Learn from Me
It is absolutely essential that Christians come under the teaching of Christ. Indeed, I do not see how you and I can have any true part in Christian testimony unless we are daily under the Lord’s tuition. The fact that He is no longer on earth but in heaven does not prevent Him teaching—on the contrary, it widens His sphere, and enables all that belong to Him to learn from Him. In His pathway here, the Lord taught directly and this instruction was constrained by physical limitations, but now He teaches through the Spirit, and His teaching is universal in its scope. It was to this end that the Holy Spirit was given, for it is said of Him that “he shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said unto you” (John 14: 26). But this gift of the Spirit is more wonderful than it at first appears. Christ has put His own Spirit into us—the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8: 9)—in order that His own thoughts may be formed there. Hence “who of men hath known the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? thus also the things of God knows no one except the Spirit of God. But we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which [is] of God, that we may know the things which have been freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2: 11, 12). The Holy Spirit’s teaching is therefore no mere academic thing—as we are taught, so we are formed according to the teaching. He teaches in us. Thus Christ’s teaching becomes part of our very being.
Furthermore, the teaching is Christ Himself. What the Spirit teaches has been first presented in the Lord Jesus in His pathway here. Every principle that God delights in has been set forth in Christ. All that is morally right and blessed was expressed in Him, and God will not go outside of Him for anything. Every thing therefore that Christ teaches His people must be the expression of Himself and it is only this that the Holy Spirit can teach in us. The Spirit cannot encourage anything in us that was not in Christ. He is grieved the moment we allow any thing or any way contrary to the Lord Jesus (see Eph. 4: 30). The Spirit is in perfect harmony with Christ, and Christ is in perfect harmony with God. We must not then, neglect the teaching. We must never be content with knowing we are forgiven and saved—we must go to school. We must learn daily in the school of Christ. The great lack with us is that we are not taught by the Spirit. We may go to a great many Bible readings, and yet neglect the school itself. We may read a lot of books but yet not really be learning. Are we avoiding the Lord’s living influence over us and listening to something else instead of Him? It is a fact that we always find time for what we want—let us then find time to learn from Christ. Thus Mary chose “the good part” (Luke 10: 42) by sitting at His feet and hearing His Word.
Take a lesson from daily life: suppose a child absents himself continually from school. What is the result? He finds that when the examination comes he is far behind the others, and that it is impossible to make up for lost time. So it is with us. How can we make up for the lost hours which we gave to the world and to our own pleasure instead of to Christ? Why are we so spiritually impoverished? Because we neglect the school! We should be ashamed that others who have not had the advantages we have had are far beyond us in the knowledge of Christ.
Again, I would notice that a man or woman is known by his school: it marks him. Now there are many schools of thought, and men like to have disciples or followers. The Greek philosophers had their schools, and the Pharisees and Sadducees theirs, but all such schools of men interfere with the school of Christ, and are on altogether different lines from the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Every Christian ought to attend the same school, and that school is the school of Christ. Of course I am not speaking of the education that is a necessity in connection with our daily occupations and ordinary lives here. No, I am speaking of the moral teaching by which we are formed as we go through life—it is in this that we need to be taught by Christ. Only He can form the mind aright. All the thoughts of the world are destructive to our souls. Its ideas are on the line of the glory of man, of self–sufficiency and self–importance. The teaching of the Spirit is exactly the opposite. He teaches us to distrust ourselves, and to find our sufficiency and competency in Christ. He teaches us to seek the glory of God and not our own.
The world marvelled at Christ’s teaching and said: “How knows this [man] letters, having never learned?” (John 7: 15). They could not possibly claim Him as one of their students—and yet Christ made more mark in this world than any other man. He received His education from another source altogether. Nor did the Lord claim that His teaching was His own. He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but [that] of him that has sent me” (John 7: 16). He received all his thoughts from God. No wonder that they “wondered at the words of grace which were coming out of his mouth” (Luke 4: 22). Here was One who never desired His own will or pleasure, but that of the One who had sent Him, and One who did not seek His own glory, but the glory of His Father. In John 7: 18 He declares that “He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that has sent him, he is true, and unrighteousness is not in him”. There is thus nothing false about Christ and nothing wrong. He is altogether what He says He is (see John 8: 25).
Christ was the greatest of all teachers because he was the Son of God. He alone could reveal the Father. There were other teachers raised up of God before Christ came, like Moses, David and Isaiah. They taught a great deal about God and about His will for man, but none of them could make known God as Christ did. Only the Son could do this—He Who is in the bosom of the Father. What an immense privilege it is then to be a student in the school of Christ! Such pupils are soon discovered. The blind man in John chapter nine was found out the same day that Jesus opened his eyes. The Pharisees said after they heard him give his testimony: “Thou art His disciple” (v28) and they reproached him with it, whereas really they were doing him a great honour in detecting that he was a disciple. It would be well if you and I were as easily discovered and manifested to be in Christ’s school!
