Monday, December 6, 2010

We Are All Teachers

One way people try to get around the Word of God is simply to change its meaning.  They take it out of context, they change meanings of words, and they find teachers who interpret the Word in a way that suits their backslidden lives, or they just never spend the time to read it.  One person even commented regarding something I posted that God speaks things differently to everyone in order to excuse that someone was clearly wrong in a verse they used to make a point.  While there is much truth to God speaking through His Word in different ways to different people, it is not a free-for-all when it comes to dividing the Word of God.  The Word must be taken in its context, understand that just because an English word may have multiple meanings it does not mean the word it was translated from does, and it must be tested in the light of other Scripture to make sure your interpretation is not creating a contradiction.  Today I want to talk about studying and interpreting the Word of God. 

First of all, we have to understand that teaching the Word of God is a huge responsibility.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.  James 3:1 NKJV
If you are going to share the Word of God as a teacher, you will be held to a stricter judgment.  This is because you are accountable for everything you share.  You can not teach the Word of God to others without binding yourself to your own words.  God is not a big fan of hypocrites and teaching others what they should do while not doing it yourself makes yourself into one.  Be careful in what you choose to share, God will hold you even more accountable for it. 

Teaching the Word of God is an appointment of God and a gift of the Holy Spirit.
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28 NKJV
Teaching is a God-ordained ministry in the church.  It is not something you should do unless called and gifted by God to do.  That does not get you off the hook, though.  The thing is that we are all called to be teachers in some way, just as we are all called to evangelize in some way.  Just because you are not a pastor or a Sunday School teacher, does not mean you have no gift of responsibility to teach.  For example, if you are a parent, you are called to bring your children up in the way of the Lord.  If God has called you to be a parent, then God has given you the gift of teaching at least in terms of your ability to teach your children.  The same way, husbands are called to be the Spiritual leaders of their wives and the Bible says that women should go to their husband with questions about what they heard in church.  Husbands, you are teachers. 

So what does the Bible have to say about teaching, even to the lay people of the church?  It has much to say.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  1 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV
We are called to be able to defend out faith.  God will give you that ability, but you have to be willing to share.  Sharing requires not our own knowledge, but the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God is found in His word.  We can not defend our faith if we have no knowledge of God 's word. 

That brings me to my next point, if we are called to teach, we are called to learn and grow in our knowledge.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV
If we fail to learn God's word, we remain as babies in Christ.  So many of you rely only on others to teach you about God's word and that brings you to a point where you believe everything everyone says just as long as they include a verse with it.  This is why so many fall into error.  Yes, we do have teacher to learn from, but that learning should only be a small part of your own study.  We all must be in the Word every day, otherwise we can very well fall into error.  This is really the point I want to drive home today.  I want to talk about what to look for in a teacher, how to study on our own, and the responsibility of sharing what God shows us to others keeping in mind what I just shared from Hebrews. 

First of all, we need a teacher who teaches the whole counsel of God. If you go to a church where the teacher is only teaching the first principles of Christ (milk), then you will never grow as a Christian.  It will be a church full of babies and entirely unskilled in the Word.  This is very dangerous because if an error is entered into that church, there will be no defense.  You will have no ability to reject false doctrines from false teachers and the next thing you know your church is listening to Creflo Dollar or others as though they are orthodox teachers.  Teachers like that have serious errors in their teachings and a church fed only with milk will have zero discernment to be able to see the error to pick the poison out of their teachings.  Remember, false teachers always sprinkle their poison in a meal of seemingly good food.  It is a church well-grounded in the Word that can reject the poison.  Then again, if it is a church well-grounded in the truth that church would reject the false teacher to begin with.  The teacher you should seek should be one who teaches the whole counsel of God, just as he is called to do by God.  If a pastor is not teaching the whole counsel of God, that pastor himself is being disobedient to God and is not a suitable example.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  2 Timothy 4:1-4 NKJV
Even with a good teacher, it is still necessary for us to study on our own. 
"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD." Deuteronomy 8:3 NKJV
This is the verse Jesus referenced when tempted by Satan.  The Word of God is just as important to our spiritual health as physical food is to our physical health.  You can not survive spiritually without a steady diet of God's word.  You do not only eat food once a week, nor should you only be spoon-fed Scripture once (or even twice) a week at church.  God's word is something you need each and every day.  We all have our own Bibles (and if you are reading this and do not have one, I will personally send you one), and if you are reading this you do know how to read.  None of us have any excuse for not reading the Word.  I know it is a large and intimidating book and sometimes it is hard to know where to start.  They have plenty of great reading programs that take you through the Word in the course of a year.  If you do not have or can not find one of those, I will send you that as well.  Again, there is no excuse.  You say you have no time, but what in your life do you make time for?  Understand that everything in your life that you use as an excuse to not read God's word are things you are putting ahead of God.  They are your idols.  The Word of God is our spiritual sustenance and we must be in that word to survive spiritually.  If you are grounded in God's word, you will not fall into the various errors that are trying to tear others away from God.  Not only is it important to read the Word, but it is important to get a well-rounded diet of the whole word. 
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
All of God's Word is God's Word.  All of God's Word is important.  If you want to be a complete Christian, you need to be grounded in the whole counsel of God.  Referring back to Hebrews, as you fill yourself on a steady diet of the meat of God's Word, you will be able to discern good from evil. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, as Paul says in Hebrews, you should be a teacher.  You should have enough Scriptural knowledge to be able to share the word of God with others. 
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV
I realize this verse is generally applied to teachers, but I believe it can be applied to any of our lives.  "Be diligent" is other times translated "study."  We need to study the Word and we need to rightly divide the Word of God.  We need to be able to give a defense for our faith, we need to be able to discern false doctrine and even correct (in love) those who are in error, we need to understand the gifts God has given us, we need to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord, we need to be able to share the Word of God with others as the Word of God is what causes effect as we share the Gospel, and we need to be able to teach ourselves when Satan tries to tempt us away from God's truth. 

No, we are not all called to be able to stand in front of the church and teach the congregation.  No, we are not all called to write a daily blog on God's word.  No, we are not all called to be Sunday school teachers.  But we are all called to teach our children, share with our friends and family, discern false doctrine, and give the hope of God's word to a struggling brother or sister.  We all have to teach, and so we all have to study.

As for interpreting God's word, here are a few good lessons.  First, you have to read it every day.  I can not recommend enough getting a on reading program so you read the whole Word over a year or so.  If you are presented with something that does not seem right, then test it.  Does it contradict other Scripture?  Does it fit in with its context (for this I recommend reading 10 verses before and after and see if the meaning presented fits in with the text).  And remember, the best teacher is the Holy Spirit who will share the meaning behind God's word as you study more and more.  The best interpreter of Scripture is other Scripture, and the only way to accomplish that is the study.  The important thing is to get into the word each and every day. Learn the Scripture behind what you believe.  Share that with others.  It will protect ourselves from false doctrine and give us the foundation to prevent the worst of Satan's deceptions.  Jesus defeated Satan's lies with God's truth.  We need to do the same.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.  2 Peter 3:14-18 NKJV

1 comment:

  1. I love what Pastor Ed said in church yesterday about loving to hear the rustling of pages as his congregation checks out what he is preaching.
    We do need to be diligent in our feasting on this meat! If only we realized how much more nutritious it is that physical food!!