Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | December 1, 2015

Teaching Teachers To Repent

 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the command of God our Savior and of the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope; To Timothy, my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, continue to remain at Ephesus so that you might command some to teach no other doctrine, nor pay attention to fables and endless genealogies, which cause debates rather than godly edifying, which is in faith. Now the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. From this, some have lost their way and turned aside to empty talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understanding neither what they say nor what they affirm. (1 Timothy 1: 1-7)

After 2000 years, not much has changed.

If Paul were to live in today’s day and age, I’m convinced he would be actively involved in the same battle of defending a faith that kept Jesus, His love and His finished work at a place of preeminence, while having some strong words for those whose teaching complicates the “simplicity that is in Christ Jesus” for a finely tuned, performance based, intellectually stimulating counterfeit dressed in spiritual garb.

It’s unfortunate that so many teaching ministries today, even well known ones, fit into this category. They’re a dime a dozen.

Life in Christ is born of the Spirit, anchored in God’s love and our identity & inheritance in Christ, and manifested through love as we walk in the Spirit. If your teaching/discipleship ministry doesn’t start here and continually remind believers of their position in Christ, then it’s a total sham…. regardless of the popularity of your ministry, notoriety of your name, size of your church, number of your published works, flashiness of your website or size of your Facebook following.

Want to preach or teach hard on obedience or repentance? Or on “considering the cost of following Jesus?” Or on “forsaking all to follow Him?” Then start by examining your own teaching and discipleship ministry paradigm, philosophy and methodology in light of the New Covenant and Jesus’ admonition in John 13:34-35, and be the first to repent. Then you can begin teaching on obedience and surrender within the context of God’s grace & love in Christ, being true to the gospel’s theme on this…. that it is the grace of God that produces repentance.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect many (if any) of these teachers to repent. After all, they would have to humble themselves, re-align their ministry’s focus according to New Covenant theology and start over with an entirely new foundation, and in the process risk offending those already on the performance-based gerbil wheel who financially support them. And that’s entirely too costly.

So much for “forsaking all to follow Jesus.”

The Apostle Paul sets a great example of what our priorities should be when it comes to teaching. For example, in his letter to the Ephesians, the first half of his writing (chapters 1 thru 3) almost exclusively focuses on things like the preeminence of Jesus and His finished work, knowing Him, God’s love and grace, our identity in Christ, our inheritance in Christ, the reality of the Holy Spirit within, and His people (the Church) being the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Only after focusing on God’s grace and the implications of the New Covenant on the life of the believer does he start talking about behavior (chapters 4 thru 6). This is no accident.

In fact, at the beginning of almost every epistle, the Church is greeted with the following proclamation (or something close to it):

“Grace and Peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And as a reminder of this all important reality to the Church, we find that almost every epistle ends with a similar proclamation.

Accident? By no means.

The point is clear: Let’s keep Jesus and His grace at the center of our faith, from whom and through whom all blessing flows. And when we teach, let’s teach with a “Jesus lens” so that our teaching doesn’t betray the very message Christ wants us to proclaim.

The surrender…. the obedience that God is looking for is gained through His love:

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, emphasis mine)

If we teach on things like obedience and surrender apart from the context of God’s grace and love extended to us in Christ…. if we don’t first establish believer’s hearts in the grace that is theirs in Christ (and remind them of it often), then we’re on our way to contaminating the world with more performance based, Bible-thumping Christian religionists, rather than making disciples who abide in the rest of faith and who learn to love well through the love they themselves have received from God.

We need less of the former… and more of the latter.

Grace to you.

 

 

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Responses

  1. Great word exposing the fruitless teachings which drive believers in anxiety, robbing them of the precious peace Jesus intends for them. I walked on that stressful road for tooooo long, and I know all too well what that is like. Thank you for expressing the simplicity of the great news of grace and love!

    Like

    • Thank you. I’ve walked that road, too. Big difference between “duty” obedience and the obedience that springs from relationship… from faith.

      Like


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