When Christ began to teach, all other teachers had to retire. All previous teaching was elementary and preparatory. It presented types and shadows and promises, till the Antitype and Substance came in Christ. God has now spoken “in [the person of the] Son” (Heb. 1: 2). Christ’s is the only school that God recognizes today. He alone knows how to expound Moses and the prophets—“the things concerning himself” (Luke 24: 27). No one ever taught so clearly as Christ. All was plain, all was light. He said: “I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8: 12)—and Christ teaches as clearly today as ever He did. His students are well taught for the Holy Spirit teaches the soul, not just the mind. He also teaches with the utmost patience, and never gives up anyone as hopeless. Why? Because the Lord’s plans for His own are nothing short of glorious! Furthermore, Christ’s students are more intelligent than any. Sometimes you see quite young people doing and saying the most astonishing things. You inquire where they have learnt to act and speak and you find they have been with the Lord and under His living influence and teaching. The Spirit of God has free way with them. Other believers get their thoughts from the literature and media of this world, or from mixing socially with unbelievers. No wonder then that they do not know how to act for the Lord when the time of testing comes. It is the man whose daily food is Christ rather than the thoughts of men, and who is with the Lord rather than with the world that gets direct guidance and light by the Spirit, and has his answer from God when the difficulties come.
Why then is this school of Christ often avoided? Because there is no room there for the glory of man, or for our own will. The will of God is taught in the school of Christ, not the will of man. “If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9: 23). That is the only way to be a follower of Christ. Now what is it to take up one’s cross, if it is not to drop self, not simply in certain ways and habits, but entirely? This will mean suffering and shame in this world, but a compensation of honour and glory in the coming day (see John 12: 26). Christ’s word to all is “learn from me” (Matt. 11: 29). There only do we learn to be meek and lowly, and there only can we find deliverance from restlessness. He teaches us to take up His yoke—the will of God—and thus find rest for our souls.
This leads me to say that discipline is necessary in the school of Christ. He has to break our wills in order to teach us, and this He does by chastening: “I rebuke and discipline as many as I love” (Rev. 3: 19). Many of the most precious lessons learnt in life have been learnt on the sick bed, or when passing through some tremendous trial or affliction. A man cannot learn whilst he allows his own will to work and carry him along. Christ came to do the will of Him that sent Him, and if we would learn from Him, we must not follow our own will but His. We need to walk in the Spirit and not after the flesh. We need to be constantly learning from Christ. Wisdom says: “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors” (Prov. 8: 34). This does not mean that we have to neglect our work and duties here, but we ought to order everything so that we are not hindered in attending the school of Christ every day. The Holy Spirit gives no holiday from school so long as we are in this world, though in our folly we may often take one. We can make no progress away from the Lord, and there is no true life except in learning of Him.
Next I would remark that Christ’s school is marked by divine light and certainty. The world’s philosophers say, ‘We think’ but no one could say like Christ: “We speak that which we know, and we bear witness of that which we have seen” (John 3: 11). In the world’s schools you get opinions, but nothing sure; with Christ you get absolute certainty. He said: “If any one desire to practise his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is of God, or [that] I speak from myself” (John 7: 17). Of course that is often the difficulty—we may not desire to do His will. Thus our own wills may hinder us getting light. But the one who really desires to do the will of God, that man shall know what His mind is. The subject here is doctrine, but the principle applies to every facet of our lives. Whilst others only think this or that, the Christian can know—he can be certain. Hence we read that “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body will be light” (Matt. 6: 22) and “they that seek Jehovah understand everything” (Prov. 28: 5). It is not a question of great reasoning power, but of whether there is the desire to do the will of God. Some may have naturally very little intellect and yet understand when clever people are quite in the dark. There are hundreds of opinions in the world, but only the Spirit of God can teach you the truth. It is not simply a question of examining God’s Word. Often when Christians want to know how to act, or what to do in a certain difficulty, then they search the Bible for a text to help them—but they do not seek the Lord Himself. As a consequence, they miss their way, even though they may know the Bible from end to end. Yet let them first get with Christ Himself and under His present living influence and teaching and they will hear His voice and get the guidance they need. Of course Scripture has divine authority and ought to have more weight with us than any other writing in the world, but we need to read it in dependence on the Lord, and looking to Him for light. He will never guide you contrary to the Bible, but it is sadly possible to be a reader of the Bible and yet never really learn from Christ, never get His mind, and never be a student in His school.
There is no reason why we should not all make progress in the school of Christ if we would but allow the Spirit to teach us. None is at a disadvantage, for at the very beginning of our Christian history, God gives us His own Spirit—and the Spirit’s great work is to teach us Christ, and to form Christ in us. Christ says of Him: “He shall glorify me, for He shall receive of mine and shall announce [it] to you” (John 16: 14). If you walk in the Spirit, you are sure to find the path of Christ, even if all around you advise you differently. You will get clear of all that is false if you let Him have His way with you. That is why Christ’s teaching leads to unity. If we are taught by Him we shall all be found in the same path and we shall walk together in happy fellowship. His teaching is altogether different from the teaching and spirit of the present day. He teaches love and His disciples are marked by it: “By this shall all know that ye are disciples of mine, if ye have love amongst yourselves … ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another” (John 13: 35; 1 Thess. 4: 9). Christ never encouraged His disciples to quarrel or point out each other’s faults but instead said: “If I therefore, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13: 14). It is impossible to look down on your brother from that position!
Let us see to it then that we are characterised by sitting daily at the feet of Christ. It is only in His school that we shall “grow in grace, and in [the] knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3: 18)—and it is only under His teaching that we shall be of use to Him in this dark and evil world.