Saturday, November 9, 2013

Women Teaching The Bible

Foundations for studying the Bible are essential. The way we read Genesis to Revelation will dramatically affect the way we understand God's word. Understanding the one grand theme of the Bible helps us interpret the passages we teach. This one theme is, God's redemptive purposes throughout time in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words, all of scripture should be filtered through this meta narrative. All of scripture points to one hero, namely Jesus, the one star of the show so to speak. 

“If you want to interpret well and confidently, set Christ before you, for He is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it.” ― Martin Luther

As leaders who teach, we have focused our attention on a few key strategies this year, and in so doing, have laid a foundation for all subsequent teaching for our women. You see, it is not enough to have a head full of bible knowledge. It is not enough to memorize verses and all the books of the bible. Because, if we miss the main point of the Bible - we've missed the gospel. After all, what is it for if not to point us to the only One who can save us? What would all the knowledge about ancient bible times profit us if we never saw the coming King? If we never experienced personal redemption? If we never became a new creation? How can knowing rituals and time lines, bible heroes and archaeology help us when life has crushed us and we're hanging on by a thread? We would be left with a ton of knowledge, yet crying out "Who will deliver me?" Sadly, there are many people who grew up in the church, yet missed the gospel. Many know the rules, the stories and the heroes, but never met The Hero of the Story. 

In a previous post I referenced five principles for studying the bible. 

I recently highlighted two of these points with our leaders.

#4 of the five principles talks about the proclamation of the good news. "Jesus came to set the captives free by proclaiming the gospel – “good news” – in word, deed, and in his very existence. The good news (“gospel”) is precisely that – news – an unconditional declaration of what God has done for desperate sinners. What has God done? God sent Jesus to live the life we can’t live (satisfying the demands of his perfect Law), to die the death we deserved (paying the penalty we owed for Law-breaking), and rising from the dead to show the curse of sin and death has been broken. Forgiveness, reconciliation to the Father, salvation, and abundance of life are now ours – not through human achievement of any kind, but faith in the one God sent, namely Jesus." - Adam Masterson

The next crucial point is #5. "We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, yet it is true that saving faith doesn't remain alone but will result in good works and newness of life. When speaking of these things though, the order is vitally important. Imperatives in Scripture (things we are commanded to do to live a God-pleasing life) are always grounded in the indicatives (what God has done for us in Jesus). If we teach the imperatives apart from the indicatives, we’re not teaching the gospel but moralism and ethics. Therefore when teaching, it’s practically important to always end with good news – the reminder of what God has done – for this is the only proper fuel for a changed life." - Adam Masterson

These points culminate into a final point we have underscored with our leaders. End every lesson with gospel and not law, with a reminder of what’s been “done” and not what to “do.”As leaders in ministry our aim is to support the ministry of the pulpit in all we do – teach, lead, mentor etc. Our pastor's single focus is to communicate the good news of the gospel (One Way Love) that sets people free.

As we teach other women, are we declaring this good news that will set them free? Are we setting before them the unconditional declaration of what God has done for desperate sinners? If we choose to proclaim our own ability to pull ourselves together, we will leave them with no hope, no peace and no comfort for their terrified, guilty and afflicted consciences. Pointing women to Jesus and his work on their behalf will set them free.

Finally, two diagnostic questions will help keep our teaching singularly focused.

1. Has my teaching enabled the women to feel lighter than when they came in? Are their burdens lifted? Or, might they leave feeling heavy laden.

    2. Have I ended with good news? Have I spoken a word of promise to their parched souls and impoverished hearts? Have I sent them on their way with the only truly good news they will hear that day? That in Christ, their sins are forgiven?  That there is no more condemnation? That Jesus came into this world to save sinners? And that, "I've come to bind up the brokenhearted, to bring freedom for captives."

“A friend of mine once said to another who was seeking peace by doing, “You have a religion of two letters.  My religion is a religion of four letters.” “How is that?” asked the other.“Your religion is do.  My religion is done.  You are trying to rest in what you do.  I am resting in what Christ has done.”  ~R.A. Torrey

At the end of the day, the gospel is (literally) “good news”. It declares that Jesus Christ has done for sinners what sinners could never do for themselves. This is the message we are called to declare: God's love for them in Christ, "that saved a wretch like me."

"Swiss theologian Karl Barth visited the USA in 1962 to lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago. According to church lore, during his trip he was asked to summarize the theological meaning of the millions of words in his monumental work, Church Dogmatics. Barth thought for a moment and said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Whether or not he actually said this, it is the way Barth would often answer a question. It undergirds his understanding that at its heart the gospel is a simple message pointing to Christ as our Savior who loves us with a perfect, godly love."

To read more about women teaching the Bible, check out this article by author Elyse Fitzpatrick.

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