Treasuring Christ Through Christ-Centered Education | Jordan Thomas

The Treasuring Christ Together Church Planting Network exists precisely for that great cause. Meaning, our partnerships are fueled by a passion to advance the much-making of Jesus Christ in and through our local churches. Among the core values we share is the sacred task of "education." More specifically, educating others to "grow in biblical truth, wisdom, faith, and love, which show Christ as our supreme treasure.” “Education” per se, is not our value. Education is a means toward the goal. We value the kind of education that leads people to treasure the One we supremely value (cf. Romans 10:1-3).

TREASURING JESUS THROUGH CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION
We believe that lasting joy is found in cherishing Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior. Before we will help others prize Jesus, we understand that our own hearts must treasure Him. Put simply, we cannot export what we do not possess. John Owen wrote, “If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” Our network name encapsulates our main agenda. We want “to know Christ” (Phil. 3:7). The same applies to our vision for pastoral ministry in each congregation. Because delighting in Christ is our goal, commending Him is our means. In our praying, preaching, teaching, counseling and discipling our approach is singular: “we proclaim Jesus” (Col. 1:28). Indeed, we profess “to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). We believe that “Christ and Him crucified” is the bottomless and brimless fountain of lasting delight. Therefore we “preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor. 1:17).

As the old adage goes, “What you win people with, is what you win them to.” Because Jesus-treasuring is the goal of “Christian education,” Jesus-commending is the strategy. We audaciously aim to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Therefore, we commend Him Whom we cherish (cf. Matt. 13:44). Every intercessory prayer and every ounce of our pastoral labor among God’s flock rises as incense from the altar of our desire for “Christ to be formed” in those we’re called to shepherd (Gal. 4:19). Our cross-hairs are set upon the lasting joy of all in our churches to experience the “measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This is why we value the good work of Christ-exalting education!

PRAYER-SATURATED CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION
Even so, we understand that preaching and teaching are not enough. Folks who heard the risen Jesus Himself preach Christ-centered sermons still didn't get it until He opened their minds to understand (cf. Luke 24:45). If you are looking for a novel approach to the grand objective of Jesus-prizing, you've come to the wrong network. We have one strategy, with no backup plan. Our approach is as old as Christ's Church. "Devoting ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4). That's it. Prayer-soaked propagation of the pure Word of God is the vehicle by which God saves souls (Js. 1:21). We set neither the goal nor the blueprint for how to achieve it. We are enlisted men (cf. 2 Tim. 2:3-4). Our commission from on high is to prayerfully unleash “the whole counsel of God” upon His people “with humility and tears” (Acts 20:28, 19).

We agree with Jesus that the entire Bible is about Jesus and His gospel work (cf. Luke 24:25-27, 44). Therefore, whether we are unpacking Malachi or Matthew, TCTN unabashedly values “educating others...to show Christ as our supreme treasure.” We pray for wisdom and help, then we pick a book of the Bible and go after it. The pages of the Old and New Testaments are dripping with Jesus. As we unfold the Christocentric riches of God’s inerrant Word, God’s Spirit empowers God’s people to prize God’s Incarnate Word. This is the kind of education we value. We don’t want fat heads with cold hearts. We teach for burning hearts (cf. Luke 24:32). The Spirit of God loves to bless the ministry of prayerful, gospel-telling, Jesus- exalting pastors (cf. Col. 1:7; 4:12-13).

 May God help us! Richard Baxter reminds us:
“It is not a small matter to bring an earthly mind to heaven and to show man the amiable excellencies of God, to be taken up in such love to him that can never be quenched; to make him flee for refuge to Christ and thankfully embrace him as the life of his soul; to have the very drift and bent of his life change so that a man renounced that which he took his happiness, and places his happiness [in Jesus].”

Dear brothers, let us dig into the Word and dust off our prayer directories. Let us grab the horns of the altar, asking the Spirit of Christ to illumine His Word to those we shepherd. Our God can do more in ten seconds to dazzle people’s hearts with the glory of Christ than we could do in ten lifetimes. How much more will our Father pour out His Spirit if we will ask (Luke 11:13)? Let us join Samuel in declaring “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (2 Sam. 12:23), and with our next breath, let’s preach and teach folks the very same stuff we are praying for them (e.g., Col. 1:9-14; Eph. 3:14-21).

Because we value the kind of education that “shows Christ as our supreme treasure,” we must not depend on ourselves (cf. Psalm 78:7). Human cleverness neither saves nor sanctifies (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1-4). “The secret of McCheyne’s ministry,” said the church janitor, “was face-down weeping...hands-extended weeping.” The Spirit of God blesses the supplication-soaked, Christ-centered, teaching of the Word of God (Jn. 16:14). Let us return to the prayer closet asking God to fertilize the soil of our hearts and the hearts of the precious ones He has entrusted to our care. Pray for the little people in your fold, as well as the most mature. Pray for the weak. Pray for the lost. Then, open the Bible and “educate them in the Christian faith.” We believe this kind of “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Until Jesus returns, this is why we place the accent mark of our core values on education.


 

Jordan Thomas, is a pastor at Grace Church in Memphis, TN