Here are the class notes from "He Said We Could: Teach – CHALLENGING MEN & WOMEN OF FAITH TO THINK," Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 21 February 2009
* Teaching ministry complements preaching ministry and shepherding ministry.
* Complementarity, not competition.
* Ephesians 4:11 – Ephesians 2:20 = preachers, teachers, shepherds. Eph 4:11 (YLT) “and He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as proclaimers of good news, and some as shepherds and teachers” - Eph 2:20 (YLT) “being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being chief cornerstone.”
* When did you last buy a book to stretch your mind? Or a book to expand your thinking about the Bible?
* When was the last time you asked someone else to explain a passage to you (or discuss it with you)?
* Have you ever heard a Christian leader put down theology?
* When you study, do you search for “good verses,” or do you read passages in context?
* When is the last time you changed your mind on an issue or doctrine?
* When is the last time you didn’t sing something because you don’t agree with its theology?
* Are you better versed in the Scriptures today than in 2007? 2005? 2003?
o Strong anti-intellectual current in our society!
o Fortunately, also a strong intellectual current. (Intellectual simply means using the intellect – striving for understanding.)
Today’s class session explores two ideas:
o To be a thinking Christian who moves others, learn from Jesus.
o To be an agent of unity, develop depth perception.
“All your mind” – emphasis on Jesus as teacher in Matthew.
o Arranged in 5 teaching blocks.
o Old law, new law…
o Sermon Mount as “best of” album… Let’s focus on chapters 11-13:
TO BE A THINKING CHRISTIAN WHO MOVES OTHERS, LEARN FROM JESUS
1. Matt 11:1ff – Accept that doubt is part of maturing.
a. We all go through times of questioning.
b. There is good doubt, and there is bad doubt.
c. Believe beliefs and doubt doubts? No. This is not the answer to the doubter. “Have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 22). Pity? No – engage them, patiently, and with appropriate words.
d. Need to test everything!
2. Matt 11:25-27 – humility! We have not arrived!
a. Last year I thought a lot about faith and science, read books, changed my mind on some things.
b. “Whoever says he is 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of a rascal.” —An old Jew of Galicia (so Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind)
3. Matt 11:28-30… Be a disciple – of Jesus.
a. Learning to be close to him, to learn from him…
b. Greek mathetes = student.
c. Students for life!
4. Matt 12:1ff – don’t be legalistic.
a. Two types of legalism:
Type 1: creating extra laws—or binding guidelines—going beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Type 2: thinking we are saved by keeping laws (“works salvation”).
b. Don’t limit yourself to once a day.
c. Not saved because of habits…
5. Matt 12:42ff – Seek answers that will stretch you.
a. Get out of the rut. Keep your Bible reading fresh.
b. No question was too hard for Solomon… or Jesus!
6. Matt 13:1ff – let the word penetrate.
a. Saturate yourself in the word of God.
b. Eat healthily.
c. Read on all four levels
7. Matt 13:52 – Seek treasures new and old. Both testaments!
a. Finish the Bible!
b. Learn themes of all biblical books
c. Learn the basic history and geography. Makes the story more real!
TO BE AN AGENT OF UNITY, DEVELOP DEPTH PERCEPTION
1. Admit that there are difficult topics:
Marriage / divorce / remarriage; cultural issues; predestination & free will; relating to schismatics (3 John); etc.
2. Don’t be overly dogmatic
Degrees of certainty: Jesus' beard? Peter unclothed in John 21? Apostles baptized at Pentecost? What about Apollos? And yet some things are crystal clear (Matthew 7:14; Acts 2:38).
3. Separate principles from practicals
a. Money matters: Honor Lord with wealth – Proverbs 3:9….. Give weekly? Give 10%? See my podcast, "A Christian Response to the Global Financial Crisis."
b. Relationships. One-another relationships, organized prayer partners
c. Evangelism… Personally involved? Organized sharing times...
4. Respect the spiritual maturity and feelings of the other person
Romans 14:1 and Romans 15:1.
Simplify when necessary.
Not too much (Miami 2000, Colombia 2003)!
Yet don’t be afraid to stretch people.
5. Project unity and love
Don’t stress differences and tensions unless absolutely necessary.
Don’t judge motives (1 Corinthians 4).
* For me, this means continual study; debates; neighborhood Bible study; asking lots of advice…
* How would the Lord have you push yourself?
* “The unexamined faith is not worth believing…”