The Teaching Church

Neh 8:8 “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Every church should have a teaching ministry. We think of the Sunday School in this regard. Of course, every Pastor should be engaged in a teaching ministry. The Bible emphasizes the need of teaching God’s word to the people.

How many of you have ever been teachers? Actually, we are all teachers. We may not be engaged in a program of teaching such as Sunday School, Bible School or Seminary, but we all teach by the lives we live.

My grandson was putting jam on toast. He said he would do it a certain way because he had seen me do it that way. And, as we all know, all the we may say can be destroyed by the way we live. Children can see hypocrisy in the live of their parents. So, let us remember that we are to teach with our lives as well as with our lips.

Let us note two verses in I Tim 4:12-13. Timothy is to be an example to others by his life. Also, he is to give attendance to reading and teaching the Word of God. Now, as we know, a person who has attended Sunday School for many years will find it necessary to endure repetition. Sometimes we might say: “I’ve heard that same truth many times.” But, let it be emphasized that we never get too old or too well educated in the Word of God that we can say I don’t need that anymore.

One of the laws of teaching is repetition. I read of a girl who studied her history lesson aloud. Not only that, but she stopped and repeated each sentence five times. (How to Study, McMurray, p3) But one very important reason why we should be diligent students of the Word of God is simply this: We will never reach the place where we know all about the Bible. We can study the Bible for a life-time, and yet know that we have not scratched the surface.

For, here are we dealing with the Divine Revelation of the Almighty God. In the bible, we see that we are the Preach and to Teach. Preaching seems to have more to do with the ministry to the unsaved. Teaching means to guide, to show, instruct, and seems to relate more to a ministry to believers. A Church should have a balance that includes both.

A church can be caught up in a ministry of Evangelism. Seeking conversions, baptisms. But these new converts need to be built up in the faith. Teaching needed. Referring to churches of this caliber, preaching only, the teacher comments: “The result is that members know about everlasting life, but not the abundant life. They do not know how to grow in the likeness of Christ. They do not know how to serve the Lord and glorify Him in all things; how to meet problems and trials. They are susceptible to false teaching, to every wind of doctrine.” Again, a church can emphasize teaching to the exclusion of evangelism. Again, our teacher comments: “The baptismal waters are seldom stirred. If someone is saved, the people may be glad, but it’s something like an accident. And what often develops in this setting is a church that is self-satisfied, spiritually proud, legalistic, and iceberg cold.” We need a blend of both.

The Four points of Teaching

  1. Importance of Teaching
  2. Basis of Teaching
  3. Biblical example of Teaching
  4. Teaching ministry of the local church

I. Importance of Teaching

I have a book, “Teaching for Christian Maturity”, composed of ten chapters. I have written on a page these words, given no doubt by the instructor: “The Tragedy of a Meaningless Life.” In other words, the child of God must be instructed in the precious Word of God, that he might grow and avoid life that has no meaning.

We must remember that a new convert is a spiritual baby. A physical baby must be cared for, and must be taught. It is said that he probably learns more in the first five or six years of his life than in any other equal period of time in life. One doctor said that a child learned more in the first year of life than a college student did in one year of college.

Teaching is essential if we are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Teaching is essential if we are to have strong convictions. “If we do not believe something, we cannot be something.” (Teacher p 32).

Do we not remember that our Lord countered Satan’s temptations by using the Word of God. Dr A.T. Pierson said: “Many books can inform; a few can inform; but only one can transform – and that is the Bible.” Bishop J. C. Ryle wrote: “Ignorance of Scripture is the root of every error in religion, and the source of every error. To be allowed to remove a few grains of ignorance, and to throw a few rays of light on God’s precious Word, is, in my opinion, the greatest honor that can be put upon a Christian."

II. Basis of Teaching

If teaching is to be effective there must be a source to which one can go that is an authority. We have in Washington D. C., the “Bureau of Standards”. This is the final authority of weights and measures. All scales and measuring rods are judged by the standard one in the bureau. In athletic contests, we have rules or there would be utter confusion. But, when it comes to moral matters, spiritual matters, sinful man wants no standard. He wants to be like the people of whom we read in the Old Testament; that every man did which was right in his own eyes. If man is to avoid moral and spiritual chaos, there must be an authoritative voice. The voice is the Bible, the Word of God. In John 17:17, Jesus said, as He prayed: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth.”

The only reasons we see so much controversy today as to what is right and wrong is because men reject the Bible. Today the Bible is under attack. Satan has always opposed God and His Word. He knows that if he can cause men to doubt its veracity, he has won the battle. We cannot place our intellectual capabilities above the Bible. We cannot place experience above the Bible. We cannot place other writings above, or on a par with the Bible.

  • Deut 4:2 – Not to add or subtract.
  • Col 2:8 – Avoid teaching of man.
  • II Pet 2:1-3 – There shall be false teachers.

It is unrealistic to avoid these matters. If God saw fit to warn us that men would arise and teach falsehood, we must be alert to this and be prepared to meet their teachings. Consider these five statements:

  1. It has been said that the truth is the correct statement of things as they were; that is history.
  2. Truth is a correct statement of things as they are; that is science.
  3. Truth is a correct statement of things as they will be; that is prophecy.
  4. Truth is a correct statement of things as they ought to be; that is morality.
  5. In all these the Bible is the standard.

