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Reflections on Teaching Workshop Part 1: Who Teaches?

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012 in discipleship | 16 comments

Reflections on Teaching Workshop Part 1: Who Teaches?

Last week, in my post “Teaching Workshop: Who Teaches?“, I explained that last Sunday I began leading the church through a discussion of the concept of teaching in Scripture. The “workshop” will continue over the next few weeks, but that first week’s topic was “Who Teaches?”

In this post, I’m going to offer a few reflections from our time discussing that topic. I was not trying to stuff information into people’s heads. Instead, I was simply leading people through passages of Scripture and asking questions. So, these reflections are not based on things that I taught. Instead, what I’m sharing here came from other people. (In most cases, I’m summarizing and paraphrasing, since I did not record our discussion.)

I’ll share these reflections within the outline that I used to guide our workshop:

————————————

I. The Ultimate Teacher
Scripture: Matthew 23:8, 1 John 2:27

While God is certainly our ultimate teaching, this does not give us license to be individualistic or isolationist. God often teaches us through other people.

II. There is a Spiritual Gift of Teaching
Scripture: Romans 12:4-8, Ephesians 4:7-11

Like the other spiritual gifts, the purpose of the gift of teaching is to benefit the church, not to benefit or exalt the one teaching.

III. Everyone Does Not Have the Spiritual Gift of Teaching
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:29-30

The focus of 1 Corinthians 12 is that we all need one another. We cannot rely on one person or the gifts of one person.

IV. However, Everyone is Instructed to Teach and is Able to Teach
Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16

While this is definitely true from Scripture, it’s not possible because of the way that teaching is usually practiced and modeled in the church. This causes us to ask the question: What is teaching? (Of course, this will be the topic of our third session.)

V. Those Gifted in Teaching Have the Added Responsibility of Helping Others Teach
Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-13

If we keep reading in Ephesians (Ephesians 4:11-16), we see that the church grows in maturity when the teachers are helping others to teach, the shepherds are helping others to care, the apostles are helping others to go, etc.

VI. What about Elders and Teaching?
Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9

The word translated “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2 can also be translated “teachable.” The idea of elders being both teachable and able to teach is also in Titus 1:9. This is a different kind of characteristic that what is usually expected of elders or pastors, which is being able to present a good sermon.

VII. Consider Seemingly Contradictory Passages about Teachers
Scripture: Hebrews 5:12, James 3:1

We can’t just look at those verses. We have to consider the context. Each context helps us understand what the author is talking about and helps us see that they are not contradictory.

————————————

Obviously, these are simply summations and snippets of conversations. But, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these points and passages of Scripture related to the question, “Who teaches?”


16 Comments

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  1. 1-10-2012

    Alan – I am glad you posted this because I missed the outline the first time around. It is very helpful. I have been thinking through the issue connected to #’s 3, 4, and 5 recently in conjunction with a post that I am planning on publishing tomorrow (I will definitely be linking to this post as corroborating evidence).

    I am disappointed that teaching in the church seems to be primarily understood as lecturing. Learning is primarily being a passive listener to a 30 minute message and carries no thought of being able to reproduce what you heard 24 hours later. While I am not opposed to lectures and sermons, I am not convinced that if our diet consists solely of that type of teaching we will be equipped to actually share our faith with someone else.

    I would love to hear how you teach people to be teachers. I think that writing papers and holding forums and debates in and for the church might help more people learn to communicate their faith in a safe and constructive manner. Most of my friends respond with something like, “church isn’t school.”

  2. 1-10-2012

    Hi Alan

    In 1 – The Ultimate Teacher – You write…
    “this does not give us license to be individualistic or isolationist.
    God often teaches us through other people.”

    In my experience…
    Most folks are willing to learn from mere fallible humans.
    And very few will go directly to Jesus, to hear His voice, to learn from Him.

    And very few “Teach” that you can get it for yourself – Directly from Jesus.
    And – How To Do it – The way Jesus taught “His Disciples.”

