Friday, September 28, 2007

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD AND BAD TEACHER

What is the difference between a good and a bad teacher? Besides knowing the truth, the difference is often between humble confidence and arrogant pride. Those who love the Lord and His Word ought to speak the truth with boldness "as it were the oracles of God." But not everyone who speaks boldly speaks rightly. Paul wrote to Timothy of those who "wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions." I have seen these guys before and they worry me because of the damage they do to the weak and unlearned. There is nothing more irritating or dangerous to the church than someone who likes to teach and make "confident assertions" when the truth is they only know enough to be dangerous. And so we abide in God's Word and are always ready to defend and rebut when the truth is under assault.
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. - 1 Tim. 6:3-5
It is elementary that all Christians naturally mature to the point where they can teach others. The go from being nourished on the milk of the Word to become accustomed to chewing on the meat (1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:2). It is unnatural if this growth doesn't happen. As the Hebrew writer could say, "by this time you ought to be teachers". And there is a natural growth curve where they go from knowing little to nothing up to point where they able to defend the truth against all errors. Early on, it's advisable that the new Christian, the babe in Christ, hold back on teaching so that he can focus on learning. I think it is what James was alluding to when he said, "But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;" (Jas. 1:19). Ezra followed the correct order of learning and living the Word before trying to preach it. It says he, ". . . set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). It's not that the novice can't talk about what he knows, but if he tries to act like a teacher, it can lead to problems especially if he is prideful. A novice taking on a position of authority can "fall under the temptation of the devil."

The Word of God is essential for one to grow into a teacher. Paul wrote on this subject to Timothy. He said, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16,17). History books, commentaries, and lexicons can be useful to Bible study, but never forget that Bible study has first place. Only a dedicated study of the Word of God will equip the young Christian to be a competent teacher.

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