Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;– Romans 12:7
We’ve talked about the gift of prophecy which means to declare before. In the Old Testament and a few times in the New Testament this refers to the foretelling of events – declare before a time. Since God has given us His Word as a complete revelation, there is no need for new revelation. Today the role of prophets are to FORTH-tell – declare before a people – preach. We then talked about the gift of ministry – the gift that is highlighted by the act of service. This gift can take on many forms but usually refers to ministering to the earthly needs just as was the job of the first deacons in the early church.
We next move to the gift of teaching. With each of these gifts so far, I’m wanting to say “THIS is the most needful for the church!” Each of these gifts are so important, and when you recognize what is involved with each gift you will begin to see how lacking a church is when a gift is not used. But it is NOT the case that one gift is more needful than another. Remember there should be no big people and little people in a church. Each gift cannot function to its fullest degree without assistance from others.
Let’s first think about what teaching is. Preaching and teaching seems to get confused with each other a lot. What is the difference between teaching and preaching? I’ve heard it explained in many different ways.
I’ve heard it said that teaching is when you instruct in truth whereas preaching is when God gives you truth to proclaim. I’m not a fan of this way of explaining the difference. In reality, both teachers and preachers in the church should have burdens derived from the Lord. Both teachers and preachers should impart to the congregation what truth God has given them.
I’ve also heard it said that the preachers direct attention to Christ, and teachers direct attention to truth. I dislike this way of explaining the difference as well. Teachers in the church should expound upon God’s WORD – Christ in written form! Our Lord says “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Yet our Lord said 3 chapters before in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Biblical teaching and preaching direct attention to Christ.
I’m finding 14x in which the teaching of our Lord was mentioned in the Gospels while the preaching of our Lord was mentioned 19x in the Gospels. Our Lord was a Teacher AND a Preacher. After struggling to figure out for myself a nice way to distinguish the two, I came to Matthew 28:19, the first verse of the Great Commission –
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
What were to happen if you switched out the word teach for preach? It would then say, “Go ye therefore, and preach all nations. . .” This doesn’t sound right does it? It is because the very nature of the two words is different. PREACH focuses on the SUBJECT preached about. TEACH focuses on the PEOPLE being taught. When we preach, we are proclaiming truth. When we teach, we are guiding people into understanding truth. We are told to TEACH all nations which refers to how we present truth to have the nations to accept it. There is a lot of preaching involved but we must focus on the nations ACCEPTING the truth. Do you see the difference? In TEACHING we strive to have the students come to the knowledge. That’s why when the Gospels mention the PREACHING of the Lord, Jesus is mostly either PROCLAIMING repentance or the Gospel of the Kingdom, but when the Lord is TEACHING in the Gospels, the Lord is using parables and other illustrations to encourage His listeners to learn truth and to grow spiritually.
The subject of teaching was a very important subject to our Lord in the Old Testament. The Lord uses SEVEN Hebrew words for the word TEACH! In EVERY ONE OF THESE CASES, the idea behind the word is that the teacher is CAUSING the listener to learn. This got a little bigger than expected. We’ll pick up there tomorrow to look into how these words are used.