as undercover missionaries while students. Trained for service, these young people were bombarded by Satan’s temptation, but like Daniel they were trained to uphold the fear of God before them in all things. The Great Controversy tells us that, “From their schools in the mountains some of the youth were sent to institutions of learning in the cities of France or Italy, where was a more extended field for study, thought, and observation that in their native Alps. The youth thus sent forth were exposed to temptation, they witnessed vice, they encountered Satan’s wily agents, who urged upon them the most subtle heresies and the most dangerous deceptions. But their education from childhood had been of a character to prepare them for all this. In the schools whither they went, they were not to make confidants of any. Their garments were so prepared as to conceal their greatest treasure,—the precious manuscripts of the Scriptures. These, the fruit of months and years of toil, they carried with them, and, whenever they could do so without exciting suspicion, they cautiously placed some portion in the way of those whose hearts seemed open to receive the truth. From their mother’s knee the Waldensian youth had been trained with this purpose in view; they understood their work, and faithfully performed it. Converts to the true faith were won in these institutions of learning, and frequently its principles were found to be permeating the entire school; yet the papist leaders could not, by the closest inquiry, trace the so-called corrupting heresy to its source. The spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour. Such was the spirit of the Vaudois Christians. They felt that God required more of them than merely to preserve the truth in its purity in their own churches; that a solemn responsibility rested upon them to let their light shine forth to those who were in darkness; by the mighty power of God’s Word they sought to break the bondage which Rome had imposed.” GC 88 69-70.
Please note the decided mission of the youth thus sent. They were trained from childhood for such a work, they did not make close friendships with unbelievers, they carried God’s Word to share, their garments were different, their principles permeated the universities, they were missionaries in a strange land. How many of our youth today enter the universities with such a mandate and training? Without it they become corrupt and soon resemble unbelievers in dress, conversation, and spirit.
There are many who have received their education from so-called “Christian institutions”, but are not qualified to serve God. For the institutions were Christian in name, but papal in spirit. They received a worldly education in the name of Christ, and thus are not suited to be used by Him. Study the life of Paul. The life of Saul, turned Paul, is weighted with educational lessons. The mighty one that emerged is the born again experience needed by even those who are educated by the so-called Christian schools of the day. Until Saul became Paul he was not able to be used by God. He emerged from the best of Jewish education a mass murderer. Standing by while Stephen was stoned, and seeking out other followers of Christ to be killed. However, God was about to confront him and give him a chance to enroll in a different school, the School of Christ in the Arabian desert. The Spirit of Prophecy says, “Here, in the solitude of the desert, Paul had ample opportunity for quiet study and meditation. He calmly reviewed his past experience and made sure work of repentance. He sought God with all his heart, resting not until he knew for a certainty that his repentance was accepted and his sin pardoned. He longed for the assurance that Jesus would be with him in his coming ministry. He emptied his soul of the prejudices and traditions that had hitherto shaped his life, and received instruction from the Source of truth. Jesus communed with him and established him in the faith, bestowing upon him a rich measure of wisdom and grace. When the mind of man is brought into communion with the mind of God, the finite with the Infinite, the effect on body and mind and soul is beyond estimate. In such communion is found the highest education. It is God’s own method of development. “Acquaint now thyself with Him” (Job 22:21), is His message to mankind.” AA 125-126. So complete was the character transformation after God’s training, that a name change was necessary. Central to a true Christian education is the molding of character for service now, and eternally with Christ.
The simple and uneducated may see their role as minor in God’s cause, yet if they would only be willing to be used by God they would find major roles to fill. The disciples were not formerly educated in the schools of the day, they were simple fishermen who after being taught by Jesus marveled men on the day of Pentecost. “And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?” Acts 2:7. With eloquence and dignity, filled with the Holy Ghost, they were able to lead men to Christ. All, but Judas, graduated from the school of Christ. Judas, well known and ambitious, saw in following Jesus a chance to advance himself. A few quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy would enlighten us as to why Judas failed his exam in the school of Christ.
“The love of money had perverted the nobler nature of Judas, making him a fit agent for Satan to use in the betrayal of Christ. When Judas had become annoyed at the implied rebuke of Jesus because of his covetous spirit upon the occasion of Mary anointing her Lord with costly ointment, he yielded to the tempter, and gave Satan easy access to his mind. But when he decided to sell his Master to the murderous priests and rulers, he had no thought that Jesus would permit himself to be taken. He thought the priests would be cheated of their bribe, and he, the betrayer, would secure the money to use for some purpose of his own, and Jesus would have a new opportunity to display his divine power in delivering himself from the wiles of his enemies.” 3SP 125.2.
