2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” American KJV
Let me start this section with a few moments of taking to task the the Church of Jesus Christ and its leaders in general for not taking the responsibility of training and discipleship as seriously as we should. Sermons alone can not adequately or quickly equip. One year of sermons equals but 21 hours of instruction. If a believer attends Sunday School that total may double to 42 hours or maybe into the mid-50 hour range.
In contrast we are being discipled by media and entertainment. Look at these statistics:
“The amount of time spent watching traditional TV increases with age. Teenagers (12 to 17) spend 103 hours watching TV a month, whereas senior citizens (65 and older) spend 207 hours. That’s about seven hours a day” LA Times 2/24/200
“According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.”
Presently we are receiving instruction in the faith, over the space of one year, equal to one or two weeks of television viewing especially if we rely exclusively on Sunday Church attendance. If we add our engagement with Christian radio, books, private Bible study, we improve the picture substantially but not adequately.
The Lordship of Jesus requires as part of our total surrender to Him we surrender totally our minds to embrace the diligence of learning and instruction.
“ And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Teaching Among God’s People
We are to embrace the task of running fast and hard after the knowledge of God. First in the Scriptures and in prayer but certainly in seeking instruction. So important is instruction to the plan of God in the Old Covenant God assigned an entire tribe, one of twelve, the Tribe of Levi, to teach all the other tribes as their main duty. Levites lived throughout the land, not having a regular inheritance of property. Israel was to supply produce to free the Levites to do that vital task.
Among the church, the counterpart is the Five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 who are commanded to “equip the saints”. Elders (the members of the five-fold ministry resident in the city-wide church) must have a teaching aptitude (1 Timothy 3:2, 2 Timothy 2:24 ) and they must indeed teach. If elders do not actively instruct, they should not be elders. Elders who do not teach make about as much sense as Christians who do not learn. So important is this responsibility that the scriptures command that the members of the church provide finances to those who instruct them in the scriptures.
1 Timothy 5:17-18
 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.  For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
There are three objects for giving in the New Testament: Mercy (relief of hunger plus care for orphans and widows via the diaconate), the Apostolic task (supporting an apostolic team that plants and cares for churches…could include prophets, teachers and evangelists as well ) and local teaching/care ministries (pastors and teachers).
The Decline of Orthodoxy
The ancient church for several centuries was somewhat effective with teaching the essentials. The standard initial practice was the teaching of the six foundational doctrines as listed in Hebrews chapter six. The epistles often revisit these themes in order to clarify from a distance what had first been taught face to face. As the church grew rapidly the quality of transmission declined from place to place. The first serious issues that developed was centered on the weakening of the Church’s practice of the spiritual gifts. This was manifest in the Montanist movement of AD 150. The next crisis was in the Gnostic influence on some churches regarding creation and the nature of God. That was the doctrinal battle that resisted the prevailing religious attitudes in the Greco-Roman world. The next big battle was inside the visible Church during the fourth and fifth centuries. This was led by a bishop named Arius who claimed Jesus as Savior was not fully God. This teaching influenced the German tribes who later invaded the newly “Christianized” Roman Empire. It was as if hairy Jehovah’s Witnesses were on the march. The final big battle for orthodoxy was with the British monk and teacher Pelagius who taught man did not have original sin and that much of the Christian life relied on moralism.
As the Gospel of Grace was replaced by formalism, legalism and moralism, so was the decline in many individual Christian’s passion and obedience. The saving Gospel was preached less and less. This allowed the competing forces of false religion including a false church to gain ground.
This battle faces every generation in every denomination. When Biblical truth about God, man, salvation, heaven and hell are compromised then decline sets in. Look at who owns the empty churches….those who have abandoned orthodoxy and the passionate pursuit of Christ.
J.I. Packer: More Catechesis, Please
“Packer’s last crusade in this world,” the Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer affirms, is recovering catechesis — systematic instruction in the Christian fundamentals — to meet the challenges of an increasingly pagan age.
