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Lesson 3: The Beginning of Ministry

The church was God’s idea not ours. He recognized that we needed redemption and fellowship. Redemption came through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The church was given the task of making that historical fact known to the world. God made us social beings. We are stronger together than we are separate. We learn from one another. We encourage one another. We need each other. The church provides fellowship and opportunity to learn.

Biblical foundations of Religious Education
Scripture provides a strong command for the church to teach. Both the Old and New Testaments demonstrate not only the need for religious education but they give practical patterns for the implementation of religious instruction by the church.

The key Old Testament passage concerning the responsibility of God’s people to education is the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9). Hear Oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your might. Keep these words I am commanding in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead and write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.” This commandment to teach God’s law to each generation is repeated in Deuteronomy 11: 19.

In the New Testament, the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) directs Jesus’ followers to make disciples and baptize them. Jesus also commands them to teach the converts all that He has commanded.

Old Testament Education
Torah is the major word in the Hebrew Scripture for teaching or instruction. It is also the word for law. Torah comes from the verb meaning to point out, to show, to give direction. Later usage means to disciple, to correct, to admonish. Other terms for education covey the ideas of discernment, wisdom, knowledge, illumination, vision, inspiration and nourishment.

A Philosophy of Education
Psalm 78:3-7 effectively states the Old Testament philosophy of education. This is a promise by God’s people that they would be faithful in teaching each new generation. (Read Psalm 78:3-7)

Even though many references state that God is the real teacher and source of wisdom (Isaiah 30:20; Psalm 78:1; 119:27; Isaiah. 8: 19-20, 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33-34) it is clear that He uses His people to communicate His message (Deuteronomy 5:1-5). (Read Verses)

Patriarchal Days
In Patriarchal days there were no organized system of instruction. The home was the only school. Parents were responsible for teaching their children. Instruction was intense. The most important lessons were the sacred traditions.

Deuteronomy 6 emphasizes the importance of persistence in teaching. It also reminds the teacher of the use of informal opportunities, the importance of the home as a place of learning, and the responsibility of the male parent in the teaching process. Religious education was seen as a constant responsibility of the community of faith. Believers were challenged to talk about their faith as they walked on the road. They were to discuss religious matters at the beginning and close of the day. Jews also had symbols of their relationship to God displayed on their bodies, on the doors of their homes and at the city gates. These symbols gave the leaders an opportunity to talk about God’s place in their community.