    It does take a step of faith to believe and trust that “All” can hear “His Voice,”
    that Jesus “can speak to you and others”, and teach you all “All” truth.

    We do have some examples; Jesus, Peter, Paul.

    1 – Jesus, as man, taught “His disciples,” “He” could do nothing of Himself.
    ….. and the Father within Him teaches Him.

    John 8:28
    …I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

    John 5:30
    I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just;
    because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

    John 5:19
    …The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do:
    for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

    2 – Peter understood that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God.
    …. .Jesus declared that Peter was blessed because;
    ….. 1 – Flesh and blood “didn’t” reveal that to him.
    ….. 2 – The Father, from the realm of Spirit, “did” reveal it.

    Mat 16:17
    Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona:
    **for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,**
    but my Father which is in heaven.

    Here is Jesus, a pretty good teacher, not taking the credit, the glory.
    Jesus gives the glory to God the Father.

    3 – Paul declared that “his gospel” was not of man,
    ….. Paul received it from God and Paul conferred NOT with flesh and blood.

    Ga 1:11-16
    …the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
    **For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it,**
    but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…

    16-To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
    immediately *I conferred not with flesh and blood:*

    Jesus learned directly from God. Revelation.
    Peter learned directly from God. Revelation.
    Paul learned directly from God. Revelation.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  3. 1-10-2012

    Nathaniel,

    I’m looking forward to your post. I hope you come back here and leave a link to it when you publish it.

    There are different ways to teach. And, I think that teaching requires more than words. The way that we live and interact with others is a huge part of teaching. Thus, Paul always reminded people about the way he lived as well as the words that he spoke.

    For this workshop, one of my goals is to help people understand that God can use them to teach. Thus, I primarily listed the passages of Scripture, explained them briefly, then asked others to share what the passages tell us about teaching.

    Amos,

    I agree to a point. Peter learned from God through direct revelation and through God working through others. The same is true of Paul and every other believer. Thus, God is always the ultimate teacher, but he often uses his children to teach us. In fact, I believe he can use any of his children to teach any others.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the purpose of the spiritual gift of teaching.

    -Alan

  4. 1-10-2012

    Thanks Alan – the post is up, though its a bit longer than I was hoping.

    http://meaningandsignificance.blogspot.com/2012/01/teaching-teaches-teachers.html

  5. 1-11-2012

    Alan

    Kinda in agreement when you write…
    “I believe he can use any of his children to teach any others.”

    I would say it a little different now…
    Because – A lot of His Children, over the centuries, have taught pretty big lies. ;-)
    Commandments of men – Doctrines of men – Philosophies of men – that became…
    Traditions of men – that make “Void” the Word of God. Mark 7:13.

    Becoming “False Teachers” – believing they are passing along “Truth.” But…
    they’re only passing along “The Religious Traditions” they were taught.

    A lot of what I was taught in the past as “Truth” had to be thrown away.
    Had to go to Jesus, and get it from Him – for myself.
    Had to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart… Pro 3:5. And Trust no man.

    Mark 13:5 …Take heed lest any man deceive you:
    1 John 3:7 Little children, Let no man deceive you …
    Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…

    I’m guilty of letting well meaning believers – deceive me.
    And I in turn deceived others – teaching the lies I was taught. :-(

    IMO – The best “His Children” can “Teach” is some “Truth” and some “Error.”

    Now I can “learn” something new – “Truth” – because of “His Children.”
    They can share a testimony, their truth, what they believe Jesus has taught them.

    But – I’m responsible to go to Jesus, to see if this is “Truth” – for me – for today.
    So, for me, Jesus is always the “ONE” teacher. I still have to get it from Him.
    Because Jesus said, in Mat 23:8 KJV, you have “ONE” teacher – The Christ.

