Shelby G. Floyd
This is the time of the year when young people begin to think about going back to school. Let us capitalize on this thought and apply it to the Christian life.
From the beginning to the end the Christian life is like a school. In the great commission Jesus commanded his people to go out and “make disciples” of all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). “Make disciples” is from (matheteuo-μαθητευω) and means “to make a disciple; to teach, instruct” (J. H. Thayer, p.386). Therefore, we are to be teachers and pupils under the master-teacher Jesus Christ.
The secret of learning in this school as in all schools is to teach much, ask much, remember much and do much!
The School of Life perhaps is best summarized by the statement of David,
Teach me to do Your will,
For you are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness
David was a great student in this school, because for the most part he excelled and earned the mark as “a man after God’s own heart.”
So, with that thought in mind let us look at some of the branches of learning that are usually found in schools, colleges and universities of learning.
First, let us look at the science of grammar, which deals with the proper use of words in speaking and writing. Someone said that some people are “born in the objective case and the kickitive mood.” Here are some rules of spiritual grammar that will help us to live a better and more influential life for Christ.
1. Live in the first person, criticizing yourself rather than finding fault with others (Philippians 2:14-15).
2. Live in the singular number, caring more for the approval of your own conscience, than the applause of the crowd.
3. Live in the active voice, not the passive. Think more about what you make happen than what happens to you.
4. Live in the indicative mood, rather than the subjunctive mood. Be concerned with the real world as things are, rather than what things might be.
5. Live in the present tense, facing your duty at hand without regret for the past, or worry for the future.
This concludes our first lesson in the school of life. Study this lesson over very carefully and God will help all of us to use better grammar in all of our relationships. So, with that thought in mind let us look at some of the other branches of learning that are usually found in schools, colleges and universities of learning.
Our second branch of learning in this school of life is psychology. This is the science that treats the mental phenomena of how we think, reason, postulate, and draw conclusions etc.
The Bible has a lot to say about our thought processes and the condition of our mind—intellect, conscience, emotions and will-power.
1. Solomon was wise above his peers and he taught in this School of Life that we are to “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). He also stressed that our thinking is so important “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
2. Both Jesus and Paul agree that in order to have good psychological health, we must seek to maintain a “pure heart and mind.” Jesus taught is his school at the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Paul wrote a letter to his students at Philippi encouraging them to think on all of the things that promote truth, honesty, justice, purity, beauty, goodness, virtue, and praise (Philippians 4:8). These are the things that principally should fill our minds.
3. All nature abhors a vacuum. If all of us who enrolled in The School of Life do not fill our minds with sound thoughts, then the False Teacher—Satan, that Diabolical Instructor will fill our hearts and minds with the thoughts that promote actions that defile and destroy our souls. Jesus identified those evil thoughts:
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ ”
Let us all cultivate a sound mind and sound body by training the mind to think properly according to the best instruction book there is on Psychology—The Bible.
We have studied Grammar and Psychology. Now, let us look at some of the other branches of learning that are usually found in schools, colleges and universities.
Arithmetic is the science of numbers. In the Bible we are given the right way to work out all the problems in life.
We are given problems that involve addition. Peter exhorts his readers to do some adding to their faith:
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-10, NKJV).
There are some problems in life that involves subtraction, as well as addition. We are commanded to subtract such vices as lying, anger, stealing, and corrupt speech. Also, bitterness, wrath, clamor and evil speaking are to be subtracted as well (Ephesians 4:22-32). When these are subtracted from our life then we can put on the new man created in Christ Jesus.
We also are given challenges in multiplication. The early church in and around Jerusalem was committed to carrying out the great commission. Therefore, the disciples multiplied rapidly in numbers: “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying…” (Acts 6:1, NKJV). Even after a prolonged period of intense persecution the devotion of the churches produced multiplied numbers to the faith (Acts 9:31). The members of the church were unselfish in giving of themselves and their money and as a result God multiplied their resources (2 Corinthians 9:10). Luke simply summed up the compounding growth of the early church: “But the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).
Prove Our Problems
In arithmetic it is always wise to check out our work and prove that we have not been mistaken. So it is in the school of life. We are to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Janet T. Coleman has given good advice when she wrote: “To work out our life problems, we need to add love, subtract hate, multiply good, and divide between truth and error.”
The next college in the school of life is the proper use of language. The Bible teaches us to always guard our speech or language. Solomon taught that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). He also declared that our speech can create either peace or turmoil (Proverbs 15:1-4).
