In any subject matter the responsibility to teach falls upon those who have the corresponding knowledge.
~ Knowing Christ Today, by Dallas Willard (p193)
What follows are simply the notes I took in studying the Dallas Willard's book, Knowing Christ Today. Because there are so many wise insights, I've split my notes over five posts; this post highlights chapter eight: "Pastors as Teachers of the Nations." For the most part, I've included page numbers and quotations as reference, but you should know that all of this is from the book. None of it is mine. Now let's dive in!
To All the World
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20…Jesus sent them to make disciples (students, apprentices) to him, and, supported by his presence, to teach them all that he taught by word and deed.
The early disciples’ way of working was simply speaking and being. (p195)
Witnesses Must Speak from Knowledge
"A witness knows something and makes that knowledge available to others." (p195)
(As this is a critical definition that warrants a significant perspective shift in most of the Christian world today, we'll let John Mark Comer elaborate, in this podcast episode...)
“To witness” is to tell others about what you saw or experienced. We’re not salespeople, we’re witnesses. Our job is not to sell people on the gospel, it is not to close the deal….it is just to bear witness to what we have seen and experienced with Jesus in the kingdom...in the power of a transformed and transforming life.” ~ John Mark Comer, “Live In Such a Way That Begs the Question.”
The task of Jesus followers is to know Christ, and to make knowledge of God and of life in God available to those around him. That is what responsible people do with knowledge of any important subject! (p195)
The Position of Pastors…The Pastor Must be the One Who Knows
Pastors must deal with the basic questions upon which life hinges: (from chapter 2)
What is reality?
Who is well-off?
Who is truly a good person?
How does one become a truly good person?
“To make ‘disciples’ of Jesus is to bring knowledge of him to people in such a way that they want to know his answers to these questions, and the role of pastors is to help them attain the knowledge they seek.
Their task is not to get people to believe things, to share ‘Christian’ feelings or rituals, to join Christian groups, or to be faithful to familiar Christian traditions -though all of these may have some place….
…The task of Christian pastors and leaders is to present Christ’s answers to the basic questions of life and to bring those answers forward as knowledge – primarily to those who are seeking and are open to following him, but also to all who may happen to hear, in the public arenas of a world in desperate need of knowledge of what is real and what is good.” (p198)
A pastor’s field is real life under God. A solid basis of knowledge enables spokespeople for Christ to stand firmly and lovingly.
It is crucial for the success of Christ’s cause and the good of humanity that those who speak now for Christ consciously and intentionally stand as those who have knowledge of the basic truths and realities of the way of Christ. (p203)
“This is rarely done…pastors now are mistakenly seen as teaching what Christians are supposed to believe (perhaps what we had better believe), not what is known and what can be known through fair inquiry. And upon that supposition their job is taken to be to get hearers to believe it – or at least to commit to it, or minimally to profess it...
...thus knowledge, along with belief, commitment and profession founded on knowledge are bypassed…pastors then must exhaust themselves trying to get people to do what they ‘ought’ to do but have no serious vision or motivation for. Religion is then experienced as a drag.” (p204)
“In contrast, presenting knowledge as knowledge, spokespeople for Christ do not try to manipulate the hearers’ feelings or actions in any way. They can lay down the burden of getting people to do things...
They know that passion comes from reality and simply do their best to help willing hearers understand and come to know the reality and goodness of life in the kingdom of God with Jesus...
Any result beyond this they leave to the influence of the Word of God speaking in the heart and to the work of the Holy Spirit in and around the people involved.” (p204)
“Christian” Higher Education
An insightful short section highlights the responsibility of higher education to present basic Christian teachings as essential knowledge vital to life. In fact, not too long ago, even “state” schools did this. Now, though, it must fall upon those in Christian higher education to teach the knowledge of God and his kingdom that Christ brings to humanity.
“However, they now by and large receive the clear impression that Christianity is only a “leap” of faith or an irrational “impact” of some kind -even an emotional condition -or just one of many “traditions” within “diversity.” (p207) …
(That) will leave an impression, now almost universally held, that being a follower of Jesus Christ is simply a matter of what one believes and feels…not something essentially involving knowledge of truth and of a reality that everyone must come to terms with.” (p208)
“Disciples Are for The World God so Loves
Discipleship to Jesus…enables individuals to find in their work a divine calling and see the hand of God in their efforts to create what is good and to serve others in love.
Pastors for Christ teach the nations by:
Declaring the presence of the kingdom of God everywhere.
Pointing out the availability of eternal life now in the kingdom of God!
We have only to rely on Jesus as the one totally in charge. The kingdom is for whole life and for all of life!
Jesus is not just the sacrificial lamb whose death gets us off the hook of our guilt. He is also the reigning Lord of all!
We are learning how to lead our life - all of it, our actual existence - in the kingdom of God. Practically that means becoming, in the fellowship of disciples, people who routinely and easily do in all real-life circumstances the kinds of things Jesus did and said. (p209)
‘Pastors’ train disciples for work in the world:
All day, every day, I am working for Jesus. It is what he is doing that carries me. He is my boss and my paymaster. The forces of evil are stymied wherever I am as I consciously do my work with him. (p210)
Jesus’ vision was a new and unique version of humanity – in the world but not of it. As disciples in local settings, people would be drawn together in the natural connections of life where they are, in fellowship with the Trinity.
There is nothing more important on earth than to dwell in the knowledge of Christ and to bring that knowledge to others. (p211)
This was from Chapter Eight. Don't Miss the Other Knowing Christ Today Notes:
Chapter One: Can Faith Ever Be Knowledge?
Chapter Two: How We Perish for Lack of Knowledge
Chapter Three and Four: How Knowledge Disappeared & Can We Know God Exists?
Chapter Six: Knowledge of Christ in the Spiritual Life
You may also enjoy listening to Willard teach these concepts in "Knowledge of Christ in Today's World" - his video teaching, here.