On Seeking and Teaching
by Fred London
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On Seeking and Teaching
“Some men seek and find and seek no more while others seek and find and seek still.” Such is a major theme in A.W. Tozer’s classic work, The Pursuit of God, and it is in that spirit that this brief essay is approached. Moreover, may we all be provoked to take the higher road (“the road less traveled”) as we seek; not merely to learn doctrine expressed in the usual terms of “principles,” “truths,” “steps,” and “secrets.,” but rather the Person of Christ and God’s eternal purposes. T. Austin-Sparks in his book, a classic in its own right, entitled, The School of Christ, states that the true foundation of spiritual education must be found in “learning Christ” and not “about” Christ. How often have we heard two individuals, at different times and places, but sharing from the same text, teaching God’s Word, yet, followed by very different results? One’s message is relatively trite and shallow, the words fall like “water rolling off a duck’s back,” while the other carries a weight and credibility that strike right at the heart, “piercing as far as soul and spirit,” leaving a life-changing impression on the hearer that can never be erased. The difference is in the vessel through which that word comes.
The Scriptures teach that, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” and “Where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also.” Therefore, the emphasis of our teaching will tend to reveal what we deem as worthy of being sought after. Well then, in capsulized form, what was the emphasis of Paul’s message? How about, “For we determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I. Cor. 2:2), “that I may know Him,...” (Phil. 3:10a), and, “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). If you read I John 1:1-3 it should become readily apparent that John’s message is wrought from a deep, personal knowledge and lifetime experience of Christ Himself. Contemporary Christianity may find this thinking overly simple, but it is hardly, simplistic.
Now, what of teachings which comprise that which is considered an integral part of the process of being well-rounded and grounded in sound doctrine? In truth, the goal of our instruction should always be to impart Christ through our teaching. Our teaching is to impart a person, not merely doctrine. Paul makes this clear in I Cor. 4:15 and I Thess. 2:8 as two of many examples. Colossians 1:16-18 expresses a spiritual revelation upon which all of our seeking and teaching must be founded upon. “In Christ all things were created; through Him and for Him; He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Therefore, He must have, “first place in everything.” “He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End” of all things. It bears repeating, “and in Him all things hold together.” That single truth should be at the very foundation of our inner man, upon which all spiritual knowledge should be built.
Furthermore, the admonition to “know your Bible” is not “the end all to cure all” in fostering spiritual depth and maturity, nor is it necessarily a barometer of measuring such. If that were the case, we here in America should have turned this country upside down many times over, but then again, “Judgment begins with the Household of God.” (I Pet. 4:17a). It is far easier to make leaders, governments, and secular society “the scapegoats,” but, herein lies the problem. As the old saying goes, “We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us!” Many of our most popular Bible teachers and conference speakers will not like the following statement: The Bible is not merely a “How to Manual” for acquiring a successful and wealthy life, or even a godly one. It simply was never intended to be used (or misused) for that purpose. Today’s Christian bookstore would be almost bear if these types of materials were ever eradicated from its shelves. Remember that God told Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life. Instead, they chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we have been paying dearly for that choice ever since.
Many of our Christian educators will not like the following statement either: The Scriptures were never meant to be used as an academic textbook. That is not the true meaning and application of “increasing in the knowledge of God.” The Word of God is not an “it!” Contrary to this common thinking, Christ taught, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”(John 6:63). Paul wrote in I Cor. 2:13 that “the things we speak are not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” Paul goes on to say that “the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually appraised,” “but we have the Mind of Christ.” Remember, “apart from Him we can do nothing.” That is why “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Cor. 3:6) When Hosea cried out, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a), he was not referring to ignorance in theological data. Rather, they did not know the Holy One of Israel.
What then is the true biblical definition of the Word of God? Well, how about this one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . ,” (John 1:1-2, 14a) and now dwells as “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27b). The issue of “seeking” does not pertain “to what,” but rather “to whom.” Paul sums it up in this way; .....”and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2b-3). The summing up of all things are in Christ (Eph 1:10b).
So then, let us seek the biblical mark and not be as some who know not because they are taught not as to where or to whom their aim should be directed (I Cor. 9:26). And not only this, but let us strive to seek Him with pure motives which pleases His Heart. The motivation of our seeking is of great concern to the Lord. Christ, in fact, reproved the multitudes on this very point. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled (John 6:26), and “For all these (material) things the Gentiles eagerly seek” (Mat.6:32a) . . . ”But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness . . . ” (Mat. 6:33a). Individually, we seek. Him “so that we might be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:28). Corporately, we seek Him “in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Eph. 3:10-11), “that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, .....” (Eph. 5:27a).
Most certainly, “Wise men still seek Him.” “Therefore, let us be careful how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,” (Eph. 5:15). What, or whom, do you seek after?
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