Apt to Teach - Part 2
I have a few more thoughts to add to the idea of this challenge that comes with being “apt to teach.” As I revisited this passage again in 1 Timothy 3, it is important to point out that this is the only skill or practice that Paul notes is specific to the church. He very well could and must be a teacher to his family but the overarching purpose of being apt to teach is that he provides instruction to the church. We also must give consideration to the idea that all of the character traits that Paul lists; blameless, husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, not given to wine, no striker (not violent), not greedy of filthy lucre, patient, not a brawler, covetous, ruling his own house well, having his children in subjection, not a novice, and having a good report of those that are around him; that all of these matters will have a great impact on his ability to teach. If these matters are compromised, his public ministry of teaching will be publically ignored and privately mocked and scorned. This matter of character in apostolic ministry has far more reaching boundaries than most of us who are in public ministry grasp and understand. You cannot separate your life and practice from your doctrine.
One of the ways that we may further explore how we are to be apt to teach is to look at the practices of false teachers and see what we are to flee from. This listing is not nearly exhaustive so there may be some matters that come to your mind as we go through it.
First, 1 Timothy 1:4 indicates that we can fall into the trap of questioning Scripture or at least using arguments that cause others to doubt the veracity of the Scriptures. We are seeing a lot of this in the evolution battle where some “scholars” are attempting to rewrite the creation account. They are questioning how long a day was in the six days of creation. Paul was very clear that Timothy should not take on subjects that would “minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.” If I am one who is apt to teach, my commitment to clarity of truth only strengthens the integrity of my public ministry. Be careful you do not fall into trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a straight pen. False teachers weaken Scripture rather than strengthen it.
Second, 1 Timothy 3:6 warns that we are not to put our hands suddenly on recent converts no matter how wonderful and glorious their personal conversion story may be. Paul notes the trap to be one of the devil because they are lifted up in pride. To be lifted up in pride from the literal translation means that they have been enveloped in smoke and cannot see clearly. So when a recent convert who has been given the role as a prophet, apostle, teacher, healer, visionary, or so forth tells me, “The Lord told me. . .” my common response is that I would rather hear “The Bible says. . .” instead of “The Lord told me. . .” I would rather hear that over any speculation and subjective whim they may have experienced. There is something to this matter of having a seasoned ministry that has withstood the test of time and trial. I also believe that when we are willing to submit to the apprenticeship of a faithful man or faithful elders something great is added to this ability to teach. False teachers focus on the subjective whims and emotions instead of the concrete foundations of Scripture.
Third, 1 Timothy 6:3-5 seems to pull us back into the matter of doctrine once again. If a man in apostolic ministry is to be truly apostolic, he will be sound doctrinally. There is one certainty that is woven all through a thoroughly equipped ministry and that is the thread of doctrine that is in Scripture. A man who is apt to teach is not so much going to inform people how to achieve their dreams, manage their money, or build their marriages, he will have a clear commitment to exalting God and the clear doctrines that are given in Scripture. One of the reasons the American church struggles with shallow worship is because doctrine has lost its power in our public teaching. If God is honored and reverenced through the steady preaching of biblical doctrine, the secondary issues and stresses of our lives fall under the convicting and transforming work of the Spirit and the Word. Therefore those who are apt to teach will do their best to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ in their public proclamation of the Word and their commitment to it in private devotion. False teachers do everything they can to stay away from doctrine; in fact they seem to think that doctrine is a dirty word.
Fourth, 2 Timothy 4:1-5 confirms that one who is apt to teach will have a ministry that reproves, rebukes, and exhorts with all patience from the Word of God. The enemy of my soul, the devil, would desire for me to spend my time fiddling about in the pulpit with warm fuzzy stories, cute sayings, and one liners that can hit the tweetosphere. However if I am to be one who is apt to teach, I must do the hard work of reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. Far too often, I have failed to recognize that if I am to defend the truth it will take place at some amount personal pain. If I am not interested in the personal pain that comes with preaching the true and clear message then I have become a hireling who is serving in my place for a paycheck. True ministry is not something of a career choice but it is a calling that will cost you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and will take shots at your own personal health. False teachers are more interested in amazing, amusing, and impressing those who hear them.
Fifth, to take from Galatians 1:4 and 4:17, Paul notes that those who are apt to teach will shy away from seeking the approval of men or becoming a man-pleaser. There is a certain measure of approval that all pastors must gain from the congregations they serve, however this approval can never be such that a man is held hostage by whether they clap, whistle, and heap on their admiration. When men find themselves designing messages that massages their hearers rather than convicts the conscience of their hearers, nothing good can come from it. The thing Paul cautions of takes place as noted in Galatians 4:17, they will make much of him. All congregations have their hobby horses that will get them going. Whether the message goes off in a political direction, casts the church as the only adherents to the message, puts pressure on modern trends of worship, and so forth, if that preaching/teaching is focused on doing that, it becomes less than helpful. The best thing to do if you will be apt to teach is to march your way through the Word preaching and teaching as you go. False teachers have a tendency to spend time with the issues of the day or that those who hear him may come away thinking more of the preacher/teacher than they do the Word.
I will continue on this theme. . .
Thanks for reading. . .