The Ideal Bible Teacher
by Johnny Ramsey
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 39, Sept. 29, 2006
Jesus was born to die, but He lived to teach. I know that we have all heard that, but there are some statements that we hear over and over again that never get old. We have also heard that Christianity is "caught" as well as taught. That is so very true. I like that statement that says teaching God's Word should be the magnificent obsession of every Christian. The Bible states, "For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances" (Ezra 7:10).
Teaching Is A Great Responsibility
We are warned, "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment" (James 3:1). Yet, in Hebrews 5:12, another admonition is given: "For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers ..." These two passages blend and simply mean that it is a serious responsibility to teach the Word of God, but one that must be taken up. Yet, teaching is both a joy and a privilege. John wrote, "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter" (Revelation 10:10). It was a sweet thing to be entrusted by God with that Word of God, and yet, as John realized the portents of God's wrath upon the ungodly, it became a bitter thing. It was a serious responsibility.
The prophet wrote, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). But sometimes we fail to continue to read in that same book: "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself" (Hosea 13:9). God says that Israel went into bondage because of their ignorance (Isaiah 5:13). America is in the throes of the all-time worst spiritual bondage in our history because so many people are ignorant of God's Word. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
Christians Are Compelled To Teach
One of the greatest teaching verses of the Bible is II Corinthians 4:13, "I believed, therefore I speak." If we really believe the truths of the Bible, we will have to tell others about it. Perhaps one of the greatest qualifications of the ideal Bible teacher is to have his or her head and heart so full of the Word of God that he or she cannot keep from teaching. Look at Jeremiah, "And if I say, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain" (Jeremiah 20:9). The great evangelistic refrain of Jeremiah 22:29 should fill the heart of every Bible teacher, "O earth, earth, earth hear the Word of the Lord!" And again he wrote, "Is not My Word like fire? saith Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29).
We have a powerful weapon, "the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God" that we must wield properly (Ephesians 6:17). That Word is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). There is an urgency about this teaching. "Oh remember how short my time is" (Psalm 89:47). Paul beseeches us to "buy up the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16).
The Bible Teacher's Qualifications
Have profound respect for God's Word. "O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day...The entrance of Thy Words giveth light" (Psalm
119:97,130). Unless we have a deep respect for the Word of
God, and believe with all of our hearts that "holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:21),
and that it is the truth "not the word of men but the Word of
God" (I Thessalonians 2:13), then we are not fit subjects to be teachers of God's Word. As Jesus said, "Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the
mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
The ideal Bible teacher must have a deep regard for God's Word because he has a deep regard for God. So we equip ourselves to be "ready always to give an answer to any man that asketh a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15), as we "handle aright the Word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). I agree with Sir Walter Scott, who said of men and the Bible: "Better had he ne'er been born who reads to doubt or reads to scorn."
Live Consistent With God's Word
We must not only affirm our belief in the Bible, but we must live in harmony with it. "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). We are to "practice what we preach." Christians are to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-16). It is still true that a person cannot teach what he does not know. You cannot lead where you do not go. We must be happy, optimistic children of God. Many act like it is just killing them to live the Christian life -- then they wonder why they can't win anyone to Christ! Not only must we know the Word of God, but the Christian teacher must share that Word -- willingly, lovingly and longingly. We have, like the apostle Paul, been put in trust with the gospel (I Thessalonians 2:4), and say with him, "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:16).
Are we Christians? Then, "Having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak" (II Corinthians 4:13). Let us be teachers.