The Importance of the Church (II)

  And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa.2:3).

After His ministry to us as our Saviour in dying for us and being raised again, Jesus next most important ministry was as a teacher. When He was arrested, Jesus said to the crowd, “every day I was with you in the temple, teaching…” (Mk.14:49). On one occasion when He taught in the synagogue, the crowd “…were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mk.1:22).

The teaching ministry of the Church is possibly its most vital. Paul described himself as being “appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher” (II Tim.1:11). Barnabas and Paul “for an entire year met with the church and taught considerable numbers” (Acts 11:26). Of Apollos, the Bible says that “he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25).

This indicates that our minds are of great importance in our service to God. As Jeremy Larson has commented, “Christians can develop an understanding of Christ’s epistemological sovereignty by recognising that sin has corrupted every part of them, including their intellect.”[1]

Man must submit to God, in the obtaining and utilisation of knowledge. All Christian education should not begin with the teacher, or even the student: it must begin with God. Jesus’ command to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat.11:28), has a significant epistemological component.

Man has never been consigned to a lonely, onerous pursuit of self-knowledge. Rather, he lives in the presence of the Creator of all things, who has provided His Word to us, so that human knowledge can be utterly dependent upon the original self-knowledge and consequent revelation of God to man.[2]

The redemption of the human heart and life through Jesus Christ, mean demonstrative change for the better. What and how we think is of great significance. “Having people who understand what it means to truly serve God in their fields of work requires that they be educated on how to make God central in life.” [3]

This is why the teaching ministry of the Church is so important. Yes, it begins with believers, but must spill over to the world of the unbeliever too. They will be impacted by the teaching ministry of the Church in the community.

Why should we do this? The Bible answers this question for us: “…so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph.3:10).

It has been the writers and teachers of the Church, such as Augustine, Wycliffe, Calvin, Luther and others, that have been the most influential, way beyond their lifetime. Though he had been dead for two hundred years, Calvin’s teaching on resistance to unlawful authority (called interposition) had an indirect but significant impact on John Knox in relation to Scotland, and those responsible for the American War of Independence. What is evident is that

books build civilisations; a civilisation is not the product of material factors, it is a product of the ideas that thinkers and teachers of the past wrote down. Ideas motivate the thinking and inform the practice of builders of civilisations; those builders are seldom the generators of the ideas they use.[4]

Conclusion:                                                                                                                               

The promise of God to believers is that “all your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great” (Isa.54:13). Jesus promised His disciples that “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn.8:32). Thus “Christians need a practical understanding that they are commanded to transform culture.” [5] The implications of this are almost unlimited.

Yes, the Church is an imperfect institution, made up of millions of imperfect people doing an imperfect job. That does not sound impressive, but that is the truth, and that is God’s glorious plan for His people.

The teaching ministry of the Church and of its individual believers is a vital role. Will you play your role in this?


[1] Jeremy Larson, ‘Milton’s View of Education: A Mirror of Reformed Educational Philosophy,’ in “Faith for all of Life,” September/October 2010, p.13.

[2] Van Til, quoted in Rushdoony, R. J., “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.177.

[3] Larson, ibid.

[4] Bojidar Marinov, ‘The New Missionary,’ in “Faith for all of Life” (see above), p.19.

[5] Larson, p.14.

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