Monday, 7 November 2011

Teach the Bible, teach the Bible, teach the Bible

As a ministry idea it may not be up there with the snappy slogans of the latest guru on church growth dynamics, or come with the glossy cover or slick publicity material of some publications but it has one considerable advantage.  It is God's strategy for growing his kingdom.

We have spent the evenings this term working our way through 2 Timothy as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith about gospel ministry and what keeps on being repeated is the need for Timothy to teach the bible, teach the bible, teach the bible.  1:13 Paul exhorts him to "Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me..."  in 2:2 as he turns to growing gospel leaders he tells Timothy "what you have heard from me... entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."  As he exhorts Timothy to remember Jesus (2:8f) he reminds him that God's word is not bound, in 3:15 he exhorts Timothy to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."  (2:24)He says that one of the marks of a gospel servant is the ability to teach, and in 3:14-17 he reminds Timothy of the inspiration and effectiveness of teaching the word of God, as he charges him to preach in 4:2.

Paul does not want Timothy to be distracted or to be put off teaching the word of God, he wants him to be utterly convinced of its power and its authority so that he continues to teach it even in the face of false teaching and opposition and suffering.

Its fascinating how often this emphasis appears in the bible, here are just a couple of examples; Moses (Exodus 18)is advised by Jethro to scale back on his work as a judge so that he can pray and teach the people how to walk before God, or he and they will exhaust themselves.  And in Acts 6 as the early church grows the Apostle have to reorganise because they are in danger of being distracted from preaching and praying.

There are all sorts of ministry, church planting and pastoral care handbooks around, all sorts of programmes to try for this or that.  But what we need to do as Gospel leaders, as God's servants, is use God's chosen method as we play our part in God's mission of building his kingdom for his glory - we are to preach his word.  When we face difficult pastoral situations people need to hear the word of God - contrary to many peoples thoughts they do not need wise words of advice from someone who has been through what they have been through, they need someone who can and will teach and apply the word of God to them.  When a couple start out on married life they need someone to show them what the bible teaches about marriage and how to study the bible together and apply grace to one another.  When someone faces terrible news they do not need sympathy and comfort alone but they need to know of the loving arms of their Father around them and their security as one of his blood bought children which they will find through hearing the bible taught and lovingly applied.

What is our ministry strategy?  I'd suggest we can't go wrong if we place the emphasis where God places his emphasis - teach the bible.

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