1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
According to Matthew 4:23, the teaching ministry of Jesus was one of his most important ministries. Jesus trained his disciples to teach and preach the gospel. Christian educators cannot overemphasize the importance of the teacher’s role and teacher training in the educational ministry of the church.
What Christianity is determines what the church is, and what the church is determines what its ministry is. Christianity is nothing less than a self-revelation of God in Christ, with reference to the religious development and training of the human race. Its work is the work of religious education. It is not the less an educative work that it is also a work of recovery. To win men who are lost is only a part of the whole process of rebuilding men who are perverted. Christian evangelism is only tributary to Christian edification. To " save souls" is in the largest sense not only to win them to immediate obedience but to rebuild them into completeness in God's kingdom and for God's service. This determines the significance of the Christian Church. The church is a school, a teaching school and a training school. The Christian disciple, even the maturest, never ceases to be a learner, and the learner never ceases to be a subject. The hearer is also a doer. In the church, as in a s6hool, every man is to receive the knowledge of God in Christ as related to the redemption, the recovery and the completion of his being, and here also that redeemed and recovered manhood is in process of training for the full, final realization of its completeness in the Kingdom of God.
The importance of teaching the undiluted Word of God in the right perspective in the Church today, can never be over-emphasized. This is the basic tool that is required to enhancing the general well-being and individual growth of Christians, which would ultimately culminate into the overall growth of the Church.
The Church growth in this context is not primarily numerical rather, spiritual and self-development in the Word of God. Meaningful growth is achieved through a carefully worked out scheme of learning processes for a reasonable period of time. It is expedient for Christians to be spiritually educated about some basic facts in their relationship with God, not just basking in the euphoria of being an important members of a church. They must not attach or equate their spiritual growth to church activities, instead, it should be measures on the basis of their obedience to the truth and practice of God’s commands.
Therefore, spiritual growth which is meant to bring about genuine transformation in the life of a Christian is not a crisis event; it takes place over time. That is, it takes more than a lesson to accomplish all that God desires in a Christian’s life. It is therefore, imperative for Church leaders or Christian educators to always bear in mind that Christian maturity is a life-long process which requires their patience and faithfulness in ministry, as they are engaged week-after-week to see lives forming and conforming into the image of Christ.
The teaching ministry of the church is a vital ministry that needs much more attention. The church, in Matthew 28:18-20, was asked to make disciples and teach them to observe or to obey all that Jesus has commanded us to do. This in essence reveals that, the church exists for ‘a supreme being’ and all that the church can teach or stand for should be what the triune God teaches and instructs. Matthew 28:20 also reveals something special about the teaching ministry of the church; it says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. This means the teaching ministry of the church is not one that is only informed about something, but one that causes a transformation in the person. The teaching ministry affects and influences one's life and whole personality and that is what Christian education seeks to do. Also, we can see in the verse that, we are teaching what we have been commanded, hence, what we are teaching is not from us but from someone Greater than us.
According to Octavio J. Esqueda, “when God teaches us, He looks forward to our compliance with His desires. The result of His instruction is not information but action and a change of lifestyle.” This shows that, it is God’s will to see us fulfill His desires and not just know it. A teaching ministry that only seeks to reveal mysteries to the body of Christ without living according to what the teaching say - does not fulfill God’s desire for the church. It is therefore important for us to establish that, the teaching ministry of the church exists because of what the Triune God wants to reveal to us in His word and in His creations. He reveals to us things we do not know and even the things we claim to know, He gives us a better understanding of it. In view of this, every revelation or knowledge of the church that does not come from God is very dangerous to the body of Christ, and this is why Christian education exists, to help pass on the values of the church from one generation to another and that, this special education will transform the lives of people. It is on this background that I write to discuss the topic, “God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the only Teachers of the Church”.
As Christians we must understand that the one who called us is a teacher, His son is a teacher and The Spirit He left with us is a teacher. Teachers possess the gift to be positive influencers on their students. The best teachers are those who help their students to discover the answer on their own. Agreeing with Slocum, I quote Proverbs 25:2NIV, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings". The bible also shows us that, the church is the Kingdom of priests and every day, we try to search for God and we do find him everywhere and with everything around us. For example, the Sun shines everywhere in the world and God is teaching us that He sees whatever we do no matter where we are. God as a teacher teaches the church and the world at large through General revelation and special revelation. The word revelation means a disclosure or an unveiling. God reveals himself to us in a general way and also in a special way. He reveals His great love to us by the way he teaches us. Every Teacher knows his student well and God as a teacher knows us very well. He knows the best time to teach us because He is a great teacher. He takes us through the process so that our lives will be transformed. He expects our obedience in love. He knows when we understand Him and when we do not. He trains and teaches us based on the level at which we will understand. Interestingly, He reveals his special revelation mostly to those who diligently seek him. God expects us to read the bible, understand it and allow it to transform our lives. God does not teach us based on our curiosity or need but His teachings awaken in us a curiosity to seek Him more and if we do, we find Him. David says in the Psalms that the heaven and earth declares the Glory of God, which tells us God reveals himself in his creations. God’s general revelation is His revelation of Himself principally through nature and also through history, through the ministry of His providence to His people, and through His works of creation.
