Let's look, first of all, at the why question and again, the question of why we teach concerns our overall concept or conception of the teaching ministry of the church. A lot of people in Christian education would probably believe that. We need to start with the how question, or at least a lot of people would like to start with the whole question How do we teach? Tell me how to do it. How to do it. But I really believe that's the wrong place to begin our consideration. We need to have a clear concept of what it is we're aiming at, and that's why we get to the why question. Dostoyevsky has one of his characters say in a book that we could understand the power of life if we only knew the why. And I think that's correct. We can figure out the whole question much more easily if we have a clear understanding of the why. So why do we teach? Again, a key passage is the passage we've looked at already from Matthew 2818 through 20. We teach all that Jesus has commanded in order to make disciples. The word disciple means follower or learner. And above all, Christians are to be learners, continually learning from Jesus and following him, aiming to be like their master, like their teeth, their their Lord. And a legitimate goal for the why of Christian education is we teach to make disciples. But there are a number of other biblical terms that can help us understand what that looks like or what that means. One of the key terms that I'd like to introduce is the biblical term formation.
A wonderful way that Paul uses to describe the goal of the Christian life is to say that all Christians are to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We know this, for example, from Romans chapter eight, verse 29. Many Christians are familiar with Romans 828. We know that in all things, God works together for the good of those who love him, for those who have been called according to his purpose. But unfortunately, many of us have memorized before we got to the explanation of that verse, which is found in verse 29 and 30. The passage goes on to say, We know that all this is true because those whom God for knew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, that He that is Jesus would be the firstborn among many brothers and those whom he predestined. He also called those who called. He also justified and those he justified. He also glorified. How do we know that all things work together for good? And what does good really mean? That's answered in Romans 829. The good. That spoken of is that we would be conformed to the image of his son Jesus. And we know that that that we can know that that will happen because God has predetermined that every Christian will be conformed into that likeness. So God's goal for all believers is that they be formed. We be formed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. We be formed into that likeness. The Greek root behind that little word form is the Greek root morphe. And it's found and by in the biblical text used by Paul in a number of different ways. In Romans 829, it's conformed, made like or conformed into the image of Jesus.
Romans 12 two A very familiar passage says that because in our present reality, we are not conform to Jesus as we ought to be. We need to be transformed into his likeness. Aramis, 12 two says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The word that's rendered transformed in English is the Greek word metamorphosis, or where we get our word metamorphosis. So literally transformed from something. We're not into something totally other. And because we haven't achieved the goal, we need to be transformed. And one of the legitimate goals of Christian education, then, is really to help people be transformed into the likeness of Jesus by having their minds renewed through encounters with the truth. Paul uses the the same word of the same form transformation in Second Corinthians Chapter three and verse 18, when he says that as we are contemplating the the glory of the Lord or reflecting the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into His likeness from glory to glory by the power of the Holy Spirit. So again, transformation required until we are conformed to the image of His Son. One other appalling text regarding formation is Galatians chapter four and verse 19. Here, Paul says that he is in pains of Labor a second time for the Galatians, and he says, I am in Labor pains for you until Christ be formed in you, kind of taking the idea of formation and putting in a little different angle now, whereas the other text speak about us being formed in Christ's likeness, this text speaks about Christ being formed in us. And all of these texts should be read not only in terms of the individual or perhaps not even primarily in terms of the individual, but in terms of the Christian community in Christian education.
We aim at seeing individuals transformed into the likeness of Jesus, but also seen communities transformed into the likeness of Jesus. So Christian formation is a beautiful goal. In fact, in many respects, I love the term Christian formation as an alternative term to Christian education for a couple of reasons. First, because formation is a biblical term. And secondly, because it describes not only the process of being formed, but it also describes clearly the goal. The goal is that we should be formed into the likeness of Jesus. So it keeps process in goal before our eyes in a biblical way. I prefer Christian formation to the term spiritual formation because on the one hand spiritual formation is too vague. Anybody can use spiritual formation, and a lot of people do today who have something rather than something other than a Christian vision in mind. But on the other hand, spiritual formation is also potentially too specific, as though it's only the spirits of people that we want to see formed when in fact we are concerned with the whole person being formed into into likeness of Jesus, as we've seen. So we're going to look at several different ways to describe the why question or answer the why question Several different. A cool ways to speak of this. Matthew 28 We teach in order to make disciples, and from this text we've just looked at, we teach and we teach unto Christian formation. A third kind of phrasing that we could use is we teach to completion in Jesus. Paul uses this concept to describe his the goal of his teaching ministry and all of his ministry actually, in a passage like Colossians 128. In Colossians 128, Paul says to his readers that he labors in order to present everyone perfect or complete in Christ.
