Recently I had the privilege of presenting at a Teacher In-Service for Cornerstone Christian School in the Bellevue, NE area. The topic I was asked to teach on was "The Need for Biblical Truth."
Here's an edited form of my first major point: Why does biblical truth need my attention?
This last Sunday (Oct 16, 2016) I preached from Romans 8:18-39 on the subject of hope. (Interested in accessing the message? Click here and scroll down to the sermon from Oct 16, 2016.)
I'm a firm believer that hope can be on the distinguishing features of Christians (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), and so I loved the chance to spotlight what Christians are hoping FOR and who we're hoping IN. As we tally these things up, we see that knowing Jesus offers incomparable hope. This is why we can say, along with Paul: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
Here's a summary of these points of my sermon (what Christians are hoping for, and who we're hoping in). Allow these to reinforce the incomparable hope knowing Jesus offers in your own life.
Ligonier ministries has sponsored another LifeWay Research study, surveying where Americans land on certain theological beliefs. (I encourage you to check out the article reporting the findings, posted here at LifeWay.)
The results indicate that there's plenty of job security out there for teachers of theology, and need for churches to continue to champion theological formation. As someone who commented on the findings remarked, "although Americans still overwhelmingly identify as 'Christian,' startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions. These are not minor points of doctrine, but core ideas that define Christianity itself."
As I said in response to a similar survey done a couple of years ago, findings like this reinforce the responsibility churches have to champion evangelical theology and they remind us of the opportunity we have to draw people back to the life-giving fountain that is rich Christian theology.
Let's keep at it, Church. :)
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At its core, the Brookside Institute is all about building and reinforcing foundations of the Christian faith. We do this because we believe that something called "catechesis" - even though we don't always call it that - is still important and worthwhile. We love offering classes that help people Dig Deep, Learn Good, and Launch Well.
Everything in this post so far paints an initial picture of WHAT the Institute is all about, and WHY I believe so strongly in this equipping ministry for the local church. But at least one more important question still needs to be answered: HOW do we go about doing this?
I suppose there's a few angles by which this question could be approached. But perhaps THE SINGLE GREATEST ANSWER to the "how?" question is this: Institute teachers. If an excellent ministry (the "what") that clearly adds value (the "why") is offered, but the wrong people are at the helm, the "what" and the "why" don't matter (or they won't be realized). In other words, if you have the WHAT and the WHY but not the WHO, things are going to either collapse or never take shape.
All of this means teachers - in the Institute, or any other Christian education environment, for that matter - play a really big role. And that means we need to know what we're looking for in teachers. This helps with the selection filter, it adds credibility and value to everything else, and these qualities are things that shape ongoing training and development.
So, with that said, here are the 4 "C"s that make a strong Institute teacher:
I was spending some time in Leland Ryken's biography of J.I. Packer, recently, and ran across a section where Ryken highlights Packer's ministry-long emphasis on the value of God's Word. I love this - may it remind us all to not neglect the Bible, but to give it our attention both as individuals and in churches.
Everything in the section below comes straight from J.I. Packer: An Evangelical Life, by Leland Ryken, pp. 255-56. Section headings are Ryken's; quotes are Packer's:
The Bible has fallen into great neglect among Christians:
"Once, most Westerners knew something of what was in the 'Good Book' to guide us in our lives; nowadays, however, very few know or care what the Bible teaches.”
This is not a minor issue but a major one:
"Ignorance of the Bible remains tragic, for it virtually guarantees ignorance of God.”
Restoring the Bible to the center of life is urgent:
"To reestablish in people’s minds the truth and wisdom of the biblical message…is perhaps the church’s most urgent task today.”
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