Teaching the Bible

By Dr. Ken Matto

(1 Cor 12:28 KJV) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

(Rom 12:7 KJV) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

(Eph 4:11 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

It seems in the past few years that there is a glut of Bible teachers. With the advent of the Internet, anyone who places a site on line can consider themselves a teacher when in reality most of the time they are just railing against something or someone. That is not considered teaching but it seems that if someone reads their material, then right away they are placed in the position of teacher. Then there are those who are on the radio or TV, and just because they are in media ministry does not mean they are true teachers of the Word of God. Yet, because people listen to them and may agree with what they are saying, will consider them to be teachers.

A Major Principle
(Heb 5:1-4 KJV) For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: {2} Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. {3} And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. {4} And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

During the time of the Mosaic law, Aaron was appointed the High Priest by God Himself. It was Aaron’s responsibility to make atonement for the people of Israel once a year. He was the only one allowed to enter into the holy of Holies. In Hebrews 5:1-4, we see a major principle concerning the office of High Priest. If you notice in verse 4, the High Priest was called of God. This means that the High Priest was not a position which anyone could take of themselves. Moses could not appoint whoever he wanted, he had to be qualified by God for such a task. No one takes that honor unto himself as the Scriptures says because they have to be appointed by God since they have to be gifted and empowered by God to perform that task.

(1 Cor 12:28 KJV) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

(Rom 12:7 KJV) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

(Eph 4:11 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

We read in both 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, and Romans 12:7 that God has specifically placed teachers in the body of Christ for the purpose of teaching the Bible. These are the one who have the spiritual gift of teaching and are not self-appointed to that task. For one to be a true Bible teacher, they must have the spiritual gift of teaching. The same situation which took place in the time of Aaron, must take place in the body of Christ today. No one must call themselves to the position of Bible teacher or else they will be operating outside of the realm where God has empowered them. By self-appointing themselves as teachers they are prone to fall into heresy at a much faster pace.

(James 3:1 KJV) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 3:1 gives a serious warning to those who want to appoint and anoint themselves to be teachers. Since words are a very powerful instrument, it behooves every Christian to know what to say and when to say it. (Prov 18:21 KJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. This is why James is counseling his readers that they should not seek to be teachers. This is not to say that no one is to teach because teaching is one of the spiritual gifts. (Rom 12:7 KJV) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

God has appointed Bible teachers in the church as one of the gifts to build up and equip the Saints. What James has in view here is the person who wants to be a teacher but is unqualified to do so. Those who teach must be qualified to teach and they must teach the truth of Scripture. If a teacher teaches error, then they are liable for deeper condemnation than the students who follow their teachings. Now that does not absolve the students from checking out the teachings. James was also referring to the false teachers which were invading the church. He was warning them that those unbelievers who arrogate to themselves the position of teacher will be held more accountable on Judgment Day. The true Christian never comes into condemnation but this passage can also be a warning to true Christians that if they have not been called to teach, then it is better that they do not, since they must be held accountable for what they teach. If you notice James places himself in that category also, “…we shall receive…“ The book of Jude deals solely with the problems in the early church with false teachers. I personally counsel people away from teaching if they do not believe they have been called to do so. I also cringe when I hear “teachers” taking this position lightly. Teaching has the power to change the mind for either truth or error. Woe be unto us if we teach not what is right.

Therefore, it is necessary that if a person wants to be a true teacher of the Bible, they must first of all have the spiritual gift of teaching and second of all, they must be called, just as Aaron was called as High Priest. God is the one who places the spiritual gift in each Christian and it is He who calls them to their proper place of service. If there is one statement I can truly make, it is, that the reason there are so many different teachings and so many different theological viewpoints in Christianity is because there are many unqualified, self-appointed teachers spewing their own belief systems and thus throwing confusion into the minds of Christians. If someone writes a book or teaches a system of beliefs, does not mean they are a biblically qualified teacher.

What I am going to do for the remainder of this treatise is to give some principles as to what qualified teaching is and what unqualified teaching is.

