(1) Every Christian Should Teach the Bible
If you are a Christian, you are called to teach the truth of God’s Word to others through your personal ministry. You may not be called to or gifted for a public ministry of the Word; you are, however, called to a private ministry of the Word that will require you to teach others. The author of Hebrews warned his readers that their inability to teach others actually revealed a serious spiritual immaturity (see Heb 5:11-14). The expectation implied in this warning is that every Christian should possess some capacity for teaching God’s Word to others. Paul wrote to the Romans: “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another” (Rom 15:14). Every true Christian is a teacher.
(2) Not Every Christian Should Teach the Bible
Although all Christians are called to teach the truth of God’s word to others through their personal ministries, not every Christian will sense a call to teach God’s Word publically; nor should a Christian entertain this calling without serious self-evaluation. James tells us plainly, “Let not all of you become teachers” (James 3:1). Why? Because we will be held to a stricter standard and the opportunity to sin with our mouths is greater (see James 3:2ff). The opportunity for hypocrisy is also increased. As Mark Dever has rightly observed, “Immature teachers make the most notable hypocrites.” A teaching ministry—whether at a lay or vocational level—should not be pursued without much sober-minded reflection and the honest counsel of one’s spiritual leaders (Heb 13:17).
(3) Teaching May Be Your Spiritual Gift
Nevertheless, given this warning from James, we know that Christ has given his church teachers for the sake of his church’s spiritual growth and maturity (Eph 4:11-12). If Christ has gifted you as a teacher, you must use that gift for the common good of God’s people (1 Cor 12:7) as a faithful steward of God’s grace (1 Peter 4:10-11). Pastors are to entrust the truth to faithful men who are able to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). If you believe God has endowed you with the gift of teaching, then you are called to cultivate and use that gift by God’s grace and leading.
Yes, it is possible for pride to be the predominant motive in one’s desire to teach. We will discuss motives in a subsequent post. If this is where you’re at, then you should wait awhile, serve faithfully in less visible areas of ministry, and ask God to purify our motives.
But it is also possible that one may sense a strong desire to teach God’s Word from righteous motives. Actually, we may find a temptation to pride lurking in our hearts whenever we seek to glorify God and be obedient to Scripture. Even those whose gifts are more “hidden” may find they are tempted to “practice their righteousness before others to be seen by them” (Matt 6:1). It will always be our daily business to put these motives to death (Rom 8:13).
But God is gracious and patient, and he will come to the aid of the Christian who confesses their pride and seeks to use their gift, as best they can, from a heart that loves Christ and loves Christ’s people. “Some are loathe to do good because they feel their hearts rebelling, and duties turn out badly,” Richard Sibbes observes. But, he adds, “We should not avoid good actions because of the infirmities attending them” (The Bruised Reed, 50). If God has called you to teach, he will give you the grace to carry out this calling for his glory.