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What Are We Learning, and Why?

What Are We Learning, and Why?

      If you’ve participated in any organized learning experience such as a class or a course of any duration, you perhaps have asked the question above. This may have been for various reasons. The answer should have been discovered before beginning the course or class. It is my understanding that many courses have a syllabus, which is an “outline of the subjects in a course of study or teaching”. It makes sense to me that one would “investigate” a bit to see if the course of study is one in which they desire to participate. Also, what are the costs? What are the benefits?
     Of course, if you have obeyed the gospel, and therefore are a Christian, you must have had some instruction (heard the gospel), or there is no way you could have obeyed. The Christian life is to be one of learning, and learning requires study as 2Tim. 2:15 shows. The Spirit had the apostle Paul write this admonition to the young preacher Timothy. These Words are equally applicable today. It is surely apparent that the approval we are to be seeking is that of God and not man. This is a ‘positive’ verse and requires the ‘rightly dividing’ (handling aright) the Word of God.
     Notice that the above-mentioned verse is ‘sandwiched’ between ‘negative’ verses. In the 14th verse, caution was advised to “strive not about words to no profit”. It is also pointed out that to go about striving about words is the means for “subverting of the hearers”. Therefore, we MUST be diligent in what we are learning.  Verses 16 & 17 provide the “why”. “Profane and vain babblings” are to be shunned because they “increase to more ungodliness”.    Left alone, they “eat as doth a canker” (an ulcer). Some ‘translations’ call this a cancer, and the effect is about this same, but this is a mistranslation from the original Greek.
    The point is well made. Improper teaching results in improper learning and this lends itself to false doctrine being practiced. One cannot be taught wrong and expect to obey correctly. To think otherwise is to negate the whole idea of teaching & learning as everyone could do as they wish and call it obedience.
     For one to learn they must be taught. The Lord knew this and addressed the situation in Matt 15:9. As some were ‘teaching’ the “commandments of men” as doctrine, others followed, and participated in “vain worship”. Howbeit, just before He ascended to His Heavenly Father, He instructed His apostles to “Go, teach, baptize, and teach” (much emphasis on teaching) in Matt. 28:18-20.  He had been given all authority. His ministry had been completed and His mission successful. His earthly message had been about the things of the kingdom (the church for which He died). His final instruction (teaching) to the apostles in this book’s account is given. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” It is apparent that what is taught and what is learned is of utmost importance.
      If the same thing is taught and the same things learned, the same thing will be put into practice. In Phil. 3:16 the Spirit had Paul state it: “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” Would not this “rule” be what had been taught and learned?   Paul’s ways “in Christ” were evident and also being taught and learned “every where in every church” (congregation) 1Cor. 4:17, as there is only one church per Eph. 4:4-6. The Spirit also had Paul write another young preacher and give him instruction that also applies to us in Titus 2:11-12. If we learn from this, we will be “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” and should seek to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”. If this is taught, learned, and put into daily practice, unity and fidelity among brethren and congregations would exist, and physical and spiritual growth would occur.
      Otherwise, as the Words of 1Tim 6:3-5 indicate, the teacher in question doesn’t consent to sound words, and fails to adhere to the “doctrine which is according to godliness; “, and “is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness:”. We are commanded to withdraw from such.
     In 2Tim. 2:2 we see how the Spirit had Paul direct Timothy about teaching. This shows how sound Biblical teaching is to be perpetuated. Paul received his message directly from the Holy Spirit, so Paul was teaching by inspiration. That same message was to be received and passed on to “faithful men who shall be able to teach others” the same message.  There were not to be changes due to various circumstances or situations.  God’s plan and God’s message does not change.   Any teaching in the religious realm that cannot be proven by a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ or by searching the scriptures is false and is not to be learned or followed.  This is also supported by 1Peter 4:11. “Speaking” here is directly referencing teaching. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”   We should remember that it is God’s Word which we speak and teach and not our own.
     Another way to ensure we are seeking to learn the correct things is to ask ourselves “why” I am learning?  Am I seeking to learn to support what I’ve always been taught so I can defend it?   Or am I seeking to learn what God would have me know so I can obey Him and serve Him?   Am I seeking to learn so that I may ‘please’ others?   Perhaps we should all learn Gal. 1:10b. “ . . . or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  A lot depends on what we learn and why we learn it.  How we use what we learn, as well as our soul’s destiny depends on it.    Think about it!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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