In Part 1, we looked at the father as the person of authority under biblical principles for education children. In Part 2 we saw how the whole church is also expected to play its part in education children and new believer. However, even mature believers are expected to be self motivated to seek education for themselves and the whole congregation to teach and be taught.
The question now is, how should the Church embark on a formal course or courses of life-long learning for its congregants, adults and children, such that they may all be educated as our Lord requires?
As J.I. Packer & Gary A. Parrett say of contemporary cell churches “we may be relying upon the new small group focus of the church only to discover that this has proven to be a structural pattern better suited for mutual encouragement than to sustained teaching of the Faith.” Adding new programmes (programs) to existing Church programmes is not the answer either. Indeed the Bible is mute about such methods, which is a good reason to assume they are not a biblical or appropriate for the New Kingdom Church.
What is appropriate? Well, looking in the bible for analogies, perhaps the best is to be found in the words of Jesus Himself from Matthew 13:31-32 “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” The Church should be looking to grow the education of the members as mustard seed, with the same expectations of its growth and ability to change the world around it, when it matures.
Jesus also used this analogy immediately preceding these verses in v13:24-30 saying “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
In the past, Jesus has not grown His Church through programmes and power-point presentations, seeker friendly sermons which teach only part of the Gospel or Pelagian or Semipelagian theologies. The Church must just look to the Bible for guidance on where to move in teaching. For as Jesus said in John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Again, the same analogy comes through clearly. “Plant the seed, water it, nurture it and the Lord will make it grow.”
But this is counter to the ways of the world. The world says new and flashy! The Lord say, “Follow me”. Let us remember here that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. When we follow the Lord it is to be with meekness, humility, honesty and perseverance. Further, we are told that by the fruit of the crop, shall both the seed and the gardener be known. For all born-again Christians this fruit we must produce is clearly stated in Galatians 5:22 for “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When we look around at many of our fellow Christians, we see their fruit is conspicuously absent.
Educating Christians on biblical principles will bear bountiful fruit. Matthew 13:8-9 is clear on how much fruit: “Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear!!” Again, these are the words of Jesus himself.
To make changes in the congregation in the Lord’s Church we first need to follow Him and His word. In teaching new Christians and the children of Christians, we need to follow the biblical ways: “Plant the seed, water it, nurture it and the Lord will make it grow.”
Gardeners who lavish love and concern on their plants see them grow and flourish. This is how the Church needs to educate: beholden only to God. If we plant His seed in the young mind, He will do the rest. We just need to keep watering it and nurturing it and it will blossom.
We immediately need to put down our prideful ways of thinking. We think we can learn nothing from centuries of Christian teaching methods, but instead can rely on our own minds to solve our problems. The words of Hosea 4:6 ring clear and true today as they were when they were written: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Same God; same cry of anguish for us, as for them.
Note: This post is based around ideas and research from J.I. Packer & Gary A. Parrett’s book “Grounded in the Gospel – Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way”.