God has always expected those who lead in worship and service to be faithful to Him. Sadly, that is not always the case and some are even advocating and encouraging those that are unfaithful to be leaders. Those that advocate such argue that if we give responsibility to the unfaithful, they will become faithful. They say if we get them to teach a Bible class, lead a prayer, or serve on the Lord's table that will get them to attend. Brethren, that is getting the cart before the horse.
Paul's purpose in writing his first letter to Timothy was "that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God" (1 Tim. 3:15). These words do not apply just to Timothy but to all fellow workers in the household of faith. Paul wanted Timothy to know how Christians ought to behave in the church so that he could instruct the church in these matters.
Concerning men who lead in worship, Paul writes, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8). First, notice that Paul's instruction does not merely apply to the worship assembly but to worship wherever and whenever it is offered. Because of the context, we can be sure that prayer is used as a synecdoche ("a figure of speech by which we speak of the whole by a part..." --Dungan) representing all five avenues of worship. Second, notice that the instruction is given to men (males as opposed to children and women). Finally, notice that there are three specific conditions placed upon men who lead in prayer or more generally worship.
The first of these conditions is that men pray "lifting up holy hands." What is being stressed here is not the posture of prayer. "Lifting up holy hands" is a figure of speech denoting moral purity and holy living. The person doing the leading of our worship is to be the kind of person whose life is a reflection of holy living. The prayers of a person who persists in sin is not heard (Isaiah 59:1-2; Micah 3:4; 1 Peter 3:12). Brethren, let us be sure. A person who willfully sins by forsaking the assemblies (Hebrews 10:25-26) persists in sin and his prayers are not heard by God. Brethren, do we want someone to lead us in worship whose prayers are not heard beyond the four walls of our church buildings?
The second condition is that men pray "without wrath." This denotes a disposition of the mind. A man that leads in worship should not have such a disposition that displays anger towards God, His provisions, nor His commandments. Further, he should not exhibit anger towards his fellow Christian nor his fellow man. The reason for such is found in James 1:20 which says, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
The third condition is that men pray without "doubting." The one leading us in worship ought to do so believing that his worship will come before the throne of God. In this way, his worship is offered in faith (James 1:6). Jesus taught, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24). Surely, we would not want a man to lead us in our worship that does not believe that God will accept our offering of "the sacrifice of praise" (Heb. 13:15).
The principle that God expects those who lead in worship and service to be faithful is clearly demonstrated in scripture. Concerning the training of men to preach, Paul writes, "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" (2 Tim. 2:2). The gospel is to be deposited in "faithful men" who will not betray the charge to "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2) and who will deposit the same truths in other faithful men. In this way the succession of teachers would be sustained. However, if the deposit was made in the unfaithful hoping that they will become faithful, the succession of teachers would likely fail.
In the list of the qualifications of deacons, Paul writes, "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless" (1 Tim. 3:10). The word "proved" means tried or tested. Only after men have been tried, tested and proved are they qualified to serve as a deacon. The unfaithful have been tested but they have failed the tests and, thereby, are not qualified to serve.
In Acts 6, a problem arose in the church in Jerusalem. The Grecian "widows were neglected in the daily ministration." To solve the problem, the twelve apostles called upon the disciples to seek out seven faithful men to take care of these widows. The apostles did not call upon the disciple to find some unfaithful brethren to care for this situation hoping that it would make them faithful. The solution was not found in the unfaithful but the faithful for it is the faithful who will be faithful in their responsibilities.
Jesus, in the parable of the talents, taught that those who use their talents faithfully will be reward with greater talents and those that are slothful will have their talents removed (Matt. 25:14-30). Because the faithful stewards were "faithful over a few things," the Lord will reward them by giving them charge over many things (Matt. 25:21,23).
Brethren, if a man will not be faithful in a lesser responsibility such as attendance, why would we think that he would be faithful in a greater responsibility such as serving on the Lord's table, leading in prayer, or teaching a Bible class? In stark contrast to those who advocate giving greater responsibilities to the unfaithful, Jesus taught, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10).
Christ called names... By doing this, all knew of whom he spoke. He did not speak in uncertain terms.
We have some “softies” among us today who seem to think it is an almost unpardonable sin for a preacher or writer to call the names of false teachers and hypocrites; but it seems to me we have some mighty good precedents for this in the New Testament. However, the motive back of the name calling might enter into it. Our motives should be absolutely pure in every act and word. If we call names simply to ridicule or get “smart” or something of that kind, of course that would be sin; but if we are trying to save souls, why not point out the erroneous teaching and who it is that teaches that? But some will say that just preaching the truth would be sufficient, and that we should leave others alone. The preachers and writers of the New Testament days did not thus act. They preached the truth and then contrasted error with the truth.
John the Baptist was very personal in his preaching. King Herod was living with another man’s wife. He was living in adultery. John knew this. He knew that it was not lawful for the king to live this way. I suppose John could have preached on a hundred other things without offending Herod and the woman with whom he was living. But why preach on other things and refuse to preach on the very thing the king needed? So John just “approached” a bad situation and told the king in plain words. Of course for this plain preaching he lost his head. Some today would lose their heads if they were to tell some in “high places” of their sins, and not just hint at them. Sin is sin, and should be condemned in the severest terms. If we know of members of the church who are living in open adultery in defiance of the laws of God and the laws of man, we ought to tell them. We ought to let them know that such characters cannot enter the kingdom of God. These dirty situations will not right themselves. It takes the Gospel of Christ to do it.
Christ called names. Two of the most bigoted sects of his day were the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were hypocrites. Time after time Jesus told them this, calling their names. Read his scathing denunciation of them in Matt. 23. Would Jesus have been true to his trust if he had refused to have so spoken? Did he do wrong in thus calling their names? By doing this, all knew of whom he spoke. He did not speak in uncertain terms.
On the birthday of the church, Peter was preaching to the betrayers and murderers of God’s Son. He told them so. He did not preach a “soft” sermon on sin and tell them that there were some murderers in the world, and that it was not becoming to live that way. Listen: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Earlier in the sermon, when he was “approaching” them, he had said, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). That kind of preaching brought results. They could see that the innocent blood of God’s Son was upon their souls; it was dripping from their hands. What were the results? “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? What brought them to a sense of their lost condition? The truth had been preached and the application made. Peter let them know that he was preaching to them. So many today preach “pretty” little sermons, and folks go to sleep and do not know of whom the preacher is preaching. And, the preachers seem just a little timid for fear some might find out!
Simon, the sorcerer, thought he could buy the gift of God with money. Listen to the inspired preacher: “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23). I guess Simon would not have much trouble understanding where he stood in the sight of God. Peter boldly preached the truth and made a personal application. From that kind of preaching, Simon would not get the idea that his sin was not so bad after all. And, it brought results! “Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me” (Acts 8:24). After all, we are trying to get sinners to repent when we preach to them. This they will never do until they are brought to a realization of their sinful condition.
One time, Mark got discouraged a little too easily and turned back when the going became difficult. Paul did not think much of this. So on another trip he refused to take Mark with them because he had not gone with them to the work. The contention between Paul and Barnabas over this was sharp. Mark had done wrong in turning back. Paul rebuked him sharply for this. God thought enough of this to make it a part of the divine record. Read it in the latter part of Acts 15.
Peter ate with the Gentiles; but when certain of his Jewish brethren came on the scene, he separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. Even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. Did Peter do right in this? No, he was to blame, and Paul told him so. And, that is a part of the divine record recorded in Galatians 2. Paul withstood him to the face. That is where it should be done, not behind the backs of the ones who should be withstood to the face.
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. He had some bad reports concerning them. Paul told them where he got the report. “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you” (1 Cor. 1:11). Paul seemed to think it was the right thing to do to tell where he got his information.
Paul talked about some who had made shipwreck. This is the way he wrote about two of those fellows: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20). My, is not that plain? These brethren had been delivered to Satan until they would learn not to blaspheme. Paul did not think it would be all right for them to go elsewhere preaching their pernicious doctrine. They must be stopped.
“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Tim. 1:15). Pretty personal, do you not think? “For Demas bath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10).This brother had forsaken the old apostle, and Paul said so, and gave the reason why Demas had forsaken him. And, listen to the peerless apostle just before he lies down to rest: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim. 4:14-15). Almost with his dying breath, the apostle was warning Timothy against bad men and false teachers. Did he do wrong in this? Of course not. He loved the church. He was jealous over it with a godly jealousy. And so should we be. We should mark and name them that cause division (Rom. 16:17).
By inspiration the Lord’s servant Paul wrote, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Eph. 4:14-15). It is always important to teach the Gospel in a loving way since precious souls are at stake. The apostle also taught that “...the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Tim. 2:24,25). Christians should always strive to present the Gospel in a way that avoids unnecessary upset or controversy. The truth is divisive enough without adding a bad attitude on the part of Christ’s follower (Luke 12:51-53; John 10:19). Regrettably, some first century disciples preached Christ from envy and strife while others did so out of love (Phil. 1:15-17).
