In the area of teaching we believe that it is vital for God’s people to have a solid foundation in what the Bible teaches. A good understanding of the Bible is crucial for a healthy, effective Christian life.
The New Testament often speaks of the importance of instruction in the Word of God.
The great commission contains an emphasis on learning:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Notice that Jesus instructs us to make disciples and to teach them to obey everything that he has commanded. Therefore, according to the great commission, an important aspect of ministry is teaching.
The book of Acts repeatedly mentions that the Apostles diligently taught the new believers sound doctrine (see: Acts 2:42; 4:1,2; 5:19-21; 11:26; 14:21; 15:35; 18:11; 19:9; 20:7; 28:31).
Paul’s statement to the Ephesian elders summarizes the above Scriptures well:
“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20)
Throughout the epistles, this emphasis on teaching is evident (see: Romans 16:17; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:11-16; Phil. 4:9; Col. 2:7; 1 Tim. 1:1-3; 4:6,13-16; 2 Tim. 3:16; 4:1-5; Titus 1:9,13; 2:1,7,10; Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:2; Jude 3).
Three of the above passages particularly demonstrate this point:
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:11-16)
In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul instructs Timothy on the importance of faithfulness in the area of teaching:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Finally, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of the importance of growing in spiritual understanding and maturity:
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, in not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)
At Covenant of Grace Church we feel the weight of this biblical emphasis on teaching and, consequently, have a concern for the systematic teaching of the Word of God.
We seek to provide many opportunities for growth in understanding the truths of Scripture.
We do many sermon series where we preach through a book of the Bible or a section of a book explaining and applying it in practical ways to our lives. Sometimes the sermons will address a biblical topic in which we try to systematically teach what the Bible says about a certain subject.
In addition to our sermons, we also provide other opportunities for biblical education:
1) The Adult Bible Class.
This class meets Sunday mornings before the worship service and is a time for in-depth biblical study. In the past, we have done verse by verse expositions of various books of the Bible such as Romans, Galatians, 1 John, Revelation, Habakkuk. As we study a book, we examine what it teaches and how it relates to the teaching of the rest of Scripture and how its message applies to our lives now.
We have also studied various biblical subjects in this class such as the attributes of God, basic doctrines of salvation, Christ’s work of atonement.
This class gives opportunity not only for in-depth systematic study of a book or topic, but is also a format for questions and discussion on biblical truths and their application.
2) Sunday evening classes in biblical studies.
Another opportunity for study is our Sunday evening classes in biblical studies. These are structured classes with reading/listening (cassettes) assignments, and a final test. Those who complete the assignments and the test are awarded a certificate by the church.
Some of the classes we have offered in the past are inspiration and interpretation of the Bible, Christian ethics, Church history, the ordo salutis (a study of the basic doctrines of salvation and how they relate to each other), and God’s Covenants. We have also presented film series by Francis Schaeffer and R. C. Sproul.
We have structured these classes so that each one lasts only seven to twelve weeks (although we have done some longer classes).
3) Evangelism training.
We have used several approaches in evangelism. We have offered teaching/training in evangelism using the Evangelism Explosion training program. This program, developed by Dr. D. James Kennedy, teaches the principles of evangelism and puts them into practice on a weekly basis. This course includes lectures, discussions, and demonstrations, as well as actual evangelism experience from week to week.
We have also used a telephone outreach. This is a more low-key approach than Evangelism Explosion, but has been effective in reaching unchurched people in our area.
Occasionally we will offer a seminar on a particular topic of interest such as Christian parenting or principles for living in a non-Christian culture.
5) Home Bible Study Groups
These groups are informal discussion type Bible studies that meet in homes. These are great opportunities for Bible study in the context of interaction with other Christians. They are also excellent opportunities to build friendships and receive Christian support.
6) Men’s and Women’s Bible Study Groups.
These groups are similar to the Home Bible Study Groups except that the participants are only men or women in the respective groups. These groups meet once a month.
Again, we believe that it is critical that God’s people have a firm foundation in the teachings of Scripture and, consequently, we place great emphasis on teaching and learning.
Dr. R. C. Sproul summarizes this position well:
“I happen to believe that the most urgent need right now among evangelical Christians, if they’re ever going to make an impact in this world, is at the level of adult education. I think that in order for Christians to grow to maturity they have to think like Christians. In order to behave in the fullness of maturity in terms of effective principled disciples of Christ, they need to gain an in-depth understanding of the Word of God. The Bible, I think, echoes that sentiment again and again where we are called to be mature in our understanding” (Tabletalk, May, 1992, p. 54).
He also wrote in his article, Burning Hearts Are Not Nourished by Empty Heads: “We must have passion – indeed hearts on fire for the things of God. But that passion must resist with intensity the anti-intellectual spirit of the world. The entrance of that spirit into the house of God is like a Trojan horse, concealing within its belly the troops of the enemy who would beguile us with contentless religion, thoughtless action, and vacuous zeal – fire without light. Its only legacy will be a tomb for a forgotten deity with the epitaph, ‘To the Unknown God'” (Christianity Today, September 3, 1982, p. 100).
In regards to Children’s Christian education, we offer Sunday school classes which meet before the worship service on Sunday morning. In these classes we seek to assist parents in building a Christian perspective and understanding of the gospel into the lives of their children. We also have a youth group where we provide opportunities for Christian fun and fellowship as well as learning.