God, by the abundance of life, is as a great magnet, drawing humanity to Himself. So close is the union that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In one Man—a Man made of flesh and blood like all men now living—there dwelt the spirit of wisdom. More than this, in Him are “hid all the treasures of wisdom;” and hence the life of Immanuel stands a constant witness that the wisdom of the ages is accessible to man. And the record adds, “Ye are complete in Him.” Colossians 2:3, 10.
This wisdom brings eternal life; for “this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God.” John 17:3.
Christ, at Jacob’s well, explained to the woman of Samaria, and through her to you and me, the means of gaining wisdom. The well of living water, from the depths of which the patriarch had drawn, and which he bequeathed as a rich legacy to generations following, who drank and blessed his name, symbolized heavenly wisdom. Men today mistake worldy wisdom for the wisdom described in Job 28, of which God understandeth the way and knoweth the place. Christ spoke of this latter when He said, “If thou knewest the gift of God and Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” John 4:10; 7:37.
Why, then, if wisdom may be had for the asking, are not all fulfilled? Only one reason can be given: men in their search accept falsehood in the place of truth. This blunts their sensibilities, until the false system seems true and the true false.
There is a distinction between the wisdom of God and that of this world. (See I Corinthians 1:20; 2:6.) How, then, can we attain to the real and true wisdom?
Dealing with wisdom is education. If it be the wisdom of the world, then it is worldly education; if, on the other hand, it is a search for the wisdom of God, it is Christian education. Over these two questions, the controversy between good and evil is waging. The final triumph of truth will place the advocates of Christian education in the kingdom of God.
The Heavenly School
God’s throne, the center around which circled the worlds which had gone forth from the hand of the Creator, was the school of the universe. The Upholder of the worlds was Himself the great Teacher; and His character, love, was the theme of contemplation. Every lesson was a manifestation of His power. To illustrate the workings of the laws of His nature, this Teacher had but to speak, and before the attentive multitudes there stood the living thing. “He spake, and it was, He commanded and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9.
Angels and the beings of other worlds in countless numbers were the students. The course was to extend through eternity; observations were carried on through limitless space and included everything from the smallest to the mightiest force, from the formation of the dewdrop to the building of the worlds, and the growth of the mind. To finish the course, if such an expression is permissible, meant to reach the perfection of the Creator Himself.
To the angelic host was given a work. The inhabitants of worlds were on probation. It was the joy of angels to minister to and teach other creatures of the universe. The law of love was everywhere written; it was the constant study of the heavenly beings. Each thought of God was taken by them; and as they saw the workings of His plans, they fell before the King of kings, crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” Eternity was all too short to reveal His love.
The Father and Son were often in council. Wrapped together in that glory, the universe awaited the expression of Their one will. As one of the covering cherubim, Lucifer stood the first in power and majesty of all the angelic host. His eye beheld, his ear heard, he knew of all except the deep counsels which the Father, from all eternity, had purposed in the Son.
Hitherto all eyes had turned instinctively toward the center of light. A cloud, the first one known, darkened the glory of the covering cherub. Turning his eyes inward, he reasoned that he was wronged. Had not he, Lucifer, been the bearer of light and joy to worlds beyond? Why should not his might be recognized?
The Rival System
While Lucifer thus reasoned, Christ, wrapped within the glory of the Father, was offering His life for the world at its creation. Sin had not yet entered; the world was not yet created; but as the plans were laid, the Son had said, “Should sin enter, I am, from this time, one with those We now create; and their fall will mean My life on earth.”
Here was born the rival system—selfishness facing the utter self-forgetfulness of Christ, reason over against faith.
God planted a garden eastward in Eden and from the beauties of the earth chose the most beautiful spot for the home of the new pair. In the midst of the garden stood the tree of life, the fruit of which afforded man a perfect physical food. Beneath its spreading branches God Himself visited them and, talking with them face to face, revealed to them the way of immortality. As they ate of the fruit of the tree of life and found every physical want supplied, they were constantly reminded of the need of the spiritual meat which was gained by open converse with the light from heaven. The glory of God surrounded the tree; and enwrapped in this halo, Adam and Eve spent much time in communing with the heavenly visitors. According to the divine system of teaching, they were here to study the laws of God and learn of His character. They were not only His children but students receiving instruction from the all-wise Creator.