There are some who claim members of the Lord’s church are arrogant when they present the message of salvation. Is it possible for a Christian to state the truth of the Gospel in a haughty manner? Yes. However, declaring there is only one true church Jesus will save is not a mark of arrogance. It is stating the truth that will save souls (Eph. 1:22,23; 5:23). When people believe one church is as good as another, there is no incentive to seek the true church. Is it arrogant to say a person must be a faithful member of the church of Christ to be saved? No, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (II Thess. 1:8). There are many in denominational circles who affirm such a statement is the height of arrogance. What is exceedingly strange is that some who hold this view are members of the Lord’s church. The very people who ought to know the truth act as if they do not understand it. Maybe they have been deceived into mouthing this popular, though fallacious opinion. Perhaps an appeal to reason can rectify the situation (Isa. 1:18).
Defining terms can help resolve misunderstandings for those who are willing to investigate (Acts 17:11-13). The word arrogant means “making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights....” Some synonyms for arrogant are presumptuous, haughty and proud. Antonyms of this word include meek, modest and humble. Arrogance is defined as “offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.”
Since proud is listed as a synonym for arrogant, let us consider its definition and then also see the shades of meaning among related terms. The word proud has two distinctly different connotations. One is a positive trait and means “feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself.” For example, a father can be proud of his son’s achievements. The other connotation of proud is the negative sense which is condemned in the Bible as sinful. This definition means “having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.” The related words proud, arrogant and haughty reveal a belief in one’s superiority.
These three words are distinguished from each other as follows. Proud implies lofty self-respect. Arrogant applies to overbearing behavior which arises from an exaggerated belief in one’s importance. Haughty implies an often disdainful assumption of superiority over others.
God’s word condemns the negative sense of pride as well as arrogance and haughtiness. Consider a few verses from the Bible on this subject. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim 3:6). “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). “But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:16).
The Bible plainly teaches Jesus never sinned (Heb. 4:15; I Peter 2:21,22; I John 3:5). Thus, he was never guilty of the sin of pride or arrogant boasting. Prophecy revealed the humble character of our king, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5). Our Lord said of himself, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
Since arrogance implies one is “making claims of superior importance,” was Jesus arrogant when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6)? No. He was simply stating the exclusive truth, even though it offends many. As a spokesman for the Lord was Peter arrogant when he said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)? No, though there are many who would accuse the apostle of being too narrow minded. Still, the Bible shows there is only one way to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ. Any other way is the way of eternal loss. This is not an arrogant claim of superior importance, it is God’s revealed truth.
Was Paul arrogant when he said, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4,5)? Certainly not since it was the same writer who just ten verses later instructed Christians to speak the truth in love. Paul was not guilty of insolence when he pointed out the Gentiles were “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18). Instead, Paul was motivated by love for lost souls. He wanted the Gentiles to hear the Gospel that could save them (Rom. 11:13; I Tim. 2:7). Was Paul being arrogant saying Christians have salvation while the unconverted Gentiles did not? No. Read his words in Galatians 6:14,15 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Paul pointed out the Jew was no better than the Greek since all have sinned (Rom. 3:9,23).
What does it mean to speak the truth in love? Apparently, some have concluded it means never upsetting anyone. However, this is not in harmony with God’s word. Jesus said things that offended some who heard him. A good example of this are the hard words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees (Matt. 15:1-11). “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying” (Matt. 15:12)? Even some of Christ’s disciples got upset and no longer walked with Him because of His teaching (John 6:60,61,66).
Speaking the truth in love means following Jesus’ example. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (I John 5:3). We must love lost souls enough to confront them with their sin and doctrinal error just as our Lord did. The apostles had plenty of opposition from unbelieving Jews but Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:20,27). Failing to declare all of God’s word to avoid controversy is not truly loving. It is cowardly.
Why might some contend it is arrogant to say there is only one true church? It is a common trait of the wicked to accuse the righteous. Ahab called Elijah the troubler of Israel when in fact it was the other way around (I Kings 18:17,18). One lost in sin usually does not want the light of truth exposing his dark deeds (John 3:19,20). Why did Cain murder Abel? “Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (I John 3:12). Only those who love the truth will appreciate the courage and wisdom of another who will point out his sin (John 3:21; Prov. 9:8,9).
Accusing a person of being arrogant when he stands for the unique identity of the Lord’s church makes one a judge of the heart. Who alone can fairly and accurately judge a person’s heart? God can! “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (I Cor. 4:5). See also Jeremiah 11:20; Acts 17:31 and II Timothy 4:8. Sadly, emotions and friendships rather than God’s word dictate some people’s actions (Matt. 10:37,38). We must not be silenced by those who insist it is arrogant to say there is only one true church and that one must be a faithful member of it to be saved.
