Have you ever met a person who was just brilliant at something and yet they had never had any training? They may be a good builder, musician, sportsperson or academically brilliant but they have never had a lesson on that topic in their life? You do come across such people and it makes you wonder how it is that they are gifted with such knowledge, skills or abilities. Well, Jesus had similar experiences.
The Jewish leaders questioned Jesus over the things He taught and were amazed at the knowledge He had saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” (Verse 15) Jesus went on to answer this question, but it raises some interesting other points for us today.
Taught By God
Jesus showed in the next verses where He had learned what He was teaching. The scriptures in verses 16-18 show this clearly.
16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me;
17 if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
18 He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
Jesus teaching came from the Father. He was taught by God. And God the Father confirmed Jesus’ teaching by the signs and wonders He performed that testified to the truth of what He was teaching.
The same applies to the Apostles who were also taught by God. They were taught by Jesus who is the Son of God. And this was also spoken of in prophecy when it was stated, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” (John 6:45)
And so should it not also be the same today? Is it not possible that the Lord will teach His people today just as He did then? It most certainly is.
Letters of Recommendation
Which brings us to a most interesting point. The Pharisees and Jews who were questioning where Jesus had received learning did so because He had not attended their schools. He had not been in the classes that taught theology and the law and so on. He did not have a degree to validate His authority on the matters about which He spoke and taught.
Paul faced similar situation when He was preaching. He spoke against those who had letters of recommendation saying in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3;
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?
2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men;
3 and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Paul had not been recommended by anyone, and especially by a university, college or school to be able to teach what he taught. So where did Paul learn it? He tells us the answer saying, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)
Paul was taught the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ by God; by the Lord himself, and we must remember that this was after Jesus had died, been raised and had returned to the Father in heaven.
Paul continues on with how he had been taught by the Lord saying when God was, “…pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.” (Galatians 1:16-17)
So he did not receive the truth of the gospel by attending a school, college or university, but by seeking the truth from God. And it is clear that the Lord provided Paul with great learning, insight and wisdom about the New Covenant to the point where he considered all of the learning from his previous studies in Judaism to be worthless by comparison. (see Philippians 3:1-9)
Who Should You Listen To?
So what about our situation today? We are fortunate that when Jesus introduced the New Covenant after His death and resurrection, he gave us gifts. The most important of these in relation to learning the truth is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach, guide, counsel and comfort us. As Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
So our first thing to learn is to study the word of God. Read and consume the Bible teachings as a man lost in the desert thirsts for water. After all, it is in reading God’s textbook that we will learn, and how can the Holy Spirit “bring to your remembrance” something you have not studied?
So what about attending a Bible College to learn these things? Well if God is your teacher, why do you need a substitute? If God gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us, will the teaching from men be better when they too suffer the same weaknesses and problems as the students?
In addition God gives gifts to the church for the purpose of teaching and bringing the church members to maturity. These gifts are bestowed by God, not by any school, college or university as we see in Ephesians 4:11-14,
11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Knowing that there are or will be false teachers in the church, is it not also possible that Satan could infiltrate the bible colleges and pollute their teachings? Not only is it possible it is fact. I know of people who have attended bible colleges who have told me that part of the course involved listening to teachers of new age doctrines, eastern religions or human philosophies. Nowhere in the bible are we instructed to learn such things, but rather we are to shun false teachings.
Are all bible colleges like this? I certainly hope not and to be honest I doubt it. But it does give me pause when I see men authorising and approving other men to be pastors and teachers of the word with degrees and diplomas when teaching God’s word is a gift from God himself.
Whether a person has a degree or not means nothing to me and it should mean nothing to you. The truth about the teaching of any person, myself included, is whether what we say, we do and that it aligns with the truth of the New Covenant.
If someone chooses to teach things that are not aligned with the word of God, then I don’t care how many degrees, doctorates and diplomas they have, it is false teaching and not worth the time spent listening. If the teaching is not backed up by the Lord, it is worthless and worse it may even be destructive. Be careful what you listen to. Be careful what you take in and make sure it is 100% backed up and in line with all of the truth in the New Covenant.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Carlos Gustavo Curado)
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