Chapel Sermon – Learning and Sharing
Dean Michael L. Ford
Good evening. It is very good to see so many of you gathered in Chapel this evening. This year it seems that a majority of our student body is preparing for Pastoral Ministry. But I would like for all of you to be aware that for whatever Christian vocation you are preparing for, a significant portion of your ministry will always be concerned with teaching. There are fundamental principals about teaching others you need to know.
That is if you are going to convey knowledge to other people you must first acquire it yourself; And, if you are going to continue in Christian ministry and working with people you must never quit growing as a believer, otherwise what you share with others will become stagnant and repetitious.
You have two reasons for growing that I see as important to our discussion:
The first is the person in Christian ministry must have an insatiable hungering and thirsting after the things of God that will continue until in the presence of Christ we have perfect knowledge.
The second is that your own development and joy in discovery of new facets of the grand epic of God’s revelation to man gives your message to others a continuing freshness.
Today I feel lead to share with you Scripture from the fifth Chapter of John as the basic text concerning our subject of Learning and Sharing the Word of God in the course of our ministry. Let us begin reading in verse 28:
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Our key verse is the 39th “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
In these next fifteen minutes I am going to tell you three things I have learned a bit about during years of Bible study. I am going to talk with you about sharing those things; then I am going to close.
To tell you about the first thing from the Scripture that I learned and want to share with you let me first tell you about a friend of mine. I have a friend with nearly fifty years in the Gospel Ministry. The better part of the first forty of those years he was the majority of the time in the Pastoral Ministry. He has pastored so many churches in the same area and knows so many people that the bulk of his ministry for a decade has been burying people he has known and ministered to in the first forty years. I first set under this man’s preaching before I was a teenager and through the years I had many occasions to come back and hear him. I think a great deal of him. He has been good to me. He gave me opportunities to preach when I was just starting out in my preaching ministry. He is a fine man and I love him dearly. But, the measure of a real friend is when they see your faults and love you anyway. My friend has a fault as a preacher. No matter what subject he starts out on, his sermons always turn out to be evangelistic sermons, “Ye must be born again!” Now there is nothing wrong with evangelistic sermons but they do not feed and grow people who are already saved.
This brings me to my first point. There is more to the preaching and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ than salvation. You must answer questions like what is God doing in the world? What is His overall plan that caused Him to get all these things going? What is He accomplishing along the way?
One of the things that I learned took me twenty-five years of living after I was saved to even know the question. Then it took me another six years of continuously going back to the question to discover the answer. And when I did find the answer it was so overwhelming all I could do was just sit at my desk weep uncontrollably and praise God. The question had to do with the “Mystery of the Fellowship” found in the third chapter of Ephesians. I knew for six years that the pat answer given by Christian commentators that the Mystery of the Fellowship was not simply the Church Age was hidden from the prophets and the Fellowship of the saints was the mystery. That Saturday night, before I was to preach to the church I pastored, I learned the church was an object lesson to the angels whereby they learned the testimony of Christ, not experiencing His salvation. That was so overwhelming that as I left my study and walked up the stairs to the bedroom I had to stop and set on the stairs crying and praising God.
I know some of you do not know this passage and will have to go study it. Then you may not see what I am talking about. That’s all right. The next day when I stood before my congregation, what I had learned the night before overwhelmed me again, and I broke down and began telling them all about it. I had people looking at me the way some of you are now. They had no idea what their pastor was talking about and looked at me as if I had gone completely off my rocker. Teaching the Word of God takes accumulation. You have to give it line upon line precept upon precept. If you spend all your time preaching salvation messages you will never convey to people the fundamentals of the faith upon which greater and deeper knowledge of God is anchored. People, do not spend all your time in the ministry concentrating on salvation unless God calls you to be an evangelist. Give your people solid foundations so they can withstand the devil and also learn the richer and deeper things of God.
Another question I have been working on for about twenty years concerns the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Hello! Some of you have never heard of that. It is found in Proverbs 9:1: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:” For years I have been trying to discover what those seven pillars are. And, I have put some work into it too.
I could go into detail about that but what I need to tell you is how a great breakthrough in the endeavor to learn what the seven pillars are was reached. I had a person in my ministry who had a serious medical condition. This person had asked me to pray for them, and I had done so on several occasions. One evening I was studying and felt the impression I should go back to prayer for the individual, so I laid aside my materials and spent some time in prayer, during which I felt the Lord gave me in a question I should ask this person when next we spoke, and also I felt I should assure them that the Lord had a definite purpose in allowing them to go through these difficulties. After I had peace through prayer I went back to my studies. And folks, I was not studying on the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I was studying in an area where I was going to do some other teaching. I picked up a book on the subject I was teaching that was first written almost ninety years ago, and one I had read several times over the past thirty years or so. The author said something about a passage in Isaiah chapter 11 and it clicked for me. I turned to Isaiah 11 and there was the answer I had been looking for all these years, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Now young people what is the lesson in this? It was like the Lord told me that because I was faithful to the work He had given me to do in prayer and counseling, He was going to give me a rich morsel of knowledge from His table. Oh, how grateful, humble, and excited I felt, and all at the same time. I want to suggest to you there is a direct correlation between learning and sharing. And sometimes what you are seeking to learn for your own sake does not have to be the same thing you are sharing for God to open up the windows of heaven and bless you and others as well. We have a responsibility to study and we have a responsibility to share what we know. But the same Holy Spirit who works through us to teach others is the same Spirit that teaches us and He can bring it all together.
Now we come to my third and final learning experience and the lesson I will share with you. This lesson has to do with the very Scripture I read to you tonight. The Scripture has to do with testimony. You have three things in relation to testimony that you can share as a minister of the Gospel. You have the testimony of the Scriptures, the testimony of changed lives in people you know and some you have only read about. It is the testimony of the people you have read about that is also often connected with great events in history. But you also have the testimony of God working in your own life. That is your personal experience of the workings of God consistent with Scripture. All three of these things are very important. I have used some of that in speaking with you tonight. The Bible has quite a lot to say about testimony. Some of you are probably thinking about the great Faith Chapter of Hebrews right now. Yes, it is concerned with testimony. But I want to show you something about testimony or witness of God you just might find exciting. You see the Gospel of John is uniquely concerned with declaring the Lord Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. The fifth chapter brings up the subject of testimony in a special way and tells us to search the Scripture for they testify of our Lord. But did you realize that when you go to the First Epistle of John and look in the fifth chapter…what will you find? It is concerned with the witness or testimony. And when you compare the fifth chapter of the Gospel and the fifth chapter of the First Epistle you can get some questions about testimony answered. I am not going to tell you what they are right now. I am going to give you something to look for.
Now let me tell you this:
1. Neither you nor I know all there is to know about the Scripture so we do not know all there is to know about the testimony of Christ. We must keep searching Scripture for they testify of our Lord.
2. Neither you nor I know all there is to know about the workings of the Lord in this world. We must keep learning both from Scripture and by seeing God’s mighty works among men consistent with the written word.
3. Neither you nor I know what God is going to do with us, nor do we know what part of what He gives to us He is going to use to make a difference in other people’s lives. So we are going to have to be faithful to the work so we do not miss out on what He has to put into us that He can use for His glory.
All of this information brings me to the third and final point. Our education in the Gospel and our faithfulness to the work in the Gospel are tied inextricably together for the sharing of Christ with others. It is not an either or situation. Never get so busy you have no time for study and never get so studious you forget to serve both in the spiritual and the temporal levels of our lives. If you want to be a faithful servant you can neglect neither. Never become stagnant and repetitious. You will not only bore others but you will also bore yourself and frustrate the work God would have you to do.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113