    Now I let others know they can learn directly from Jesus…
    I’m just doing the best I can. And when I’m deceived I don’t know it. :-)

    Jesus is still the best “Teacher” – Yes?

    Why not go to Him with everything? And Learn directly from Jesus with everything?

    P.S. – I’ll get back to you tomorrow – I do have some thoughts and questions on what some versions say is a “Gift of Teaching.” Nothing substantial – I’ve struggled with this and I’ve had different thoughts over the years. Thanks for asking.

  6. 1-11-2012

    Nathaniel,

    Thank you for the link!

    Amos,

    Reading through your comment and passages, it seems that you do not disagree with my statement, but instead you disagree with the way it is typically applied or what is typically taught.

    -Alan

  7. 1-12-2012

    Alan

    You write…
    “you disagree with the way it is typically applied or what is typically taught.”

    What I disagree with today is…

    There is NOT much emphisis on – Jesus teaching you ALL truth.
    And going directly to Jesus, to hear His Voice, and learn from Him.

    …that in “ALL” things – He, Jesus, might have the preeminence – to be first.
    Col 1:18

    What I disagree with is…

    Many believers do NOT go to Jesus “First” in ALL things… To learn “Truth.”
    Many believers have NOT been taught to go to Jesus “First” in ALL things…

    But – to go to – and depend on – mere fallible humans – “First.”
    Those who “Call Themselves “Teachers.” (A NO, NO, Mat 23:8)
    And Jesus, “teaching believers,” becomes an after thought.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Teacher

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  8. 1-12-2012

    Alan

    Now about this “Gift of Teaching” I have many questions… ;-)

    And I have NO way of knowing – from the Bible – who has this “Gift of Teaching.”
    I can’t even figure out, what those who have this “Gift” are supposed to “Teach.”
    Just in case I have this “Gift” and don’t know it. ;-)

    Do you know of any “qualifications” for “teachers” – similar for “overseers”
    so we un-edjumaketed, babes in Christ, can figure out – Who the “Teachers” are?

    Overseers “Must be Blameless.” Do “Teachers” have to be blameless – “Accurate?”
    Or, are Teachers allowed to change their mind, their beliefs – like I have. ;-)

    Used to think – the guy in the pulpit – had this gift – that’s what I was taught.
    Used to think – the guy with the “Titles” – had this gift – that’s what I was taught.
    Used to think – the guy with the education – had this gift…
    The guy who could speak well and keep me interseted – had this gift…
    The guy who could entertain me, inspire me, motivate me – had this gift…
    The guy who could quote scripture, after scripture, had this gift…

    Eventually… No matter how sincere… No matter how committed to “Truth.”
    All who thought they were teachers – wound up teaching lies… Yup – Me too :-(

    Used to think – the guy who “said to me” they had this gift – had this gift…

    Now my rule of thumb now is…
    If someone “says” they have a “Gift of Teaching.” They don’t – They believe a lie.
    And – those who believe those – who “say” they have this gift – believe a lie.

    Because – I can’t find one “Disciples of Christ,” in the Bible, who “said”
    they have this “Gift of Teaching.” Or “said” another “Disciple” has this “Gift.”

    So, that means to me, If anyone, did have this “Gift of Teaching.” – in the Bible –
    they didn’t tell anyone – they didn’t advertise it – they didn’t promote themselves.

    So, Those who do promote themselves – don’t have the bibles “Gift of Teaching.”
    They are believing a lie. And those who believe them – are believing a lie.

    And – When you believe the lie you start to die…

    I mean, If, a mere fallible human, believes another mere fallible human,
    has a “Gift of Teaching” they are very likely to believe the “Error” they teach,
    and NOT go to Jesus, to make sure what they teach is “Accurate.” Always…

    First questions…

    1 – Does someone who has a “Gift of Teaching” have to be “Accurate?” Always?

