CHURCH & MINISTRY
Christ Ed. Part 2
The Importance of Scriptural Teaching
By Jerry Smith
The term "Christ ed." gets to the heart of what many call Christian Education. Christ ed. focuses on going beyond superficial mentions of Jesus Christ and a little Scripture peppered here and there in spiritual teaching. It is a term I coined as a result of what I personally observed in local churches over the past years and what I am observing until now in others. Specifically, Christ ed. is a guideline for education practices in the Christian church. Spiritual teachers include pastors, ministers, reverends, Sunday school teachers, and the like: anyone who would stand (or sit) before members of an organized Christian assembly and teach members are included in the term spiritual teacher. Christ ed. is a term that inherently asks two fundamental questions: (1) are spiritual lessons centering on, exalting, and glorifying Jesus Christ (2) are spiritual lessons that are centering on, exalting, and glorifying Jesus Christ anchored to the Scriptures?
Christ Ed., The Series
Our Need for Jesus
The Importance of Scriptural Teaching
Teaching Adults in Church
The second aspect of Christ ed. is concerned with the Christian's need for the words of Christ in order to draw closer to Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Spiritual teaching in the church, therefore, must conform to the Scriptures in order to be effective. The Lord tells us in Jeremiah 3:15, "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Spiritually speaking, what is the Christian's food? Where does this knowledge and understanding come from? The Bible describes this food as the written word of God (c/w Psalm 119:99; Jeremiah 15:16; Luke 4:4; 1 Corinthians 3:2; 1 Timothy 4:6; John 21:17; and 2 Timothy 3:15).
Since the written word of God is the food of the sheep, it is the responsibility of the spiritual teacher to make sure the flock of God is fed with it (1 Peter 5:2). The food of the sheep cannot be substituted by emotional appeals, good morals, stirring musical numbers, or Christian living lessons absent of spiritual sustenance. It has to do with the written word of God. The God-breathed Scriptures are the food for believers which nourishes them and builds them up in the faith just as physical food helps humans grow and develop.
"Feed My Lambs"
The sheep of God are His people (Psalm 100:3). In some of His last words to Peter, the Lord says, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:16-17). Children do not always like vegetables, but parents convince their children to eat vegetables for their health and well-being (presumably) because they love their children. Since the temporal reflects the eternal, the same could be said spiritually speaking: children would rather eat the sweets of feeling good while disliking the vegetables of sound doctrine or exposition, viewing them as boring. When Christians eat unhealthy spiritual (fast-)food, they become susceptible to negative spiritual conditions: Christians may become lazy in involving themselves in deeper spiritual disciplines, or operating more in the zeal and power of the flesh and less in the Spirit. They may become easier targets for the enemy to hinder. They may become less likely to share the Gospel with others and or less likely to do the work of the Lord.
A poor diet leads to problems. We feel lethargic. Our bodies are more susceptible to ailments and disease. We become overweight and less able to move around. Just as adults eventually discover the benefits of eating vegetables versus sweets (ideally), when believers continue to feed on the written word of Christ, they may begin to see its worth and necessity for being healthy spiritually. Perhaps the reader has experienced a time of famine from the Word, and their attitude began to diminish, but once back in the word, our attitudes just seem to improve. Just as the physical body requires the right diet to function properly, so too the spiritual man requires a proper diet. If Christians are to be healthy, they need healthy spiritual food.
What is Healthy Spiritual Food?
Jesus Christ refers to Himself as the Bread of Life several times in the Gospel of John (6:33, 35, 48, and 51). Spiritually, this is a reference to partaking of Him and His work in salvation, but we can also deduce from those comments that believers are to feed on Jesus Christ spiritually through His Word. Quite simply, the written word is healthy spiritual food. Second Peter 3:18 tells us, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Notice that the knowledge is centered on Jesus Christ. That knowledge is the healthy food of the sheep with which to grow on.
What is spiritual fast-food?
The concern is whether spiritual teachers are feeding the flock of God the fast-food of morals, emotion-stirring music, exciting worship services, quaint anecdotes, feelings, experiences, and/or steps to a better life which are absent the Word of Christ as it is focused on Jesus Christ. Christians must be mindful of what the Lord says: "It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). God promises His people that if they will draw close to Him, He will draw close to them (James 4:8), that if one will walk in His Word, He will manifest Himself to them and reveal deeper things (John 14:21). How much time spent in spiritual lessons today is actually given over to taking the Bible and expounding on the Scriptures as they relate to Jesus Christ? Remember what happened when Jesus met the two disciples on the road after His resurrection, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in ALL the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27, emphasis added). This reveals the nature of the second aspect of Christ ed.: the need for the Scriptures to not only be present in spiritual teaching but also expounded on because it facilitates the centralization, exaltation, and glorification of Jesus Christ.
This has been an overview that forms a backdrop for examining the spiritual teaching of spiritual teachers in an organized Christian assembly. I am suggesting here a framework from which all teaching in the local Christian church can be checked against. Education and spiritual growth in churches would be enhanced if spiritual teachers would center their lessons on Jesus Christ and focus on biblical teachings as they relate to Jesus Christ. If both elements of Christ ed. are regularly practiced in churches, church members would be spiritually healthier, would grow more spiritually, would be better protected against false spiritual teaching, and would be more inclined to share the Gospel with others outside of the church. If the practices of the spiritual teacher ignore Christ ed., then optimal learning is not taking place. Furthermore, the universal Christian church would have greater unity, become stronger, and grow in maturity while experiencing a more abundant life in Christ. Christ ed. need not be limited to only Christian churches but could also benefit Christian agencies outside of the church such as Christian schools, universities, seminaries, Bible colleges, and or Bible institutes: anywhere where education is promoted as Christian in nature.
Clark, R. E., Johnson, L., & Sloat, A. K. (1991). Christian Education: Foundations for the Future. Moody Press, Chicago.
Spurlock, M. (2004). Supersize Me [Video]. Samuel Goldwyn Films, USA.
Image Credit: Joel Kramer; "pulpit and bible"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Church-Issues | Ministry-Church
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