According to James, the tongue is a little instrument, but like a match, a horse bit, or rudder of a ship, it can produce vast destruction or great good (James 3:1-10). Therefore, to be successful in the school of life we must learn to let nothing corrupt come out of mouth, but speak with the seasoning of God’s grace. Then we will know how to answer everyone (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6).
The science of dealing with the origin of life and living things is called biology. The teaching of the Bible and true science agree that life can only come from life. Therefore, all intelligent life including man did not come about by chance or from non-life, but from God from whom all life has come.
Genesis 1:1 is the greatest statement ever uttered on the origin of life: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 KJV). There are the five facts of science stated so briefly in the opening statement. They are: time—“in the beginning”; force—“God”; action—“created”; space—“the heaven”; and, matter—“the earth.” This is the best explanation of the universe and man—because it is true and cannot be successfully refuted. Truly, the Bible is the anvil that wears out the hammers of the skeptics and infidels—or as someone called them “in for hells!”
Just as God created all physical life, so he creates spiritual life through his Son Jesus Christ, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:3-5 NIV). Remember, dear friend, that Jesus stated that he came to give life abundantly, but Satan—the thief came to kill and destroy (John 10:10).
Dear reader, thank you for enrolling in the School of Life. Thus far we have been disciplined in the schools of Grammar, Psychology, Arithmetic, Language, and Biology. We are nearing the completion of our instruction from the Master Teacher—Jesus Christ and his staff of apostles and prophets. So, let us examine the last three branches of learning that are usually found in schools, colleges and universities of learning.
Now, we will enroll in the geography class. Knowledge of this discipline will help us as we travel over the unknown road of life. Geography is the science that describes the earth’s surface, continents, kingdoms, oceans, rivers etc.
The Bible speaks of Christians receiving the kingdom now (Hebrews 12:28). We are to seek this spiritual kingdom and its righteous rule as the top priority in our life (Matthew 6:33). It is a kingdom of joy and peace and righteousness in the Spirit of God (Romans 14:17). It is a spiritual kingdom: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from here” (John 18:36).
Faith is the conviction of things hoped for, built upon the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus challenged his disciples to develop mountain moving faith:
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
And in fact someone might have such a strong faith that they could remove mountains both literal and figurative, but without love it would be nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). Let us all have that “mountain moving faith!”
Rivers and Seas
The earth is covered with mighty rivers and seas. In America most of our cities and towns were built near major rivers—such as Indianapolis, Louisville, and St. Louis. This was because rivers are sources of life. They must be kept pure for food and drink.
The Bible speaks of a pure river of life:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
This heavenly river will be the source of the tree of life, issuing forth from the very throne of God.
Our next college in the school of life is the study of astronomy—the science that treats the magnitudes, motions, and constitutions of celestial bodies. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalms 19:1 NIV).
We do not want to keep the special day set aside for atheists and infidels—April Fool’s Day! The Royal Bard of Israel said,
The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
Theists are wise because we have learned in true astronomy that the invisible things of God—His eternal power and Godhead that we cannot see, can be understood by the things that are made—the physical universe that we can see (Romans 1:20).
Studies in the University of Life would not be complete without spending some time in that branch of science styled sociology. This study treats human relations.
The Bible reveals how we should treat and live with one another. We must learn to have a forgiving spirit like our heavenly Father who forgives us, since we are imperfect and often mess up (Matthew 6:14-15).
In order to have good relations with our fellow human beings, we must not cultivate a captious, carping, caviling and judgmental attitude. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).
This does not mean that we should never make any judgments concerning the sinful actions of some in the church. Paul commanded the church to judge the man guilty of immorality at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 12). When this is done with “due process,” and not just based on “prima-facie” evidence—evidence of the first glance, it is not our judgment, but God’s. But overall, we should leave the judging matter up to God—he is the heart-knower and we are not.
In a nutshell, we are to be like the Good Samaritan in our relations with all races—going about doing good and not ill (Luke 10:30-37). That is how we are a good neighbor. Jesus summed up our proper human relations when he gave the Golden Rule,
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
THE FINAL EXAM
After the period of schooling and discipline is completed, the student is called before The Great Teacher for the final test. This final test is at the Judgment Day:
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘as surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
We cannot take this test for anyone else, neither can they for us. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Not one of us can judge who should pass and who should fail. Those who pass the test of faith based on the blood of Christ and the grace of God will graduate and be promoted to a richer, fuller and better life:
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
What joy, what exhilaration, what peace, what gratitude, what thanksgiving, what praise, what glory, what love, when we hear the Master say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
Copyright © 2016 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142