Our Great Teachers

When we remember the variety of teachers we have had over the years, some stand out as especially helpful, and others rate somewhat lower. Good teachers inspire willing students to learn the required lessons and grow toward their potential. I recall my fourth grade teacher kept a tight reign on the class but helped me to progress with the three “r”s.[1]  I was also challenged by my high school band teacher, who took our new school’s band from scratch to performing at university football “bowl games” in Florida and Texas before I graduated.

In our Christian discipleship journey we need to prioritize God’s ministry of teaching us.

1. The Father is our teacher, for He entrusted truth for the Lord Jesus to share with His disciples. As Christ testified, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).

2. The Son is also our teacher. Jesus was constantly teaching the twelve and the crowds: “… He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:21,22). Christ taught through His person and actions as well as His words.

3. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. When Jesus came to the end of His earthly pilgrimage, He had much more to convey to His people, but this would be done through the ministry of the Holy Spirit whom He would send: “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25,26, cf. 16:12-15; 1 John 2:27). The church has been blessed by His illumination from Pentecost onward (Acts 2).

4. The Holy Bible is our teacher. God’s written revelation is our unique textbook which is fully adequate for our instruction in spiritual truth (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Yet there is so much in these 66 books of the Bible! All of it is useful (Rom. 15:4), but we need to interpret and apply it as God intends.

Bible students identify the way the Holy Spirit revealed doctrines progressively over the course of time as “progressive revelation.”  Teachings that are implicit in the Old Testament become explicit in the New Testament. For example, Paul testifies of further revelation he received concerning the nature of the church—how the Body of Christ is comprised of Jews and Gentiles as equal members in a spiritual family (Eph. 3:1-7).

The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, observed, “There’s nothing that so abides with us as what we receive from God, and the reason why the Christians in this day are at such a loss as to some things is that they are contented to what comes from men’s mouths, without searching and kneeling before God to know of Him the truth of eternal things. Lessons we receive at God’s hands come to us as truth from the minting house, though old in themselves, yet new to us…”

This leads us to the importance of identifying a special teacher in this age

5. God’s grace is our teacher.  This teacher’s ministry is described in Titus 2:11-14 : “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11,12).

Why is it vital for us to learn from this teacher, “grace,” instead of the law (as given in earlier revelation, such as Exodus 20)? Because, as believers, we are no longer under the law: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”(Rom 6:14). This theme is thoroughly developed in the book of Galatians.

So, our principal teacher is the Holy Spirit, and our curriculum is the whole counsel of God through the perspective of grace! (Acts 20:27). This grace perspective is elusive to those who have been raised with “performance-based acceptance” environment. But, as a believer in Christ, grasp this: You are accepted in the Beloved One! (Eph. 1:6; Rom. 5:1).

J. F. Strombeck wrote of the centrality of grace as our teacher:

“There is a great need for a fuller presentation of grace; not only of the truth that salvation from condemnation is entirely of grace, but even more of the truth that the very same grace which brings salvation also teaches the saved how to live ‘godly in this present world’… All impartation of spiritual truth, all instruction, all reproof, all admonition, all exhortation, and all chastening are elements of the discipline by grace … It is therefore fundamental to recognize that all teaching of righteous living, to be effective, must not be grounded in law, but in grace. Any appeal for godliness not related to grace is based on a false premise.”[2]

The triune God, His Word, and His grace are great instructors that welcome every disciple of Christ as a prized pupil.

Forgive us, Father, for being reluctant learners. We turn away from legalism and behold Your wonderful grace as our teaching principle. Guide us to say “no” to carnality, and rather to live soberly, righteously, and godly in these last days. In Your name, amen.

[1] 3 “r”s = reading, writing, & arithmetic

[2] J.F. Strombeck, Disciplined by Grace , p.6,7,8 .

Copyright © by John B. Woodward, 1999. Permission is granted to reprint for noncommercial use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Biblical quotations are from the NKJV.

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