The next thing that is important to notice about Paul’s admonition to shine as lights in the world is that he follows his statement that believers are, to the twisted and perverse generation (unbelievers), “lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life….” What is the word of life? It is the truth of Jesus Christ, the gospel message, the Scriptures. A necessary part of shining as lights in the world is holding firmly to the truth of the Bible.
There are many people in the world who read the Bible but who have no idea what it means and have no conviction that it is anything other than great literature. I can still remember a class I was going to take in college, a New Testament course. The professor of the class made it very clear on the first day of class that he did not believe that Paul wrote all of the New Testament books that the Bible says he wrote, that the Bible is not true or inspired by God, and that we would be examining the New Testament with that background. I did not take the course; I dropped it immediately and took an intro course in African history instead. But that professor was a perfect example of the innumerable people in the world who know the Bible in an academic sense, who can carry on lengthy conversations about it and can dissect it in dozens of different ways, but who have no relationship with the God of the Bible and have no understanding of what they are reading. These people are like the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah; prior to Philip arriving in obedience to the Lord’s instruction and explaining what it meant to the eunuch he had no idea what he was reading. These people profess to be wise, and from a purely academic and intellectual knowledge standpoint are wise, but their understanding has been darkened and they are, in fact, fools (Romans 1:22).
The first step to holding fast to the word of life is understanding what it means. Just like the eunuch needed Philip, we all need someone to come along side and explain what the Scriptures mean to us until we are able to graduate from the spiritual milk and chew on the meat of the Word ourselves. Students need a guide, a teacher, to explain to them the truth of God’s word. Parents have that responsibility, pastors and Sunday school teachers do, but so do the teachers in the Christian school. In truly Christian education every class in every subject is taught with biblical integration. There is no separation of Bible and history, math, science and English in a curricular program with a biblical worldview. Our relationship with Christ is not a Sunday-only thing. It is day by day, moment by moment, and should influence every area of our lives. This is the kind of instruction that students require in order to learn what it means to hold fast to the word of life. How does the Bible apply to friendships, decision making, relationships with parents, academic integrity, benevolence, service to others, and on and on. Only when students learn that the teachings and the truths of the Bible are pertinent and applicable and relevant to the situations they will find themselves in every day and the decisions that they will have to make, and only when the submit their will and natural tendency to the guiding of the Spirit and the teaching of the Word will they be able to shine as lights in the world.