True Learning (7)
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25.4, 5
A work of the Lord
All disciples are learners. All disciples encourage other disciples for true learning, for learning Jesus. True learning can only be accomplished by the Lord Himself. Unless He shows us the way, teaches us how to follow Jesus, empowers us for obedience, and leads us along the path He has chosen for us, we may continue learning, but we’ll never arrive at the knowledge of the truth. We must seek true learning at the Lord’s hand, as we see David doing in Psalm 25.
And we must embrace the conditions under which true learning occurs: humility, desiring to be the friend of God, preparing to understand His ways and to discern the path He has chosen for us, waiting on Him continuously to guide and empower our conversations and works, and staying within the parameters marked out by His promises and Law.
Only God can accomplish true learning within us; nevertheless, we must seek Him earnestly and continuously for it, recognizing all the while that, unless the Lord teaches us, we shall not be taught. As Jesus explained, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (Jn. 6.63). Like David we must plead with the Lord to teach us, show us the way to follow Jesus, and guide us each step along that path.
Reading, study, preaching, teaching, and other means of instruction are all important, especially our own time poring over the Word of God. But these are all avenues that lead us into the Presence of Jesus, the Master Teacher. He alone can grant us the learning we need to grow as disciples and in making disciples of others.
Begin with the Word
So how does the Lord teach us? What methods is He pleased to use to accomplish true learning in our lives?
God speaks to us through His Word, which He has given through His prophets and apostles, by the inspiring guidance of His Spirit, so that we might know Him and be equipped to serve Him in the paths He has chosen for us (2 Tim. 3.15-17). The Scriptures can prepare us for every good work, so that we may demonstrate the transforming grace of Jesus in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
But the primary reason for reading and studying God’s Word is to see Jesus and to partake of His Presence and glory. Jesus is the theme of all Scripture (Jn. 5.39). If we miss Him in our reading and study, we fall short of His intention for us. The Spirit of God opens the Scripture to us, showing us the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 4.6). Then He applies that glory to areas of our soul and life, transforming us increasingly into the likeness of Jesus.
We must, therefore, develop good and consistent practices of reading, meditating on, and studying the Word of God if we hope truly to be taught by the Lord. Supplementing our personal time of reading and study of Scripture by submitting to the teaching of others and by reading from the great teachers of the Christian past can also help us to realize true learning more completely.
There is no substitute for feeding on the Word of God. You will never learn Jesus apart from dwelling in His Word. Plead with God to give you a heart for His Word, and to guide you day by day in learning Jesus as you read and meditate in Scripture.
The Word in creation
Second, however, we must not fail to observe that God is speaking to us not only through His Word but through the creation and culture all around us (Ps. 19.1-4; Ps. 68.18; Acts 14.17). God is revealing Himself and His will in all kinds of ways, all day long. His goodness is in all the earth (Ps. 33.5), and He calls us to set our minds on it (Phil. 4.8). And as we become more firmly grounded in His Word, we’ll be able to see and hear Him, making Himself known in the works of His hands (Ps. 36.9).
By taking up reading and study in various of the disciplines related to the creation – the arts, history, philosophy, literature, and so forth – we may expect to learn more of God’s ways and paths and to attain a fuller measure of true learning. This will be especially true if we concentrate in these disciplines on the observations and works of Christians who have given much attention to seeking God in creation and culture. Reading and reflecting on the biographies of great Christians from the past can be another source of guidance as we walk in the way God has chosen for us.
Learning from such sources helps to make us alert to the leading of God throughout the day, and discern practical and effective ways of talking about the Lord and showing His grace to others.
All such learning from God’s general revelation must be vetted and filtered through the Scriptures; but in the light of Scripture we may expect to discern the voice of the Lord instructing us along the pathway of our lives through the various disciplines of study to which we might turn (Ps. 36.9). True learning requires an active approach to seeking the Lord for the instruction He provides.
But the promise of friendship with the Lord – true learning – that awaits us through such efforts should motivate us not to be content with the shallow instruction that so often characterizes our Christian educational activities, but to seek true learning every day of our lives.
1. Suggest some things we might expect to learn about God by meditating on the creation.
2. Can you offer an example of how reading or studying in God’s general revelation has helped you to express true learning in your Personal Mission Field?
3. Why is it so important that we keep Scripture as the touchstone and anchor for all our learning as disciples of Jesus?
Next steps – Transformation: Review your time in God’s Word. How can you improve this? What can you add of reading or study in general revelation to enhance your experience of true learning?
T. M. Moore
Disciples Making Disciples
All the previous studies in this series are available as free downloads by clicking here. Use them for personal review, to share with friends, or as a group study.
Know, Love, Serve
The great thing about following Jesus is the more we learn of Him, the more we love Him; and the more we love Him, the more we will serve Him in every aspect of our lives. This is the argument of our book, Know, Love, Serve. A free copy is waiting for you by clicking here.
Are you a Gospel sponge? You can be, and wouldn’t that clean a few things up nicely? Check out this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.