“In all that Christ said to His disciples, there was something with which, in heart, Judas disagreed. Under his influence the leaven of disaffection was fast doing its work. The disciples did not see the real agency in all this; but Jesus saw that Satan was communicating his attributes to Judas, and thus opening up a channel through which to influence the other disciples. This, a year before the betrayal, Christ declared. “Have not I chosen you twelve,” He said, “and one of you is a devil?” John 6:70.
“Yet Judas made no open opposition, nor seemed to question the Saviour’s lessons. He made no outward murmur until the time of the feast in Simon’s house. When Mary anointed the Saviour’s feet, Judas manifested his covetous disposition. At the reproof from Jesus his very spirit seemed turned to gall. Wounded pride and desire for revenge broke down the barriers, and the greed so long indulged held him in control. This will be the experience of everyone who persists in tampering with sin. The elements of depravity that are not resisted and overcome, respond to Satan’s temptation, and the soul is led captive at his will.” DA 720.1-2.
“Jesus connected John, Peter, and Judas with Him in His work, making them colaborers with Him; but at the same time they were to be constantly learning lessons of Christ. They were to gather from His divine teachings instructions which were to correct their wrong ideas and their erroneous views of what constitutes a Christian character. John and Peter were not perfect men, but they improved every opportunity to learn. Peter did not learn to distrust himself, to be jealous of himself, until he was overcome by the temptations of the devil and denied his Lord. Judas had the same opportunity that these disciples had to learn the lessons taught by Christ, but he did not appreciate their value. He was a hearer only and not a doer. The result was seen in his betrayal of his Lord.” 5T 557.1.
Simply put, Judas never let go of self or this world. He wanted both, but could not handle the consequences of his decisions. He was not obedient to any of the lessons given in the school of Christ. Consequently, he bore the fruits of the school of the arch enemy, he became a murderer, leading the men to his master whom he betrayed. Many today are not willing to be humble learners, and though pretending to be enrolled in the school of Christ they refuse to be humble. The lesson for all is spelled out in the Spirit of Prophecy, “The men whom God has connected with His institutions are not to feel that there is no improvement for them to make because they stand in responsible positions. If they are to be representative men, guardians of the most sacred work ever committed to mortals, they must take the position of learners. They must not feel self-sufficient or self-important. They should ever realize that they are treading on holy ground. Angels of God are ready to minister to them, and they must be continually in reception of light and heavenly influences, or they are no more fitted for the work than unbelievers.” 5T 557.2. If we don’t humbly learn of Christ we are no better prepared to serve Him than are the unbelievers.
In a time when most Christian educational agencies are leavened by worldly influence, it is important that the child of God understands that he still has a choice. This choice was made by the parents of John, Jesus, Timothy, Samuel and David. The forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, was not permitted to go to the Christian schools of his day. Ellen white says, “In the natural order of things, the son of Zacharias would have been educated for the priesthood. But the training of the rabbinical schools would have unfitted him for his work. God did not send him to the teachers of theology to learn how to interpret the Scriptures. He called him to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature’s God.” DA 101.3. Attending the church school would have unfit him, disqualify him, made him an instrument of the devil and not of God. Becoming a priest through training in the theology schools of the day, did not guarantee that he could be an instrument of God. Could this be said of some of the church schools today? In attending them, are persons being unfitted to give the Loud Cry? With his divine education John was able to eloquently fulfill his role in life. “His words were plain, pointed, and convincing. Many believed him to be one of the prophets risen from the dead. The whole nation was stirred. Multitudes flocked to the wilderness.” DA 104.3. The way was prepared for the first advent of Jesus to this earth.
The greatest Teacher that ever lived set an example for us to consider. Given the corruption evident in the church schools of His day, the choice for His parents was a simple one. He was not allowed to attend the church schools, instead he learned at home from his mother using both scripture and nature. The Desire of Ages states, “The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools.” DA 70.1. “The question asked during the Saviour’s ministry, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” does not indicate that Jesus was unable to read, but merely that He had not received a rabbinical education.” John 7:15. Ibid. 70.2. Formal education is a tool that should fit one to be of service to God. If it does not fulfill its role, but turn the hearts of children away from God, then attending such schools become unnecessary, even risky for the parents who wish to see their children saved at last.
The way God looks at us will always stand in contrast with the way the world measures us. When looking for those who will make excellent leaders, his choice often surprises many. The story is a familiar one. In the days of the judges, when God was looking for a man to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Middianites, he chose Gideon. Gideon did not have the traditional training for leadership, he was not a ruler, priest, or Levite. However, God saw in him the very qualifications necessary—he was distrustful of himself and willing to obey God. In Patriarchs and Prophets, we read:
“The leader whom God chose to overthrow the Midianites occupied no prominent position in Israel. He was not a ruler, a priest, or a Levite. He thought himself the least in his father’s house. But God saw in him a man of courage and integrity. He was distrustful of himself and willing to follow the guidance of the Lord. God does not always choose for His work men of the greatest talents, but He selects those whom He can best use. “Before honor is humility.” Proverbs 15:33. The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.