But, again, as we know, sinful man rejects absolutes when it comes to morals. This is nothing new. Sinners will have nothing to do with this blessed revelation because they want to continue in their sin.

Read Jeremiah 36:21-25 21 - "Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary. And Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them."

How foolish. The word of God is settled forever in heaven and puny man cannot destroy it. Man may destroy copies of God’s Word, but he cannot disannul it. That which God says will come to pass. That which God declares is eternal.

One writer has made this observation concerning Israel: “The rise and decline of Israel as a nation paralleled the stress that was placed on the teaching of God’s Word. Samuel acutely sensed the need of the people, and said ‘I will teach you the good and the right way.’ King Jehoshaphat, attempting to counteract idolatrous influences, trained sixteen teachers and sent them out to all the cities of Judah to teach the ‘book of the law of the Lord.’ Then it was that the ‘fear of the Lord’ fell on the kingdoms around them and ‘they made no war against Jehoshaphat.’ Instead, they brought ‘presents and tribute silver…and Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly.’” – II Chronicles 17:7-12 (And He gave Teachers, Hurst, p3)

We should rejoice that we have God’s authoritative Word as our guide. Note: Some figured out that not one book in a thousand lasts ten years; not one book in twenty thousand lasts a century. But after thirty-six centuries the Bible is still the Book of Books, translated into more languages, more widely circulated and more eagerly read than ever. (Quart. p 33) Dr. Bullock told of a Muslim who, when he received a copy of the Bible, could hardly put it down. The moment Dr. Bullock would move away, he immediately turned to the Word of God. It captivated him.

How About Us?

III. Biblical Examples of Teaching

  • Deut 6:4-9, Ps 78:5-7 - In Israel, the primary responsibility for teaching was in the home.
  • Deut 31:9-13 – Here we see the responsibility of the Jewish religious leaders in regard to teaching.

But, these people, as we know, failed as shown in Judges 2:10 – “There arose another generation that knew not the Lord.

Why? Because they were not taught.

Then, something wonderful happened in II Kings 22:8 – “Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it.” Our teacher says that this verse would be funny if it were not so tragic. It is as though someone today would say “I have found a Bible in the Church!” One writes concerning this verse: “Yet this Law of God has been so sinfully neglected that the very knowledge of it had well-nigh perished out of the land, and the book which contained it, from which this knowledge might be revived, had disappeared." Then he comments concerning us: “With how many is the Bible an opened book from one week’s end to the other.” (Pulpit, II Kings, p 449)

It would not be amiss for many of us to re-dedicate ourselves to the blessed Word of God. For an interesting look in the Word of God concerning the services held centuries ago, let us look at Neh 8:1-8. "And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they [a]asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from [c]early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading."

As we know, Ezra and Nehemiah were used of God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and to restore the temple worship. Consider this:

  1. How long did it last? “from the morning” (v 3); means from the light until midday. Have we looked at our watches lately when the service went a few minutes past the usual time to stop?
  2. Ezra stood upon a wooden pulpit – “a tower of wood” (v4); Up where the people could see him.
  3. He had some to assist him in this teaching – “caused the people to understand the law” (v7); Church needs teachers – pastor cannot do all.
  4. We see three things: (v 8)
  • They read the Word of God distinctly.
  • They gave the sense. They explained it.
  • Caused people to understand the reading.

Here is the essence of Bible Teaching. Bible teaching is important. See Eph 4:1-16 – we must know the doctrines of the Bible. Otherwise, we do not know what we believe. Knowing the Word of God gives us stability (Eph 4:14-15). Our teacher points our that Jesus was known as “Rabbi” or “Teacher” more than anything else. He states that “Doctrine or teaching, is to the Christian faith as the trunk is to the tree; as the skeleton is to the body; as the framework is to the building” (p 34).

IV. Teaching Ministry of the Local Church today.

Here are the various ministries involved in teaching:

  1. Regular Services
  2. Sunday School
  3. Home Bible Studies
  4. Children’s church
  5. Youth meetings
  6. Vacation Bible School

Thank God for each one that seeks to build up the people of God in the Word of God.

Study Questions

1. What was one of the responsibilities of Aaron and his sons?

Lev 10:11. Teach all the statutes given Israel through Moses.

2. What did Samuel teach the people of Israel?

I Sam 12:23. The good and right away.

3. How many time does the Psalmist ask the Lord to teach him His statutes in Psalm 119?

Seven times: v 12, 26,33, 64, 68,124,135

4. How had Ezra prepared for teaching?

Ezra 7:10. Seeking and doing the law of God.

5. What did Jesus do in Galilee?

Matt 4:23. Taught in the Synagogue.

6. What does Rom 2:21 say to teachers?

Practice what you teach.

We are told in Col 3:16 to teach and to admonish one another, and Paul told Timothy that part of this responsibility was to teach and to exhort.

Local Church
Archie Rines