Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teaching is Crucial

(Listen to Radio Program "Teaching is Crucial" - part one and two - online with link at the end of this blog.)
All churches and many Christians will identify the three great Christian virtues as FAITH, HOPE and LOVE. Ever since Paul strung these words together in his letter to the Corinthians in 55 AD these words have been heard in sermons, plastered on book covers, sewn into banners, sung in lyrics and eloquently spoken in every wedding. These three virtuous character traits are the source from which all Christian deeds are to spring. They are the standard by which all Christian activity is measured. Christians are to always "keep the faith," never "give up hope," and continue to "live a life of love."

In many cases clergy consider their job done if the church has named their local assembly with these words ("Hope Church", "Faith Church", etc.) and are weekly encouraged by hearing these words in sermons and lyrics or seeing them on banners and bulletins. But, without teaching the Word of God to people this approach will get as little result as a basketball coach who hollers at his team in the locker room during half time about rebounding without having spent the necessary time in the gym practicing and teaching rebounding technique. The coach can write the word "REBOUNDING" on the locker room chalk board. He can spend his precious halftime minutes hollering about how statistics prove that winning teams must rebound to win. But, if the players do not have the skills and have not practiced the technique the only thing the coach is preparing his athletes for is a future career as coaches who also holler about rebounding at halftime.

Each of these virtues - FAITH, HOPE and LOVE - come from knowing the Word of God. According to the Scriptures themselves the Christian must hear the Word of God, understanding the promises of  God and know God's ways in order to have faith, hope and love.

First, concerning FAITH:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17
Second, concerning HOPE:
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  - Hebrews 6:17-19
Third, concerning LOVE:
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers, fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.' And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in our salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." - 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Only when faith, hope and love are instilled in the thinking (in the soul, in the world view, etc.) of the Christian will they be able to produce the deeds that come from faith, hope or love.

Notice that Paul credits FAITH, HOPE and LOVE for being the source of the Thessalonian's Christian performance which is identified as WORK, LABOR and ENDURANCE:
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by FAITH, your labor prompted by LOVE, and your endurance inspired by HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ.  - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Even faith, hope and love are not the final goal of the Christian life. Faith, hope and love are character traits that will produce what everyone is hollering about, which is, good Christian conduct. Faith, hope and love will produce the Christian life, just like rebounding will help produce the victory. But, even then, FAITH, HOPE and LOVE come from good, basic bible teaching (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 6:17-19 ; 1 Peter 1:22-2:2) just like great rebounding in a game comes from hours of drilling and coaching in practices.

Churches need to trust the Word of God instead of trusting in their programs and oversimplified approaches to the eternal Truth revealed in Scripture. Pastors need to heed Paul's advice given to the Ephesian pastors and elders in 57 AD:
Now I commit you to God and to the word of his gracewhich can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  - Acts 20:32
Remember Paul's words to Timothy:
Command and teach these things,...Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift!!  - 1 Timothy 4:11-14
I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with healthy teaching.  - 2 Timothy 4:1-3
Part One - "Teaching is Crucial (part one)" - radio program in .mp3

Part Two - "Teaching is Crucial (part two)" - radio program in .mp3

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