Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
(540) 473-2325

Learning in God's Classroom: The Local Church

II Peter “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Learning to learn is critical to the success of the believer. Unlike a child who is ready to learn who has not been exposed to a lot of information, tradition, religion or culture; the adult believer has been exposed to such. Many opinions have been formed by the time the adult believer is ready for the advancement to spiritual adulthood. These experiences and opinions have molded their conscience.

When you come into an expository church you should come expecting to learn, and learning supposes you don’t know it all, none of us do including the pastor-teacher.

Folks who visit an expository church a week or two or maybe a little longer may leave because they hear something they have never heard before. They are not accustomed to being a disciple of the Lord. They are accustomed to hearing familiar things over and over and everything else to them in their churches is some kind of activity.

When the disciples of our Lord heard something they didn’t understand; something they had never heard before they questioned him on the matter and he would explain. It then became their prerogative to stay and listen for more and learn more. Most of our Lord’s disciples, other than the twelve, left the Lord when they heard something new, John 6:66. This has not changed today.

None of us grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and finally come to the end of that growth in this lifetime. We all have so much to learn. We do not get our diploma until we get to heaven. You and I do not have to learn what we already know, so we must be willing to learn what we do not know, and if we do not learn then that condition is called, ignorance. Ignorance will not be bliss at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, it will be the problem.

If there is not a culture of the pastor teaching and the congregation learning in the local church then that church has failed the grace of God. The unfortunate reality is that many believers think they already know enough about the word of God, and in essence they actually think they know enough about Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. Many people say they want the word and they want to grow, but once they are challenged to grow they find an excuse such as the church doesn’t offer enough for the children, or enough music, or there is not enough to do so they leave. The reality is they chose to not sit under the authority of the word of God. Conformity to Christ involves submitting to divine ordained authority which includes the word of God, the filling of the Holy Spirit, the local church and the pastor’s authority under God to preach and teach the word. These divine assets bring all believers under God’s molding process. Some believers do not like someone putting the squeeze on them; telling them what they need to practice, even if that instruction clearly is correctly taught from the Bible; a Bible which they so tenderly clutch when they walk into the church sanctuary. Some folks run out of an expository church like their tails were on fire.

When the believer thinks they have arrived, that they know it all, their Christian joy evaporates. The word of God is written for us to continually learn so that our joy might keep on being full [Greek, present tense] I Jn.1:4. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”

When we think we know enough about the word of God our contentment and peace fades away. Spiritual stagnation sets in when the incoming word of God is shut off by negative volition.

Our burdens seem heavier when we stop learning of Jesus Christ. Notice in Matt.11:28-30 where our Lord says the way to ease our burdens is to learn of him. The Greek word used here for learn is mathete. This is an aorist active imperative verb of the root word manthano, which means to be taught, then to comprehend, and then practice. It is the full circle of being a disciple of our Lord. It is reception, retention and recall of truth that eases our burdens. The imperative mood makes this request of our Lord a direct command to all believers, and yet some believers are disobedient and too impatient to learn and obey. Their attendance to the word becomes hit and miss and unless they repent of their sinful obstinance they will eventually find something wrong with the church or the pastor and they will fade into the abyss of the world, the flesh and the devil. In Phil.4:11 Paul said he learned contentment. When we stop learning about the Lord our contentment goes away. Paul also said in Phil.3:8 that he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Many saints today aren’t willing to count all things but loss to learn of Christ. They learn a little about the Bible after salvation and stop learning. When we stop learning and being molded by the word of God scar tissue on the soul creates a false optimism that things will get better. Eventually a despondent pessimism leads us to throw in the towel. Without truth flowing through our spiritual veins our eternal hope is blighted.

Many saints learn the acceptable lingo that keeps them respectably acceptable in the church and they learn the mannerisms and customs familiar with a church family, but they are not content. Some believers have never experienced real Christian joy and contentment because they have never grown up. They suppose the emotions they felt at salvation and the occasional “good point” the preacher makes is all there is to Christian joy and contentment. The lack of real biblical contentment eludes them because they have sought to establish their walk with God based on feelings, not faith.

