Greetings and salutations again friends!
As I outlined this-past autumn, First Baptist Church values teaching. Teaching is but one of five values I articulated in the sermon series when I unveiled our new mission statement. As I said then, I haven’t concocted these values, or imagined them; I simply articulated that which we already value. I know that many of you freely acknowledge that we value teaching; you value teaching personally, and you want our church to be known as a body where God’s Word is rightly divided!
From mid-May through the month of June, our mid-week Adult Bible Study went through a series about Abiding, Seeking, Applying, & Planting. To put it simply, it was a bible study series about what it means to be a disciple, or Follower, of Jesus. If we claim to be Jesus Followers, we must be about the business of seeing what God’s Word would have us see, and doing what God would have us do. In doing so, we are applying scripture, and walking in obedience to it.
As I have mentioned in the past, including fairly recently, God “hard wires” us differently. Many of us are feelers, sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit strongly, and worship is very much an emotional endeavor. Many of us are thinkers, craving to learn new things and grow in the knowledge and understanding of biblical theology. Our church needs both kinds of people, and one is no “more spiritual” than the other, but for those of you that are wired like me, an off-the-chart “thinker”, let me challenge us within the context of valuing high-quality teaching.
I have recently received criticisms of our spring A.S.A.P. study, emphasizing discipleship, evangelism, and missions. To be fair, I know that white boards, Expo markers, and random visual graphical aids are not everyone cup of tea. If, however, your irritation is with the content of our Jesus Follower emphasis, I have to wonder why?
I have recently been graciously encouraged to return to the “deep things of Jesus”. This is good to do, because we must always strive to maintain balance in both explaining scripture and applying scripture. When in seminary, my preaching professor told me that I was better in biblical explanation, weaker in biblical illustration, and fairly good at biblical application. I love digging into the teachings of Jesus; I also love digging into the deep things of the Old Testament; I love to get down into the “weeds” and look the rich truths of God’s Word. We cannot afford, however, to spend so much time studying each “tree” that we lose sight of the “forest”. I follow a para-church ministry that works hard to “get the gospel right”. This is good, and in my teaching, I’ll strive to also maintain balance between studying books/passages and studying systematic theology/doctrine, but if we “get the gospel right” without getting the Good News out to a lost and dying world, it isn’t really “right” at all!
As Braydon preached so eloquently during my vacation, we must be hearing the Word AND doing the Word. We must learn the bible and understand its teaching, so that we can apply it to our lives, walk humbly in obedience, and share this great Good News with those that need to see, hear, and respond to it! If we are being the Jesus Followers that He wants us to be [individually and corporately], He wants us to be constantly learning new things, mining the rich depths of God’s Word. At the very same time, He wants these new things learned to spur us on to love and good works. To borrow a metaphor from Simon Peter and the Apostle Paul, we need to grow in spiritual maturity and eat “solid food”, not just drink “milk” as spiritually immature babes. While we grow to eat meat, we still drink milk. To our “feeler” brethren, nothing in the world should move you more than reminders of the grace of Jesus. Simple, but crucial essentials like forgiveness and mercy, God’s hatred of sin (our sin), and God’s love for us sinners, should move us like nothing else!
You value teaching; I value teaching! I love getting to teach! I am committed to maintain balance between digging into the “weeds” and keeping us aware of the 30,000-foot view of God’s Word. I will work to study the Old and New Testaments, large passages and doctrinal themes. I will also work to teach topical issues, applying God’s Word to our walk as believers, and giving us clarity as disciples within a broken world. I will work to explain the text, and find points of application too. I want to teach the thinkers and the feelers in our church, because all the different kinds of us need to have God’s Word in our hearts, minds, and souls! I want God to control the microphone, molding us into disciples, who make disciples. I want to teach new things in new ways. I want to use Wednesday evenings to try new things, but above all, I want to be as faithful to the bible as I can be. Do we hunger and thirst to walk with God daily? Do we long to abide with Him, in His Word? Do we look more like Jesus today than we did yesterday? Do our lost neighbors see that too? Do we value teaching as much as we say we do?
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine!
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds