By Leon Mauldin
The time has come when we need to know what the Bible teaches.
For too long the church has been plagued with elders who do not know what the Bible teaches. Men have been appointed who were friendly and “mixed well” with folks (sometimes unfortunately somewhat like politicians). Or, have there not been occasions when, because it was observed that one was successful in his business, it was therefore assumed that he would make a good elder? Obviously the question has not always been, “Does this man whom we are considering for the work of an elder know what the Bible teaches?” (Tit. 1:9) Just think what would happen if elders in every church had a real working knowledge of God’s Word. They would be able to apply God’s Word to every situation in life as they went about shepherding God’s people. Isn’t that God’s plan? The time has come when we need elders who know what the Bible teaches!
The time has come when we need preachers who know what the Bible teaches. While topical preaching can be very edifying, there are too many preachers who are unable to take each book of the Bible, and know what its thrust is (theme and purpose, etc.), its major divisions, and give its contents. We need to see the continuity of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We need to be at home in every part of God’s Word. It is easy for preachers to wind up with huge gaps in their Bible knowledge. Disciplined study will cure that.
The time has come when we need Bible class teachers who know what the Bible teaches. If the Bible class teacher does not understand the theme of the Bible, the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption, and how God’s Word all “fits together”; if he or she does not understand the context of the lesson text, and how that text fits in with the rest of the Bible, how can the teacher communicate these truths to the students? One cannot teach what he himself does not know.
The time has come when parents need to know what the Bible teaches. This has always been God’s plan (Deut. 6:5-7). God has wasted no space in his Word. There is no part of it that we do not need. There is no portion which your children do not need to know, that it might also govern their lives. But how often have we let our children down (and thus let the Lord down) because we as parents have not concerned ourselves enough with the business of knowing what the Bible teaches!
The time has come when we all need to know what the Bible teaches. It is an attainable objective for you to begin with a book of the Bible you are currently studying, and within a matter of weeks be able to tell what the book is about, its major divisions, and give the content of each chapter (from memory, without consulting notes). You can do that with every book of the Bible, by taking one at a time. It has been a joy to me personally to see brethren of varying ages and occupations, undertake this kind of study. We rejoice to see brethren grow in confidence as they surprise themselves at what they can learn and retain.
Knowledge is never an end in itself. But it is essential. For too long folks have tried “short-cuts” that leave out this vital element. But it is knowing with a view to doing that must be stressed. Only when knowledge is translated into action in our hearts and lives is God pleased. Our objective therefore in knowing what the Bible teaches is that we might be better Christians, and better equipped to serve God. Knowing what the Bible teaches will have the effect of making us better husbands and fathers, and better wives and mothers. It will make us better Bible class teachers, better personal workers, and better preachers. When folks think in terms of qualifying men to serve as elders, immediately the course of action is for the preacher to present lessons on the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. This is important, and more teaching on these texts needs to be done. But developing elders is an ongoing work. When a young man can take a book of the Bible, tell you its contents backward and forward (with an equally intense determination to apply it), is he not on the right track in preparing himself to serve as an elder?
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 21, p. 659
November 2, 1989