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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Transforming Gift of Teaching

We’re in the midst of a series of sermons about the transforming power of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  When we believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him as Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us.  And the Holy Spirit gives each of us a gift—a special ability—to use to serve God in the Church and help transform our world.  Romans 12:6-8 teaches about seven of these spiritual gifts:  Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Encouraging, Giving, and Leadership.

As we’ve gone through this series together, I’ve been remembering the transforming robot toys I played with as a boy—the Transformers.  I would watch the cartoon series on TV after I got home from school.  Then I would play with the Transformer toys my Mom gave me.

I’m not a little boy anymore.  I’ve grown up (somewhat!).  And so has the Transformers series.  The What started out as simple cartoon drawings on TV has grown up into sophisticated CGI movies on the big screen that look so realistic you can hardly tell the difference between what’s real and what’s animation.  The toy makers at Hasbro, the creators of the Transformers, are marketing geniuses.  They know that all those little boys from the 1980s (like me) have grown up into men who now have a little money to spend at the movie theater.  And they have adapted their Transformers into a movie format that appeals to men my age who want intense action and realistic graphics paired with the toys we played with as kids.

Unfortunately, though the graphics have matured quite a bit, the movies is still very childish.  They have paper-thin plot lines filled with cheesy one liners (that might sound cool to a boy, but) are kind of silly.  They are full of pretty girls, cool cars, and action packed sequences, but there’s no real meat or substance.  The Transformers are not going to win an Oscar anytime soon.

But what’s all this got to do with the transforming power of Jesus?  I’m glad you asked!  Our faith has to grow and mature much better than the Transformers series has. Listen to the Word of God.

Hebrews 5:12-14
12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

Growing into Mature Christians
This Scripture makes it clear that we are to grow and mature as Christians.  Our growth is more than just our outer appearance.  Our mind and spirit must mature.  Thankfully, God has given some the spiritual gift of teaching to help us grow and mature.

Teaching is the God-given ability to clearly communicate the truths and applications of the Bible in such a way that others will learn.  People with the spiritual gift of teaching might say things like: “I enjoy research.”  “I tend to analyze everything.”  “I love to read and study.”  “I enjoy helping others to learn.” 

Spiritually Gifted Teachers
Spiritually gifted teachers have a passion for God’s Word.  They love reading and learning the Bible and then sharing what they learn with others.  They believe in the transforming power of Scripture, because they’ve seen it in their own lives and they want others to experience it too. 

Spiritually gifted teachers know what to teach.  They focus on the Bible, because they know Scripture is the Living Word of God and the foundation of all Christian belief and practice. 
Therefore, they favor the Wisdom of God in Scripture of the teachings of man.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they will only ever teach the Bible by reading it line-by-line.  A gifted teacher knows how to mine God’s Truth in the Bible and teach it in ways that the average person can understand and use in their everyday life. (They might even use silly toys are props to make their lessons more memorable!)

Spiritually gifted teachers know how to communicate ideas in organized manner.  They are always thinking, “How can I get people to understand and remember this?”  One of the great challenges for teachers is keeping their lessons simple.  For themselves, they love to go into the deep end of the pool of God’s Word.  They are fascinated by all the interesting facts and ideas they find there.  But the best teachers realize, not everyone has their same passion for the little “details”.  If they overwhelm their students, they won’t get anything out of their lesson.  And so gifted teachers find creative ways to make their lessons deep enough to provide real meat, but simple enough that average people can get it.  And one of their greatest joys is seeing people “get it”.

Spiritually gifted teachers hate when Scripture is twisted or misused.  They want sound teaching because they know people are easily misled.  And they know the damage that is done when people follow bad teaching.  That’s why they are so diligent to do their very best to teach well and found their teachings upon the eternal Truths of God in the Bible.  And it really disturbs them when they see other teachers spreading false teachings that twist and corrupt God’s Word.  Also, they do their best to counteract false teachers who would deceive.

We Need Spiritually Gifted Teachers
The Church needs gifted teachers.  Americans in the 21st century do not know the Bible.  Although 85% of people in America own a Bible and 51% can’t name the 4 Gospels, 60% can’t name 5 of the 10 commandments.  My church is struggling to find a Young Adult SS teacher.  When people don’t know the Truth of God’s Word, they are susceptible to the Enemy.  If the Church doesn't teach, they will simply believe what the world tells them.

Are You Learning, Growing, and Maturing?
Hebrew 5:12 – You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.

Weekly worship is a god way to start and get a general teaching.  In my church, I work very hard to make sure I give a good lesson each Sunday in my sermon.  If people are willing to give up their Sunday morning to come hear me, I want to make sure the time is meaningful to them.  It is difficult though because I have so many different kinds of people coming with widely varying spiritual maturity.  Some people come needing to be fed the milk of very basic teachings.  Other come needing a steak of more advanced lessons.  But I can only give one message to them all.  I do my best, but I encourage everyone who want to learn, grow, and mature to go deeper.

One way you can go deeper is to study on your own.  Pick up your Bible.  Read it and pray about it and ask God to speak to you and teach you as you study.  There are many helpful resources available to help you go deeper as you study on your own.  I recommend The Story by Randy Frazee or the great resources at Disciple Dojo,  But if you really want to grow and mature, you really must go even deeper.

It's crucial that you study God's Word with other people in a small group.  Join a Sunday school class or Bible study.  You will never learn all you need by studying by yourself.  Working with other people will give you questions and insights you never thought of while encouraging you to keep to keep at your studies and not give up.  Plus you will be learning the way the Twelve Disciples learned from Jesus--together.  The Christian faith was always meant to be lived out together in a community, right from the very start.  So commit to grow and mature through worship, reading, and study--on your own and with others.

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