Teach the Teachers to Teach!
I Tim 1:3-7
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
Paul is a teacher of Timothy. They are both first generation missionaries. They are partners. But Paul is first and he is the one who is bringing Timothy along. And Timothy is expanding Paul’s reach by partnering with him. So, we see Paul as a teacher in this passage. And he is teaching Timothy about teaching others. Specifically, there are folks who are following behind Paul and “modifying” his teaching, contradicting his teaching etc. So, Paul tells Timothy, who is much younger and less experienced to command the new believers to separate from the bad teaching. Well, what is it? What are the characteristics of bad teaching?
I have a degree in political science education. My instructors would be upset with me if I could not measure learning or express what it is that is the goal of any instruction. I was trained to begin every lesson with behavioral objectives. Each lesson has a goal that will be expressed in the behavior of the student. And then the lesson will teach to that goal. The behavioral objective for the folks in Ephesus is to abandon bad teaching. Well, there is bad teaching in our day as well. About all sorts of things. And we are called to abandon it!
- Bad Teaching
- Not true
True actions are the goal.
Does the teaching lead to true actions? What are true actions? What defines what is true, the “ought” of every person?
Are we reflecting the God who made us? Does God teach us about everything? No. But where He does speak, we need to stand and not be moved.
- It is speculative
There are lots of things that people do not know. There are many things about God, many things about the universe, many things about the inner workings of people that we do not understand. And when folks make a breakthrough, then they are a “new” expert. They become an authority on the topic. This makes people feel meaningful.
Those areas of uncertainty also can cause listeners to be insecure, and so they are prone to magnify the new.
Let me remind you of some Biblical admonitions:
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
Myths and endless genealogies. This is what they cared about.
The issues in our day relate to God and the way that He chooses to work or not. People don’t like God’s choices. There are answers to questions, but people prefer to trust in what they see.
Hebrews 11:6. God knows that He is invisible.
II Cor 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
What is solid? Teach that!!
- Self-promoting: (Does not advance God’s work) v.4
If what we are about does not advance God’s work, then what does it advance?
The prosperity doctrine and the glorification of greed. Why do great preachers need multiple airplanes. Why do churches need very expensive facilities in competition with other churches?
All things circumstantially great vs. God’s will and purposes through suffering and sacrifice.
- Rooted in the desire for authority
Pride, competition, “destroying people” (according to youtube)
Reflect humility in your teaching or a desire to humiliate others!
Humility in a teacher should be a hallmark of what we expect. It doesn’t matter if the setting is secular or sacred. The goal of the teacher is to make the student greater, not the teacher greater.
Manipulation needs to be abandoned for the priority of getting people connected to God personally.
- Leads to lots of talking
The goal of our instruction is much more than having people give the right answers to theological questions. Speculations are rooted in talking. There are many issues that I am convinced we will never have the answers to.
We are gonna walk by faith and not by sight.
We will stand before God and we will not be able to make excuses about questions that we had. He will ask us what about Jesus and His teaching and example? What did we do with that? He will ask us about the Law and the Prophets.
He will ask us about the things that are plain. Did we love our neighbor? Did we love God above all? Did we seek to obey His Word as a top priority? Or did we seek to promote our best interests in the world?
Example of giving of our money to the church: The tithe.
Systematics one and the doctrine of God. What does God want you to know? That is what He has communicated.
Think about what Paul says in
II Cor 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
How does this work relative to God’s Word? He has left us with questions so that we might remain humble. Our weakness should make us extremely grateful for what we do know. And we should never sacrifice the clear for the speculative!
- Good Teaching
Since all of Paul’s teaching, and all Apostolic teaching is good teaching, then every aspect of these traits are to be true in our lives as a result of our having been taught. This is the fruit meant to be produced in us!
- Advances God’s work
What does God want from us, others and all of creation?
Why did Jesus come to earth?
What is our part in Jesus’ ministry?
- Reflects faith that God is at work
When faced with the unknown, we need to turn to the known!
- Promotes love in action
What is the call to action that we have from Scripture? A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you.
Wash each others feet.
Serve. John 13.
Gal 5:6 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
There is a reason people don’t focus on these issues! They never go away! Just because I lived sacrificially yesterday does not mean that I will not have to live sacrificially today! There is no end to this process. But, this is the raw material that we build meaningful lives from!
- Good hearted
At it’s core, the teaching of God comes from an honest, humble, loving place. It is rooted in humility and gratitude. It is not born out of bragging about knowledge. We are not gnostics. We do not
Church fights over carpet that cause folks to abandon love for one another. It happens. And it drives people away from God.