|Education for Life in the Flock of God|
To Know the Lord: A Christian Education Prospectus (7)
“Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.”
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In this series we have been looking at the various ways Ezekiel 36 draws on all the different periods of God’s covenant-making to help us understand what to expect once the day of salvation has come. By referring to His covenant with Adam and Eve, with Abraham, with Moses, and with David – all in the light of the giving of His Spirit and the forgiveness of sins – God is teaching His people to prepare for the day when they will know Him truly and will make Him known to all the nations.
We need to prepare for this. The day of salvation has come. God has expectations. He has shown us throughout His Word what He intends to do in and through us. We need to get ready, and we need to get ready by submitting to a life-long process of instruction in the things of God that will allow us to gain His blessings, live for His glory, and extend His rule to the ends of the earth. That’s a tall order, and, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that most of our churches are simply not pursuing this kind of an educational agenda.
The local church is the key to realizing all the fullness of the knowledge of God. We can’t depend on the government to educate us in the ways of the Lord, and no single household or family head is sufficient for so grand and demanding an educational program as is suggested by the scope of the divine Covenant. What we need is a community of believers, working together for mutual edification and mutual realization of the blessings of knowing God and making Him known.
That community – that “flock” of God – is the Church. Jesus declared in Matthew 16:18 that His agenda for the day of salvation would focus on building the Church. In John 10 He referred to His followers, His Church, as His flock, just as God anticipated here in Ezekiel 36. Being part of the Body of Christ entails certain privileges and responsibilities that we must be prepared for if we want to see our churches serve as agents of God’s Kingdom in the way He intends.
We must be taught how to live in flock of God – what worship is, how to choose good leaders and what it means to submit to them, how a local church grows in unity and maturity, what it means to make our churches a focus of beauty and joy in our communities, how to use our spiritual gifts for building up the local congregation, how to start new churches and otherwise pursue the work of missions, and so much more. We’re not likely to learn this on our own. We need to be taught. We need specific instruction on what it means to be the church and how to take a responsible place among the members of the flock of God.
Thus God outlines a complete Christian education prospectus for us in Ezekiel 36. The educational program of our churches must be spiritual, moral, social, ministerial, cultural, vocational, and transformational – all at the same time. All the members of God’s flock must be equipped to live for Him; all together must seek to bring the knowledge of God, which is eternal life, to fuller expression in their own lives, and to offer it freely and joyously to their neighbors.
Most churches are a far cry from this right now. But this is the day of salvation, and now we know what God expects. All that remains is for us to take up the challenge of Christian education and to offer ourselves, both as learners and teachers, in this great work of equipping God’s people for living out the knowledge of the Lord.
Meet with the relevant leaders of your church – those who are responsible for the work of Christian education. Find out some ways you might be able to help. Make yourself available to serve, and do whatever is necessary to prepare accordingly. Then invite those with whom you talk to join you in studying through this ViewPoint series, “To Know the Lord: A Christian Education Prospectus.” A free PDF version is available, complete with questions for reflection and discussion which you can use to study the seven lessons in this series with others.
For additional insight to the work of Christian education, order Craig Dykstra’s book, Growing in the Life of Faith, from our online store. You might also benefit from reading T. M.’s previous ViewPoint series, “The Christian and Learning,” which is available as a free PDF download.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.