8th December 2016

The Vital Ministry Of Teaching

The Vital Ministry of Teaching

by Henry Morris, Ph.D. *

The Great Commission, as it is known, is broader than many Christians realize. First of all, it involves Christians being sent into all the world.John 20:2121 Again he said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you."Then, just before His return to heaven, He told them what they would do as they went:Acts 1: 88 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."And what does it mean to be witnesses? The actual Greek word also means "martyrs," so this commission could well involve real sacrifice. But what would be the content of their witness? Earlier He told them thatLuke 24:4747 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations,(Or all peoples.) beginning in Jerusalem: 'There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.' A more concise and yet more comprehensive statement of His Great Commission had been given on another occasion when He said,Mark 16:1515 And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyoneThe gospel we are to preach is, of course, the good news about Christ.That, in fact, is precisely the meaning of the Greek word itself. It is not good advice or good philosophy. It is the wonderfully glad tidings in the record concerning Jesus Christ-specifically Who He is, What He has done What He will do in the ages to come.Its central focus is on the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins His physical burial and bodily resurrection1 Corinthians 15:1-4Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it.2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you-unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.(Or unless you never believed it in the first place.)3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. But it also includes His creation of all things in the beginning it is called the "everlasting gospel".Revelation14:66 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world-to every nation, tribe, language, and people.Furthermore, it includes the promised Colossians 1:55 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.as well as everything that God in Christ has said or done in anticipation of His promised heavenly Kingdom.

The most extensive definition of that commission was given when Jesus met with His first 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee and said,Matthew 28:18-2018 Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,(Or all peoples.)baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."Twice in this missionary mandate we note that He stressed the ministry of teaching. The scope of the commandment is indeed extensive; all nations are to be taught, and the teaching is to incorporate everything that Jesus taught.

And even that is not all. There was another great commission given to men and women back at the very beginning of time, and it is still in effect.Genesis 1:2828 Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.This ancientauthority mandate necessarily implies comprehensive scientific research into the nature of the earth and all its living creatures-plant life, animal life, human life. Then, for us to "subdue" the earthAnd it also commandsthe we, must involve the development of all kinds of technology and commerce and-especially-education! What is learned and implemented in one generation would be useless if not transmitted to the next generation. That requires the vital ministry of teaching!When Christ told the disciples to "teach all nations," the actual language He used was "make disciples in all nations." A disciple is not just a listener (like a student whose mind may be closed or filled with trivia) but one who is a real learner and user of the information provided by his teacher. The word disciple is obviously related to discipline. True education requires both a disciplined teacher and a disciplined learner. It is appropriate also that the various individual areas of study (science, math, language, etc.) are themselves known as disciplines.

The "all things" we are to "teach" must clearly include everything that Christ comprehended in both His authority mandate and His missionary mandate. Remember that our Lord created them all and has paid the price for their full redemption. He has promised that Romans 8:2121 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. This responsibility is further implied in Christ's command to "preach the gospel," for, as noted above, gospel itself also embraces all that Christ is and does and says, from creation to consummation. It is infinitely more comprehensive than just the atoning death and bodily resurrection of the Saviour, as essential as these are. Belief in this central core of the gospel, along with personal faith in Christ and His Word, is vitally important and is sufficient for one's personal salvation-if truly understood and sincerely believed. But this simple gospel is definitely not all that is involved in the Great Commission or in the authority mandate that the commission incorporates and extends.

The gospel of Christ that we have been commanded to preach, the person and work of Christ of whom we are to be witnesses, and the comprehensive teaching implied in the Great Commission and the authority mandate involve nothing less than the wonderful plan of God for His entire creation in the eternal ages to come.No individual Christian can preach or teach all these things. These orders must involve the entire company of His disciples, each using his or her own individual abilities and opportunities to help in the implementation of God's great plan and doing it faithfully, as unto the Lord.Furthermore, there is surely more than one type of teaching gift. Teaching the Bible is different from teaching music, for example. Also, teaching middle-school children is very different from teaching graduate students in science or teaching pastoral students in a seminary. But all teaching requires good preparation, sincere interest in students as well as subject matter, and-for Christian teachers in particular-doing it as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:2323 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.The Lord does not call everyone to be a teacher. In fact, He warns those who are not truly called to a teaching ministry against it. James 3:1Dear brothers and sisters,not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.We need to realize that the authority mandate still applies to all people, both Christians and non-Christians, whereas the Great Commission is the responsibility of Christians only. The latter, therefore, have a double responsibility in subduing the earth. With respect to science, for example, we not only want to win individual scientists to salvation in Christ but also to bring the sciences themselves under submission to God and His Word. This includes warning students about the deadly fallacies of evolutionary philosophy and secular humanism in general. It applies in an extreme sense to college and university teachers, especially to those teaching science at the graduate level as they prepare our future scientific researchers and educators.Considering the importance Christ placed on teaching in His Great Commission and its preeminent position among the gifts of the Holy Spirit,1 as well as its essential importance in implementing God's dominion mandate, the entire Christian community is surely responsible to provide whatever support is needed to enable these teaching ministries to function effectively.

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