To this end, I labor that I may present everyone perfect in Christ. And this idea of being perfect or complete in Christ, or sometimes rendered mature in Christ is yet another way of answering the why question. The Greek word translated, perfect or complete is the word telling on. And again, it can mean perfect, mature or complete. I probably would prefer in contemporary English usage the word complete to render this Greek word telling on Paul uses it in collections 128 It's used elsewhere in the New Testament to speak about being made complete. Paul would not suggest that any Christian is made complete in the fullest sense this side of eternity. He himself in Philippians three, says that he is not perfected yet, but he pressed on to that very goal. He wanted to be complete in Christ. He long to be complete in Christ who longed to be perfect in Christ. And that's the very same goal that all of us as believers should have for ourselves. And that's the goal that we should have as we seek to disciple or teach other people. We want them to be complete, mature, perfect in Christ. And to that goal, we labor with all the energy God supplies in us. Paul uses the same verse, the same verb in Ephesians chapter four, verse 13, to describe his goal for the church. The church, by working together and laboring together and speaking the truth and love to one another, grows up and becomes complete in Jesus. Colossians 128 is the goal for every one, every individual Christian. But Ephesians four again makes it clear that it's the goal for the community of Christians. The body needs to be complete. Who? What does it mean to be complete in Christ? It's a very difficult question to answer well, in such a brief time, but I would like to suggest that it means that we are aiming at becoming completely functioning Christians and a completely functioning body of Christ, that we will be thoroughly equipped, thoroughly outfitted for our appointed work.
Our appointed task. When Paul uses the word complete in Ephesians four, that seems to be his sense. He longs for the day when the church is able to fully function as the body of Christ in the world to be able to fulfill its appointed tasks. The same word that's used by Paul to describe his goal for Christians in churches is used by the author of Hebrews in Chapter two to describe Jesus. It might be a surprising passage for us, but in Hebrews chapter two, verse ten, the author says that Jesus, the one who would save us and make us holy, was made perfect mate, complete through what he suffered. He was made to listen through the things that he suffered. It might sound very strange to evangelical ears to suggest that Jesus had to be made perfect or made complete. But as Hebrews Chapter two unfolds, it becomes clear what the author means. It means that Jesus was completely outfitted or completely equipped for his task as High Priest and as the sacrifice for our sins, our Redeemer, through suffering he had to suffer in order to be a merciful and sympathetic high priest, he had to suffer incarnation, that is, take on human flesh and die on a cross in order to be our redeemer. So in Hebrews two, the sense of complete Jesus being made complete seems to mean that He had to be completely fitted for his job. And Paul seems to use that sense in Ephesians four, speaking about the church being completely outfitted to be the body of Christ, and we could think of the same then for individual Christians, part of what it means to be complete in Christ is that we will be the Christians who are equipped to do the good works that God has created us to do.
And as we think about the goals of Christian education then, or why do we teach? This reminds us that it's not only that people will personally experience peace with God or that people will have a have a. Come to some level of individual or personal piety. But when we speak about teaching, we want people to truly become the servants of God that they're created to be part of the body of Christ as they are created to be, so that we can do the good works that Ephesians 210 says we were created in Christ Jesus to do. Ephesians two, in fact, is a helpful place for us to turn next, because another way for us to look at why we teach is introduced in a passage like Ephesians two eight through ten. A lot of Christians have memorized Ephesians 289. We ought to keep going and memorize at least verse ten as well. Here's the passage for us. Four By grace, you have been saved through faith that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by work, so that no one can boast. That's Ephesians two eight and nine. But verse ten says, for we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Another way of expressing why it is that we teach is that we teach unto salvation. As we've seen thus far, we teach in order to make disciples. We teach unto Christian formation. We teach unto completeness in Christ. But another way to say the same thing or the same kind of concern is we teach unto salvation. But we need to understand salvation in the full biblical sense. Otherwise, this will seem like a confusing idea When salvation or working unto salvation be more properly the the task of the evangelist of the church, not the task of the Christian educators.
Well, yes or no is the task of all of us. The problem is that sometimes in our common Christian Christian ese as we speak, Christian is we have reduced the word salvation to a synonym for being born again and just come into that initial state of faith when we've accepted Jesus as our savior. But that's not the whole picture of salvation in the Bible. Salvation in the Bible is a much bigger term than simply a synonym for being born again. Salvation in Embrace is certainly our new birth, but it also embraces the ongoing experience of sanctification and ultimate experience of becoming just like Jesus. So when we find in the New Testament, we read through the biblical terminology or the biblical uses of salvation, sometimes, as in Ephesians 289, salvation of is spoken out in the past tense. Four by grace you have been saved through faith. But in other New Testament passages, it's spoken of in the future tense. For example, Romans 1311 when Paul says that we need to wake up and live well because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. I suspect that to a lot of Christian years, that's a very strange verse. I remember as a young Christian thinking, That's a strange verse. What does he mean? Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed, because I'd been led to think that when I first believed, I got all the salvation I'll ever get. But Paul clearly uses salvation as a future tense experience. Is it's ahead, it's waiting, It's nearer to us. Peter speaks in the same kind of language in First Peter chapter one, when he speaks of a salvation that is kept in heaven reserved for us, ready to be revealed in the last days.