The evangelical theologian said at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas on Jan. 9 that he yearns for the return of catechesis, “Bible-based, Christ-centered, declarative in style,” at a time when “the Christian value system is virtually disappearing from schools.”“We are drifting back into paganism, that’s the truth,” said Dr. Packer, the second featured speaker in the James M. Stanton Lecture Series.
Recovering the traditional emphasis on careful, lifelong instruction in Christian faith “will be totally uphill all the way,” he said. “We shall be challenging the dominant trends in our culture, and it won’t be easy.” All the more reason to begin quickly: “It’s a matter of time till this current Western [secularist] infection spreads its tentacles in the rest of the world.”
Dr. Packer said a recovered catechetical enterprise need not resemble the “schoolroom method or question and answer” format set during the Reformation and enshrined in The Book of Common Prayer. A likelier pattern for modern times, he said, is that of the Alpha course, which involves sharing meals, forming new friendships, listening to brief presentations and discussing the content in small groups. “You get much further, much faster” that way, he said, than with relying on a fixed set of questions and answers.
Teaching the catechism should be a regular, continuing project for churches, Dr. Packer said. He said crucial topics include the authorship of Scripture; the reality of God’s being; the holiness of God’s law; the centrality of Jesus Christ; the graciousness of salvation; the power of the Holy Spirit; and the praiseworthiness of God.”
The Apostolic Model
There is but one place in the entire New Testament that a set of doctrines are referred to as foundational and necessary for preparing for maturity. If we are to look for a topical outline of key teaching for catechesis it is found here in Hebrews 5:11-6:3 :
 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. [6:1] Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  and of instruction about (baptisms) washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And this we will do if God permits.
We can not claim apostolic authority if we do not teach what the apostles taught. Those who claim authority should do so only on apostolic grounds. To teach from the Bible is not enough. We must teach from the Bible with the same emphases the apostles taught. To ignore apostolic priorities is to ignore a sound foundation. “If the foundations are destroyed what will the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3. The great contradiction for many a Bible believer and teacher is to minimize the meaning of the text in favor of “the tradition of the elders’. It is sobering.
a.Repentance from Dead Works
One translation says “repentance from works that lead to death” implying sinful behavior but the standard translation is “repentance from dead works” which is broader and, I believe, more helpful. This addresses not only the violations of specific commandments but also all aspects of self righteousness and false religion and spirituality.
This doctrine establishes God’s holiness, God’s law and commandments and holds up a mirror for us to see our absolute sinfulness, our separation from God and the justice of God’s wrath against us and all humanity.
There is a resistance towards this doctrine especially when there is only self-righteousness or religion as a defense. There is also resistance if one’s view of God is rooted in sentimentality and humanistic ideals. The God of the Bible is His own standard by which the world is judged.
The doctrine of Repentance from Dead Works would include these topics;
•A definition of sin, harmitia: An archery term “to miss the mark”.
•How sin entered the world: Satan then Adam’s rebellion.
•The results of sin.
•Actual sin. Understanding what acts and thoughts the Bible identifies as sinful.
•The meaning of repentance, metanoeo: The military command “About face!”
•Self righteousness, the great lie.
•Religion, delusion and false hopes.
•Penal substitution….the cross of Christ.
•Rejecting all the “elementals” of the world and embracing the “elementals of Christ.”
•Taking up our cross, the crucified life.
•The Lordship of Jesus and the call to obedience rooted in gratitude.
a.Faith towards God
Faith towards God is a collection of fundamental doctrines about the nature and character of God. From that foundation we will look at God’s plan and purposes in history. The history of creation and redemption culminating in Christ’s incarnation, atoning death on the cross and resurrection. Understanding the nature and character of God is the foundation of all other doctrines and our worldview. This is like the first button we button on a shirt. If you insert the first button in a wrong hole all the other buttons will be improper as well.
It can not be emphasized enough that a correct view of God is the key to soundness and spiritual health. Truth, Jesus said, will set you free.
We should examine these aspects of the doctrine of God:
•Perfection of God.
•The holiness of God.
•His immutability (unchangeableness).
•His transcendence (above creation).
•His immanence (His closeness).
•He is eternal.
•He is righteous.
•He is love.
•He is Spirit.