John M. Brown
When studying religious ideas, theories, philosophies, and concepts, we all seek, or certainly we ought, to be as objective as possible. We recognize that prejudices, preconceptions, and personal feelings can sometimes cloud our view and make it more difficult to assess accurately; hence we seek an impersonal and unprejudiced determination regarding the matters at hand.
However, when it comes to the liberal rantings and ravings among us today, I frankly admit I take it personally. I do try to be objective in appraisal. But personal feelings lie just below the surface, and often force me to confront matters I would rather not. Truly, I find no pleasure at all in confronting liberalism. I would much rather NOT have to deal with it, in that I would rather it didn't exist among us, and thus be of no threat. Howbeit, unfortunately, liberalism among us exists, reality confronts us, truth beckons, and so we must speak.
Let me explain why, to me, personal feelings get involved in these matters. My grandfather, my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather, were all Baptist preachers. It is ingrained in our family many generations deep. When I was in high school, I met a preacher from the church of Christ. I know what I came out of, and what I went into. I know about severing family roots, to forsake the religious sentiments of my ancestors and enter into the one true church of Jesus Christ. In the course of our home Bible studies, as I learned God's Word, I was at times disturbed, often corrected, gratefully enlightened, and thankfully converted! That's awfully personal, wouldn't you agree?
Had the preacher who taught me NOT shown me the difference between the Lord's church and denominationalism, had he NOT taught me the difference between God's plan of salvation and what I had heard all my life growing up, and had he NOT taught me about faithful Christian service in life and worship comparing the New Testament pattern with the creeds and theories of men, I say had he NOT done these things, I would today NOT be a Christian. I would NOT be a member of Christ's church. I would be LOST and WITHOUT HOPE. And, I would be on my way to eternal HELL. YOU BETTER BELIEVE I TAKE IT PERSONALLY!! I have sincerely thanked God many times that my introduction to churches of Christ did not come from a person who didn't know the difference between the church of the Lord ad the churches of men.
I can easily take criticism of the church from without. I expected it and I have not been disappointed. But when I hear unjust and wrong criticism of the church from WITHIN, from those who ought to know better, then I am greatly disturbed and personally disgusted. I know what I forsook, and I know what I gained. I know where I was, and I know where I am. If you don't know the difference between the one church founded by Christ himself, and the churches of men, please write me. Just as I was shown by a brother several years ago, so I'll be glad to explain it to you.
I was sixteen years old when I began a study of the Bible. Some seventeen years have passed since. I learned a few things along the way. I can tell you exactly what you must do to be saved from past sins, to enter Christ's church, to worship according to the New Testament pattern, to serve God faithfully, and to go to heaven when you die. If you don't know, I DO. I say this not arrogantly or presumptuously. These are things I KNOW, and you can know them too! I know, because I have a Book -- THE BOOK -- God's Book, the Bible! It tells me these things and more. And it will tell you if you will listen. It is not a Book that is secret, mysterious, closed, locked and incomprehensible. It reveals God's will. GOD WANTS YOU TO KNOW HIS BOOK! I learned the truth because I learned the Bible. You can learn the truth because you can learn the Bible. We oppose liberals and liberalism, because it is advocacy of things contrary to the Book of God!
While liberals speak of "our fellowship" or "our movement," I speak of CHRIST'S CHURCH, the spotless bride for which our Savior died -- the one church, bought with the precious blood of the spotless Lamb. Now, that's personal with me, friend. For that's the blood, and the purchased church, of MY SAVIOR, MY LORD, and MY REDEEMER.
When liberals speak of "our traditions," I speak of GOD'S PATTERN. If there is no pattern to New Testament Christianity, then no one knows what's right, we are all hopelessly confused and blind, groping in the dark for nothing. But that's not the way it is -- you don't have to be confused, your Christianity doesn't have to be a guessing game. You can, personally, be lifted from the miry pit of sin, doubt, and confusion, and be put on the narrow way of light, hope and salvation.
When liberals speak of "change," I am reminded of the GOD WHO DOES NOT CHANGE, the Savior who is the SAME yesterday, today, forever, the WORD which forbids addition or subtraction, the GOSPEL whose warning echo is cursedness upon any who preach otherwise. When liberals speak of changing that by which I found salvation, you're right, I take it personally.
When liberals condemn "our arrogance" or "our sectarian spirit," I think of my BRETHREN, for whom Christ died, and who I must love even as I love God. I cannot extend my love impersonally. I think of brethren, not filled with pride, conceit, nor arrogance, but with conviction about truth! God bless those men and women of both former and present times who often, at great personal hardship, sacrificed for the truth of Christianity! Their toil, their labor, their conviction, their determination, made possible the easier road many of us can today traverse.
