Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Biblically-Based Education

Biblically-Based Education
Why are We Here?

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

Why are we here? Why are we investing thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in biblically-based education? Why not just close the doors, forget all books except the good book, and march out into the world full-time right now?

We are here because we recognize the importance of preparation. Some have called it “the ministry of preparation.” We see ourselves following the example of Joshua as he apprenticed with Moses, of Elisha as he served with Elijah, of the twelve as they followed our Lord, and of Timothy and Titus as they learned from Paul. These men did not lack commitment or conviction. They did not lack faith or fervor. They knew something of the awesomeness of God. I believe they knew that God deserved their best. They chose to prepare in order to give their best to God.

We who teach and preach have an awesome responsibility. We work with God in helping people understand the riches and wonders of His word. We know that Holy Scripture is God’s word. It is our guide and our standard in doctrine and in life. We also know that most people need all the help they can get in understanding and applying God’s word. I hope you don’t hear that as an insult to God or His word. I mean no insult. I don’t believe for a moment that God makes things difficult for us. In truth, I think we make things difficult for God. We’re so limited, so finite. That’s why we need all the help we can get in understanding God’s truth.

I love Ezra and Nehemiah. Nehemiah 8:8 reads, “So they read distinctly from the book, in the law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” I have no trouble at all identifying with the Ethiopian of Acts 8. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” You know the reply, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” The more I study the Bible the more I appreciate Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:16. He mentions the epistles of our beloved brother Paul. He says of them, “ which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” There may be a thousand ways to misunderstand Scripture, but there’s only one way to get it right.

Why are we here? Why are we investing thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in the ministry of preparation? I want to share a short list of answers with you.

First, we are here because we have an awesome responsibility. The God of heaven and earth has revealed Himself to us through Scripture. His word reaches across cultures, continents, and centuries to engender obedient, saving faith in our hearts. His word shows us His Son. It shows us His love. And we have been charged to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in a way that people can understand. 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, and 1 Peter 4:11 all document this charge.

Second, we are here because we want to teach God’s truth with confidence, competence, and conviction. In 1Timothy 6:20, Paul told Timothy, “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and the contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge...” He warned the Christians in Colosse, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

The devil is good at what he does. He knows the value of confusion and doubt. He knows the danger of Christians who are absolutely convinced that the Bible is God’s Holy Word; that its truth can be understood, believed, lived, and taught. He doesn’t even mind us teaching that word, so long as we don’t teach it with confidence, competence, and conviction. The devil has so much well-packaged, sophisticated, and appealing misinformation in place. Only those who teach the truth of God with confidence, competence, and conviction can offer him any real competition. I know that the power is in the word and not in the preacher. Jonah shows us that in the Old Testament. Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. But, we could never read Romans 10 and rightly conclude that the preacher doesn’t matter. We’re here because God deserves our best and because we know something of the strength of our adversary.

Finally, we are here because God’s word has more to tell us than we have as yet understood. I love that old statement, “The Bible is a pool of truth in which a child can wade and an elephant can swim.” So many fundamental truths are beautifully simple and crystal clear. At the same time, there are wondrous concepts which we may never fully grasp.

You remember 2 Timothy 4:13. Paul is near the end of his life. He’s virtually alone and under arrest in Rome. Only Luke is with him. He writes to Timothy, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come -- and the books, especially the parchments.” Paul who trained at the feet of Gamaliel, who received direct, personal revelation from the Lord, who had visions more wondrous than he could describe still wanted the books and the parchments. He wasn’t through learning. He wasn’t through teaching. My prayer for us is that we never get through, either. That’s why we are here.

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