•He consists of three Persons, co-equal, co-eternal of the same substance.
•God is sufficient in Himself.
•Knowing God requires His self-revelation to us.
•He is fully Sovereign.
Faith Toward God includes the Acts of God such as:
•God created the heavens and the earth and declared them good.
•God placed man in the Garden of Eden to rule the earth.
•Man sinned and God cursed the earth driving man from the Garden.
•God destroyed the world in the Flood saving only Noah and his family.
•God confused the languages and scattered the nations from Babel.
•God calls Abraham and promises to make him the father of many nations.
•God calls Israel, through Moses, as a nation out of Egypt and into the promised land.
•Israel rises and falls based on covenant faithfulness.
•God promises a Messiah through the prophets.
•Jesus fulfills all the prophecies regarding the Messiah
•Jesus prophesies the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. (fulfilled in 70 AD)
•The apostles and disciples carry the Gospel through the known world.
These truths culminate in the doctrine of the Person and Work of Christ. These truths are the basis for our salvation.
•Jesus sinless perfection
•His virgin birth
•His full God-hood
•His full humanity
•His teaching ministry and words
•His death on the cross
•His descent into hell
•His resurrection from the dead
•His present ministry and ruler and intercessor.
•His coming again.
•His role as future judge
a.Doctrine of Baptisms
There are two initiatory experiences in the Bible for Christians. Both, ideally are to be at the front end, or beginning of the Christian experience. The first is baptism in water as an identification of death to our old life and rebirth into our new one in Christ. The second is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. These two experiences expand on our initial trusting in Christ. When we first turn to the Lord, He works a change in us. We are justified (made right with God), we are regenerated (made alive to God) we are sanctified (set apart for God), we have His Spirit living within us and we have received gifts from His Spirit. We are indeed new creations.
The Doctrine of Baptisms addresses two equipping experiences that enable us to serve God. Both of these address empowerment and authority. Baptism establishes an authority in the believer’s life to resist temptation, sin and Satan as a person who is now dead and now alive to Christ. (Romans Chapter 6). The Baptism in the Holy Spirit addresses the indwelling life and power of God that subsumes our old life as we surrender and manifests Jesus’ life and power through us.
The ancient Church new but one means of declaring “I am a Christian”. That was the act of public baptism. Baptism was nearly always done the same day of conversion. In many cases this was with the assembled church and others as witnesses.
•Three thousand converts Pentecost in Jerusalem Acts 2:41
•Converts in Samaria with Phillip Acts 8:12
•Gentiles at Cornelius’ house Acts 10:4-48
In other cases it was the convert and the witness.
•Saul in Damascus Acts 9:8-19…three days after conversion
•The Ethiopian Eunuch and Phillip Acts 8:36-38
•The Phillippian jailer and his household Acts 16:30-32
•John’s disciples at Ephesus Acts 19:4-5
This is how we witness to God, the Devil, the world, our family and the Church that we are Disciples of Jesus Christ. As we explain to others what it means to follow Jesus let us remember to encourage water baptism, not as a means to salvation but as a witness that salvation has come. Originally converts were baptized then catechized (taught the fundamentals) later, prospective converts were catechized then later baptized. Today the church expresses very little urgency with baptism. For the believer, water baptism is the first step of biblically mandated obedience. Is it any wonder that the modern church is so lax with obedience when we fail to obey on how to walk in the front door? If a supposed convert won’t embrace baptism what else will they consider optional?
a.Immersion not effusion
The word baptism comes from “baptizo” which means to wash or submerse. If a ship sank it was “baptizo.” Sprinkling, anointing and pouring are later imposed meanings and grew from emergency or sick-bed baptisms. Immersion was the mode for many centuries. Some groups wanted three dips, most one dip, some wanted flowing water, others thought a pool of water was fine. All in all baptism signified death and burial. Sorry but a hand-full of dirt will just not do.
b. Believing, adult not paedobaptism
There is no evidence in the Bible that babies or very little children were water baptized. The Bible has a sequence: Believe, repent and be baptized. Believing and repenting requires some measure of awareness. Yes, very young children may believe but regardless of age, in order to be baptized, one must believe.
