"Sound Doctrine" - (Titus 2:1)

Why Go To Class?

Bryan Matthew Dockens

Besides assembling for worship on the first day of the week, this church meets regularly to study the scriptures in class settings. Some may ignore these opportunities and others may simply take them for granted, so it is worth inquiring: Why go to class?

We go to class because "He gave some to be... teachers". The Lord equipped the church with people in various roles to foster its growth, as Paul penned, "He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12). Certainly, each position listed - apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor - is one whose work includes teaching. Nevertheless, mentioning "teachers" as a distinct role implies that it is possible to be a teacher without being an apostle, prophet, evangelist, or pastor. Since there are teachers who are not evangelists or pastors, then there must be teaching that is neither preaching nor shepherding. A class is the setting in which such teaching would occur. By neglecting to participate in these classes, one diminishes the ability of the body to effectively edify itself.

We go to class because some need "milk" and some need "meat". Any healthy church will include members from across the spectrum of spiritual growth. There will be the mature and knowledgeable, as well as the uninformed, and those in between. Members of every standing are necessary (1st Corinthians 12:14-24), and each has different needs, as it is written, "For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). Just as a nursing infant would choke if fed a steak or pork chop, so the novice Christian may be overwhelmed by some of the controversies debated among brethren, requiring instead "the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12). Paul explained to the Corinthians, "I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it" (1st Corinthians 3:2). Conversely, an adult cannot receive sufficient nourishment from milk. It will not sustain him; he needs meat. The Christian who is fed nothing but a constant repetition of "the elementary principles" (Hebrews 6:1) will never grow to the maturity desired by God. As Paul admonished, "Brethren, do not be children in understanding... but in understanding be mature" (1st Corinthians 14:20). Thus, opportunities are needed to address various members of the church at their respective levels of knowledge and growth. Classes furnished by the church are an appropriate setting in which to accomplish this.

Christians have a responsibility to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2nd Peter 3:18) and the Lord has supplied the church with teachers to expedite this purpose (Ephesians 4:14-16). Members of the church need to let the teachers teach by attending and participating in their classes.

Do You Pray?

Bill Hall

The worshiper who would pray in the assembly must do more than bow his head and close his eyes. He must pray. "Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say 'Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?" (1st Corinthians 14:16). This verse suggests four requirements if one is to enter into a prayer.

He must listen to the prayer. One cannot legitimately say "Amen" at the conclusion of a prayer if he has not listened to the prayer. Mind wandering is an ever-present problem. We sing, but we don't observe the words of the song. We bow our heads, but we don't listen to the prayer. We sit through the sermon, but our minds wander to things of an earthly nature. Consequently, we attend worship periods, but we don't worship as we ought. If one is to pray with the congregation, he must listen to the prayer.

He must understand the prayer. When a man in the first century led a prayer in an unknown tongue, the worshiper could not say "Amen", for he could not understand the language in which the prayer was spoken. Neither can the worshiper say 'Amen' today if the leader has not spoken loudly enough to be heard or if he has used words or phrases which the worshiper does not understand. Those who lead prayers in the assembly should be conscious of the needs of the whole congregation, speaking up where all can hear and using words which all can understand.

He must agree with the prayer. A number of years ago, while sitting beside an old preacher, I observed his saying "Yes" or "Yes, Lord" at the conclusion of each separate phrase of the prayer as it was being led. He spoke the words softly enough that I was probably the only one in the assembly who could hear them, but I was impressed. Obviously, this brother was listening to every phrase, determining whether or not he agreed with the phrase, and was softly speaking his agreement. He was not just sitting through a prayer; he was praying. Occasionally, we hear sentiments expressed in prayer with which we do not agree. To these sentiments we cannot say "Amen".

He must say "Amen". The word "Amen" means "so let it be". We long to hear the strong, resounding "Amen" at the close of prayers which we used to hear. We fear that the move away from this practice is just another step toward cold, lifeless formality in our worship periods. We are not contending, however, that one must say the word "Amen" audibly, but we are suggesting that at least in his mind he should say "Amen", thus making the prayer his own prayer. He has listened to the prayer; he has understood the prayer; he has agreed with the prayer; now he speaks to God his "Amen" or approval of the prayer as his prayer. In this manner, he unites with other worshipers in common prayer to God.

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