There's a salvation that is waiting for us, and what the Bible speaks of when it uses salvation in that sense is that the full experience of salvation is when we are exactly conformed into the likeness of Jesus. The whole person will be saved completely, and it's appropriate for us to speak about salvation in the future tense in those terms. Maybe we could use the theological word glorification that we saw in Romans chapter eight and verse 30 to speak about salvation, the future tense, and perhaps we could use the term justification to speak about our salvation experience. In the past we have been justified. We shall be glorified. And these are two aspects of our salvation. A third aspect of our salvation would be to speak of it in the present tense, and we could use the theological term sanctification here. And in fact, that's a very familiar triad in theological works on the doctrine of salvation. So to reality, we speak about justification, sanctification, glorification as three aspects of our salvation experience. Sanctification would speak about the ongoing work of salvation, as the Bible sometimes does. For example, Philippians two, verse 12 and 13 continue to work out your salvation. Verse 12 says with fear and trembling for verse 13 says, It is God who works in you too willing to do according to his good purpose. So we not only should be saying, Yes, I've been saved, but we should also be able to say, Thank God, I know that one day I'll be perfectly saved. And we should also be able to say, and even now, God is saving me. God is saving me by making me more like Jesus. One more. Way to complicate the picture, perhaps, is to say that even when we speak about sanctification in a lot of Christian circles, sometimes we've reduced the whole idea of sanctification to personal piety or personal holiness.
But it's much broader than that. If sanctification is about becoming like Jesus, then it's not only about becoming personally pious. What does it mean to be like Jesus if we look at his life carefully in the Gospels? It's clear not only that Jesus was personally holy and righteous and just and true and personally obedient to God. I personally loved the Word of God, personally devoted to prayer. Certainly, when we read the Gospels carefully, we are overwhelmed with the fact that Jesus was also committed to loving his neighbors. He was a person of deep compassion, a friend of sinners, a healer of the hurting and the broken and the sick and the lame and the dying. He came in his own language. And Luke, Chapter four Jesus came to preach good news to the poor and to bring deliverance to the captives. Jesus was a doer of good works in the truest sense of the word. And when we speak about sanctification or our present experience of salvation, it's not only about becoming more holy and lovers of God, but it also is about becoming lovers of our neighbor. More righteous, more just, more compassionate, more merciful people. And that, too, is part of salvation. That's why it's so important that we memorize Ephesians 210 along with Effusions two, eight and nine, because Ephesians two eight and nine. If we stop after verse nine, we might become guilty of a sort of heresy, a subtle form of heresy. And if we only memorize verse nine, that ends with not by work so that no one can boast, we may conclude that works have no place in the Christian life. But verse ten makes that emphatically untrue because Ephesians 210 says, Yes, we are saved apart from works, but we are saved in order to do good works, which God created us to do.
God saves us not only so that we get a ticket to heaven, He saves us in order that we may do the good works that we've been created to do. And this is absolutely critical to our understanding of salvation. Or in other words, Ephesians two eight and nine tells us what we've been saved from, tells us how we've been saved. But Ephesians 210 tells us what we've been saved for. We've been saved in order to do good works, to love our neighbors, to bring glory to God. Christian education would not even be necessary at all if salvation meant only new birth. If that's all salvation means we don't need Christian educators, we simply need evangelist. Or we could say Christian education means only teaching the gospel so that people come to faith. But because salvation embraces the whole process of becoming like Jesus. Christian education is necessary. And I would urge us in our churches to really argue for a fuller use of the word salvation. A lot of churches use sanctification. They're familiar with that term. But because it's not treated as an aspect of our salvation, it becomes, for some people, a kind of an intriguing option that they may explore. But it's not an option. It's a it's part of our salvation experience. And that's why Christian education is necessary. Let this then be just a brief overview of an introduction to the why question. Why do we teach? A number of ways we could say it. We've suggested a few ways to answer the question why? And again, just to reiterate, we teach to make disciples of Jesus. We teach unto Christian formation so that people will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ according to God's purposes for them.
We teach so that people would be complete in Jesus Christ, become telecon, mature, perfect in Christ, so that they will be fully functioning Christians because they need to be in order to experience salvation biblically. We teach them to salvation in the sense that teaching unto new birth, but beyond new birth, teaching unto personal piety and into unto completeness for the sake of doing the good works that God has prepared for us to do. So there's a biblical overview of some of the reasons why, why we teach. We could certainly fill that up with a host of other biblical passages, but that's a great place for us to start our considerations.