Teaching Is Ministry
In this study you will learn why God wants you to teach, and you will be given tools to learn how to teach. In our first lesson we will look at Matthew 28:19–20, which shows Jesus’s command for us to teach.
We will also see that Christian teaching is one fundamental way God planned to let people know about himself. He expects us to share His Word and example with everyone, so they that they can find truth, fulfillment, and eternal life.
Christian Teaching Is Distinct
Different From Other Teaching
Teaching is done in many different places. Although we usually think of a school when we hear the words teach or teacher, much teaching occurs outside of the schoolroom.
A broad definition of teaching is “helping another person to learn something.” What is learned can be general knowledge or a particular skill. We need to learn many things to live successfully. Therefore, teaching is important.
Christian teaching is sharing with and explaining to others our knowledge of the relationship between God and us. It is a God-given ministry of helping another person to learn about growing in God.
Knowledge alone is not enough. There is also the spiritual importance of seeing results in a person’s life. Christian teaching does not just present facts. It guides the learner into obeying the Word of God. As we obey, we come into the right relationship with God. (See John 8:31 and James 1:22–25.)
A Christian teacher teaches for practical results in the student’s life. The student shows by action that he or she has received what was taught. Jesus did not just issue information; He saw lives changed by His teaching.
Different From Preaching and Testifying
The apostles used three methods to spread the gospel: preaching, testifying, and teaching. Luke 20:1 shows that Jesus both taught and preached. Acts 5:42 tells us the apostles “never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news.” What does it mean to preach? Preaching is proclaiming or announcing the message of the gospel in such a way that the hearer will accept the message and act upon it. A preacher tries to convince the listener to believe the message and accept it.
Sometimes there is teaching in the preaching. Both seek for a change in the listener, but teaching explains while preaching announces the message and asks for repentance and dedication. Think of a sermon you may have heard recently. Were your emotions or mind stirred to the point that you decided to change in some way? Did you act upon that?
Read Acts 10:34–43, where Peter is testifying of Jesus to the people gathered in Cornelius’ house. In verse 39 he says that he and the other apostles witnessed everything Jesus did. They had seen His death and had seen Jesus after His resurrection. Peter tells his listeners that God had commanded them to preach and testify of Jesus. To testify means to tell about something you have seen or experienced. The apostles had seen and experienced many things that happened in Jesus’ life.
Christian Teaching Is Spiritual
In His last words with His disciples, Jesus told them that part of their work would be to teach. He said,
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
Jesus commanded His disciples to teach. This command is as important as any other He issued. But He did not tell us to do something that no one has ever done before.
The life of Moses introduces us to teaching. In Exodus 24:12, the Lord said to Moses, “‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.’” Another word for teaching is instruction. Moses was to instruct Israel in the laws God gave to them. In the books of Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, Moses did that.
Many of the priests and prophets in the Old Testament were also teachers. In our next lesson we will take a closer look at some of these.
Jesus taught as well as preached. Read John 17:6–8, where Jesus said that His teaching came from God. God planned that Jesus would teach. So when Jesus commanded us to teach, He was passing on a method that God initiated in His plan for giving His message to humankind.
God gave teachers for the purpose of helping the church. Paul writes,
It was he [God] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:11–12)
Teachers are needed to help in the work of building up the church, the body of Christ. From Old Testament times through the New Testament writings, the teaching ministry has been in the plan of God. We, also, are commanded to teach as part of the church’s work.
Review Matthew 28:20. Jesus said we are to teach people to obey the things He commanded. This is the gospel we ourselves have received. Jesus also tells, in Matthew 5:17–20, that He did not come to do away with the Law of Moses or the teachings of the prophets. They were a part of His ministry. Rather, He said that “‘whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’”
We study many subjects that give useful facts to help us in our daily life. History helps us know more about the world we live in. Mathematics, science, and other subjects are of great benefit. But most significant is God’s Word, which gives us what we need to know about this life and eternal life. God’s Word reveals His plan for all of us. If we are going to teach people about God, and His plan for their lives, we must use His Book, the Bible.
You do not need to be afraid in obeying His command to teach. Before Jesus returned to the Father, He promised us another Helper. Jesus said,
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16–17)
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit the title of Helper. Read Luke 4:14–15 and see how this Holy Spirit helped Jesus teach. What does this mean to you in your teaching ministry?
Jesus explains again in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit helps us serve God. He said, “‘But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’”
The Holy Spirit will help us teach people what they need to learn. We may be talking to someone about a problem and a Scripture comes to mind. The Holy Spirit helps us remember this Scripture in the time of need. He is our Helper. Thus, when you obey His command to teach, the Holy Spirit will be with you. He will help you to do your very best in your teaching ministry.
Jesus meant for us to teach everyone. In Matthew 28:19, He said, “‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’” This means that every man, woman, and child needs to be taught to obey His commands. Sometimes we teach only those in our churches and Sunday schools. But Jesus said that wherever we find people we are to be ready to teach. Our neighbors, friends, and relatives need to be taught God’s plan for their lives. You do not have to be a teacher in the church before you reach out and teach others. We all have a command to teach as well as a need to be taught.
A rock thrown in a pool of water makes ripples that spread out in wider circles. In Exodus 17:6, God gave Israel water from a rock in the desert. Paul described this to the church at Corinth as an example for us. Paul said, “[Israel] drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). In the same way, our teaching of God extends to the world around us.