Another Cardinal person who is a teacher is our Lord Jesus. Everything about the church and Christians worldwide should be about God, and this is what Jesus came to reveal to us. The teachings of Jesus revealed the love of God; He spoke about God in a way that we never knew. The bible records that His hearers were astonished at His teachings and wondered where he got his wisdom from since He had no educational background. The church which has the foundation of God’s truth must accept the testimony of Jesus about God, because He is Himself God. Interestingly, Jesus being a teacher can be found forty-five times in the gospels. Based on something I read from Wikipedia, there are people who claim to be Christian atheist and they draw their beliefs and practices from Jesus’ life and teachings as recorded in the New Testament Gospels and other sources but reject supernatural claims of Christianity. It shows there are people even outside the church who accept the teachings of Jesus Christ. This proves the fact that Jesus was and is a great teacher. Teachers of the Law like Nicodemus, referred to him as a teacher that has come from God and scriptures and even history proves the fact that He is the greatest teacher of all time. However, one remarkable thing we should acquaint ourselves with is what he taught. The teachings of Jesus revealed God to us and He always connected Himself to God (John 12:49-50; 14:10). In effect, I agree with Rick Yount when he calls Jesus, God the teacher in Flesh. Jesus is an example and model for the church and we are where we are today as a church because of the teaching ministry of Jesus Christ. He taught his students (disciples) all they needed to know and how to find answers to what they do not know when He walked with them on the surface of this earth. The disciples, being taught and educated by the great teacher, became great Christian educators who passed all that values Jesus taught them to the next generations. In the teaching ministry of Jesus Christ we can identify some key things:
He taught with authority- He was a teacher who had control of all that He taught. He taught as one who owned what He taught, as one who is the source of wisdom and knowledge. One remarkable thing about this can be seen when He taught in Mathew 5. He said , “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43,44). This is a man who spoke with authority.
He taught as a witness- A witness recounts what he has seen and heard with his own eyes and ears. In his teachings, He revealed to us that, He is teaching us what He has seen the Father do and say
He taught out of love and patience for sinners. When he saw the great crowd, he was moved with compassion (Mark 6:34) and he taught them. The teachings of the church cannot contradict what Jesus has taught because He is the Teacher of the Church.
When Jesus was done with his ministry on earth, He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things (John 14:26). This shows the importance or relevance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. God collaborates with Christian teachers through the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish His purpose. We can only be good teachers in the church, if we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and train us- this training can be done through establishing a relationship with the Spirit. We often pray for our pastors and preachers, that the Holy Spirit will speak through them to us. This shows the belief of the church that the Holy Spirit is the one that teaches us through many earthly vessels – man. The role of the Holy Spirit is essential in the supernatural transformation of learners through Christian education. Christian teaching without the Holy Spirit is meaningless. It is important to note that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and hence will teach us all that the Father seeks to teach us and will remind us of all that Jesus taught us. Because He is the Spirit of truth and God Himself, we know that He will not lie to us because He is not a man that should lie; that means the Holy Spirit will never teach us something that is opposite of what God and Jesus teaches us. The Holy Spirit is a special teacher who lives inside of us and His teachings brings us conviction.
We all know there are ministers of God who are called into the teaching ministry. However, as explained above, I believe you will agree with me that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the only teachers of the church. The teachers of the Gospel we know are only able to teach because the Holy Spirit enables them to. This brings us to the conclusion that, the triune God is the teacher of the church. If they do not teach the teachers, the teachers cannot teach the church and the Bible is the guide or learning material for the church from which we are being taught.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The doctrine of ECWA Church is recognized to be a strong ‘building force’ that establishes believers in Salvation, Faith and Spiritual Warfare and Service of God. Its impacts and effects enhance dedication and commitment of all members towards evangelism and spiritual growth of the Church. Churches in Nigeria have recently become concerned about the obvious lack of discipleship, a situation in which many people call themselves Christians but they cannot be said to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. To deal with the issue, there has been a call in many churches to intensify the teaching ministry of the church. This call, which actually is an emphasis on the mandate given to the church to make disciples, is made with the hope that teaching will help people to understand the principles of the Christian life and to live by those principles. It is not the case that before this time the church has not been teaching. The church has been teaching and yet there has not been the realization of transformation in the lives of people. It seems that the problem has to do with “how” the teaching is carried out. The question then is, how do disciple makers teach to achieve the goal of believers developing the very nature of Jesus Christ? This research proposes that for the church to achieve the goal of discipleship, that is, helping people live like Jesus Christ, an “incarnational” model of teaching must be adopted. It argues for an approach to teaching in the church that is incarnational, and the teacher or disciple maker who leads the educational process must be an incarnational leader. The opinion of this study is to re-emphasize on the implications of lack of teaching ministry in the Church.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to examine the implications of lack of teaching ministry in the church. The specific objectives of this study include the following:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.5SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It will help in making known that church growth is largely dependent on teaching ministry.
It will make the readers know that church growth is primarily about the quality of Christian life and living.
It will serve as a source material and benefitting to Bible students, church members and leaders and for future research in related areas to the subject matter.
The work will uphold the truth, thereby resulting into dismissing dishonesties about the subject matter.
During the course of the research work, the wealth of knowledge and experience of the researcher would be enhanced.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The title of this work clearly indicates the area of study. The issues that will be examined here is the implication of lack of teaching ministry in the church.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The limitation of time and other resources on the part of the researcher make it impossible to embark on a comparative study of similar organization at the same time. But it is true that the study will serve as a representative sample of similar researcher institution whose industries finding will generally accepted.
1.8DEFINITION OF TERMS
Church: On the basis of the Greek word “ekkaleo,” a composition of two words: ek and kaleo meaning out of and call respectively, the Church may therefore be defined as an individual or a group of persons who answered to the call of God’s love demonstrated in the salvific work perpetuated by Christ and so believe on Him as Saviour and Lord.
Christian: The name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus. It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs but three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Teaching:This involves processes and activities geared towards achieving a meaning impartation of knowledge on an individual or group.
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