“If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibility or success without becoming self-confident and forgetful of their dependence upon God. This is why, in choosing the instruments for His work, the Lord passes by those whom the world honors as great, talented, and brilliant. They are too often proud and self-sufficient. They feel competent to act without counsel from God.” PP 553.2-3.
The life of Ellen White vividly showed that despite a limited formal education, great scholarship is possible with God. When writing about our time, she says, “Some who are regarded as uneducated will be called to the service of the Master, even as the humble, unlearned fishermen were called by the Saviour. Men will be called from the plow, as was Elisha, and will be moved to take up the work that God has appointed them. They will begin to labor in simplicity and quietness, reading and explaining the Scriptures to others. Their simple efforts will be successful.” TDG 115.2.
Also, “Elijah took Elisha from the plow and threw upon him his mantle of consecration. The call to this great and solemn work was presented to men of learning and position; had these been little in their own eyes and trusted fully in the Lord, He would have honored them with bearing His standard in triumph to the victory. But they separated from God, yielded to the influence of the world, and the Lord rejected them.
“Many have exalted science and lost sight of the God of science. This was not the case with the church in the purest times.
“God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the outward training of scientific institutions. These facilities are not to be despised or condemned; they are ordained of God, but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications. God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned, self- important mortals.” 5T 82.2-4.
Today we are admonished, “The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to “science falsely so called” will not be the leaders then. Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file.” 5T 79.5.
There are a few who are privileged to truly receive a Christian education. To these may it be said of you as it was said of the Waldenses, “The messenger of truth went on his way; but his appearance of humility, his sincerity, his earnestness and deep fervor, were subjects of frequent remark… Could he have been an angel from Heaven? they queried.” GC88 75.3.
The sentiment uttered about Job could be said about all who fully enroll in the school of Christ, learning its lessons daily and being transformed by His grace. “Of Job, the patriarch of Uz, the testimony of the Searcher of hearts was, “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” Ed 155.2.
Unfortunately, the Bible speaks of a class who were once enrolled in the school of Christ and may still profess to be, but are full of pride, self-willed, unstable souls, loving the wages of unrighteousness—love money like Balaam—they are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of truth. 2 Peter 2: 9-21 says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbade the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest: to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
A sad condition is described for those who once knew the way of the Lord and turned from it. It is sad for those who the Lord educated in their youth, to become adults and receive worldly education; no longer looking upon the Lord’s work as most important. Instead of using their talent and qualifications for the Lord, self is exalted and worldly attainments are glorified. The things of God grow strangely dim, and truth is no longer understood or obeyed.
The product of worldly education without the sanctifying power of Christ in the life is the same—a murderer is produced. Cain, Moses and Saul before conversion, and Judas, are all Biblical testimonies of the effect of a life not educated, molded, and fashioned by God. These are but literal examples of murder, and yes, at the end of time all those arrayed under Satan’s banner will literally seek to slay the little company of believers who would not worship the beast and his image. For, “It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state, ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument eighteen hundred years ago was brought against Christ by the “rulers of the people.” . . . This argument will appear conclusive.–GC 615 (1911).” LDE 257.1.
Many do not realize that at the end there will only be two sides, all of mankind will be on one side or the other. If not found in the little company, they would be on the side that consent for their death. For, “The enmity of Satan against good will be manifested more and more as he brings his forces into activity in his last work of rebellion, and every soul that is not fully surrendered to God and kept by divine power will form an alliance with Satan against heaven and join in battle against the Ruler of the universe. Soon all the inhabitants of the earth will have taken sides, either for or against the government of heaven.” LDE 251. Decisions are being made now that will determine which side everyone ends up taking.
Sadly, even today, in the courts of heaven many are recorded as murderers who don’t think that they are. The Bible defines a murderer. It says, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22. Those who have made the Devil their father, Christ reminded the Pharisees, will do the works of their father—they will reject truth and be murderers. Christ said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44. Thus, those who are not on Christ side, who slay their brothers in their mind and heart, are counted as children of Satan—murderers.
The battle of Armageddon is first waged in the heart, in this valley of decision all must decide whose side they are willing to be found on, for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he. Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who are able to escape the pollution of the world, must hold fast to their calling and die daily to self. Revelation 14:1-5 describes a special class who would understand and experience this fully, for ‘in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God’.
To those who may not have had the privilege to enroll in the school of Christ, the enrollment time is now. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” and Isaiah 50:4, says, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Many are now learners in the school of Christ. It is a choice of Education.