The Wardrobe of Easter: Teaching God’s Word

In this meditation, we consider the equally important task which rests upon the teachers within the Christian community. The Lord places upon them the duty to instruct faithfully and well so that others may learn and grow.


I once read this biting critique of a book: “The author says things both good and new. Alas, the new things are not good, and the good things are not new.”

In the last meditation, we considered the important responsibility, which every follower of Jesus has, to learn carefully and well what God’s Word teaches. In this meditation, we consider the equally important task which rests upon the teachers within the Christian community. The Lord places upon them the duty to instruct faithfully and well so that others may learn and grow.

Teachers

Teachers occupy a strategic position. So strategic, in fact, that St. Paul issued them a sharp and singular challenge: “[If your gift is to teach,] well then “Teach!” (Romans 12.7) Teachers must instruct and proclaim the apostolic witness about Jesus as set forth in the Bible. For through that Biblical and apostolic witness—the “tradition” (cf II Thess. 2.15)—followers of Jesus hear the very voice of God speaking to them.

St. Paul compares faithful Christian teachers to a “good workman who does not need to be ashamed.” (II Timothy 2.15) Note three features which mark them:

1. They are “handl[ing] the word of truth.” This being so, they are under obligation accurately to explain and plainly to proclaim this (Scriptural) truth.

2. In contrast to those who spout forth their own private sentiments and ideas and thus run the risk of declaring something inconsistent with the original apostolic message, good teachers make certain their message is carefully in tune with the message of the Bible. Doing so, they receive God’s smile of approval upon that which they declare.

3. The difference between unfaithful and faithful teachers—and the final test of whether what is being taught is true and worthwhile—depends upon whether their message is consistent with “the word of truth.” “Tradition” is the accurate measure against which all teachings are to be evaluated, the precise scale on which they must be weighed.

Why is the task of teaching so important within the community of Jesus’ followers? Simply because the influence and effects of what is taught are enormous and long-lasting. Disastrous havoc and heavy damage occur when pupils hear and heed bad (i.e., false) teachers. False teaching, claims John Stott, is both “godless” and “gangrenous” in its impact. Godless, because false teachers head would-be followers of Jesus toward paths that lead them away from God. Gangrenous, because their instruction infects and spreads poison everywhere through the entire Christian community.

On the other hand, how God-pleasing and health-producing is the influence of good Christian teachers. What they teach builds their pupils up in faith and hope in God. It produces within them both love for God and love toward one another. It increases in them holiness, and nourishes a life and character that God intends. (cf Titus 1.16)

Given the long reach and influence of teachers, wise and discerning followers of Jesus make it their high priority continually to examine what their teachers are declaring to them. Consistently—yes, incessantly—they (must) keep asking: Does what we are hearing and learning ring true to what God’s Word declares?

The responsibility of teaching

The responsibility of teachers within the fellowship of the Christian community is immense—that goes without saying. But so, too, is the privilege. “No higher honor could be imagined than to be an instrument in the hand of Jesus Christ, to be at his disposal for the furtherance of his purposes, to be available whenever wanted for his service.” (John Stott)

Faithful followers of Jesus refuse to get in step with those who nowadays are strolling along aimlessly and helter-skelter, guided only by what they judge to be trendy, in-style, and fashionable. They take special care not to bow down toward the goddess, “New and Improved.” Rather, as they make their pilgrim way toward the future that God has in store for them, they chart their course by “tradition”—by what God has declared in his Word.

Why do wise travellers toward the future also keep a steady eye on the past? Because when they fail to do so, these Christian pilgrims—rare and adventuresome pioneers all—know that they’ll not long be able to maintain their direction by careful intention. They’ll head off and follow every rabbit-trail whim and fad that invites and allures them.

So here’s how a discerning Christian pupil might evaluate the work of a Christian teacher who has taught faithfully:

“The teacher says things both good and new. The good things are not new—Praise God! And the new things, too, are good. For they—again, praise God!—are in accord with the old.”

“Fidelity to the teaching of the apostles,” says John Stott, “is the first mark of an authentic and living church.”

Hymn: We Will Extol You, God and King

We will extol you, God and King, and bless your holy name.
Day after day we'll sing your praise, forever and forever.
One generation will call to the next: 
"Our God is good, and his hand is strong!"
All of the world sings his marvelous acts, 
and our voice will join with theirs in the song.

Great is the Lord! In all his ways he's greatly to be praised.
Were we to search for endless days, his greatness none could fathom.
One generation will call to the next: 
"Our God is good, and his hand is strong!"
All of the world sings his marvelous acts, 
and our voice will join with theirs in the song.

We contemplate the splendor of the world your hand has made.
Far greater still the majesty we see in the Creator!
One generation will call to the next: 
"Our God is good, and his hand is strong!"
All of the world sings his marvelous acts, 
and our voice will join with theirs in the song.

Now may your name be sung in every tongue, in every place.
Singing the fame of your great love in every generation.
One generation will call to the next: 
"Our God is good, and his hand is strong!"
All of the world sings his marvelous acts, 
and our voice will join with theirs in the song.

Words: Greg Scheer © 2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources

The Wardrobe of Easter Series

This series was written to be read in the following order:


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