Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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A Church’s Teaching Ministry

By Jordan M. Tew, Executive Director • Baptist Publishing House

      One of the most important ministries of the local church is the teaching of the Word of God. Scripture demonstrates both the presence and expectation of teaching the Bible within local churches. This is seen throughout the New Testament, as Jesus taught His disciples (Matt. 5:2, 7:29). The Great Commission also bears the command for the disciples to teach others “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). The apostle Paul spent much of his ministry and writing teaching the Word of God to local churches (Acts 18:31).

      The pattern of ongoing teaching is also seen throughout the New Testament in the lives of believers. We find Priscilla and Aquilla lovingly instructing Apollos in the way of God (Acts 18:26-26), Philip guiding the Ethiopian Eunuch into a clear understanding of the Gospel (Acts 8:30-31) and Paul telling Titus that older women should be teachers of “good things” to younger women (Titus 2:3). Indeed, God expects His local churches to be rich in the teaching of the Bible.

      Churches that emphasize the teaching of God’s Word can expect good outcomes for their people. The Bible teaches us that the Word of God brings the lost soul to faith (Rom. 10:17), discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12), sanctifies us (John 17:17) and is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths (Psa. 119:105). These promises extend into many areas of our lives, including our salvation, prayer, worship and sanctification. While those may seem like intangible areas of our lives, make no mistake that God’s Word also impacts the tactile parts of our daily lives. It affects the nitty-gritty areas such as fighting temptation, getting along with your spouse, raising your children, being patient with the person at the store, choosing what you will watch on TV, etc.

      While churches that emphasize Bible teaching can expect good things for their congregations, the opposite is true for churches that de-emphasize the teaching of God’s Word. Just as the Bible is full of admonitions to teach God’s Word, it is full of warnings for churches where the Word of God is suppressed or silent. Consider the warning of Jesus Himself, who told us that “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). In essence, Jesus said that the mere fulfillment of physical needs cannot serve as a substitute for spiritual nourishment. It should be noted that when Jesus said this, He was quoting Scripture (Deut. 8:3), which further illustrates the necessity of biblical literacy.

      The apostle Paul issued a stark warning in Acts 20:29-30: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” If you read the context of this passage, you will see that Paul is warning the elders of the Ephesian church against false teachers. These false teachers posed a real threat to the Ephesian believers. Paul warned that some of the wolves would even come from within their own congregation. Paul’s solution was for the Ephesians to depend upon God and His Word (Acts 20:32).

      We must also depend upon God and His Word if we are to suppress the presence and growth of false teaching. Put simply, a lack of Bible teaching leads to biblical ignorance and biblical ignorance opens the door to false teaching. The book of Galatians serves as a strong reminder of the danger false teaching poses to Christians. You cannot get through the first few verses of Galatians 1 without understanding the cost of false teaching and ignorance of the Word of God.

      Consider the work to which your pastor is called. Pastors bear the burden of ensuring that the church is teaching the Word of God. According to Heb. 13:17, believers have an obligation to submit to godly pastors, as their job is to watch over the souls of the church members. This verse goes on to say that pastors will one day give an account to the Lord for the souls He entrusted to their care. Simply put, God has given pastors the important work of watching over and caring for the souls of the church and the job is so important that they will have to stand before God one day to give an account of the job they have done. I do not think anyone would envy being in that position. It is an incredible responsibility!

      I encourage you to consider how God has made your pastor the shepherd of your local church. Part of a shepherd’s job is to “feed the flock” and the sheep are fed through the teaching of the nourishing Word of God (I Peter 5:2; I Cor. 3:2). The Sunday School teacher, small group leader, student/youth pastor, children’s ministry leader or the song leader are not, ultimately, responsible for what the sheep are eating. That responsibility has been given to the man who serves under the lordship and authority of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (I Peter 5:1-4).

      To the pastor, I would say this: Make sure your sermons are full of the Bible and that you “rightly handle the Word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Make sure you know for certain that every Sunday School class or small group is learning God’s Word. Make sure you know what is being taught on Wednesday nights in your church’s student and children’s ministries. Remember, you will give an account to the Lord one day. A shepherd must know if the lambs are hungry or if a wolf is at the gate. You have an important job, but you are not alone. Jesus invites you to cast your cares, even the pressing cares of ministry, upon Him, knowing that He will lift you up in due time (I Peter 5:6-7). His grace is certainly sufficient.

      May we all seek to glorify the Lord through the teaching ministries of our local churches!