As Christians, we know what we know about God because someone taught us. In fact, most of us have people in our lives right now who are teaching us. If you are a student at The Master’s University, you’re currently surrounded by people wanting to pour their lives into you. But not every Christian who has access to learning becomes strong; a strong Christian is one who learns in order to teach.
In his final letter, Paul gives Timothy this instruction: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
There are four generations in this verse:
There’s a process here similar to a relay race. It all started with Jesus, who gave the baton to the Apostles. The things that Jesus began to do and to teach, He passed on to the Apostles, according to Acts 1:1. The Apostles passed it on to somebody. That somebody passed it on to somebody else — and so on. If you have believed in Christ, it is because someone passed the baton to you. And if you are a strong Christian, you will be looking to pass the baton to the next person.
You may say, “Well, I don’t know very much.” But there is always someone who knows even less than you. Find that person and tell them everything you know. Then find somebody who knows more than you do and learn everything they know. Do whatever you can to be part of the process of teaching others, because failing to pass the baton is a tragedy.
When I was in college, I ran on the track team. I ran the second leg in the mile relay. We got into the Orange County Invitational, the finals in the mile relay, and we were excited. There were five or six teams in that final, and we thought we had a good shot at winning. At the start of the race, the gun went off and our first guy ran a great leg, and he made a perfect baton pass to me. And after I got the baton, I ran the best leg I ever ran. I came in holding first place, and I passed the baton to the third guy, who took off.
But then, in the middle of his leg, our third guy stopped, walked off the track, and sat down on the grass. The race went on without him. I ran over to him and asked, “What happened?”
These immortal words came from his lips: “I don’t know. I just didn’t feel like running anymore.”
When I look back on that, I think of how tragic it was. But it wasn’t nearly as tragic as somebody failing to pass on the spiritual truth they have received. As a Christian, you have a tremendous responsibility by virtue of knowing the truth. As Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
When I was a student at Talbot Seminary, Dr. Charles Feinberg was the dean. He was a brilliant man. He knew 35 languages, and he had an astute understanding of Scripture. I was in awe of him, and he became my personal mentor through seminary. I took every class he taught, and he took me under his wing. He would bring me into his office and say, “Here’s a book. I want you to read it and tell me what you think.” He talked to me and shared with me, and he made sure I was growing. I was his personal little project.
The greatest lesson I ever learned came from Dr. Feinberg. As seminary students, we had to preach every year before the whole faculty while they sat and wrote critiques of our sermons. My second year, Dr. Feinberg assigned me 2 Samuel 7 as my passage to preach through. I preached my heart out the best I could. And when I walked out the door afterward, all of the faculty members were handing me their critiques. When I got to Dr. Feinberg, he didn’t say a word as he handed me his sheet. There wasn’t anything on it except these words in red ink: “You missed the entire point of the passage!”
Now, there’s one thing you don’t want to do when you preach, and that is miss the entire point of the passage. And you know, Dr. Feinberg knew that day he was teaching me the most profound lesson of my life. And if there’s one thing I make sure to do even now in the ministry, it is to make sure I don’t miss the point of the passage.
Dr. Feinberg made a tremendous investment in me. Every time I think about my responsibility as a servant of Christ, I think about that man, because he spent energy and time and prayer investing in me, and I have a responsibility to pass that on to somebody else.
If you are a student at TMU, there are people here making that same sort of investment in your life. And you have a responsibility to stand up for that truth and pass it on to the next generation. The willingness to teach others what you have been taught is one mark of a strong, mature faith.
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