Perhaps your parents in response to a sincere desire to honor God and church tradition presented you for baptism as an infant. Their sincerity is to be commended and honored.
Our encouragement to you as an adult believer follow Jesus’ example and enter the waters of baptism by immersion. Jesus said of His own immersion “It is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15
Jesus said, “Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19 It has been the historic formula to pronounce over a person being baptized. In the ancient church it would appear that the formula “ In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ” was also utilized. There seems to be no prohibition to this as long as there is an affirmation of the trinitarian nature of God (three persons, One essence). If a modalistic or unitarian view of God is taught (Father, Son and Holy Spirit are but interchangeable manifestations or modes of the One Person), then that is heretical.
Some Church traditions have dunked once for each member of the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is true in some Brethren denominations and in the Orthodox Church.
d.reckoning not regeneration
One common question is ”Does baptism produce an inner change that in fact saves us?”
Because baptism is directly linked in all the New Testament scriptures to a Christian’s salvation experience that it is an easy, yet incorrect, conclusion to reach. There is no text that has baptism as a regenerative experience. We are born again, or regenerated, based on belief and faith in Jesus that leads to repentance. We receive baptism because we have believed.
Baptism is a sign of the covenant but not the initiator of the New Covenant in our life.
The covenant operates in our life because of faith in Jesus, not because we receive the sign of the covenant, namely baptism. A sign has significance only if the underlying substance is there.
The function of Water Baptism, besides the obvious role of a one time public testimony of a new allegiance, is the daily role of “reckoning”. Water baptism plays a role in our battle of surrender and yielding to Christ. When temptation distracts us and sin beacons us we reference our baptism and say “ I am dead and buried and can not respond…I am alive to Christ and will respond to Him alone”. Read Romans 6:1-14:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider (reckon) yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Baptism is a great aide in our battle for faithful and obedience to Christ. We rejoice when
the newly faithful embrace that “watery grave”.
2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The next foundational experience for the believer has been described in various terms. Catholics call it “confirmation.” Pentecostals call it “The Baptism”. It has been dubbed a “second work of grace”, “a crisis experience”, “the second blessing” and being filled with the Spirit. All of these interpretations reference a significant impartation available to all believers.
When a person becomes a Christian through faith and repentance, the Holy Spirit enters them and regenerates their spirit bringing them from spiritual death to spiritual life. So essential is the presence of the Holy Spirit in salvation that Paul writes in Romans 8:9 “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Him.” Regeneration itself is referred to as being “born of the Spirit” in John 3:5-8.
When Jesus gathered with his disciples after his resurrection and before His ascension He breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit”. John 20:21-22. After this Jesus commanded his disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:2-8, 12-14, 2;1-13. On the day of Pentecost a noise like a mighty rushing wind filled the whole house where they were sitting and flames appeared on each one’s head. They were all filled with the Spirit and spoke began speaking in tongues (languages).
Subsequent to repentance
Jesus own baptism in the Holy Spirit came subsequent to his water baptism
Peter at Pentecost said “Repent and be baptized…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” Acts 2: 37-39
After Samaria received the gospel and many were baptized, Peter and John came and laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:4-20
After Saul received Christ on the road to Damascus, then was baptized three days later and received the Holy Spirit. Acts 9:17-18.
The twelve disciples of John at Ephesus received the Holy Spirit after their embracing of Jesus and water baptism. Acts 19:1-6
We are to ask for the Holy Spirit
Jesus said in a discourse on prayer that the Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them who ask. Luke 11:9-13. The word ask is is aiteo, which means to beg, call out for, crave or desire.
The key to receiving is asking. James 4:2 says “You have not because you ask not.
