If I sit down to teach you the Bible, how do you know I know what I’m talking about??
Not to mention, How do I know I know what I’m talking about??
One of my greatest concerns about teaching the Bible is that I’d teach something wrong. I’m afraid I’ll use a verse out of context, manipulate Scripture to support my agenda, or forget to display Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. It’s downright scary.
Can you relate?
As it turns out, we’re not alone. I’ve been asking around and every solid Bible teacher says the same thing: “It’s a healthy fear that you should never outgrow.”
Every Christian has the responsibility of reverencing Scripture, working hard to teach it accurately, remembering that our hearts will easily deceive us and our human understanding will limit us. But, we must persist in teaching Scripture nonetheless.
So, I’ve been on a quest to discover helpful ways to live in the tension between teaching-the-Bible and shaking-in-our boots. Here are 3:
1. Submit to godly authority.
Last month, I read an article written by Jen Wilkin that rocked my world: “Pastors Need Women Teachers (And Vice Versa)“. It reminded me that I don’t need to be a lone ranger; that I can – even should – expect to find a safe space within my local church to grow as a Bible teacher. As it turns out, I (definitely) need the nurture and oversight of my church, and – I’m believing in faith – they need me.
This is a big reason why I’ll be meeting with our pastor and director of women’s ministry this week: to talk about how I can teach the Bible within the protection of our church leadership, doctrine, and membership. Maybe I can submit my teaching notes and study guides to a few knowledgeable church leaders and learn from their feedback.
2. Stick close to doctrinely sound commentaries.
Bible scholars have invested years and years in studying Scripture, history, and languages. Their commentaries have been read and thoroughly critiqued by other bible scholars who have studied for years and years… The commentaries that have made it onto the bookshelves of sound preachers and teachers are worth a close look and can inform my lessons. Recently, Jen Wilkin pointed me to an incredible list of “Top Commentaries on Every Book of the Bible” published by Ligonier Ministries, which is a goldmine of helpful insights and applications. I’ll be digging in…
3. Teach through the Bible, from the Bible.
They call it “expository teaching”. Basically, it’s the technique of teaching through a book of the Bible, verse by verse, allowing Scripture to inform the agenda, instead of asking Scripture to adhere to a human-made agenda.
For example, an expository teacher would rather teach through the book of Matthew and address fear when it comes up in chapter 14, than plan a lesson called “Overcoming Fear” based on 25 detached verses about fear.
I like the expository approach because it respects Scripture for what it is – a complete story – set in history but living through eternity – about God Himself, glorifying Jesus Christ as the Light of the World and King over all.
Of course, I’ve admired many topical teachers who maintain all of those high ideals, but they usually can teach topically because they’ve studied the Bible in an expository way.
Expository teaching makes me sigh with relief because it protects me, minimizing my chances of using a verse out of context, manipulating Scripture to support my agenda, or forgetting to display Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.
It also points my audience to the true Teacher, encouraging them to dig into Scripture and read it well for themselves. (Now that’s relief!) Then, when they need to find immediate guidance for fear, forgiveness, or suffering, they will know how to rely on the full counsel of God, select a few verses that really do apply to their situation and think about them rightly.
Though I’ll seize opportunities to speak about topics like “motherhood” or “marriage” where I’ll need to pull Scripture verses from here or there, and I’ll continue to link to individual verses within my posts, I think that when it comes to weekly Bible teaching, I’m going to camp out with expository teaching, working through verse by verse, in light of the whole Book.
What are your thoughts?