16 November 2009

The Spiritual Gift of Teaching

I have heard on numerous occasions that we should only have a "childlike faith" and that any deep study of scripture is either unnecessary or downright dangerous (in the form of divisiveness or elitism). Aside from the fact that childlike faith has little to do with the study of God's word, I strongly disagree with such sentiments, for many reasons, but primarily on these grounds: (1) we are commanded to be prepared to give an answer to those who question the reason for our faith, and we can't give answers if we don't have some facts and scripture to support them; and (2) God bothered to give out a spiritual gift that He calls "teaching" (1 Cor. 12:28).

Now, why would God bother with a spiritual gift of teaching if such a gift wasn't necessary for the building up of the body of Christ (the church)? If understanding scripture was easy, why would we need teachers? Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that scripture cannot be understood. On the contrary, the perspicuity of scripture is one of the primary reasons I believe we can know and understand anything about an infinite God at all. But as John Grudem points out in a recent journal article, "Scripture affirms tht it is able to be understood but (1) not all at once, (2) not without effort, (3) not without ordinary means, (4) not without the reader's willingness to obey it, (5) not without the help of the Holy Spirit, (6) not without human misunderstanding, and (7) never completely."

My focus here is on the second point- not without effort. 2 Peter 3:15-16 says that some things in scripture are hard to understand (but does not say that anything in scripture is impossible to understand). The gift of teaching is a gift God gives the church (yes, the church) to help build it up in the likeness of Christ (individuals get the gift, but it is to be used for the benefit of the church, not the individual; and I'd say especially not for financial gain of the individual).

I have benefited greatly from the teaching of a number of fine Christian men over my life and I've seen the effects of good, gifted teaching on the Church as a whole. I'm especially greatful to some teachers I've never met, like R. C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, Tim Challies, and many others. I'll probably never meet most of them, though I'd like to. Their clear exposition of the truths of God and His word have had an enormous impact on my life. I'd like to be able to thank them some time, personally.

Hebrews 5 says that we should all be growing up in Christ, such that we can all be teachers at some point in our walk with God. I know God gives some in the church less emphasis and excitement about learning the details of the faith, and rightly so. Some are equipped for other tasks in the body. But no one is excused from the responsibility to mature in their faith and in turn be able to explain the basics of the Christian faith to others.

06 November 2009


I just read an interesting blog over on Al Mohler's site,

http://fwd4.me/3AO .

He talks about an article in the WSJ on 'hypersocialization', a disease that is infecting the younger generation, who can't seem to function without their cell phones in their hand. I guess cell phones are today's cigarettes.

One thing you won't find here...I won't feel guilty or irresponsible if I don't publish a blog entry every day. It's not a priority, and shouldn't be.