Growing in Christ through Teaching

In Acts 15, we read that some men had come from Judea, having not been instructed, to the Gentile church in Antioch teaching the brothers that they had to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses in order to be saved.  Paul and Barnabas, along with some others, were appointed to go to Jerusalem and present the question to the church council in order to determine the relationship that Gentile believers should have to the law of Moses. The church council then sent an encouraging letter back to the church of Antioch to lay on them no greater burden than these requirements: to keep themselves from meat that was offered to idols, fornication, and things that were strangled for blood.  If they kept themselves from these things then they would do very well.  After the letter was delivered and the congregation gathered to hear it, everyone rejoiced because of its great encouragement.

Acts 15:33 33 After spending some time there, they were sent back by the brothers with [the greeting of] peace to those who had sent them. 34 [However, Silas decided to stay there.] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, and with many others also continued teaching and preaching (proclaiming the good news AMP), the word of the Lord [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ].

The church in Antioch was a larger powerful church that enjoyed outstanding ministers, Paul, Barnabas, and now Silas joining with the team in ministering, so it was a church that was greatly strengthened. It was one of the main early churches in church history, the church of Antioch.

They remained there for a period of time preaching and teaching. There is a place in the church for preaching as well as teaching. The Greek word that is translated for preaching is the same Greek word that is used for evangelist. It is the proclaiming of the good news. That is literally what the Greek word means, proclaiming the good news. And thus preaching is mainly for the un-converted. It is to proclaim to the (unsaved) world the Good News that your sins can be forgiven because Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin. It is the declaration of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

Preaching is mainly for the unconverted. Once a person has received the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ, then they need to be taught. The teaching is an important ministry for the church in order that there is spiritual maturity and growth. This comes through the teaching of the Word. Many churches have a heavy emphasis on evangelism that there is very little teaching of the Word of God, and many people stay in an infant state of Christianity. They don’t mature in their walk with the Lord they don’t really grow up but remain in a state of Spiritual infancy.

How do you see the role of Preaching and Teaching in your church?

Hebrews 6 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection (maturity), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

These are basic foundational things that bring us to Jesus Christ. These things are what are preached to the people. They need to know these things in order that they can repent from their sin and receive baptism, and receive Jesus Christ. But beyond these basic fundamental truths, they need to mature in their relationship and in their walk with the Lord. They need to know how to walk in the Spirit. They need to grow up and become spiritually mature.

When you find a church that focuses only on evangelism, you will see that it may have trouble growing numerically and spiritually. An evangelical preacher can preach from his heart a powerful evangelistic message but really may just be preaching to the saints. He can prepare an exciting message thinking “It will be impossible for a sinner to hear this message without being convinced that he needs to accept Jesus Christ.” He can go into church and while they are singing, realize he knows everyone by their first name, and realize, these are all Christians.  They already have Jesus! This can be frustrating.

One of the great problems of the church today is the immaturity of the saints because of the lack of the teaching of the word. Paul wrote to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal. For if there is among you envying and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?

Here are the Corinthian believers. They had been believing for some time, but they had not matured. They were still babes in Christ. This is one of the problems in the church, that we have many people who by now should be spiritually mature, strong, but they are still babes in Christ, still carnal. After 25 years, you have 25 year old babies kicking and screaming in the crib as they cry for their bottles, complaining about the Sunday Message, criticizing the pastor, complaining about the music, and presentation.

Hebrews 5: 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Babies need constant attention. They go to church to be entertained. Their lives have not been changed. They still walk after the flesh. They are still carnally minded. They haven’t grown, they haven’t developed, they haven’t developed from the day they said the sinner’s prayer.

Do you know of anyone who is like this? Who calls themselves a Christian only by name, but it does not affect the way they live? Maybe it was you at one point?

Writing to the Ephesians Paul says: Ephesians 4 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

How much grace is that? If god spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us, how much more shall he not freely give us all things? Every one of us has received this grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

This is when Jesus ascended from the grave. He led the captives from their captivity. In the Old Testament, sins were covered but not put away. It was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could put away sin, they could only cover. It took the blood of Jesus to put away our sins. The Old Testament saints who died, did so in the faith in the promises of God that He would send His anointed one, Messiah into the world who would take away the sins of the world. So looking ahead, they died in faith, and because the sacrifice of Christ was not yet made, they could not enter heaven, they were being kept, comforted by Abraham until Jesus should pay the price for the remission of sins, When Jesus dies, he descended into hell, not the place of punishment but the place of the waiting place of the righteous.

He set the captives free and took them with him to heaven, and he gave gifts unto men, that they in turn exercise those gifts in the church.  11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the (perfecting, maturing) equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ,

The purpose of our gathering, whether in church or bible study, is so that we might be built up in Jesus Christ after being saved. Built up in our faith, in our walk and become more mature in our whole Christian walk. The maturing of the saints for the work in the ministry. 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 

It’s God purpose that through the teaching of the Word. Through the understanding of what the Christian walk and life is all about and receiving of the Power of the Holy Spirit we might be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

If you look at your life, can you answer this question? Am I more like Jesus Christ than I was a year ago?

We should be becoming more like Him every day. 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting

There are some very gullible Christians ready to embrace any new kind of fad that’s happening. Chasing around, trying to be cool with the world and be entertained.

How do you see this type of deception today with baby Christians?