Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11, NLT).
There is a spiritual gift of teaching. A teacher makes complicated theological matters understandable.
I have the gift of teaching, and I’ve been told, “Wow, you make doctrine seem childish.”
HHHHMMMHHM … I’m not sure that is a compliment.
Those who have the gift of teaching can make the great truths of the Bible comprehensible and practical. But they can err in being too academic or overly simplistic. A great teacher understands the truth of the Bible and can inform with a challenge to godliness.
As I’ve listened to or read books by great teachers, the darkness of what I didn’t know was given the light of truth. This knowledge came with an enthusiasm to live differently.
I’ve thought many times, “I never heard that before; it makes perfect sense, and now I know what to do!”
Comparing the “on stage” gifts of preaching, prophecy, evangelism, and teaching – the gift of teaching can be most helpful or cause the most damage.
Teaching is more than the forth-telling of the prophet, more than the exhortation of the preacher, and more than the conviction of the evangelist. The teacher convicts with ideas while challenging change in attitude and action!
Teaching has deep roots.
The “depth” of teaching is essential for understanding but is deeply damaging when the teaching is false. Teaching – whether true or heresy – gets embedded in the mind and then the heart.
I’ve found myself debating believers with false ideas. They haven’t thought deeply about the teaching, having only accepted it emotionally and intellectually.
With false teaching, it takes a deep dig to get rid of it.
Those who teach falsely often use the emotionalism of popular thought to subvert the truth and common sense. Their teaching can be platitudes of current worldliness easily accepted by those who desire justification. False teaching is too simplistic, ignoring the nuance and complication of the truth.
Understanding the impact of teaching, the book of James warns …
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).
Also, the Apostle Paul warns all of us living today, that ultimately, we are responsible for what we believe …
A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).
As a teacher, I realize that I have the time to study and that I can present ideas in a persuasive manner. I know that those listening to me don’t have the time for deep consideration and that I serve them with my teaching.
As the Apostle Peter writes …
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you (1 Peter 4:11).
How do we know the difference between truth and false teaching? How do we know what is true and what is false when we listen to others? How do I, as a teacher, keep myself from teaching falsely?
Often the truth is no longer permissible, current, or wanted today. But it is still the truth.
My standard, our standard, the standard of all teachers must be Jesus. Teaching must honor scripture – even when scripture makes us uncomfortable. When I’m teaching or preaching, and the Spirit of God works through me to impact the lives of others …
I am grateful that God has given me this gift.