You Ought to Be Teachers! (2)
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4.29
Every believer is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and every disciple is called to teach other disciples the things of the Lord. You ought to be a teacher, just like every other Christian, using your words and conversations to build others up in the life of faith and urge them on to works of love (Heb. 5.12; 10.24).
And you ought to expect other disciples of the Lord to build you up as well, as you receive their witness, encouragement, counsel, advice, and guidance. We’re all called to teach one another, using our words to build up the members of the Body of Christ, and thus to edify the Body of Christ as a whole.
This is not an option. It simply comes with the calling to be a disciple. Follow Jesus; be a teacher. We are all charged with the duty of teaching one another in the church, for the edification of its members. The question is thus not whether we ought to teach, but how faithful and effective we are in this calling. The sooner we accept this charge, and quit rationalizing our way out of it, the sooner we can get on with understanding what this entails and beginning to practice it faithfully.
The writer of Hebrews continues in chapter 5 to say, albeit indirectly, that we only learn to teach by teaching; “constant practice” is what brings maturity in any area of the life of faith, including our calling to teach (Heb. 5.14, my translation).
So the sooner we get started teaching, the better we’ll become at it.
The goal of our teaching
There are a few matters to keep in mind, however, as we begin to take up this task of teaching our fellow believers.
First, we need to make sure of our objective. Paul says we should use our words to build one another up in the Lord (Eph. 4.29; 1 Thess. 5.11). We don’t teach our fellow believers merely to impress them with what we know. Or just because we think we should say a few nice words about the Lord. Our goal is mutual edification so that we might continue to grow as followers of the Lord.
What does that mean? Well, we can’t build something if we don’t have a blueprint, or if we don’t understand what the finished product is supposed to look like. Unless we have a good understanding of what a mature Christian is, it’s going to be difficult to build-up our fellow disciples. Our teaching should, like Paul’s, aim at helping other disciples become complete in Jesus Christ (Col. 1.28).
Peter likewise commands us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18). Presumably, therefore, becoming mature in the Lord – a goal to which we want to contribute by our teaching – is the objective of Christian growth. So we will need to have a clear understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, one who lives as Jesus did (Phil. 2.1-11).
To be like Jesus
Let’s remember what we said in the first part of this study on being and making disciples. Jesus is sending us, His followers, into the world the same way the Father sent Him (Jn. 20.21). This means looking to the Lord Jesus, taking up His agenda, and embracing the roles Jesus fulfilled while He walked among us. It means “putting on” the Lord Jesus and leaving no room for merely fleshly interests (Rom. 13.14). It might be helpful here briefly to review those roles.
The father sent Jesus to seek the lost (Lk. 19.10). We will be maturing in the Lord when we, like Jesus, have a mind to seek and save the lost as well. Our teaching should be aimed at building other believers up as witnesses for the Lord. One way to do this is to encourage your fellow disciples to map out their Personal Mission Fields, as you have done.
Further, Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve; He showed us how to be servants in that upper room, when He washed the disciples’ feet (Jn. 13.1-15). We should, therefore, be teaching one another to become servants of the Lord, people who set aside our own interests and needs to reach out and care for others.
But Jesus also declared that He was the good shepherd of His flock (Jn. 10.14). As such He worked hard to build loving relationships, to teach and care for His friends, nurture them in eternal life, and guard them from danger. If we’re growing as Christians, shouldn’t we be shepherds, too? And shouldn’t we be teaching one another to be shepherds?
And, of course, Jesus was a sower of God’s Word and a good steward of everything entrusted to Him. When, therefore, we think about using our conversations and other teaching opportunities to build-up and encourage our fellow believers, these are the kinds of roles we hope to help them fulfill.
Resources for teaching one another
So we need to know what we’re trying to accomplish as we teach our fellow believers. And what we’re trying to accomplish is that we might all increase in the prize of the upward calling that leads us into more of Jesus.
But we also need to know what’s available to us for teaching. Here the writer of Hebrews offers two categories of truth: milk and solid food. “Milk” relates to the basic doctrines of the life of faith (Heb. 6.1-3) – the doctrine of Christ, repentance from sins, believing in God and trusting Him in all our ways, participating in the life of the church (“baptisms” and “laying on of hands”), the hope of resurrection, and the promise of eternal life.
It’s good to be reminded of these, but we must not be content with these only. We need to move on to “solid food” – the more difficult and demanding teachings of Scripture and the doctrines of Christian faith. This is the teaching that helps us to appreciate the broad scope and unfathomable power and joy of our great salvation. As we grow in the Lord, and as we encourage other disciples in their walk with and work for the Lord, we will together become more fruitful agents of grace in our own Personal Mission Fields. Thus, our great salvation will have greater effects on the world day by day.
Our calling to teach other disciples requires that we grow in both the milk and the solid food of God’s Word. Only then can we teach one another so that we might grow together in the Lord.
1. What have been some teachings that have been most important to your growth as a follower of Jesus? Why?
2. How would you explain what it means to be maturing as a follower of Jesus?
3. In what ways can you see that the roles Jesus fulfilled require us to be teachers of one another?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with a fellow believer about our calling to be teachers. How has your friend tried to fulfill this calling? How have you?
T. M. Moore
You can download all the studies in this series, “Disciples Making Disciples,” by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.