Divine Method of Teaching
As new beauties came to their attention, they were filled with wonder. Each visit of the heavenly teachers elicited from the earthly students scores of questions which it was the delight of the angels to answer; and they in turn opened to the minds of Adam and Eve principles of living truth which sent them forth to their daily tasks of pleasure full of wondering curiosity, ready to use every God-given sense to discover illustrations of the wisdom of heaven. “So long as they remained loyal to the divine law, their capacity to know, to enjoy, and to love would continually increase. They would be constantly gaining new treasures of knowledge, discovering fresh springs of happiness, and obtaining clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the immeasurable, unfailing love of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 51.
The divine method of teaching is here revealed—God’s way of dealing with minds which are loyal to Him. The governing laws of the universe were expounded. Man, as if looking into a picture, found in earth, sky, and sea, in the animate and inanimate world, the exemplification of those laws. He believed; and with a heavenly light, which is the reward of faith, he approached each new subject of investigation. Divine truths unfolded continually. Life, power, happiness—these subjects grew with his growth. The angels stimulated the desire to question, and again led their students to search for answers to their own questions. At his work of dressing the garden, Adam learned truths which only work could reveal. As the tree of life gave food to the flesh and reminded him constantly of the mental and spiritual food necessary, so manual training added light to the mental discipline. The laws of the physical, mental, and spiritual world were enunciated; man’s threefold nature received attention. This was education, perfect and complete.
Unable to reach the soul of man by direct means, Satan approached it through those outer channels, the senses. He had everything to win and proceeded cautiously. If man’s mind could be gained, his great work would be accomplished. To do this, he used a process of reasoning—a method the reverse of that used by the Father in His instruction at the tree of life. The mind of Eve was strong and quickly drew conclusions; hence, when her teacher said, “If ye eat, ye shall be as gods,” in the mind of Eve arose the thought, God has immortality. “Therefore,” said Satan, “if ye eat, ye shall not surely die.” The conclusion was logically drawn; and the world, from the days of Eve to the present time, has based its religious belief on that syllogism, the major premise of which, as did Eve, they fail to recognize as false. Why? Because they use the mind to decide the truth instead of taking a direct statement from the Author of wisdom. From this one false premise comes the doctrine of the natural immortality of man, with its endless variations, some modern names of which are theosophy, spiritualism, reincarnation, and evolution. The sons and daughters of Eve condemn her for the mistake made six thousand years ago, while they themselves repeat it without question. It is preached from the pulpit; it is taught in the schoolroom; and its spirit pervades the thought of every book written whose author is not in perfect harmony with God and truth. Now began the study of “dialectics” so destructive to the Christian’s faith.
The Effects of Doubt
Having accepted the logic of the serpent and having transferred her faith from the word of God to the tree of knowledge, at Satan’s suggestion the woman could easily be led to test the truth of all his statements by her senses. A theory had been advanced; the experimental process now began. That is the way men now gain their knowledge, but their wisdom comes otherwise. She looked upon the forbidden fruit, but no physical change was perceptible as the result of the misuse of this sense. This led her to feel more sure that the argument used had been correct. Her ears were attentive to the words of the serpent, but she perceived no change as a result of the perverted use of the sense of hearing. This, to the changing mind of the woman, was still more conclusive proof that the words of Christ and angels did not mean what she had at first thought they meant. The senses of touch, smell, and taste were in turn used; and each corroborated the conclusion drawn by the devil. The woman was deceived; and through the deception, her mind was changed. This same change of mind may be wrought either by deception or as a result of false reasoning.
