Non Scholae Sed Vitae
It happened in November while I visiting various classrooms in an Ethiopian village school. In one classroom the students were learning Latin, and by a sudden impulse I decided to write on the board a sentence I had learned years ago while teaching myself that language:
Non scholae sed vitae discimus.
That little saying summarizes my entire view of education. We learn, not for school, but for life.
I have little use for knowledge for knowledge’s sake. In fact, I know of nothing uglier than a highly educated person who is an abject failure in his life and his relationships. The knife of the Heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than when He must root out the pride of knowledge (also called Gnosticism, which is alive and well today).
How can we respond correctly and positively to all of our book learning? We must begin with that great verse in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Truth does not originate with us but with a God who inspires and protects His words from error. That He accommodated Himself to using human language in the process of inscripturation does not change that fact one iota. If God breathed it, and if God cannot lie, then what He breathes is perfect.
Calvin referred to the “God who lisps.” By this he did not mean that Scripture was somehow fallible or imperfect. He meant that God could have chosen to express Himself in the tongues of angels but instead chose to employ the tongues of men. In the New Testament at least, He used the language of commerce and culture alike, a language spoken in the entire Mediterranean world, a language in which every man could understand the Gospel message clearly and unambiguously. God accommodated Himself in speaking His word, and we are the better off for it.
But we dare not forget the rest of that verse – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable….” The word “profitable” may also be rendered “useful” or “practical.” I like to put it this way:
The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.
An old Scottish proverb agrees: “Greek, Hebrew, and Latin all have their proper place, but not at the head of the cross, where Pilate put them, but at the foot of the cross, in humble service to Jesus.” If we are not becoming more Christ-like by reading and studying the Bible, then we are not learning truth. Knowledge, perhaps, but not truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” You will know the truth, and the truth will make you a different person, in other words.
Perhaps the only way most men get their faith increased is by experiencing great trouble. God has a way of using sorrows and sufferings to show us that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” I believe there is no place we can learn so much about the Scriptures, and have so much light cast upon our lives, as we do in the crucible of daily living.
Are you trying to gain an acquaintance with the Scriptures so that you can be a man mighty in knowledge? Do not neglect to invite the Holy Spirit to flesh these truths out in your life. In God’s educational system, some courses are optional, but not Sanctification 101.
February 10, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.