Monday, July 25, 2011

Application vs. Teaching

Some false teachers in Corinth challenged Paul saying his teaching was not as important nor as necessary as their accomplishments. Some of the early teachers were more interested in doing what they considered to be religious activity than in teaching the Word of God. The main reason for this neglect of teaching seems to be that this made it easier to attract and impress a Christian crowd. These church leadership imposters would skip the teaching and go right for some kind of application or philosophy. They would then mock Paul’s teaching and his letters as being insufficient when they compared their own selves to Paul’s continuous barrage of instruction. But, Paul responded to this pseudo-Christian approach to discipleship training in Second Corinthians when he said:

“You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up (teaching the Word of God) rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. We do not dare to classify our compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves (instead of the Word of God), they are not wise.” - 2 Corinthians 10:7-12 (my comments in italic)

This first century situation is very close to the modern church's defense for their own neglect of Bible teaching. Today many churches talk and behave in such a way that says, “Application is more important than teaching the truth.” Paul's words to them today may echo his words to the imposters of 56 AD in Corinth. To those today who say application is more important than teaching, Paul’s verses simply respond by saying, “We are what we write” and “We do what we teach.” To counter those who glorify application while they neglect the teaching of the Word of God this question must be asked: if you do not teach and you do not know, what are you applying? If application is not preceded by teaching and action does not follow after knowledge, then the application is false and the action is still worldly. This is exactly what the apostles warn the believers to flee.

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word

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