the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this eighth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the third responsibility given to the church in the Great Commission. This is the responsibility to teach those who profess faith in Christ into the membership of the assembly….
The Third Responsibility Found In The Great Commission: Teaching It’s Members The Word Of God.
1. Where is this responsibility found?:
Matthew’s Account Of The Great Commission…
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
The responsibility to teach the members of the assembly is found in the Matthew account of the Great Commission only. Please note several things about this responsibility…
1. It involves “teaching”.
The word translated “teaching” in the phrase “Teaching them to observe all things…” is a different Greek word than that which is translated “teach” in the phrase “teach all nations”. (If you recall the meaning of “TEACH all nations” was a Greek word that meant to take the gospel to all nations. In other words, it meant to share with the lost the good news of Christ and salvation.)
In our text for this study, the Greek word translated “TEACHING them to observe all things….” is a Greek word that means “to indoctrinate”, “to instruct”, “to share knowledge”, or “to cause to learn”. It is through understanding the difference between these two Greek words that we get a clear picture of what was meant in Matthew’s account of the GC.
2. It involves teaching “them”. Who does “them” refer to? It is those who have been given the gospel, accepting it by faith and submitting to church membership through baptism…
The local assembly is to…
1. “Teach all nations” – Take the gospel to the lost world showing them Christ and the salvation He is offering.
2. “Baptizing them in the name of …” – When they are saved, they are to make a public profession of that faith and join the local assembly through baptism.
3. “Teaching them to observe” – Once a member of the church, they are to be instructed by the assembly.
We find the same responsibility reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul as he ministered to the local churches of the Gentile world….
“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church…. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:17-31)
The phrase “he hath purchased with His own blood” carries with it a dual application. First of all, the local assembly is made up of those for whom Christ died. So in that sense He died for the assembly. Secondly, the local assemblies, as the body of Christ, receive the purification of the sins of the assembly through the death of Christ on the cross, just as believers receive their blessings through this same channel (Eph 5:22-29).
Paul also reaffirmed this responsibility to Timothy, who most scholars believe was the young Pastor of the church at Ephesus….
“I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
2. How does the assembly carry out this responsibility? Through the ministry of godly men who are to exercise of spiritual gifts they are given.
The Godly men:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
In this text, we can see several offices being established for the instruction and strengthening of the local assembly…
1. apostles – their ministry was to present the inspired New Testament writings to establish assemblies and to accredit the teachings and ministry of the local assembly. Their office and ministry ended soon after the completion of God’s Word in 100 AD
2. prophets – their ministry was to present the Old and New Testament writings to man. Their office and ministry ended soon after the completion of God’s Word in 100 AD
3. evangelists – their ministry is to take the gospel to the lost world. In today’s time we commonly refer to these men as “missionaries”.
4. pastors/teachers – their ministry, as explained in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, is to teach the local assembly, to evangelize in their local area, and to take the watch care over the assembly. (see also Titus 1:7-9)
Notice the aim of the teaching of His Word to the membership:
1. “For the perfecting of the saints” – to give the saints EVERYTHING they need to live lives that honor and glorify Christ on earth. This verse clearly tells us that nothing else is needed for the saint to live a Godly life on earth apart from the instruction of God’s Word.
2. “For the work of the ministry” – to give saints the needed tools to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of others.
3. “For the edifying of the body of Christ” – to build up, strengthen, the saints spiritually.
This teaching is to continue until
1. “We all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,” – All saints come into full and complete agreement on the doctrines of their faith and an understanding of the person, work and their relationship with Christ. In other words, this teaching should continue until we go to heaven. As seen, based upon past history, all Christians will never come to total, absolute agreement on doctrinal truths this side of heaven.
2. “unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” – All saints become spiritually mature and equipped to the point that they are living lives that compare to that of Christ on the earth, with no need of improvement. Again, this will never happen this side of heaven.
It is because of the need for churches until Christ’s second coming that He promised in the Great Commission that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). In other words, it will never enter into the realm of the unseen. It will always be seen and active until Christ comes.
ALSO NOTE: The office of “deacon” was also established. Their role is to help meet the physical needs of the members and to support the Pastor/Teachers who are to care for the members spiritual needs…
“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:1-4) (see also I Tim 3:8-15)
The office of deacon is not included in the Ephesians 4:11-13 because their ministry does not include spiritual instruction and strengthening of the assembly. The Ephesians listing is exclusively reserved to those who are active in the spiritual oversight and ministry of the Word to the membership.
As we studied the local churches commission we have seen:
1. That great commission was always given to the assembled Apostles that made up the first local church (church at Jerusalem). (Please note the exception: In John, we saw that Thomas was missing but the rest of the eleven were present.)
2. There are three basic responsibilities involved with the Great Commission:
To evangelize the lost; to baptize into the assembly those who profess faith in Christ; to indoctrinate church members to equip them for the service of Christ.
As we studied the first part of the Great Commission that is given to His assemblies we have seen:
1. The content of the gospel message:
Christ’s Death; Christ’s Burial; Christ’s Resurrection; The Witnesses To The Resurrection
2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies is described as:
To make students Of Christ; To declare the good news of Christ; To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message; To be sent as Jesus was sent; To share our experience of Christ with others
3. The priority of taking the Gospel into the world
Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.
As we studied the second part of the Great Commission, we have seen that the Lord has given to His assemblies the responsibility to observe both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
1. Baptism is a public profession of faith in Christ and His Work
2. Baptism pictures the work of Christ on our behalf
3. Baptism is a picture of our salvation from sins
4. Baptism Is A Part Of The Great Commission Given To The Lord’s Churches:
5. Baptism is a prerequisite to church membership
6. The Lord’s Supper observance is also the responsibility of a local assembly.
7. The Lord’s Supper is to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
As we have studied the third, and final part, of the Great Commission, we have seen that the Lord has given to His assemblies the responsibility to teach the Word to its members through the use of Godly, gifted men in places of leadership for its edification…
1. The responsibility to teach the members of the assembly is found in the Matthew’s account of the Great Commission.
2. It involves “teaching” (ie to indoctrinate, to instruct, to cause to learn).
3. It involves teaching “them”. (ie baptized believers who have joined the membership of the local assembly.
4. The same church responsibility reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul.
5. Several offices were established for the instruction and strengthening of the local assembly: apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastor/teachers. The office of evangelist and pastor/teacher continue to this day.…
6. This teaching is for the good of the membership by giving the saints EVERYTHING they need to live lives that honor and glorify Christ on earth; giving saints the needed tools to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of others; to build up, strengthen, the saints spiritually.
7. This teaching is to continue until Christ comes again.
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? It is the only organization that has been given the responsibility to teach the truths of God’s Word to His disciples. It is through the ministry of the local church that the Lord equips His saints to meet all the challenges of life on a fallen earth and still live lives glorifying to Him.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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