TRIUMPHANT TEACHING IN TREACHEROUS TIMES
BY J.O. AND MARY WALLACE RONALD AND EDNA NATION
It all began in Mrs. Meridith’s kitchen on Sooty alley. Robert Raikes was responsible. Little ragged, illiterate boys and girls bothered this sensitive man’s soul, so he did something about it. He got involved. He organized the first Sunday school class.
Since that time thousands of godly men and women have answered the challenge. Effectively and sometimes, sad to say, ineffectively, God’s Word has been taught Sunday after Sunday.
Jesus told us to: “teach all nations.” But He didn’t tell us how to teach. So we must do all we can to discover the most powerful ways, and use them. Our job is to reach the world. With that big order, all we can do is give ourselves totally to the task of teaching.
A one-word question that should be answered before launching any project is “Why?”
Time is a most valuable and fleeting commodity. Days are too short for us to be involved in any action that is less than worthwhile.
On the other hand, the lateness of the hour demands that we wade willingly into the issues. Most important to us is the issue of spreading the gospel. Are we doing it to the best of our ability? If not, what should we do about it?
Is teaching the missing link in our evangelistic structure? How did Jesus spend most of His active ministry? Teaching.
High on the list of priorities when Paul wrote the Corinthian church was teaching.
He said, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (I Corinthians 12:28).
While Paul may not have had Sunday school teachers in mind when penning this verse, it is easy to see that teachers are very important to the church.
Why did the people at Antioch first call the disciples, “Christians?” Of course, because they were like Christ–even if the name were given in derision. But have you ever noticed what the disciples were doing at Antioch? In any discipling or training situation, much teaching is inevitable. It is recorded for us in Acts
11:26: “…a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Is it any coincidence that the disciples were engaged in intensive teaching when they were first referred to by that name?
Many writers and preachers have pointed out that the Book of Acts has no formal ending. That is true. Actually, this outstanding book is not so much the Acts of the Apostles as the Acts of the Early Church.
The activities of the church have not ended to this day, so there was no point in closing the record by saying in effect, “The End ‘ But take a look at the very last recorded statement in the “Acts of the Early Church.”
“Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31).
What was Paul doing as the book left off recording? Preaching and teaching.
Yes, the early church spent much time teaching, because it was commanded by Jesus. And mushrooming growth proved the worth of their commitment.
So we need to put teaching of the Word in its rightful place, among our top priorities.
Remember, though, that Sunday school teaching is not merely baby-sitting or marking time called by a different name. It is the complete dedication of a life to impart truth to another.
Jochebed taught by action. One can imagine her saying, “Moses, you certainly are a goodly child. You are worth saving. How can I save you? How can I fight ‘City Hall’? I must. You’re my beautiful baby boy. I must! I must! I must find a way!” In her frantic effort to save the baby’s life, she pitted her faith in a mighty God against the politics of a monstrous king. Other mothers cried, no doubt, as tiny, innocent babies fell victim to the river. They wept, but Jochebed did something more.
“I’ll try something, anything–even if it seems foolish, but I will not sit idly by and watch my son be destroyed,” perhaps she said. Foolish as her method seemed, it worked. Of course, she had a little help.
We need lots of help from many different people in this teaching business. Even brash, daring teenagers, as Miriam may have been, can sometimes accomplish things adults would hesitate to try. The devoted sister boldly approached the royal princess and spoke up: “I can get a babysitter for you.”
It is time for Sunday school teachers to speak up. We need help. We can get help. We must diligently search for methods to teach to save. If we seek, we shall find. Effective assistance, new methods, new materials, new ideas, better equipment, can be secured.
The baby is saved! Glory to God! Baby Moses is back in his mother’s arms to be nourished not only physically, as the princess had requested, but also spiritually, mentally and emotionally as all young infants are.
Sometimes, somehow, during this brief interlude in the life of one of the greatest leaders of all time, some sense of belonging, a feeling of identity with God’s chosen people, enslaved in Egypt, was firmly established. All the glamour of the courts of Egypt could not dim the memory of another humble home. All the gods in the many temples of Egypt were forgotten when the God of Israel began to speak (Exodus
2:115). Treacherous, terrible times, but still God’s truths could be and were successfully taught. All through Moses’ writings is woven the admonition to teach.
Years later another godly, would-be “teacher” began to pray for a student. Hannah had no parental responsibility. She was completely free to revel in the affections and love of a devoted husband. She was not involved in teaching, and could easily justify her position. “Count me out. I don’t have a class, not a single student.” Hannah found no thrill in her lack of responsibility. She began to pray about it. Would
God that the saints in the pew would pray for responsibility! Hannah found very little understanding from her priest. She was falsely accused and misunderstood, but she kept on praying.
At last the answer came. Hannah’s son, her own little student, arrived. “I can’t keep him long. I have promised him to God.” No doubt little Samuel was told about his future home just as soon as he could
possibly understand it. “Soon I’ll go to live in God’s house, won’t I?” the toddler Samuel may have asked.
Poor, innocent, naive Hannah! Little did she realize that the house of God had problems. Eli, the weak, vacillating priest, had closed his eyes to petty thievery of his wicked sons. Soon it began to be whispered that much worse than stealing was going on right in the house of the Lord! What obscene, wicked examples were right before the eyes of the young Samuel. Surely it was the prayers and early childhood teaching of a devoted mother-teacher that kept Samuel pure in a situation that would have shattered most anyone’s faith. God’s Word will prevail! It can be taught!
During the captivity of God’s people under Nebuchadnezzar, a strange popularity contest was held. Ashpenaz was instructed to look for the best. “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and
skillful! in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledged, and understanding science” (Daniel 1:4). Daniel was among those chosen to receive this doubtful honor. Did all this attention from the “top brass” adversely
affect Daniel? How few children and young people can survive popularity! It was an insidious temptation. How easy it would have been to rationalize a compromise. He could have said, “My life may depend upon a successful adjustment here in the king’s court.”
Not so with Daniel. Here was a young man with a purpose. Sometime, somewhere, early in life, Daniel had formed his own purpose. Who was your teacher and example, Daniel? In your well-to-do royal household, who took time to teach the children? The job was well done.
“No, thank you, I wouldn’t care for the king’s meat. No wine, just a little water, please,” the poised, purposeful, young lad said. He soon won the love and favor of his superiors. Oh, for purposeful Christ-committed children! We have fine wonderful children and young people, and the world is making a tremendous bid for their talents. God help us to teach to establish purpose in the hearts of our students. It
can be done!
We can teach, too. We must teach. We are teaching every day, if not by precept, certainly by example. Our children, the children and men and women of our community, are dependent upon our teaching this
great message. Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:7 “teach diligently,” when you are sitting around the house. Teach when you take a walk. Teach at night–teach early in the morning. Get involved! Get busy! Make some visual aids for the door posts. Write this great truth on the gates.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1967, PAGES 7-12. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.