The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, July 28, 2014

God the Most Powerful Teacher

“Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him?” - Job 36:22


Who was your best teacher? What teacher left the most indelible mark on your memory?  For me, I first remember my jovial rotund fifth grade teacher Mrs. Jolly who made learning fun. She laughed easily and would jiggle like jelly when she did. But she still held her students accountable to do their best. I remember my high school physics teacher Mr. Agape. He really did love his students. I remember his bushy black mustache and perpetual smile. He taught with an enthusiasm and flare that was contagious. He made you want to excel. I can still remember how he’d interject humor into our class discussions. When we students would stray into circular redundant endless inquiries he’d transition from the pointless questioning with the words, “Why? Because pigs don’t whistle and meatballs don’t bounce!” He would point out the danger of an error by saying, “That’s like playing horseshoes with hand grenades.” It was fun to go to class with these teachers.


Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13).  God infiltrates our thoughts in wooing us to Himself. He breaks through self-centeredness, self-reliance, and our sinful nature to speak to our heart. If you are pondering eternity and where you will spend it, that is not an accidental thought process. That is God reaching out to you and calling you to salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ so you can spend eternity with Him. Yes, God teaches us.


“Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him?” (Job 36:22). God is a powerful Teacher. As good and even great as any teacher you’ve ever had, they pale in comparison to God the Teacher. God is the greatest teacher. No one teaches like God teaches. Often we don’t even realize God is taking us to school. He uses every incidental circumstance in life as an instrument of learning. He never bores us to sleep with a monotone monologue. We may not appreciate His life lessons at first, but we do in the end. What He teaches may not always be “fun” to receive. But what He teaches is always edifying and eternally significant. God’s lessons go beyond mere “fun” and happy results to the more substantial joyfulness of His abundant life. Earthly teachers may provide us lessons that change us for this life. But God’s lessons change lives for eternity. That’s what makes God the best teacher.


If God is the best teacher then it would behoove us to go to His class and learn His curriculum. While God’s school is open for all to attend, it is a privilege to be taught by God. God teaches us eternal life truths. He reveals telescopic wonders of His universe. He reveals microscopic truths about our inner most being. He provides eternal answers to eternal questions. He provides eternal solutions to destiny problems. Therefore we need to approach His class with a proper perspective.  


Who does God teach? Is there a demeanor or attitude that best positions us for God to teach us? A fool is unteachable. “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent” (Prov. 15:5). “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Prov. 23:9; cf. also 14:16; 17:10; 18:2; 24:7; 26:4, 11). The wisdom of proverbs points out the importance of being teachable. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12; cf. also 29:20). It’s foolish to think you have all the answers. It’s foolish to think you don’t need to be taught by God (Psalm 14). Therefore to be taught by God we first need to throw off our foolish pride and self-reliance and consider who it is that God teaches.


God teaches sinners. “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He teaches sinners in the way” (Psalm 25:8). God doesn’t teach us merely because of who we are. God teaches us because of Who He is. God is good and upright and so He teaches sinners. God teaches the sinner about their perilous sinful state and their need of a Savior Jesus (e.g. John 16:8-11). The way of salvation is taught to the sinner as a gift of God’s prevenient grace. God takes the sinner to school through life divine appintments, reasoning (e.g. Isaiah 1:18), and people who communicate the gospel. God teaches sinners the way of salvation.


God teaches the humble. “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way” (Psalm 25:9). God teaches the sinner in a way that humbles them. They may choose to resist and rebel against God’s teaching. If they rebel and reject God’s teaching God will not force His way on them. God allows the rebellious sinner to walk out of class if they so choose. But those who heed His word and humbly seek more, God will teach. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). God teaches the humble seeker.


God teaches the reverent.  “Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses” (Psalm 25:12). If you are going to be taught by God you must respect and appreciate Him and His teaching. There are no spit balls, paper airplanes flying, or fooling around in God’s classroom. The student of God must approach God with the fear of the LORD. The fear of the LORD means we respect God’s high position over us and our low position before Him. The fear of the LORD means we respect God’s authority. To be taught by God we need to respect and revere God. The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).  It is a holy thing for God to teach us and work in and through us. If we are to be taught by God we have to take Him and His teaching seriously.


God teaches those with a childlike curiosity who soak up His teaching like a sponge. “All your children shall be taught by the LORD” (Isaiah 54:13a). Children need to be taught the ways of God. Some adopt the position that children are too young to be taught the gospel. That is not what God says in His word. Children need to be taught the ways of God.  


Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). Ever notice a child’s insatiable appetite to learn? It is in childhood that a person experiences their time of greatest information download. Children take great delight in learning. Everything is fresh and new to them. There is a wonder to their universe. They are not jaded. They don’t have an “I know it already” attitude. (That comes when they get older.) A child soaks up information like a sponge. A child is watching every move of those around them and copying them. A child is innocently impressionable. Come to God with a childlike curiosity and soak up His teaching.


What makes God such a powerful Teacher? How does God teach us? God is a Master at teaching. He makes use of various instrumental means to teach us. His teaching impacts us powerfully. His teaching changes our lives now and for eternity. What are the tools God uses to so powerfully teach us?


God teaches through His creation. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). This speaks of the Latter Days but it also points us to recognize that there are lessons from God all around us. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The order and design of God’s creation teach us that God exists and He is our Creator. As our Creator we need to worship and obey Him. We need to have a relationship with God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Human depravity is the result of rejecting God as Creator and dismissing the evidence of God that is all around us in His creation (cf. Romans 1).


God teaches us in “the house of” God.  “’Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:3; cf. also Micah 4:2). There’s good reason why in the New Testament we are instructed to not neglect the gathering of the saints (Heb. 10:24-25). It is in the assembly of God’s people that God teaches us. He does this through those called to teach His word (e.g. Eph. 4:11-12). If you want to learn from the LORD, go to church. Yes, we can learn outside of church. We need to meet one on one daily with the LORD and be taught by Him. And it’s true, there are no perfect churches. Some churches do not teach God’s word. But that does not excuse us from God’s call to go to church. Find a good Bible teaching church. God teaches us we need to go to church to be taught. It is in church where God teaches us. There’s no getting around this.


God teaches through His Word.  “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34; cf. also Hebrews 8:10-11; 10:16).  When we are born again God writes His law on our heart. The Law of God, His word, is the language He uses to communicate His way to us. It is by way of the Law of the LORD that sinners first learn of their sinfulness and need for the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Gal. 3:24).


By meditating on God’s word we overcome our fears and are led to fulfillment of God’s plan in our lives (e.g. Joshua 1). God’s word is most effective as His instrument of revelation and teaching when we take it in its entirety (Acts 20:27). God equips us for every good work by way of His word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). Knowing the word of God gives us a credible basis to respond to people. Our opinion can be argued. But it’s far more difficult to argue with God and His word. Only the fool or the rebellious sinner argues with God and His word.  


God’s word is central and the preeminent instrument to teach us. He exalts His word above His own very holy name (Psalm 138:2). God’s word is a limitless resource. God’s word is like the ocean; shallow enough at the shore for the youngest babe in Christ to  wade in and not drown, but deep enough as you swim further into it that the greatest theologian can’t touch bottom. God’s word is for everyone for eternity. Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away but His words would endure forever (Mat. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Get into God’s word. There is no substitute for it. There are no shortcuts to spiritual depth. Dive into God’s word.


You can’t learn God’s way apart from His word. In fact, it is often the case that seeking God’s way outside of His word leads to confusion, being deceived, and being deterred in learning the things of God. We need to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Know God’s word.


God the Holy Spirit teaches us.  “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:9-14).  We are taught God’s way by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of their sin and need of a Savior Jesus (John 16:8-11). Once we are born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit He helps us understand the inspired word of God. You can’t really learn anything beyond the gospel without being born again of the Holy Spirit. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that enables us to perceive God’s truth (1 John 2:20, 27). You must be born again to be taught by God (John 3).


God teaches us through Jesus.  “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). “The truth is in Jesus.” “In the volume of the book it is written of Me” (Hebrews 10:7). The entire Bible speaks about Jesus. Whenever we go to God’s word we should be asking, “What does this tell me about Jesus?” The truth of God, the pinnacle and point of the entirety of scripture is bound up in the Person of Jesus. God seeks to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). We are called to follow in Jesus’ steps (1 Peter 2:21) and walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). God teaches us His way through Jesus. Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” All of the Father’s teaching leads us to Jesus (John 6:45; e.g. Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 10:7).


Are you enrolled in the class of the most powerful Teacher? It’s easy to do. God our Teacher by grace has paid your tuition. God’s education is free but not cheap. God’s education was bought with the precious blood of Jesus. To enroll admit and turn from your sinfulness, ask God’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus alone. Jesus alone and His atoning death on the cross is the just basis for God to justly forgive your sin. Receive by faith Jesus as your Savior and the Holy Spirit will come and indwell you. The Holy Spirit will then teach you where to go from there. Enroll in the class of the most powerful Teacher! Come on, let’s go to school!


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