16.8.07

Teacher Training

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2)

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, instructs him not only to teach in line with the revelation he has received, but to commission men as teachers to do the same. He was not just to pass on the revelation, but also the responsibility to present the revelation.

He was not instructed to identify and recognise those who were gifts of the ascended Christ - the Ephesians 4 ministries of Teacher (or Pastor-Teacher). Nor even to find those who already had an emerging teaching gift or ministry amongst the body. There is also no implication that Paul was referring to the Elders that Timothy had already been instructed to appoint - men who as part of their qualification had to be able to teach. He was just told to find faithful men.

You see just as there are men who are Evangelists but we are all to do the work of an evangelist, and there are men who are Prophets but all can prophesy, so too the ministry of teaching (imparting the revelation of Christ) is not limited to those with a recognised ministry or office of teaching.

The writer to the Hebrews says that we should all be teachers (in this sense), not merely those who continually need to be taught.

Jesus himself, expected that anyone who received instruction in the Kingdom would be able to impart it to others:

Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. (Mt 13:52)

In fact the main responsibility of the recognised teaching ministries, as with all the other Ephesian 4 ministries, is to equip the body of Christ to do the work - not to do it all themselves!

The temptation for some teachers is to try to keep control of "their" revelation, to preserve their ministry. But Paul is very strong against this:

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1Co 3:7)

We can't really claim that any of "our" revelation is actually ours. For how did we receive it? Was it not from the revelation of others, or the free gift of the Spirit of God? If we received the revelation we teach freely from others how can we try to restrict those who teach what they have received from us? Paul was very clear in his own teaching ministry that his preaching, teaching and revelation, was not something he was the possessor of, but something entrusted to him from God to pass on:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1Co 4:1)

...and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; (Tit 1:3)

What if some of the men who run with "our" revelation overtake us in ministry or recognition? Praise God! If a man sows with my seed, am I not entitled to a portion of the return? I pray he sows far and wide and reaps a hundred-fold! After all who does all the seed ultimately belong to if not the Lord of the harvest. He did not give us good seed to stow away in barns, but to sow and sow and sow. Sow it as far as you can, and give it to others that they might sow with it too. Give others your seed and bless them that they might sow it further, in greater measure and with a better return than you ever did.

We are not involved with the activity of raising towers to make a name for ourselves, but in raising up teachers who may be fruitful and multiply and take the instruction of Christ and his Kingdom to the ends of the earth.

3 comments:

SLW said...

Chris,
You don't mean to kill the golden goose of Christian Publishing houses do you? ;-)

Chris HH said...

I'm all for publishing if it helps disseminate the word. I'm not even against copyrighting material, where appropriate - it stops someone else copyrighting it and stopping you from using your own work! The problem arises when publishing ambitions hinder the spread of the word rather than assist it!

Anonymous said...

Should we have copyleft bibles then! I suppose copyright does have the advantage that you have to get the original persons permission to use it, which in our modern world generally means you get to network with them as opposed to just using it. It's still a slower distribution method though.

Anyway on the main subject of your post, I completely agree that we should freely distribute what God has given us. But then there is also the obligation that comes with that; the responsibility that comes when claiming to teach the truth about God and life. I'm talking about whether we do what we say.
Jesus is recorded as having a go at the law teachers much more than anyone else, probably because their over-academic, legalist style of living was a trap for his people. I suppose that's why Paul asked for faithful men!