Why Teach the Bible?
Recently I made my first flight to Lufkin, Texas. In spite of the fact that I transferred twice between Indianapolis and Lufkin, and made several stops before arriving at my destination, I was assured (barring some unfortunate situation) that I would arrive in the Texas City to which I had purposed to go. What was the basis upon which I had this assurance? On the simple fact that the pilot was paid to bring his craft from one point to another and therefore had a goal. I too, had a goal that I was seeking to reach.
In like manner, the Bible class teacher will need a goal or motive; otherwise one will not know where one is going. What is the motive of the teacher? What do teachers hope to accomplish as they conduct their classes? If there is no definite motive in mind, all the knowledge and skill of teaching techniques known to man will avail little. Motives and goals must be singled out as one would single out birds from a covey while bird hunting. The very nature of this topic, "Why Teach the Bible?" demonstrates the need of goals. As one nukes a study of the Bible, the purpose and goal of teaching is clearly defined. We must make the Biblical our goals as we teach and instruct people in the "way of righteousness." What are some of the goals and aims?
To Carry Out the Final Commission of the Lord
This commission is recorded in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:4648. This "great commission," as it is sometimes called, was carried out to the fullest extent by those who received it. This is evident by the statement, "the gospel has been preached in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1: 23). This commission was not given to a local church, or churches, but to individuals. Our authority today for doing what the Lord commanded the apostles in found in 2 Timothy 2:2, "and the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (ASV).
There were two previous commissions (Luke 9: 1; 10: 1), but both of these were fulfilled (Luke 9: 10; 10: 17). The great commission is great because in contrast to the other commissions, this includes the whole world and those of the world can only be saved on the basis of its stipulations (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). There will be no other commission given by our Lord. If we do not carry out this commission by seeking to get men and women to obey it, then we fail in our responsibility.
In addition to the individual responsibility placed upon the teacher of the Bible, there is the obligation that arises from one's relation to the local church (or, collective). The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). The church has no universal function. It can only function through its members on a congregational basis (Phil. 11:1; 2:14-16). Hence the local church is the only organization of members that can scripturally "sound out the word" (I Thess. 1:7-8; Phil. 2:14-16). One's relationship to the collective, regardless of the size of the local church, is another reason for learning to teach. Whether we act strictly from an individual responsibility or from duty arising out of one's relationship to the collective, the motive is strongly manifested.
To Demonstrate the Necessity of the Word of GOD
The seed of the kingdom is the Word of God (Lk. 8: 10-11). This Word is the result of certain individuals chosen by Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit in all truth, being moved by the Spirit to speak and write Jno. 16:7-13; Acts 2:4; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thes. 2:15). The "Faith" now once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), was first delivered orally, then in writing (I Cor. 2:613); Acts 20:20-27; 2 Pet. 3:1-2). This Word is necessary to man's salvation and it endures forever. It must be taught, received by faith and obeyed (I Pet. 1:22-25). No man can come to Jesus unless he is first taught (Jno. 6:4446). This makes necessary the hearing of the Word, or, as Paul says, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10: 17). It is only after they are taught the word of God that individuals are in a position to gladly receive that Word and be baptized for the remission of their sine (Acts 2:14, 22, 29, 36-42).
The necessity of the Word is further demonstrated by 2 John 9, "whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."
Individuals cannot be taught by chance, nor can the gospel be taught by chance. The teacher either teaches the truth or be does not. The student either learns the truth, or not at all. While weeds grow by chance, no good crop ever does so. It takes careful attention and work in order to see that one comes to a knowledge of truth. Hard work, study and more study are necessary ingredients in the life of the Bible class teacher. It is no wonder that James says, "my brethren, be not many masters (i.e., school masters, or teachers. jt), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (Jas. 3:1).
To Declare the Whole Counsel of God
When the Apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders that he had "not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), he obviously had reference to the eternal purpose of God in bringing salvation to mankind (Eph. 1: 7-12; Rom. 16:25-27). That this purpose has been revealed, no one can deny. It was Paul's task to "make all men we what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from, the, beginning hath been hid in God" (Eph. &:9). When one reads such epistles as that to the Ephesians and Colossians an understanding can be attained. In this way God's whole counsel can be taught to and understood by 20th Century man (Eph. 3:14; Col. 2:1-3).
The Bible class teacher must throw all energy into the task of teaching. Even though there are few who have natural ability for teaching, there is no greater satisfaction than that of knowing that the whole counsel is being taught with heartiness and zest. One can master the art of teaching with agile step and eager spirit. To do so is to bring a harvest of refreshing memories for tomorrow.
The "whole counsel" includes not only the complete circle of revealed truth, it includes (2 Tim. 3:16-17):
1. Truth in its antagonistic phases - While this treatment of truth calls for care and wisdom, the teacher will be required at times to show how truth opposes error. Truth in apostolic days opposed Judaism and paganism in their theories, principles and practices. It is opposed to the same today. Then and now it opposes science so-called (I Tim. 6:20). Undue Assumptions and prejudice bias are opposed by the very nature of truth. It also opposes worldly maxims because it demands that the whole of man be working in devotion to God.
2. Truth in its practical phases - One fails in teaching if the relevance of the Holy Scriptures is not brought to bear upon man's present needs. There are three phases of mans activity. They are (a) individual habits, (b) family relations, and (c) social responsibility. The Scriptures are applicable in these areas (Rom. 12; 1-2; Eph. 6:14;
3. Truth with a personal stamp -There is a human side to God's scheme of redemption.
The teacher must demonstrate that human element by adding to the teaching of truth personal conviction, persuasion and experience. Even though, this is limited by capacity and education, apprehension and expression, this is a powerful element of individually to be developed.
The teacher should teach with such conviction that, in spite of the speculations growth and enlargement in our generation, conviction demonstrates God's revelation. This is one way the Christian holds forth the Word of life (Tim. 2:14-16).
To Cause Christians to Grow
When one is born of the water and the spirit, he undergoes a new birth (Jno. 3:3-5;
Gal. 3:26-27). Spiritually speaking, this makes one a "newborn babe" (I Pet. 2:2).
As such one must desire "the sincere milk of the word" that growth might ensue. It is the desire of God that those who are his children "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18).
The means of maturity is the Word of God, i.e., the "milk of the word." It is the task of the Christian to direct others toward maturity. God's children must come to know that we are to continue in the grace of God (2 Tim. 2: 1). To abide is not to be stationary, for we are to grow in grace. The student should come to know the reality of citizenship in heaven and what it means to dwell in the land of privilege (Eph. 2:19; Col. 1: 13). The enjoyment of heavenly blessings brings corresponding responsibilities to make constant and unmistakable progress in the grace of God which is the strength and beauty of the Christian life.
The Bible for many centuries has been regarded as a unique book. No book has had such a history; no book has been copied so; so translated or treasured. The teacher must keep before the minds of students the indestructibility of the Word. The fact is that there is no danger that any man or any combination of men will destroy it. Men can destroy the faith of others in the Word, but they cannot destroy the Bible itself. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). Let us keep man's faith in the indestructible book alive!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 2, pp. 8-10