Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 September 11, 2022
“Fundamentally Sound: Learning”
We come today to the end of our series entitled Fundamentally Sound. We have looked at all the spiritual disciplines (save one, which we study today) noted by Dr. Donald Whitney in his Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. These fundamentals, considered both separately and in the aggregate, help us to be more Godly—more Christ-like. These fundamentals also help us to survive and thrive into the headwind that is the anti-Christian culture prevailing around us. These are good ends, and our reflecting together about the means to these ends has proven a profitable use of our summer.
Today we end the series by considering learning as a spiritual discipline—and I understand if you groan somewhat. I wonder, “How many of your nightmares are set back in your school days?” I suspect your answer is along the lines of, “Not a few.” Some of us, upon a glance back at our academic careers, feel at least sympathy for a deacon known to Dr. Whitney, who declared, “I didn’t enjoy school, and I don’t want to learn anything when I come to church.”1
Learning takes effort, and mistakes, and other things we would avoid from time to time. Yet God calls us to learn of Him—and He embeds blessing for our souls in the process. Let us give our attention, once again, to the reading and proclamation of God’s Word in this place—and may He receive glory from us even as we receive blessing from Him.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Jesus issues three commands (all plural) in today’s text; let’s treat them in the order that Jesus utters them. First, Jesus commands, “Come.” He invites all who labor and heavy laden to come to Him. The Greek verb here rendered labor (kopiao [kopiaw]) connotes weariness, extreme exertion, and discouragement. This extreme exertion, resulting in weariness and discouragement, comes hard on the heels of being caused to carry a load—that is, being heavy laden. Many hearing Jesus’ words bore a heavy load: of sin, of attempting to conform to the moral Law, etc., and these they bore likely for long duration. Many today find themselves in the same proverbial boat. To all similarly situated, Jesus shall cause His blessed rest to come.
Second, to those having come to Him, Jesus commands, “Take.” What Jesus has those coming to Him take is His yoke. Jesus speaks figuratively here, and we may wonder at His meaning. The yoke well may be Himself, for submitting to His yoke is to submit to Him as Savior and Lord. Jesus, as Savior, delivers us, rescues us, et al., from sin and its fruit. Jesus, as Lord, lovingly compels both obedience to the moral Law (not to earn salvation, but to display that salvation has come) and fulfillment of our God-given callings. To take Jesus’ yoke upon us, then, is to take Him: to receive Him, by faith, and, thus, to be saved—saved from all that labor and heavy loads outside of Him do to our souls.
Third, to those having both come to Him and taken Him, Jesus commands, “Learn.” We learn of Jesus, first, cognitively. We learn facts about Jesus, and deduce others from facts we know already, by the use of the intellect that God gives us. We learn, in this way, of Jesus’ being and His deeds—we learn Who He is and what He does, did, and evermore shall do. We learn of Jesus, second, experientially. We learn of life with Him as we walk with Him by faith in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. As we walk with Jesus, and as we learn of Him, we find the truth from His lips true in our experience: His yoke indeed is easy, and His burden is light. This means not that we have no work to do. Nor does it means that there are no right paths in which we must tread. Rather, it means that serving Jesus brings the best Master to reign over our lives—and it means that serving Jesus results in our greatest temporal and eternal good.
How do we learn of Jesus? Let us consider some ways. We learn of Jesus, most fundamentally, from the Word of God, which testifies to Him everywhere. This occurs as the Holy Spirit, God Himself, quickens the Word of God to our souls. We also learn of Jesus from others who have walked longer with Him, and closer to Him, than we. I cannot place a value on the witness and walk of veteran Christians before me in earlier times—God has sanctified their faithfulness, determination, joy, peace, and so much more, to my soul’s good.
We also learn of Jesus in a manner consistent with how we learn best generally. Some of us learn best by visual means; we learn best by seeing, or reading, or similar. Others of us learn best by aural, or auditory means; we learn best by hearing. Still others of us learn best by kinesthetic means; we learn best through moving and doing. None of us learns in one way only, to the exclusion of the other two. Yet, for most of us, one means predominates over the other two. Let’s find out how we best learn, and let us learn Jesus this way.
In addition, there are many audio, and video, and print resources squaring with God’s Word that avail to help us learn of our Savior. Let us use these resource to apply ourselves to the spiritual discipline of learning—and let us, in the process, learn more of our wonderful Lord. May He, by His grace and for His glory, make us—through our use of these Christian spiritual disciplines—more like Himself, and may He make us more fit to enjoy Him deeply and to serve Him well.
1 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life: Revised and Updated (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 271-272.