What Unqualified Teaching Is

A Personal Agenda
Those who are unqualified to teach the Bible will have personal agendas. You will normally spot this quickly when you see them pushing their books and tapes. A person with a personal agenda will not be leading people to the Lord but will be leading them to them. Paul had this problem in many places where he ministered when he was tailed by the false teachers who only looked to build their own following. We see this today, especially in the charismatic movement, when these “preachers” claim that they have been in Heaven or that Jesus appears to them, and of course, you can get the full teaching by ordering the book or CD. These kind of demonic delusions attract people because even unbelievers want to know that they can go to Heaven, even without being born again. Let’s see if they get passed the Judgment seat of Christ without being born again. These people who claim that God appears to them or that they have special visitation rights in Heaven are only drawing people to themselves for a big following.

Parroting Someone Else’s Beliefs
Another tenet of being an unqualified teacher is that a person takes someone else’s teachings and then just switches around the wording and then makes it their own. This also happens when a central teacher brings some kind of spurious doctrine and then his or her follows decide to carry the teachings onward. We just saw a great deal of this parroting for the past ten years from Harold Camping and his church is dead system and the return of Christ on May 21, 2011. His followers had created their paths based on his all the while claiming that it was they who invented it. They even had Bible conferences where they basically taught all of Camping’s teachings with different wording. None of them could come up with their own studies, it all had to lead back to Camping and his books. The Bible was never central because it was an abused book being used as a proof of the efficacy of Camping’s studies. As you can see, it is now over two years since the prophesied date came and went. What I still find hard to believe is that there are still people who are parroting Camping’s teachings while continuing to look for another date. Now this is not to say that if you come across a good study or theology book which is written according to the Scriptures that you automatically reject it. If it is in concert with biblical teachings, then by all means you can adopt the teachings in there.

Financial Gain
Another tenet of the false teacher is that they seem to be able to gather to themselves much wealth. The Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus were all wealthy men and were all false teachers except Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea who became followers of Jesus. When we look at the TV and see the various charismatic networks such as TBN or INSP, you will see that those who are in the upper echelon pull down salaries in the millions. Many of their preachers also make millions of dollars and all they ever talk about is money. None of them are pointing people to the Savior and telling them to be sorry for their sin and to seek repentance. Their idea of repentance is send them $1000. Any preacher who drives around in a Bentley or a limo and has several mansions, needs to be investigated.

Ministry Dynasties (father to son, etc.)
Then you have the ministry dynasties where the father is getting older and realizes their 7 figure income may disappear, as they set their children up to take over the ministry. Some are Oral and Richard Roberts, Robert Sr. and Robert Schuller Jr., John and Matthew Hagee, Frederick KC Price and Fred Price Jr. Just because a father is in the ministry, does not mean that the son is called to the ministry. Now this does not mean that a son is never called into the ministry. If they go out on their own and start their own ministry and the Lord blesses it and it spiritually prospers, then you know they have been called. What I caution about are those multi-million dollar preachers who put their sons in their ministries to continue the big incomes. Many of the sons placed in that position are normally not qualified to be there. (Heb 5:4 KJV) And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Just as those who were called to the office of the Aaronic priesthood, God calls in the same way to the ministry. Spiritual gifts are not handed down from generation to generation, they are given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:11 KJV) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. It is the will of God who gets what spiritual gift, not the will of man. (John 1:12-13 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

What is a Qualified Teacher?
(1 Cor 12:28-29 KJV) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. {29} Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? (Eph 4:11 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

A qualified teacher is one that has been born again by grace through the Lord Jesus Christ and has been given the spiritual gift of teaching. The qualified teacher is one who has been gifted by God to teach. They can take the complicated and turn it into the uncomplicated for easy learning by their hearers. Some pastors try to claim that the gift of teaching only goes along with the spiritual gift of pastor. This is not always the case but those who are called as pastor will have the gift of teaching because it is their primary responsibility to have spiritual oversight of the congregation and teaching is a necessary part of that. There are many who call themselves to the office of pastor who will not have the gift of teaching and you will definitely pick up on it when it seems all they do is quote commentaries and theologians. The reason that the truly called pastor is not the only one who has the spiritual gift of teaching is because there are many other teaching situations which require others gifted in that area. For example, Sunday School, new believers classes, outside ministries such as street evangelism or nursing home, itinerant teaching in other areas of ministry such as rescue missions, etc.

