By Mike T. Rogacs
Teaching the gospel to every creature is the duty of each Christian. Some have more ability and knowledge than others, but all can do some teaching about Christ and His Kingdom. It is fine, and often expedient, that members of the church call upon elders and preachers to “talk to my friend” abort the gospel; indeed, these servants of God should welcome the opportunity. But let us not fail to realize that ideally, and in most cases, we should not really have to call upon anyone else to teach our friends the truth (1 Pet. 3:15). It is granted that many individuals feel that they lack the knowledge and ability at this present time, and in many instances such a statement is true (and, we might add, that in this case is it good to call upon one who is more learned). But it is also true that the scriptures teach that we all can attain a higher degree of ability and knowledge, even to such an extent that we can take over our teaching obligations whether they be public or private (Heb. 5:12-14; 2 Pet. 3:18).
How can we motivate ourselves to develop better ability and knowledge? Before we attempt to give an answer, let us observe that usually, if a person really would apply himself to the learning process needed, he would be able to teach something to someone a lot sooner than most people contemplate. Something holds many a Christian back from rapid growth. I have known far too many brethren who apparently have a defeatist attitude when it comes to Bible knowledge. Learning and/or teaching seems an impossible task for the “average Joe” (who ever that guy is). And it is from this subconscious (or at times, conscious admission) fear that some actually avoid any real attempt to learn or teach. This is why some never attend Bible study classes, and is why many who do attend Bible studies have a “mental block” and cannot grasp the meaning of the lesson or text.
I really cannot believe that many of my brethren cannot learn the scriptures better and learn to teach others. It can only be a lack of self-confidence which is also mixed with “little faith” in the power of the gospel which hinders spiritual growth. This reminds me of the time the twelve disciples were approached by a man whose son was “sore vexed” with a devil. It is recorded that the disciples made a sorry, half-hearted attempt at healing the boy, but failed. When Jesus was told of the failure of His disciples, He personally drove the devil our of the boy immediately and then turned His attention to the twelve. They asked the Lord, “Why could not we cast him (the devil) out?” Jesus replied “because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto .you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:14-21). The twelve could have accomplished the healing. It was within their ability, by the Holy Spirit, to have driven the devil out of the boy, if they had the faith. This discourse is not to teach that we, too, can perform miracles from our faith. The age of miracle working is past (1 Cor. 13:8-13). But we are saying that every Christian can do more than what many say he can. Confidence in one’s self and confidence in the power of the gospel to work through our efforts are both important (1 Cor. 3:6-9). We have got to believe that or our faith is in vain.
But again, how do we motivate the “under-achiever” to pull up his boot straps and to “be. ye doers of the word, and not hearers only”? Though the application admittedly might be a little difficult, I do believe the answer is easy. It is a two fold answer: (1) Remind the Christian involved that he is a child of. God because he has obeyed the word of God and that at one time the gospel was profoundly precious to him (1 Pet. 1:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:8-9); (2) We who are the motivators must instill in minds of all Christians with whom we work with the very attitude expressed by Paul when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written; I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).
Whether you wish to call it a product of personal zeal, a divinely appointed obligation, or a blessed privilege of being a Christian, the action of teaching others to believe because we ourselves have believed is an inherent principle of Christianity. Possible success or failure in our teaching should not enter into whether we teach or not. We must simply grow in the faith, making an honest attempt in that growth to the point at which we can learn to teach others and thank God that we can teach them. This is all that God asks of us as we live and labor for a season in His Kingdom. If it is His will, He will supply any increase necessary from our humble but zealous efforts (1 Cor. 3:6, 13-15). “Let us go on to perfection. . .” (Hebrews 6:1).
Truth Magazine XIX: 48, p. 760
October 16, 1975