The Task of a Teacher of God’s Word

The Task of a Teacher of God’s Word

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord,
and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
 
What is the task of the teacher of God’s word? There are a lot of things to do, even a lot of good and important things to do. What are the vital things they must do?

1.Serious Trust

If the teacher of God’s word does not trust God’s word and trust that it will accomplish what God wants it to accomplish (Is. 55:10-11) they will struggle in their task. And may not be fit for their task. If the teacher does not trust God’s word to be God’s word they are unlikely to teach very well for very long.

So, serious trust in God’s word is foundational.

2.Strenuous Commitment

In Acts 6 we see there were a lot of important distractions for those who were tasked to preach the good news of Jesus. There were lots of important needs that were dear to their hearts and dear to God’s heart. And yet they resolved to devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (v. 4). They knew it was not right for them to be distracted from “preaching the word of God” (v. 2).

In fact, they were so committed to preaching about the glory and goodness of God as seen in Christ, that even when threatened with beatings and imprisonment they continued. They rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer for the Savior and they continued teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:41-42).

3.Studious Study

Ezra is an important model for every pastor and minister of the word. And really every Christian. Every Christian, in one way or another, should study the word of God, do it, and teach it (Ezra 7:10). It’s probably good to do it in that order too.

The teacher “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). And that requires studious study.

“There is no long-range effective teaching of the Bible that is not accompanied by long hours of ongoing study of the Bible.”[1]

4.Self-Application

A teacher could “understand all mysterious and all knowledge” yet if they have not love it is worth nothing (1 Cor. 13:2-3). Self-application is essential. James even tells us “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (3:1).

As we saw with Ezra, he did not just study God’s word, or just teach God’s word, he himself did God’s word. He applied it and lived it himself. That is vital.

It’s actually a qualification for Christian leaders. They are to be above reproach. They are to apply Scripture first to themselves. They are to not be hypocrites.

5.Solid Teaching

There is a place of course to adapt the message to the audience. Jesus and Paul themselves did that. That is good. Yet, we also want to give meat, even if we have to cut it up nicely and make it bite-size. Our desire should be solid teaching, not trivial trifles (see Heb. 5:12; 1 Cor. 3:2).

There is a time to give milk and not solid food. Babies need milk because they cannot yet take solid food. They, however, would be stunned if they had to stay with mere milk. So, solid sermons are essential.

It is important to read from the Bible clearly and explain it so that people understood what’s being read (see Neh. 8:8 cf. 1 Tim. 4:13; Mal. 2:7). That’s what expository preaching is. It exposes and reveals the meaning of the passage. That is why pastors must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:1).

6.Specific Application

Scripture has the power to “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). So, Scripture should be wielded with careful and intentional precision. It is “sharper than any two-edged sword” and pieces to the depths of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).

Scripture should be applied specifically and carefully. Scripture should call to action but not legalistic action. Saints should be equipped for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12) but it should be through the truth spoken in love (Eph. 4:15).

So, the teacher of God’s word must “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). That is a high and challenging calling.

7.Show Christ

When we preach or teach we are not to use “eloquent wisdom” to make much of ourselves but we “preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:17; 2:2). It is not us we proclaim. It is Him we proclaim (Col. 1:28).

We show Christ from every passage, Old and New Testament, knowing Scripture is about Him (Jn. 5:39) and every promise finds its “yes” in Him (2 Cor. 1:20).

8.Share the Gospel

Sharing the gospel is needed all of the time, for believers and unbelievers. We all need to be reminded of the best news there is. The Apostle Paul wrote Romans and Ephesians to Christians and yet he didn’t assume the gospel. He expounded on it and applied it.

Believers and unbelievers need the gospel. So we must share the gospel (Matt. 10:6-7; Lk. 25:45-49; Rom. 10:14-17).

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

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[1] D.A. Carson, For the Love of God vol. 2, January 7.

*Photo by Carolyn V

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