When liberal advocate fellowship with denominations, I think of FAMILY TIES I SEVERED, even as the Savior said I would, to take my stand with Him and with His people and with His truth. That gets mighty personal, now doesn't it?
In short, when liberals castigate and ridicule my SAVIOR, HIS CHURCH, and my HOPE, I can't for the life of me figure out any other way to take that, than personally. Can you?
WHERE ARE ALL THE TEACHERS?
Roger D. Campbell
Those Christians that taught the word of God in the first century played an important role in the work of the church. Some may have taught in one location while others taught as they traveled from place to place. Some, no doubt, taught constantly week after week and year after year, while perhaps others taught with less frequency.
In the 21st century, the church still needs its members to teach the word! We need to go out and take God’s word “into the streets and lanes of the city...into the highways and hedges, and compel” folks to repent and accept the Lord’s invitation (Luke 14:21,23). We need saints of God to teach their family members about the Christ as Andrew did (John 1:40-42). We need dads and moms teaching in the home, instructing their precious kids in the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
There is also a great need today, as in every generation, for Bible class teachers. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit has not designated in the Bible how often, where, and in what manner the saints of God must be together in Bible class arrangements, those questions all fall into the realm of judgment, with the leadership of each congregation determining what it deems will work most effectively for the local flock on the first day of the week or at any other time.
In order to have Bible classes, you must have students. Without students, there are no classes. In the same way, Bible classes also stand in need of someone to teach them. We need teachers in the classroom that faithfully teach and live the message of the Bible (1 Tim. 4:16). Some of the church’s most capable folks do not do much teaching. Thus, I ask, “Where are all the teachers?” Where are those faithful saints that are needed to teach new converts, young married couples, college-aged saints, teenagers, and kids all the way down to the infants? I recognize that not every member of the church is cut out to teach a class, and I also understand that some members are not yet spiritually mature enough to be given the responsibility to teach, but in many local churches, that still leaves several qualified people to teach. Where are they? Why is it that they do not teach?
There are too many who make excuses for not teaching.
“I’ve done my share of teaching. It’s time to let somebody else do it.” There is such a thing as “teacher burnout.” Sometimes folks just need a break from teaching. There are some great workers that have been in the classroom for decades. Their influence on the Kingdom and the population of heaven will not be fully known or appreciated until we meet on that other shore. But, at the same time, what if every person took the approach of “Let somebody else do it?” Not much would be done, would it? Besides, in our congregation’s directory, there is no brother or sister with the name “Somebody Else.”
“I would volunteer to teach, but I know how that works around here. Once you start teaching, you will never get anybody to take your place, so you are stuck with the teaching job for life.” Consider this possibility: approach the deacon or shepherd that works with the Bible class/educational program and volunteer to teach for a specified period of time, say three or six months, with the understanding that you are doing this only on a temporary basis. If you fear there might be a misunderstanding, write out your offer/proposal and sign your name. At the same time, especially where young children are involved, it often makes for a more stable classroom setting when a teacher can work with the same group for a bit longer period of time. Surely there are some arrangements we can come up with that get effective teachers into the classroom and at the same time keep them from getting burned out.
“I am just too busy right now to take on a teaching responsibility.” Without doubt, some circumstances at home or at work, or both, make it taxing to teach a weekly class. Yet, at the same time, how long have you been saying you are too busy to teach? Has it been six months? Three years? Seven years? Brothers and sisters, our Lord expects us to use our talents, and He can only increase our abilities when we use them! Some have the reputation of being good teachers, but they must have gained such years ago because they sure do not do any teaching these days. For some, the time factor may be a legitimate cause for not teaching on a temporary basis, but for others there is a good chance it is a sorry excuse for failing to do what they ought to do (James 4:17). While we use our excuse of “I’m just too busy,” humanistic teachers have plenty of time to pound evolution into the brains of our kids, TV producers have oodles of time to portray violence and nakedness as “normal,” and denominational zealots make ample time to spread the devil’s falsehoods. But, hey, it’s just our young people and the souls of God’s people that we do not have enough time for. How serious could that be?!
There is no biblical demand that says a congregation must divide into Bible classes by age groups. That decision, by the authority of the Lord (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Peter 3:18), is left to each local congregation. However, we see the advantage in many cases of doing so, but it would be just as scriptural to have everyone study in one room. Yet, would it not be sad if the leaders of a local church were forced to make such a decision because no one was willing to teach separate classes?
Bible classes play a huge role in determining where a congregation will be five or even twenty-five years down the road. You believe that, too, don’t you? Where are all the teachers?