This week, I started an exciting new study programme in Oxford – the South Central Ministry Training Course (MTC). MTC aims to serve local churches by equipping church members and workers to handle and teach the Bible, as well as grow in their own discipleship of Christ. As a youth group leader and occasional preacher, I’ve wanted to study in a structured environment and the MTC seemed like a great place to start. Module 1 is a bible overview, showing how the different parts of scripture fit together and are understood in light of the whole.

For example, did you notice the dual role that Adam and Eve were given to fulfill? To tend and keep the garden. They were not just horticulturists – they were commissioned as protectors of that holy place. When the serpent arrived, they should have crushed his head instead of giving ear to his twisted words. Here I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Galatians (1:6 and 3:1):

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel…O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…”

When we talk of defending the faith, we often associate that with evangelism; going head to head with heavy-weight hedonists and breaking down their arguments. But what about the less noticeable erosion of doctrine in the church? How often do we challenge the denigration of God’s word? Or the command to let our conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27)? The Garden of Eden was the first real temple, a special dwelling place in which God walked freely with man (see Gen. 3:8). It should have been protected at all costs, but Adam and Eve put their own temporal pleasure ahead of trust and obedience. That challenge remains ever true for us today.

Courses like the MTC are great for those looking to delve deeper into the word, but churches provide a number of ways to”abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9). Personally, I enjoy home study groups where I can discuss and learn practical lessons from enthusiastic believers. If we’re to be wise caretakers of our own faith, we must know and understand God’s word; for this is the only way to know and understand God himself.

I’m looking forward to the next 4 teaching sessions in this short overview of scripture – I’ve no doubt that the Lord has much much more to teach me.