Preachers who do not edify and challenge their people with the whole counsel of God’s word dumb down their congregations with soft feely, tear jerking sentimental messages that simply encourage the culture of restlessness found in the body of Christ today. The biblical illiteracy in America is appalling, and the exodus of distracted believers from sound churches to go to non doctrinal teaching churches grows by the week across America.

When the Christian graces of joy and contentment go away we cannot fill this void with activity. Activity doesn’t build our relationship with the Lord, his truth does. When we think we know it all we start focusing on the results of our Christian experience rather than the cause which is the glory of God. When this happens we substitute performance over the perception of biblical truth. The lack of truth always leads to error. Silence from the word of God in the pulpit results in the congregations assumption that God has nothing to say to address the many problems we have today. This leads our people to adopt the popular ungodly opinions and lifestyles espoused in society today.

When we do not obey the call of Phil.2:5 to... “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” we suffer the defeated mindset of so many. It is only the believer who allows himself to be inculcated with the word of God that has the confidence to follow a life of faith.

Making decisions in life from a position of biblical ignorance and sentimentalism can lead to no good for the believer. You see, good decisions are biblically factual and they are built on other good biblical decisions. Bad decisions are usually built on previous bad decisions. The deeper we dig ourselves into bad decisions the harder it is to come out of them.

The despair that follows leads to a defeated attitude and more bad decisions. Mentally lazy believers always fool themselves into thinking they are going to get lucky and somehow fall into good fortune, even at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They always look for shortcuts to happiness, even in church. They look for the feel good churches where their standards are not regularly challenged by the word of God. If we are not accepting the challenge to learn and be conformed to Christ, then we are going down the bad decision path in life.

All believers have to decide if they are going to allow their spiritual lives to spiral in a downward or upward path.

Are we going to let the mind of Christ [the word of God] direct our lives, or are we going to become a stiff neck people and reap the corruption that is in the world?

We are members of the royal family of God. If we need to we should reclaim our position in Christ Jesus, We should reclaim our salvation if we have forsaken it, confess our stubbornness and sins, I Jn.1:9, and we should humble ourselves to once again become the students of the word which the good Lord has called us to be. Come to church with your Bible and notebook in hand. Do not come for a show or a production. Take notes to study during the week. When that sore trial or testing which God has designed and permitted to come into your life, in order to help you understand him and his love for you comes; then you will be glad you had taken notes and learned the word. And at the Bema Seat judgment of God when the Lord shows you the opportunity he gave you to pass that test, and glorify him through what your pastor taught, then you will glad you had learned God’s word. Those scribbled pages or two of notes that you studied, and learned and applied which glorified God in time will be rewarded in this life and they will be rewarded handsomely in heaven. Brethren we need to know what the local church is for. We need to know what the pastor’s job is and we all need to know our position under the authority of the lordship of Jesus Christ. Jer.6:16-17 and Heb.13:17 say pastors are God’s watchmen who watch for the souls of God’s people.

Some might say I am a ranting lunatic, but so did the apostates in the days of Noah, Gen.6:3; I Pet.3:20; Heb.11:7. The apostates in Israel told Amos to go away and stop bringing unwelcome news of God’s wrath if they didn’t repent, Amos 7:10-13.

There were those who told Paul that much study had made him mad, [Greek word, mania, our word for a maniac, Acts 26:24-25.

The reformers that started the Protestant Revolution were thought to be lunatics.

I would not dare put myself in the category of these great saints of the past, but the message from God to his people, as well as the lost, has not changed and the consequences of disobedience are just as real today.

At the Bema Seat of Christ where our motivations and our lives will be evaluated we will see the benefits we accrued in time because we submitted to the hand of God [Bible doctrine], I Pet.5:6 and we were hard on ourselves in time, I Cor.9:24-27. We will not be a happy people if we let rebellion steer us from God’s word.

Yes, we should be a happy people and we will be, but only if we are an obedient people.

The Pastor
March 2009