    1a – If they are NOT required to be “Accurate” all the time – Why not?
    1b – How many “Errors” – Is a “Teacher” allowed to teach?
    1c – How many “Errors” – And still be considered to have a“Gift of Teaching?”
    1d – How many “Errors” – Before they are considered a “False Teacher?”

  9. 1-12-2012

    Amos,

    Again, in both of these comments, you seem to point out your disagreements with the way teaching is understood today. Obviously, from Scripture, we can see that teaching one another is valid and that the Holy Spirit gifts some as teaching. I’m more interested in what teaching and the gift of teaching mean to you (from the perspective of Scripture, especially) than in what you disagree with others about these concepts.

    -Alan

  10. 1-12-2012

    Alan

    Not fair… You answer these questions first…

    1 – Does someone who has a “Gift of Teaching” have to be “Accurate?” Always?

    1a – If they are NOT required to be “Accurate” all the time – Why not?
    1b – How many “Errors” – Is a “Teacher” allowed to teach?
    1c – How many “Errors” – And still be considered to have a“Gift of Teaching?”
    1d – How many “Errors” – Before they are considered a “False Teacher?”

  11. 1-12-2012

    What is to be proclaimed and what is to be taught?

    I think folks are still making this much more difficult and complicated than it is, what we are to ploclaim/preach is very simple and straight forward.

    I’ll leave a hint, it’s not a myriad of highly developed sectarian religious doctrinal interpretations and controversies of and over what Paul wrote, its much much simpler.

    I think Paul would be appalled to learn that people are studying his writings in order to develop systematic theologies and elaborate doctrinal beliefs-instead of teaching what Christ and the Apostles told us to preach/proclaim to the lost and teach to one another.

    Think it through. Its very simple. Keep digging.

  12. 1-12-2012

    Amos,

    I do not think teaching is primarily about communicating information, so accuracy is not a huge issue. Of course, when we do communicate information we should be as accurate as possible. Will we be perfectly accurate? Of course not. But, that was true when the authors of Scripture wrote about teaching as well.

    Hutch,

    Do you think what we proclaim/preach is the same thing as what we teach?

    -Alan

  13. 1-12-2012

    I believe preaching the Word is proclaiming the person and work of Christ/the gospel to unbelievers, those who are in Christ are taught by Christ our only teacher as he speaks through our speech and actions as he manifests His righteousness in our behavior through His indwelling presence. Teaching the Word/christ is teaching And learning how to live by and be led by His indwelling, empowering and motivating presence, in this we begin to observe all that He commanded in the gospel accounts, loving neighbor, enemy, turning the other cheek etc, etc, etc in this we see Christ living His life through us-this is biblical Christianity and is different from religious churchianity where the accumulation of book knowledge and observing and maintaining worldly authoritarian structures is paramount.

  14. 1-12-2012

    Hutch,

    I agree with what you’ve written about proclamation and teaching. I think you’ve shown how the content/essence of proclamation is different than the content/essence of our teaching. (And, yes, for both proclamation and teaching, God is the one who is actually communicating – unless we are getting in the way.)

    -Alan

  15. 1-13-2012

    Alan

    Much agreement when you say…
    “I do not think teaching is primarily about communicating information”

    For me, today, it is simple. I point folks to Jesus as the “ONE” teacher.

    ————–

    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. But…

    Be an example how you catch your own fish and he now understands…
    how you’ve been eating daily, for life.

    Now the man knows he can go and catch his own fish and eat daily, for life.

    ————-

    Share with a man what Jesus has revealed to you…
    And maybe he rejoices with you for a time – if God opens his understanding…

    Be an example how you hear Jesus, learn from Jesus, get revelation from Jesus…
    Now he knows he can hear Jesus, learn from Jesus, get revelation from Jesus…

    And – You have, Learners of Christ. “Disciples of Christ.”

    Now Jesus can feed, lead, and teach them “daily,” forever… Eternity…

  16. 1-14-2012

    Amos,

    It looks like we’re on the same page.

    -Alan