Receiving the Holy Spirit
The two most common ways to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit is 1) the laying on of hands: Acts 8:17, 9:17 and 19:6. 2) Sovereignly from God on expectant, yielded, open hearts: Acts 10:44-47 and 2:1-4
Manifestations of the Holy Spirit with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
There are no specific Biblical commands or standards for what the filling of the Holy Spirit looks like. Sometimes this “crisis experience” comes gently with barely a whisper, for others it may be dramatic and overflowing with manifestations such as tongues and prophecy. The goal is not a particular gift but the presence of the Spirit overflowing our life. That overflowing presence results from an active yielding to the Spirit in obedience and surrender. The “crisis experience” with the Holy Spirit opens the door way of power for effective proclamation, the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, hearing God’s voice and a deepening revelation of Jesus Christ.
If you have not yet yielded to the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing ask the Father today to fill you and empower you. Set aside time to seek God, surrender yourself fully to Him. “Be filled with the Spirit!” Ephesians 5:18
g. Laying on of Hands
The doctrine of the ‘laying on of hands” is possibly the least discussed of biblical doctrines. It is possible, even likely, a Christian could go their entire life with no meaningful exposure to this teaching. The lack of training is in large measure why many believers have little experience in praying for the sick, imparting blessing or setting the spiritually oppressed free. It is no mistake that as soon as we start to learn the milk about Christ and we receive baptism God expects us to engage others in ministry.
imparts spiritual blessing and anointing. Deuteronomy 34:9, Genesis 27,48:14-16, Hebrews 11:20-21.
Jesus blesses little children. Mark 10:13,16
Imparts authority Numbers 27:15-20, 23
Ordaining (setting in) apostles Acts 13:2-3
Ordaining pastors/elders Titus 1:5
Setting in deacons Acts 6:6
Jesus healing the sick. Mark 6:5, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:13
All disciples to heal the sick Mark 16: 15-18
Ananias to Paul Acts 9:17
Paul and healing Acts 14:3, 19:11. 28:8
The Apostles and healing Acts 6:6
Casting out demons Luke 4:40-41, 13:11-13, 16
Imparts spiritual gifts Romans 1:11, 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6
We must become the masters of one on one ministry. We must never drift into a spiritual lethargy that looks to a professional clergy to operate in God’s anointing. If we are to truly reach our cities and our nation each of us must be equipped to minister supernaturally in the power of the Spirit.
h.Resurrection of the Dead
The doctrine of the Resurrection establishes our hope about Christ. The greatest fear of mankind is death. All fears are rooted in the fear of death. Nearly all religions attempt to explain what lies beyond physical death.
A biblical faith promises to reconstitute as a new creation our dead body into a glorified body with Christ’s second coming in the doctrine of the rapture or resurrection. It is our new body we carry into eternity, being made sinless, fully renewed and glorified becoming like the resurrected Jesus.
Along with the promise of a new glorified body is the promise of a renewed earth free of the curse where we are promised a home with Christ.
i. Eternal Judgement
Judgement of the righteous
For those who trusted Christ in both Old and New Covenants the shed blood of Jesus became the perfect payment for sin. Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied the demands of an immutable eternal justice. Now the wrath of the Father was fully poured upon His Son as our sin was placed upon the Son. In addition to that the law was nailed to the cross, forever being fulfilled, then satisfied by Jesus. The law no longer has a voice to condemn us.
The Bible teaches that those made righteous through Christ will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. There are indications that those who have built their lives faultily and without regard to the riches of Christ will experience a great sense of loss or shame but will be saved “as if by fire”. Oh how we should live for Christ in this day so we will not be ashamed in that day!
For many this will be a day of reward, honor and the giving of crowns….which we will in grateful, sober, humility cast back at Jesus’ feet.
The Judgement Seat of Christ culminates with the great celebration of the ages as joy and grateful adoration sweep the elect in eternity as we enjoy the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
Judgement of the wicked
There is no eternal hope for those who have chosen rebellion against God. There are no second chances, no later pardon. As the proverb declares “As the tree falls in the woods so it lays.” The wicked from both covenants, will stand before God in their resurrected, un-glorified bodies and will receive the final declaration of their guilt as rebels and lawbreakers. The Bible says they will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.
Judgement of Satan
The greatest rebel and deceiver of all will, with his demonic hosts receive his final judgement and will be cast into the Lake of Fire as well. All the rebels, given their own piece of creation, tucked far away from God’s grace and mercy will dwell together for all eternity.