Monday, July 16, 2012

A Gift Given to Be Given

I was sitting here today reflecting upon the sermon I heard at church yesterday. My pastor was preaching on Deuteronomy 6 and was calling attention to the responsibility that each of us have to communicate the Word of God to the next generation. As I was thinking about this, I realized what an amazing blessing it is to be able to go to church, hear a sermon, or be involved in a Bible study. We typically think of these things in relation to the value they have for us as individuals as though that were the only goal of such learning. There is, however, another reason why we should express our thankful appreciation to God for the teaching of the church.

The Bible says:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)

These references to doorposts, gates, hands, and foreheads show us that the teaching of God is to be such an integral part of our being that we live by it and reflect it in all things that we do. Every thought and every action is to be informed by the Word of God. Notice also, however, that these verses also contain a requirement that the people of God teach their children diligently and talk to them about the teaching of God. Believers are commanded to disciple their children. Jesus even expands this requirement from the immediate family to the broader culture in Matthew 28 when He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

The people of God are therefore responsible for communicating the revelation of God to others. It is not an option; it is a requirement that we do so. Of course, not every Christian is going to be a teacher or preacher but that does not mean that we are not responsible for sharing the simple Gospel and the basic understanding of who God is. This brings me to the other reason why church is such a blessing. God has required that we share His teaching. In order to share it we need to understand it and be able to communicate it.

The Lord has provided everything necessary to do this in His Word but many of us are not comfortable doing so. God therefore goes beyond just supplying what was necessary and in His grace supplies much more. He gave the gifts of preachers and teachers so that we are led into the Word and so we may learn how to study it, think about it, and apply it. This is not just for our own benefit with regard to our personal salvation and sanctification. It is a help to us in preparing us and encouraging us in the exercise of our responsibility to others. We are able to benefit from the teaching of others so that we would grow in our understanding and be adequately prepared to share with others.

We should not be simply consumers of God’s truth who should shop for teachers as though we are purchasing a car. Church does not exist to be our personal spiritual servant. It exists so that God will be glorified in us and through us. When we understand our own responsibility to live in a way that is consistent with our new life, we begin to appreciate better the value of those gifts that our Father has provided to help us.

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