Education refers to the process of teaching learners about the world around them. Knowledge, teaching, learning, and wisdom are necessary for education. Education must assume that an objective reality exists. Truth is a statement that corresponds with reality, and knowledge is a justifiable true belief acquired through a reliable process. Although humanity has not discovered all truth, it is possible to know what is true. A teacher’s role is to instruct learners by communicating knowledge about the world. Wisdom refers to the ability to use knowledge with sound judgment.
Education involves communicating knowledge to learners by speaking the truth, and all truth comes from God, who is the creator of the universe. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NIV). The unchanging nature of truth allows humanity to study and understand the universe. The notion of relative truth is self-contradicting because two or more conflicting statements about the universe cannot be simultaneously true. Popular opinion does not determine what is true, and truth is not subjective. Although we may refine the way we express truth with our language and understanding over time, truth is objective, absolute, and unchanging. There are two ways by which we can know God’s truth: general revelation and special revelation.
General revelation refers to the truth that God reveals through nature. God created all that exists, including all the natural laws. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (NIV). God says, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts” (Isaiah 45:12, NIV). We can know things about the natural world by observing nature with the gift of reason, which includes the scientific process, that God gives us. God, furthermore, reveals moral truth by general revelation also. Though God’s moral truth is summarized in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21) and expounded upon throughout the Bible, people know a sense of moral right and wrong by the light of nature, and they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-32).
Special revelation refers to what God reveals about salvation. God reveals this special revelation through the Scriptures and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Since all aspects of human nature have been affected by sin, only God the Holy Spirit can convince people of the truth of His salvation. This salvation comes by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone, and for His Glory alone.
Teaching is a spiritual gift that God has given to some individuals. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul says, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (NIV). Teachers should understand their responsibilities because of the higher standard to which God holds them. James warns readers in 3:1 of his epistle about the great responsibilities that come with teaching: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (NIV). Teachers should teach what is true and never lead others astray with false teachings. Education is more than a teacher disseminating knowledge, however. A teacher’s role is to help learners understand truth. Teachers, furthermore, show learners how all fields of knowledge interconnect with each other. Teachers also spark an interest within learners to learn about a subject by showing them the subject matter’s relevance to their lives.
Learners enter learning environments with varying amounts of knowledge. Each learner is unique and has prior experiences. Learners, furthermore, may have different aptitudes and interests. Not everyone should be expected to excel in all subjects because God gives everyone unique talents and abilities to different individuals. Paul parallels this truth in Romans 12:4-5, saying, “just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so we in Christ, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (NIV). Teachers, nevertheless, should expose learners to several subjects because this will help them understand how their unique abilities fit with other people’s unique abilities. A well rounded education, furthermore, that is grounded in a balance of the liberal arts and training for a particular trade is necessary for living an intelligent Christian life. Not all learners learn the same way, so teachers need to be familiar with different teaching methods. A teacher may need to use various instructional methods such as lectures, independent studies, hands-on activities, or group discussions throughout a lesson to accommodate people’s different learning styles. Teachers also help learners think critically about a subject so they can add their thoughts and help expand upon knowledge in that field.
Learners can become highly educated and knowledgeable fools. Wisdom is necessary to make a learner’s education complete. Teachers should advise learners to seek discernment from God. The psalmist in Psalm 119:125, speaking to God, says, “I am your servant; give me discernment so that I may understand your statutes” (NIV). Knowledge without wisdom is not education. The goal of education is to obtain wisdom to apply knowledge with wise discretion.
Education by itself will not cure all of society’s ills because only God can accomplish that task. Education can, however, play a role in the Great Commission and in God’s plan to redeem His creation. Education is important because it seeks to communicate knowledge to people and help them apply knowledge wisely. Teachers play the most important role in education because they are like messengers who declare God’s truth to the world.