Eve approached Adam with the fruit in her hand. Instead of answering in the oft-repeated words of Christ, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17), he took up the logic of the serpent. Having eaten, his mind was also changed. He, who from creation had thought the thoughts of God, was yielding to the mind of the enemy.
The completeness of the change which took place is seen in the argument used when God walked in the garden in the cool of the evening. Said Adam, “The woman gave me to eat. Thou gavest me the woman. Therefore Thou art to blame.” (See Genesis 3:12.) This was another decidedly logical conclusion, from the standpoint of the wisdom of the serpent; and it was repeated by Eve, who laid the blame first on the serpent, and finally on God Himself. Self-justification, self-exaltation, self-worship—here was the human origin of the papacy, that power which “opposeth and exalteth itself above all that is called God.” II Thessalonians 2:4.
Faith Versus Reason
God, through His instruction, had taught that the result of faith would be immortal life. Satan taught, and attempted to prove his logic by a direct appeal to the senses, that there was immortal life in the wisdom that comes as the result of human reason. The method employed by Satan is that which men today call the natural method; but in the mind of God, the wisdom of the world is foolishness. The method which to the godly mind, to the spiritual nature, seems natural is foolishness to the world.
There are but two systems of education—the one based on what God calls wisdom, the gift of which is eternal life; the other based on what the world regards as wisdom but which God says is foolishness. This last exalts reason above faith, and the result is spiritual death. That the fall of man was the result of choosing the false system of education cannot be controverted. Redemption comes through the adoption of the true system of education.
Re-creation is a change of mind—an exchange of the natural for the spiritual. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2. In order to render a change possible, Christ must bruise the head of the serpent; that is, the philosophy of the devil must be disproved by the Son of God.
Man’s spiritual nature, at first the prominent part of his being, was dwarfed and overruled until it was but the “small voice” within. With the development of the physical and the intellectual to the neglect of the spiritual have come the evils of modern society—the love of display, the perversion of taste, the deformity of the body, and those attendant sins which destroyed Sodom and now threaten our cities. Man became careless in his work also, and the earth failed to yield her fullness. As a result, thorns and thistles sprang up.
True Science and Life
It is not surprising to find that the system of education introduced by Christ begins with the instruction given in the garden of Eden and that it is based on the simple law of faith. We have a greater appreciation for the gift of Christ when we dwell upon the thought that while suffering physically, while taking our infirmities into His own body, He yet preserved a sound mind and a will wholly subject to the Father’s, that by so doing, the philosophy of the archdeceiver might be overthrown by the divine philosophy.
Again, it is but natural to suppose that when called upon to decide between the two systems of education, the human and the divine, and Christian education is chosen, that man will also have to reform his manner of eating and living. The original diet of man is again made known; and for his home he is urged to choose a garden spot, away from crowded cities, where God can speak to his spiritual nature through His works.
God does use the senses of man; but knowledge thus gained becomes wisdom only when enlightened by the Spirit, the gateway to whose fountain is opened by the key of faith.
Beneath the tree of life originated the highest method of education—the plan that the world needs today. Beneath the branches of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil arose the conflicting system, having ever one object in view—the overthrow of the eternal principles of truth. Under one guise, then under another, it has borne sway upon the earth. Whether as Babylonish learning, Greek philosophy, Egyptian wisdom, the high glitter of papal pomp, or the more modest but no less subtle workings of modern science, the results always have been, and always will be, a savor of death unto death. Man’s reason is opposed to simple faith, but those who will finally reach the state of complete harmony with God will have begun where Adam failed. Wisdom will be gained by faith. Self will have been lost in the adoration of the great Mind of the universe; and he who was created in the image of God, who was pronounced by the Master Mind as “very good,” will, after the struggle with sin, be restored to the harmony of the universe by the simple act of faith.
Dr. E.A. Sutherland was one of the early educators at Battle Creek and Berrien Springs, and also one of the founding fathers of the college at Madison, Tennesee. He, with Percy Megan, revolutionized Christian education. Many missionaries were sent to all parts of the world after short courses at Madison College.