Question: [Composite] Some professing Christians are claiming that the Bible doesn’t need any explanation and we don’t need teachers to understand the Bible. Although I don’t condemn their face-value embrace of the Bible, I strongly believe that we do need to have teachers who are able to help us to understand some things that may be more difficult. Do we need teachers today?
Response: In John:16:12-14, Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
The instruction of the Holy Spirit is a promise to believers. In 1 John:2:27, we are told, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is the main teacher of each individual.
However, God’s Word makes it very clear that teachers are a vital part of church structure. In 2 Timothy:2:2, Paul admonished Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
To Titus, Paul wrote of the elder women teaching the younger (Titus:2:3-5). In the list of ministries in Ephesians:4:11-13, “teachers” are listed as those given as gifts to the body of Christ, along with “apostles…prophets…evangelists…and pastors…for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Yes, some are called to be teachers, but James:3:1 warns of the accountability that is required of such: “My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”
Finally, in Matthew:28:19-20, Jesus gives what is known as 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: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” To be obedient to this command requires something to teach (i.e., the Scriptures), someone to do the teaching, and those who desire to be taught.
One of the problems for a believer regarding the teaching of the Word of God in our day of abundant media resources is becoming dependent upon teachers and commentaries for an understanding of Scripture. We will all be held personally accountable for our beliefs. Spoon-feeding the Scriptures is okay for new Christians, but it inhibits real growth and maturity if it continues. Ironically, that is a dilemma even for those excellent teachers and preachers who become popular. Popularity often breeds followers. The exhortation to be like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught is true to the Word of God is the scriptural recipe for spiritually discerning what is presented by finite man and for encouraging individual confidence in God’s Word.