Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Built on the Rock Bible Study

As the faculty at St. Paul's, Troy, IL began the school year, I presented a Bible study on Built on the Rock, the theme for the year. I have attached this study for you to use for your personal growth as well.

2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR

As we go into the 2016-2017 school year, we do so with the theme “Built on the Rock.” I would encourage you to include this theme in what you are doing in your classrooms. Here are some thoughts to go with this theme.

I.                   Matthew 16:18b “…on this rock I will build my church.”

Jesus says this to Peter after the confession of faith that Peter makes. Jesus asks, “Who do the people say that I am?” After many false starts and wrong answers, Jesus asks, “But you, who do you say I am?” This is the question that is put to us as teachers in a Lutheran School. Who do you say that Jesus is? Your answer will be reflected in the way you approach your children, your teaching, your classroom, and your life.

Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is the solid confession that Peter makes, not by his own power but as he is guided by the Holy Spirit. He has come to this through the teaching/words of Jesus. Only as the Spirit guides him can he make this confession. This is important for us to remember as well. This is why we keep the Word of God front and center in all that we do in our classrooms. It will help the children to make this confession of faith.

It is to this that Jesus responds with our theme verse: “Upon this rock (this confession of faith, this Word) I will build my church.” Christ builds His church upon the very confession of faith that focuses on Him, His life, death and resurrection. This is to be what we are teaching our children – Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. That gives us the Rock upon which we build.

II.                1 Corinthians 10:4b “…the Rock is Christ.”
Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

What we see here is the emphasis on who this Rock, this Confession, is – Jesus Christ. To make any other confession is to lead the children astray, a chasing after wind (as the writer of Ecclesiastes would remind us).

As we teach in our classrooms (not just in religion), we are to be setting the foundation for our children, the foundation on the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. In science, He created the heavens and the earth (the Son was present and active at the 7 day creation – see John 1). As we talk about the surety of math (2+2=4 always!), we show that created the laws of this world upon which all things are founded (gravity, math, etc.).

III.             Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Jesus is telling this towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount. He has been speaking to the folks about their lives, how they should live, in whom they should live, etc. Here, He shows the foundation that is needed in this life. We build upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. Our spiritual lives are reflected in our classrooms. As teachers, we need to be building the foundation of our lives upon the Rock, the Word made flesh. We do that as we attend worship weekly and also attend Bible study. Like the children we teach, we need to build upon the Rock, so that our foundation is firm.

Our children will face many storms in their lives. Some have already faced some serious ones (health issues of self or family members, divorce, moving to a new community, changing schools) just as each of us have faced many storms. The rains comes and the winds blow, Satan works against us, perhaps more than he does against our students, for if he can cause our house to collapse, then it will lead to the collapse of many other houses of faith. It is important for each of us to be fed from Word and Sacrament on a weekly basis. And then we can emphasize to our children that they need to be fed from Word weekly, living in the Sacrament of their Baptism on a daily basis.

IV.             1 Peter 2:4-5 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, and you yourselves like living stones are being built up in a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

As Peter is writing to Christians, he is talking about how, when they have been built on the Rock (he knows firsthand what this foundation is, having been with Jesus, encouraged by Jesus, forgiven by Jesus, accepted by Jesus and commissioned by Jesus) then they become a part of the house of God. Each one is a spiritual stone laid on the foundation of Christ Jesus. As teachers, we are helping our children to grow in faith in Jesus Christ, becoming those living stones in the house of God. As you teach your children, you are one of those upon which the children will be built, one of the spiritual stones upon which they are laid.

V.                Ephesians 2:19-23 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Here Paul brings together all that is important in the household of faith. He takes what Peter says about being living stones and shows how we are built up, a house that is never finished until the Lord returns. You, as teachers, are continuing this building. Our school is a place in which, little by little, though the Means of Grace, we also are taking part in the building of this house of faith. Each one of our children are at different levels in their lives of faith. The Spirit is using us to help them to grow in faith in Christ Jesus. Like you, their teacher, their lives are spiritual sacrifices to God (see Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.)

This takes us back to our theme “Built on the Rock.” Our lives, the lives of our families, and the lives of the children and their families, are to be “built on the rock.” The Rock is Christ Jesus. We are built through Word and Sacrament. We emphasize this each day in our classrooms. And we will be emphasizing this weekly in our chapel services.

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand / Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in every land; / Bells still are chiming and calling.
Calling the young and old to rest, / But above all the souls distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

We are God’s house of living stones, / Built for His own habitation.
He through baptismal grace us owns / Heirs of His wondrous salvation.
Were we but two His name to tell, / Yet He would deign with us to dwell
With all His grace and His favor.

(Lutheran Service Book, #645 vs. 1, 3)

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