The Gift of Teaching in the Church of God

It need hardly be said that this gift is one of greatest importance in the Church, and a rapid glance at its characteristics will be helpful. The gift of teacher is closely connected with that of pastor; both have to do more specifically with the saints, though all the gifts are "knit together". And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). The tender, firm heart and aptness to teach are most helpful in the evangelist. But his is necessarily the initial work, followed by the pastor and teacher in the care for and upbuilding of the flock of God.

I. The teacher must be born again.

Men are undertaking to teach who are not born again. God forbid that we should speak harshly, but is it not too clearly manifest that many of the teachers in the universities are strangers to God in Christ. Bible study and teaching have been taken up as a profession. Men are experts in language, archaeology, history, and other branches of learning, and take up the Word of God as another department of knowledge. They approach it with little or no thought of having to do with a holy, heart-searching God, to whom they can only approach through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder that they neither understand nor value the great foundation truths of the "common salvation". But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). The teacher, therefore, must be identified with the Truth by life - he must be "born of God," united with Christ, sealed and anointed by the Spirit.

II. The teacher must have the faculty of reception of truth.

The teacher must have an ear for the truth, a mental grasp capable of taking in, and a judgment capable of coordinating and holding in proper proportion all revealed truth. Hence it is absolutely essential that he whom God has called to be a teacher of His people, should have a clear grasp of the contents of Scripture. Further, the teacher must rightly divide the word of truth. He must understand the dispensations of God. Especially must he be a diligent student of the truths of Christianity, as unfolded in the Epistles. One of the responsibilities of the teacher is to meet error in its countless forms, to protect the beloved sheep of Christ.

III. The teacher must have the faculty of imparting knowledge to others.

One could not rightly be a teacher unless he could share his knowledge with others. Let us then look at some of the requisites for this.

    1. The teacher must have simplicity. It is a great mistake to think obscurity means depth. Usually, when one clearly understands a subject he is able to explain it to others. The true teacher will utter "words easy to be understood".

    2. The teacher must have adaptability. We must not feed "strong meat" to babes. It is the mark of a good teacher that he can adapt himself, both in matter and language, to those he is seeking to instruct. Should he do this, he will be enabled to make his teaching progressive. The learners will not stand still, they will pass from class to class, until they can largely do without their teacher, who indeed has been learning with them, and so is a companion as well as a guide.

    3. The teacher must have thorough subjection to the Word of God. We must beware of allowing ourselves to indulge in mere speculation. There must be the assurance of certainty in what the teacher seeks to impart. The teaching should be well-rounded and in due proportion. Thus the even balance of the truth will be preserved.

    4. The teacher must have enthusiasm. If a teacher is not commanded by his subject, how can he expect to interest others? How it misrepresents the great theme if he has an air of indifference, or speaks in a hesitating or apologetic way.

For those who are seeking to use the gift of teaching, may we suggest that fresh manna should be given, not truth that has become dull in our minds. For this reason, the teacher should never cease to be a student.