Getting the Basics of Education
What do you think of when you think about education? I would bet that most of us think of sitting in a classroom, listening to lectures, doodling on notepads, or filling in bubbles with number 2 pencils, or some similar derivation, from our own schooling. We probably also think of it as a past event. Education is usually thought of as something you do when you are young, and then you graduate. Graduation is usually heralded as the end of our education. It is unfortunate that our culture has this view of education. Throughout all of history, the church has placed a high premium on education, and rightly so; it goes hand-in-hand with Christianity. Let us take a quick survey of what the Bible says about education, for it has a lot to say.
It would be hard to discuss education without beginning in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs commences by exhorting us to educate ourselves. Chapter 1:5 reads, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning.” Solomon, the author of Proverbs, then tells us where to initiate our education to “increase learning,” in v. 7:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
To underscore this theme, also note Proverbs 4:7 verse 7, “Wisdom is the principle thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Later Solomon tells us, “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good” (19:8). So we can see that education is designed to increase our wisdom and is to be pursued by everyone, regardless of age. We are to get it with all our “getting.” And, of course, education must begin with the fear of God, which means a willingness to heed our Lord’s instructions, for He alone is the source of wisdom.
The call to increase in knowledge is found not only in Proverbs. Jesus himself gives such a call in Matthew 11:29. Here he pleads,
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.
Jesus issues a universal call to people to come and learn of Him. Yet this is not only learning of Christ, but also learning “from” Christ. In fact, the original Greek reads: “learn from me” (this is how many modern translations translate this verse including the New King James). Jesus is calling all that are burdened and heavy-laden with sin to come and find rest in Him. Along with that rest will be found learning. Education is part of His call. We as Christians are called to Jesus, but we are also called to learn of Him and to learn from Him.
Paul continues this theme of education for all Christians in his epistles. Ephesians 1:16-17 tells us that Paul does not cease to “give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” He says something similar in Colossians 1:9 where he asks that the Colossians be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Obviously then, the increase of our wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual understanding is something we should strive to achieve. Just in case there is any doubt about our duty as Christians to grow in knowledge, Romans 1:31 includes being “without understanding” in a list of sins, which includes disobedience to parents, back-biting, and inventing evil things. Clearly, we as Christians are to avoid being “without understanding” by increasing our knowledge of God’s will.
So, how do we increase our knowledge? The first step is to pray; ask God for it. Ask God to aid our efforts to get understanding and wisdom. This is exactly what Solomon did in 1 Kings 3:9 when he asked God to give him wisdom to rule the people of God. James 1:5 also tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him.” Prayer then takes us straight to the source and shows our dependence upon Him. Wisdom cannot be found if we neglect God, who is the author of wisdom. Knowledge cannot be attained if we deny the One who knows all things. Therefore, prayer is the first step in education. It is the first step, but it is not the last.
The next step is reading and studying God’s Word. We cannot simply ask God for wisdom and then ignore His words. He has given us the Scripture, and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since Scripture equips us for every good work, then no better starting point for education can be found. We must turn to His Word and study it; for it is the foundation from which good works can be accomplished in science, literature, philosophy, engineering, teaching, farming, or any other field. No matter what we do in life or what comes our way in life, we are to respond according to the Word of God. That means we must educate ourselves about what God’s Word has to say for every area of our life. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalm 119:9). Our way will be made clear only by educating ourselves according to the Word of God.
There is one more step to increasing our understanding, and that is we must sit at the feet of wise men. This brings us once again to Proverbs. Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning, and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” Again in Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man and he will increase in learning.” We are to listen to wise men who give instruction to us. If you do not know what the Bible says about personal finances, and you want to learn, but you do not know where to start, consider that God has not only given us His word, but He has also given us other saints who can direct us and instruct us and help us apply God’s Word. Many Christians have written books outlining a Biblical view of personal finances, or the end times, or civic duty and government. Part of education is listening to the wise counsel of these authors. It should go without saying that this applies not only to books, but also to the fellowship of the saints as well. We are to sit under preaching, to attend Bible studies, and to seek help from those saints with whom we worship every Sunday. After all, part of the communion of the saints is using our “gifts readily and cheerfully for the advantage and welfare of other members” (HC Q.55). Of course, we must be like the Bereans and sift all this counsel through the Word, but we should always be willing to sit at the feet of wise instruction.
In summary, the Bible tells us we are to always be in the process of education. It never ends. We must always be seeking to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We should be doing this by prayer, reading of the Word, and fellowshipping with the saints. If we diligently attend to these things, then we will have a life full of education.