What Qualified Teaching Is
Now we are going to look at 12 tenets of qualified teaching and we will be looking at the first four verses in the Book of Luke as our guideline.

Luke 1:1) Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2) Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3) It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4) That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

What qualified Teaching is
1) A teacher holds back information until all pertinent material is in. (MANY HAVE TAKEN IN HAND)

A qualified teacher is on who not only write original subjects but one who also looks at the works of others on certain subjects and feels that a better job could have been done handling the subject. Luke was such a person because here he states that many others have taken the subject of writing about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the word “taken in hand” carries with it the meaning of “to undertake, try, or attempt.” Luke is telling us here that others have attempted the monumental task of gospel writing. These others may have attempted this while Jesus was still on earth in His ministry, resulting in partial information. Since Luke had traveled with the Apostle Paul extensively, he was able to pen the book of Acts with great accuracy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He did this with His Gospel also as he no doubt had access to other documents by people who attempted to write about the ministry of Christ. Luke had penned the Gospel which carries his name between 58-63 A.D. under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The time was about 25 years after the Lord Jesus Christ went back to Heaven. So Luke had written this book when he would have all pertinent material in hand. I guess that is why it is the longest Gospel containing 1,151 verses and 25,640 words.

2) A teacher is careful of their information sources.

A qualified teacher is one who is very careful about what source material they use. There are thousands of books written on the Bible and the interpretation thereof and many of which may be very faulty coming from a cult or unbeliever’s perspective. If I am going to do research on a certain biblical subject, I would not use materials by Jehovah’s Witnesses or from authors who seem hostile to the true Gospel, unless I was planning to critique their material. If I needed corroborating material to the subject I was researching, I would make sure the author was born again and very familiar with the subject. For example, if I was researching a historical event, I would not quote someone with a degree in psychology, unless I check their sources for accuracy. If I was researching some aspect of biblical archaeology, I would have no problem using the material from Dr. Clifford Wilson.

3) A teacher has an attitude of joy in doing research. (IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME)

The true qualified teacher views doing research for their subject as joy because they know whatever tidbit of truth or whatever major truth they uncover, they realize that they have the privilege of being the first to know about it among their group. Their desire is to know the truth of the subject they are researching and when they come to know that truth, there is exceeding joy on their part. The true teacher does not see research as a necessary evil but they anticipate it as a great learning experience.

4) A teacher realizes he is part of the body of Christ and does not hold sole interpretation. (TO ME ALSO)

The true teacher realizes that when the Holy Spirit is teaching them the Bible, that there will be others who will hold to the same teachings. For example, I hold to election and predestination, and I fully well know that there are many others who do too. This is how a body of writings are formed which augment a certain biblical doctrine forming a pool for all to draw from. Those who believe that they hold the only truth in the world are those who are false teachers. God gave us one Bible and within the confines of its pages are written some doctrines which must be researched out from many areas and there are doctrines which are as open as the sun on a clear day.

5) A teacher will have optimum understanding of the material. (PERFECT UNDERSTANDING) ("perfect" denotes follow closely, trace, examine) The teacher does not accept another's teaching unless it completely harmonizes in the entire Bible.

The true teacher will closely scrutinize the teachings of others to make sure what they are presenting is in keeping with true biblical doctrine. There are many today who twist the Scriptures to make it say what they want for the purpose of manipulating their hearers. (2 Pet 3:16 KJV) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Peter was speaking about the teachings of Paul that in many cases are difficult to understand unless one really examines them carefully. Peter also states in that verse that false teachers twist the scriptures in all parts of the Bible. This is why it is imperative that a teacher of the Bible make sure that all their teachings harmonize with Scripture and does not go opposite. The true teacher also examines their own teachings to make sure that they are in keeping with what the Bible teaches. One way you can tell that you are going the wrong way is that when you need to over-justify an interpretation for a verse. The more words you need to justify it, the more off center it probably is. (Prov 10:19 KJV) In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. Proverbs even has a warning about the use of too many words.

