This is the final article in my series introducing the five ministries of Ephesians 4. Today we will briefly examine the teaching ministry.
“Woe to you lawyers (teachers of Scriptural law)! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” -(Luke 11:52 NKJV)
There are multiple warnings given to teachers throughout the New Testament. The teaching ministry was held to a very high standard throughout New Testament Christianity. In Ephesians chapter four, it is included as one of the five equipping ministries of the Church. Valued as one of the primary and leading ministries given to establish the Church in the knowledge and fullness of Christ, the apostles set a clear precedent instituting the ‘Teacher’ as a foundational ministry in the Church.
Experiential knowledge is essential to the Christian life. Knowledge is sticky subject though. We see throughout the New Testament that the power of the gospel is limited when we force it to be be too intellectual. The type of knowledge that God is searching for is not a knowledge of high intellect, but a knowledge cultivated from intimate experience with God. The gospel, especially the vital and foundational parts, are very simple to understand. God longs for our us to meditate upon these most simple truths so that the living truth would abide in us by the Holy Spirit.
It is essential that the teachers of God’s Word understand this. The gift upon the teacher is the ability (grace) to search out the deep things of the Scriptures, devote themselves to understanding, and to give them freely to the Church. The goal of teaching is understanding that inspires and leads others to begin to search out the deep things of God. Many are capable of relaying information, but few are able to convey truths that will stir up an urgency and hunger for more understanding. The goal of teaching is fully achieved when the keys of gaining knowledge are passed on.
We have been warned repeatedly by Scripture to beware of false teachers. I want to propose that it is not only doctrine that matters in the process of determining false teachers. Teachers can become false teachers by making truth difficult to understand. Hear this, a teacher can teach completely biblical doctrine, but if they complicate and dilute the Word of God in a manner that renders the hearer incapable of searching out the truth for themselves, the teacher is walking dangerously close to the line of false teaching.
As an evangelical, I fear we have done this when it comes to the understanding of Old Testament prophecy and the end-times (just two of many examples). Many in the Church believe that these are areas of Scripture best fit for scholars or theologians to understand. This is simply not true! The whole bible was written for the whole body of Christ. We need the teaching ministry to help guide the Church into all truth, not reserve certain truths for a chosen elite.
Essential today is an urgency among our teachers to again give the Church the keys of knowledge, that the body of Christ may have courage to seek after the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Good teachers will labor to stir up a hunger among God’s people for all good things concerning Christ.
Blessings and grace!
-J. S. Marek