The Importance of Teaching
The importance and influence of teaching should not be underestimated. Jesus said to preach (teach) the gospel to the whole world. If teaching is unimportant, did our Lord send the disciples on a worldwide “wild goose chase”? To deemphasize the necessity and power of preaching and teaching is to contradict the Great Commission. Furthermore, Jesus quoted the prophet concerning a time when responding to teaching would provide the means for becoming a child of God rather than being born into a relationship, as were the Jews (John 6.45).
Jesus, the Master Teacher, used every opportunity and nearly every imaginable tool to illustrate his teachings, such as: sheep, goats, shepherds, vines, branches, gnats, camels, coins…the list goes on and on. To further show the value our Lord placed on teaching, we find he taught the disciples for three years, y et did not rely on their memories of what he started with them, but promised the Holy Spirit would be sent after his departure to testify, guide, bear witness, and speak (John 15.25-27; 16.13-14). Jesus clearly explained and later proved that the Holy Spirit would be the teaching and revealing agency which should enable the apostles to teach the world.
Titus tells us that the qualified elder is responsible for “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince (teach) the gainsayers” (Titus 1.9). The effect of teaching can be seen in the next chapter as false teachers are mentioned as those who “subvert whole houses.” If the false teacher possesses power to “subvert whole houses,” cannot the same be said for the teaching of the gospel? Can it not save whole houses? Then why do some minimize the importance and need of teaching?
The strength of a congregation will be a reflection of both the doctrine that is taught as well as the capability of its teachers. No greater burden is carried by overseers of the church than to see to the feeding of the flock. A shepherd overseeing sheep will see to both the quantity and quality of the flock’s diet. Their very health and wellbeing depends on it. This is precisely how Paul lays the matter before the elders of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20.28 when he says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and the flock, which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.” Who can deny the importance of teaching (feeding) in this passage, seeing it is attested to by the cost God paid for the church - the blood of Jesus?
The aforementioned evidence is but a token of what the Bible reveals about the great universal need, that man must be taught, and is responsible for teaching. However, many minimize the importance of teaching. How? Of course, no one would verbally consent to such a blatant contraction of plain Bible teaching, yet they sound forth this statement loud and clear by their actions. Those who absent themselves from the assemblies, including the Bible study periods on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, depreciate the importance and value of teaching. It has been said, “If only the voice of the empty pew could be silenced!” Inexcusable absence tells the sinner that Bible study really isn’t important. The empty reveals that some are unconcerned with the congregation’s spiritual betterment because they are not present to “provoke unto love and good works” (Hebrews 10.24). The empty pew teaches the young by example that other activities, including recreation and rest, are substitutes for worship, study, and teaching.
Let’s give the utmost respect and attention that every opportunity for teaching, preaching, and studying God’s word deserves. As we recognize the great need to be prepared for eternity, remember the words of Peter when asked by Jesus if he too would go away, to which he replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6.68).