6) A teacher is concerned with all facts and details. (OF ALL THINGS)

A true teacher does not neglect any aspect of doing research. They will do word studies, language studies, verse comparisons, and context. Many pull verses out of context to make their case but context will give you the true meaning. A good case in point is John 1:12-13. I have been to many free will churches where they quote John 1:12 as if the person has received Christ of their own volition. (John 1:12 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Unfortunately, they stop there because they want man to be in charge of their salvation and desire them to believe that they can command God to save them anytime they want. What needs to be added for context is verse 13 which completes the thought. (John 1:13 KJV) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Now when we include verse 13, we see very plainly that it is God who grants salvation and man’s will has nothing to do with it. In other words, Christ accepts us, we don’t accept Him! In order to keep the idea of free will and the sovereignty of man alive, they must neglect verse 13. When one is doing research, they must include all their findings.

7) A teacher is happy to be chained to a desk for many hours. (TO WRITE)

One of the main ingredients of being a good teacher is the realization that if you are going to present a teaching it must be researched well and that will take considerable time. While other Christians are out having a good time, you will have to make the sacrifice of skipping those outings to study your subject at hand. Those teachers who just grab someone else’s material and then quote it as if they were the one who wrote it definitely do not have the spiritual gift of teaching. (Mat 10:39 KJV) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. This is what the Lord speaks about when He says we lose our life in this life. The more time we spend here on earth researching the Gospel means that it is less time we have to enjoy the things of this earth. However, there is an up side to this, those who do this will find life on the other side. Teaching is not something which should be entered into lightly since it is a major commitment of time and energy because you will suffer fatigue plus teaching is an ongoing ministry and not just a one time commitment.

8) A teacher personalizes the Scriptures for daily living. (UNTO THEE)

A true teacher is one who takes the scriptures and personalizes them so you can claim them as your own. Now I am not talking about how the false teachers twist the Scriptures. For example, the false teachers will take all the prosperity Scriptures and then manipulate them to get you to think that all you have to do is give $10 and you will get $1000. (Mark 4:8 KJV) And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. What I am talking about is taking the Scriptures and as a child of God, to access the essence of those promises such as:

A person who feels extreme loneliness for some reason can claim Hebrews 13:5. (Heb 13:5 KJV) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Christ said that He will never leave us or forsake us.

A person going through a rough time may claim for themselves Isaiah 43:2. (Isa 43:2 KJV) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

As a disabled person myself, I claim the following passage of Scripture daily. Deuteronomy 33:25. (Deu 33:25 KJV) Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be. I need the daily strength the Lord promises to His people.

9) The teacher has the desire to deliver truth in a systematic way. (IN ORDER) "Order" means in succession or consecutive order.

One of the most successful ways to deliver any type of teaching is in a systematic way. That is, you do not take a twelve part series or study you have done and then jump around and present some truths at the beginning which should be presented at the end. Always make sure that when you present truth systematically, that each section or point dovetails right into the next point. This way you are building on the previous points instead of causing them to be forgotten or misplaced. Let us say you are presenting a teaching on the second coming of Christ. You would not start out with the actual event of the return of Christ because then you have to back track and it will confuse your hearers. If you bring Scripture which leads up to the second coming of Christ, then you will have presented that truth in a systematic way or in proper succession. The Book of Revelation is an excellent example of systematic teaching. It is not a chronological book but written on individual visions which dovetail right into the next vision which presents the earth becoming more corrupt until finally the whole earth is covered with sin and the intensifying of the judgments which accompany it.

John's first vision was Chapters 4-7 - We read that the judgments affect one fourth of the earth.

The second parallel vision is Chapters 8-11 - There we read about one third of the earth being affected. This means that the second vision is parallel to the first but it showing an intensifying of the judgments.

The third parallel vision is chapters 12-14 - ends in the reaping of the earth

The fourth vision is chapters 15-16 which contains the vial judgments which affect the whole earth (1/4>1/3>to whole earth) and ends with Armageddon which is the final battle between Christ and Satan.

