Christ Himself gave… the Teachers

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Monday, July 15, 2013 by Jenny Thompson

We read in Ephesians 4:11,

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.”

So the ministry gift of teacher is especially what we will be focusing on today. By way of encouragement to us all, it is important to point out that to some degree we are all involved in teaching – whether it is teaching our own children, Sunday School teaching, or teaching on a one to one basis etc.

“We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! no more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.”
Colossians 1:28-29 MSG

Paul was passionate about this, and so am I, wow!

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever.”
1 Peter 4:11 NIV

Notice that both of these gifts are of equal importance!

Dictionary definitions: ‘teach’ – educate, school, lecture, instruct, edify, coach

Having just completed the Network course, it seems that my top gifting is one of teacher! What a surprise this has been to me as I thought my gift was to just encourage from the word of God!

When Jesus ministered, He was all of these things. Of course God can give one person all of these gifts if He so desires and knows that He can trust that person. However, God is in the business of distributing His gifts among the body so we can all serve Him together.

Having said that, it is important to point out that not all of us will have one of these gifts! Also, it does not mean that we are second-class Christians if we do not have any one of these particular ministry gifts!

Colossians 1:21-29

  • v20-22: So Paul reminded the Christians at Colossae that Jesus had made them clean from their sins. Jesus had made them holy. God was not angry with the church here. They were not God’s enemies. They were not separate from God.
  • v23: The Christians at Colossae had heard the true message of the Gospel and they believed it. But sadly, they began to listen to what the false teachers taught. So, Paul urged the Christians to continue to believe God’s truth. So Paul wrote his letter to them to explain more about the truth.
  • v24: Jesus suffered and died on the cross. He died to forgive our sins. Jesus completed His work on the cross, when He said,

    “It is finished.”
    John 19:30

    So this verse does not mean that Christ has to suffer again for our sin.

    Here, the word ‘suffer’ refers to the troubles that people have in their lives. Christ is in us as Christians. So when Christians suffer, Christ suffers too.

    Acts 9:4 shows that when Paul, (who used to be Saul), used to hurt Christians, he was actually hurting Jesus too! Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He was suffering because he preached the Gospel. But he was happy to suffer because of the Gospel.

  • v25-27: Paul was serving the church as an apostle. He emphasised that he had told the Colossians the complete message about the Gospel. So they did not need the secret information that the false teachers pretended to possess!
  • v28-29: Paul also taught Christians how to become more mature. He did not want them to remain baby Christians who do not grow! So the false teachers declared that they had secret wisdom and power. But true wisdom and power comes only from God!

    Paul did not have an easy job being an apostle. He had to work hard, but he was anointed and empowered by God to do all that the Lord asked him to do. The Lord will also anoint and empower us to do all that He calls us to do!

1 Peter 4:7-11

  • v7: Peter writes that the end of all things in near. We do not know when the end will come, but one day it will happen, so we must always be ready. As Christians, we should think clearly about our daily lives and behaviour, so we should live in a way that is honouring to God.
  • v8: Peter exhorts us as Christians to love one another deeply, even when it is difficult.
  • v9: One way that Christians can show their love is to invite people into their homes as mentioned here, but of course, there are so many other ways that we can show love to one another. May the Lord really help us to truly love and care for each other!
  • v10-11: So God has made everyone able to do something. This is our ‘gift’. Often God gives people more than one gift. There are various gifts.

    The Greek word for ‘various’ means ‘of many colours’. So together, God desires that our gifts produce a beautiful tapestry in our service for Him and for one another. Peter then mentions these two sorts of gifts. There are gifts where people speak. Also, there are gifts where people serve in a practical way.

    Notice once again that speaking and serving are of equal importance and value to God. I teach and I also serve in a practical way in my job!

    So the teacher is not to be proud and look down upon the one who serves in a practical way.

James 3:1 contains a warning,

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

I did not ask for this gift, but God has chosen to give it to me! HELP!

Paul’s passion in life was to see,

“every man and woman perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Now this actually means ‘completeness or maturity’. So Paul preached. The term “preach” (kataggello), means to proclaim or to declare.

Paul preached continuously. According to the book of Acts, we see that he preached on islands, to Jews in synagogues. He preached to Gentiles in their towns, to those in prison. He preached to the hard-hearted and to the noble. He preached to intellectuals, and to the carnal (worldly minded). He preached to occultists and before religious leaders. He preached before government officials and he even preached onboard a ship in the middle of a storm! He preached wherever the Lord led him, in season and out of season. He did not care where or when, he just went for it!

And we should not lose sight of what Paul preached, the truth of the Gospel! Who did he preach? The person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He proclaimed the Gospel, the way of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul personally knew Jesus and he wanted everyone else to know Him as well.

To the Corinthians he said,

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2

To the Galatians he was inspired to write,

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Galatians 6:14

And to the Philippians he wrote,

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Philippians 1:21- 3:8

Jesus is the heart and is central to the complete and mature Christian

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God…”
1 Peter 4:11

No pressure then! But it also says,

“If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever.”

So (remembering yet again that these gifts are equally important!) what do we do?

Align ourselves with God’s purposes and keep in mind that Jesus is coming back one day, let’s live our lives in a way that is honouring to Him.

Let’s pray and commit ourselves to one another and devote ourselves to serving Him.

Peter has carefully set out before us the way we are to serve. Everything we do is to be done in a context of love! Just like the Apostle Paul sandwiched the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, in between chapter 12 and chapter 14 on spiritual gifts, so Peter places this whole section within the context of loving one another.

Life is not about what we get, but what we give. We cannot say we love one another unless we serve one another through the means which God has specially given to us.

So as believers, we minister to one another through the gift that He has given to us.

Are we too busy to serve?

If we neglect to serve, we are not loving one another. As believers, we are to responsibly serve before God. We do not want to hide our gift or to bury it! One day, we will all have to give an account of how we have used the gifts God has given to us!

NOTE on Peter 4:11: Peter is saying that those who teach God’s truth to others should teach it in a reverent manner, so that their hearers will respect the word of God! (I seek by God’s grace to do the same!)

So Jesus was and is the complete embodiment of all of these five ministry gifts and He is, of course, our role model.

Let’s follow Him.

The time is short, we do not know when He will return, we need to be ready! Let’s live our lives being devoted to one another using our spiritual gifts as a display of our love for the Lord and one another.

Finally,

“Jesus was a teacher and a shepherd at the same time – He didn’t just teach people’s brains, He ministered to the whole person.

I long to do the same. Jesus taught with grace and truth, challenging people to continue growing in their faith by leading them to wrestle with difficult questions and allowing room for suffering and struggle.

That inspires and challenges me as a teacher who follows Him.”
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