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One of the essential components of a healthy spiritual life is a steady diet of good teaching. Every Christian needs others who can help instruct, explain and apply God¬ís Word to his or her life. The goal of good teaching is not only to pass along sound content, but also to promote godly living.
The Emphasis on Teaching in the Old Testament
The necessity of good teaching is emphasized throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, for example, Moses commanded the Israelites to "fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds¬ÖTeach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up¬Öso that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land¬Ö" (Deut. 11:18-21). Psalm 78 further clarifies the purpose for this instruction. The Psalmist writes that the Lord "¬Öcommanded our fore-fathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them [His laws], even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their fore-fathers¬óa stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him" (Psa. 78:5-8). These passages illustrate the vital role of good teaching in knowing and responding properly to the Lord and His will.
Proverbs 6:20-23 also points out some of the benefits of receiving and obeying good teaching. This passage declares, "My son, keep your father¬ís commands and do not forsake your mother¬ís teaching¬ÖWhen you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life."
Another Old Testament passage that illustrates the value of teaching is Nehemiah 8:7-8. According to this passage, as Ezra read the Law to the assembly, the Levites helped the people understand. Nehemiah writes that the "Levites¬Öinstructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving meaning so that the people could understand what was being read" (Neh. 8:7-8). Ezra himself is referred to as "a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses" who "had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel" (Ezra 7:6,10).
The New Testament also stresses the importance and value of good teaching. The Gospels, for example, emphasize the teaching ministry of Jesus. He took every opportunity He could to teach, whether in villages, the countryside, synagogues, the temple area, or elsewhere. He took time to teach individuals as well as groups of all sizes. And at the close of His ministry He passed on the ministry of teaching to His eleven disciples as He commissioned them to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you¬Ö" (Matt. 28:19-20).
The eleven disciples took this to heart and the early Church was birthed in an atmosphere of good teaching. According to Acts 2:42, the early Christians "devoted themselves to the apostles¬í teaching¬Ö." Although the religious authorities took offense to the apostles¬í teaching and persecuted them and ordered them to stop, the apostles continued to teach. Luke informs us that "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 5:42).
Luke also takes the opportunity to describe how Philip took time to enlighten an Ethiopian who confessed that he could not understand a passage from Isaiah "unless someone explains it to me¬Ö" (Acts 8:31). Luke also mentions that Apollos "was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately¬Ö" (Acts 18:24-25). Luke adds that Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos teach, and they "invited him into their home and explained the way of God more adequately" (Acts 18:26).
Another indication in the New Testament regarding the importance of teaching is the fact that teaching is described as a spiritual gift (Rom. 12:6-7; 1 Cor. 12:28-31). According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the Lord gave "some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God¬ís people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up¬Ö" In other words, teaching plays a vital role in the process of equipping and building up the Church.
The letters to Timothy underscore the value of godly teaching. For example, in his second letter to Timothy, Paul points out the vital role that teaching played in Timothy¬ís faith. He encourages Timothy to "¬Öcontinue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Probably to a major extent, Paul has in mind the godly influence and teaching of Timothy¬ís grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5).
Paul also points out to Timothy that good teaching can help lead others to repentance. He writes that "¬Öthe Lord¬ís servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil" (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Paul adds that Timothy is to "correct, rebuke and encourage¬ówith great patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2-3).
Paul made teaching a priority in his own ministry as well. In his letter to the Colossians he writes, "We proclaim him [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Col. 1:28-29).
Brothers and sisters, the Bible makes it very clear that good teaching is essential for spiritual growth. For this reason, we consider it a tremendous privilege that the Lord uses the ministry of Herald of His Coming as a source of good teaching for many Christians. We praise the Lord that He enables this ministry to gather, publish and distribute material each month that provides spiritual encouragement, instruction and nourishment to Christians all over the world. As you read through the testimony letters on page 12 of the Herald each month, you will receive a small, but inspirational sampling of how the Lord is blessing the outreach of this ministry. Praise the Lord!
With this in mind, I want to express our appreciation to all of you who help support this ministry through your prayers, gifts, and letters of encouragement. Your partnership is vital to all that the Lord is doing through this ministry! What a tremendous joy it is to be serving the Lord alongside you.