The fifth vision is chapters 17-18 which is the destruction of the kingdom of Satan.

The sixth vision is chapters 19-20 which details the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the final judgment of the unsaved.

The seventh vision is chapters 21-22 which is the New Heaven and the New Earth.

10) The teacher is concerned that their hearers understand. (THAT THOU MIGHTEST KNOW)

It does no good to even present the greatest study on earth if your hearers do not understand. The essence of teaching is not what comes out of your mouth but what is understood by your hearers. A good teacher takes the complex and simplifies it. A bad teacher takes the simple and complicates it. Whenever you prepare a study, always go back and read it and then in your mind look at your hearers. Is there anyone that you are aware of who will not be able to understand what you are teaching? If you can pinpoint just one, then make sure you simplify the truth even more. Using big words may make you sound intellectual but they do no good if they shroud the truth rather than unlock it. When I write for my website, I always have in mind those who are mature Christians and also those who are young Christians. Therefore, I must make sure that my sentences are easily understood by both.

11) The teacher teaches with absolutes. (THE CERTAINTY OF THOSE THINGS) "Certainty" means firmness, steadfastness, stability.

A true teacher does not teach speculation as an absolute. They teach absolutes as absolutes. Now a teacher may present something as speculation for discussion purposes but it must be told that it is speculation. When a teacher presents a final truth, it must be an absolute. Truth does not have any place for assumption. Stability in any teaching is upheld only by truth. Once you replace truth with assumption, you will have a destabilized teaching which may lead to heresy. For example, if a construction company is building a bridge and uses steel girders held together by steel rivets, you will have a stable bridge. If just one part of the bridge uses plastic rivets, that section of bridge will collapse under the weight of traffic and cause many fatalities. If a teaching contains something which is not true, it will cause spiritual derailment and then descend into heresy and will cause many to suffer eternal damnation for believing a false teaching. This is why it is imperative for biblical subjects to be researched thoroughly before offering them to your hearers. The true teacher does not change their mind on truth with every article they read. They remain steadfast on the truth and will not budge and that is what holding to absolutes is all about.

12) The teacher takes previously written material, tests it by Scripture and either clarifies it or rejects it. (WHEREIN THOU HAST BEEN INSTRUCTED)

Theophilus must have had access to other accounts of the life of Christ but it seems here that he is entrusting a better account from Luke since he is a physician and would be more thorough especially in asking questions in preparing his account. Keep in mind those other accounts would not have been under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but Luke’s account will be. Many through the ages have made commentaries on the books of the Bible, but it never hurts for one to make another one. Probably every subject there is in the Bible has been written on, and yet we continue to search and write because we are commanded to search the Scriptures. (Prov 25:2 KJV) It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. Every generation has their own teachers that will delve into the study of the Scriptures. There are books which have been written that are definitely excluded from the canon of Scripture and they hold nothing but historical value such as, the book of Thomas, Apocryphal books, some which are totally confusing just to read, the book of Mary written about 120-180 A.D., the Pseudepigrapha, which contains books like the book of Adam or Abraham. All of these would be rejected as valid biblical sources because they have been rejected by the church who put the canon of Scripture together.

Teaching the Bible can be a wonderful ministry if you are called to that ministry by God and not by you or someone who thinks you would make a good teacher. We already saw the warning that God gives in James 3:1 that teachers will be judged much harder, simply because they are handling the word of God and we must be very careful not to say “thus saith the Lord” when He did not say it. This is not to say that all Christians are not empowered by the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures. There is a big difference between understanding the Scriptures for the purpose of witnessing and a teaching ministry to those who have become saved. One thing Bible teachers must be very careful of and that is new Christians. Since they are not yet grounded in the word, whatever they hear they will absorb like a sponge and it may cause them to adopt what you teach as the telescope through which they will view all Scripture. If you believe you have been called as a Bible teacher, then you need to seek the Lord and let Him confirm that you have indeed been called and that you have the spiritual gift of teaching. It is a serious thing to teach the word of God and no one should enter into it lightly.