Schools of Christ

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
~ Ezra 7:10

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
~ Psalm 34:11

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
~ Isaiah 28:9-10

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
~ Hebrews 6:1

And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
~ 2 Samuel 16:23

A Commentary on Hebrews 5:12-14, by John Owen. The following contains an except from his work.

Obs. 2. Churches are the schools of Christ, wherein his disciples are trained up unto perfection, every one according to the measure appointed for him, and his usefulness in the body.

We may consider the church in general, and with respect unto some particular members of it.

First, In general, every one that belongs unto it ought to have a double aim; first his own edification, and then his usefulness in respect of others. The first is the principal end, both of the ministry and the administration of all ordinances in the church, Ephesians 4:11-13. This, therefore, in the first place, is that which everyone ought to attend diligently unto; which also they are continually exhorted, encouraged, and persuaded unto in the Scripture, as that which is indispensably required of them, 2 Peter 3:18. And those who are negligent herein do frustrate all the ends of Christ’s love and care towards them in his church; which they must answer for. And the want of it, in some good measure, is a dreadful symptom of approaching eternal ruin, as our apostle declares, Hebrews 6:7-8. The church is the garden of Christ, enclosed and watered; and every plant which continueth in a withering, unthrifty condition will at length be plucked up and cast out. Herein, therefore, ought all to be trying and examining themselves who have any care of their own souls, and who intend not to make use of the ordinances of the gospel only to countenance them in their security, and so to hasten and aggravate their destruction. And there is nothing more lamentable, in the present profession of Christian religion, than the woful negligence of most herein. They hear the word, for the most part, as company, or custom, or their lusts, or ease, direct them. And they content themselves in hearing of it, without any endeavors for its improvement. So do many souls under the best of means come to the worst of ends. But this is not all. We are so to learn in the church as that we may be useful to others; a matter which few think of or trouble themselves about. But this Christ expects of all the members of his churches in an especial manner. For every church is “the body of Christ, and members in particular,” 1 Corinthians 12:27; that is, of the whole body, and unto one another. And the apostle there shows what a monstrous thing it is for a member to be useless in the body. Every one is to contribute to the growth of the whole, Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19. He that doth not so is dead. One way or other every one may contribute to this building, cast into this sanctuary, some their talents, some their mites Times, seasons, opportunities, advantages for usefulness, are in the hand of God; but our duty it is to be prepared for them, and then to lay hold upon them. It is not every one’s lot or call to be public teachers of others; and the undertaking of that work without a due ability and an orderly call is forbidden, James 3:1: but every one may have occasion to make use of the utmost of that light and knowledge which is communicated unto them in the dispensation of the word. They who have not flocks to watch over may yet have families, relations, children, servants, masters, whom, by their light and knowledge, they may benefit; and it is required of them that so they should do. It may not be the duty of every one, at all times, to “convince gainsayers,” and to stop the mouths of them that oppose the truth; but it is so to be

“always ready to give an answer unto every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear,” 1 Peter 3:15; and it will be so, to plead for and defend the truth, if they are called to suffer for it, like the martyrs in former days In these and such like things lies that usefulness in the body of Christ which every member of it ought to aim at under the means of instruction which he affords in his church. And those who do not will have their portion with the unprofitable. See Philippians 2:15-16. It is a sad condition, when a person can return no tolerable answer unto that inquiry, ‘Of what use are you in the church of Christ?’

Secondly, In particular, it were doubtless well if some persons in every church might be trained up under instruction with this very design, of being made meet to be teachers of others. The Lord Christ will indeed provide laborers for his harvest, but in his own way, and not in a compliance with our negligence.

Obs. 3. It is the duty of ministers of the gospel to endeavor their hearers’increase in knowledge, until they also are able to instruct others, according to their calls and opportunities. So did those who taught these Hebrews, whence they are reproved for failing their expectation. Some, it may be, are apt to fear lest their hearers should know too much. Many corrupt lusts and affections may prompt them hereunto; which are all resolved into self, with respect unto profit or reputation. And this hath proceeded so far in the degeneracy of the church of Rome, as to produce the commendation of blind obedience and ignorance, as the mother of devotion; than which nothing could be invented more contrary to the whole course and design of the gospel And it is well if no others are tainted with the same disease. Even good men had need to watch against discomposures of mind, when they find on trial, it may be, some of their hearers to be like David, “wiser” in the things of God “than their teachers.” And Joshua himself was earnest with Moses to forbid Eldad and Medad from prophesying; out of no good frame, as appeareth by the reply of Moses, “Enviest thou for my sake?” Numbers 11:29. But this occasioned the prayer of that holy man, which is unto us a rule of duty, “Would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!” And to a faithful minister, there is no greater crown nor cause of rejoicing, than when he can be instrumental so to carry on any of his hearers towards perfection, as that their gifts and abilities may outshine his own, especially if they are accompanied with humility and holiness. And for those who are either negligent in this work, or, taking upon them the place and duty of teachers, are unable for it, they betray the souls of men, and shall bear their own judgment.

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