CHRIST USE OF EDUCATION
At the age of 17, Phillips is converted and senses a call on his life that would bring glory to God in all he would endeavor to do. Phillips attaches himself to the denomination of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The CMEC came out of the Methodist Church South towards the close of the Civil War. The growth of the CMEC was based on the missionary efforts of a Bishop Ashbury who endeavored to work within the system of slavery. His efforts saw that the Gospel was being preached in the midst of slavery and having meetings for slaves apart from white congregants.
In 1866, the Methodist Church South approved the beginnings of the CMEC and many African Americans received ministerial training and property to establish them.
Phillips begins his early education by attending Atlanta University in 1875. His reasoning for receiving education is based on the fact, he had an “insatiable thirst for deeper education, whereby he might be the better prepared for the Christian ministry, to which honored position he felt a divine call immediately after his conversion.”
Phillips felt it necessary that he study his foundation, the Christian faith, as aptly as possible. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God is a heavy weight. This young man in the faith under Christ guidance was moved to be educated, in order that reproach would not be brought down upon his ministry.
How important is it to have knowledge of Scripture? Many want to be teachers today. Yet with a careful inspection of what is taught and proclaimed in many of the African American local churches, what is heard is essentially Christless. Man-centered doctrine has replaced Christ exalted doctrine. Seminars on greater wealth, greater success and greater buildings, have consumed many of the pastors and teachers of today.
The sincere and humble pastor, teacher or layman is one who fixes his heart and mind, to sit at the feet of Christ and to be taught by the Spirit of the Truth. Paul stirs Timothy to find men who desire to be elders that are “able to teach.” The ability to teach presupposes one who will endeavor to study the Word of God and impart wisdom to other believers. Secondly, leaders as well as all believers are charged to “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season.” At all times our minds are to be trained to accurately, humbly and boldly in the presence of Jesus Christ to declare His doctrine.
C.H. Phillips evidently saw the importance of such labors. Education in the Scriptures conforms one into the image of Christ. Therefore, “desire the sincere milk of the Word of God that you make grow thereby” (1 Pt 2:2). This is not simply an academic exercise but one that has God at the forefront, leading one in the Truth’s of His Holy Scriptures.
Education in the Scriptures refines our prayer life. How joyous it is to pray Scripture. We can communicate to God a clear understanding of His words in which is He shown as supreme over all and this be a foundation of our prayer life. Finally we see Biblical education as vital to ministry. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (Jas 3:1).
Unbiblical teaching brings reproach on ministry and thus on Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are His words not ours. The Scriptures are breathed out by the eternal God, spoken to humanity, needing a Savior. Study the Scriptures. If you are not certain on a passage or particular doctrine, labor through it. It is better to struggle with a passage or doctrine by yourself, than teach others your uncertainty and lead believers into error. Study the Scriptures dear believer. A workman will not be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of Truth.