30 Days in the Bible, Day 20: Ephesians 4:11-16
When we look at what the Bible says about teachers, we generally focus on the requirements and responsibilities of the teacher. That is incredibly important, especially in our fast-moving media age, but there is one other aspect we should also examine. We not only want to know the qualifications of a teacher, but what they seek to achieve by their teaching.
Ephesians 4:11-16 gives us insight into what we should expect solid Bible teaching to accomplish in peoples’ lives and in the church. If we have godly and qualified teachers bringing out the truth of God’s Word to the members of the church, we ought to expect to see certain changes in those lives and those churches. (By the way, this is also true for apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors, all of whom have a singular charge given here.)
Those who sit under teaching consistent with the Word should themselves become equipped to live the Christian life. If the members of a church are not becoming more like Jesus Christ, or if they are not developing in their ministry and service to others, the teaching misses the point. The goal of teachers in the church is to increase the number of Christians who are actively living out their faith day to day.
Note that this specifically includes becoming equipped to serve. Every Christian has been gifted by the Holy Spirit for service. We each have our own ministry within the church; this passage mentions only a few. (You can go to Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 for more.) However, you can’t just dive in to every possible kind of service that is needed in the church. Teachers help us learn about our gifts and how we can develop and use them for the glory of Jesus.
The church and its members should be built up by sound teaching. If teachers or teachings result in people separating from each other or in churches dividing, there is something wrong with the teacher, the teaching, or both. The goal is to help Christians grow in their life with Christ, and good teachers will assist their students in doing this.
The next goal seems impossible in our world: to bring the church together in unity. This ties in to building up the church. There are so many denominations and churches around that we start to ask which one is the true church. What we ought to be working toward as Christians is showing the world our common Savior and His sacrificial work on our behalf. We will one day all be united when we see Jesus face to face. Until then, good teaching should seek to proclaim the truth of the Word, and look forward to the day when we are all one in the presence of our Lord.
Good Biblical teaching also keeps us from pursuing false teaching. Almost any teaching can sound good if you listen to a teacher who is persuasive and points you to a selected number of passages in the Bible. We need teachers who will proclaim the whole Word of God, so that we may know the truth that God reveals in that Word. Since we’re human, we may not all agree on every point of doctrine, but we should know the central truths of Scripture and be able to detect when someone is straying from them.
The final goal of sound teaching mentioned here is spiritual maturity. As Christians, we want to help each other grow to be more like Christ. That may require correction, which must be done in love and with a goal of helping each other on our path toward full maturity. We won’t reach that final goal until we get to eternity, but we should see ourselves and our fellow Christians getting more and more like Him. Teachers who keep us focused on Jesus and on the Word will help us to grow like this as we journey toward heaven.