The year is 2,347BC, the ground is still soggy, but plants are starting to spring up left and right, grass is thriving in the new topsoil, and little baby animals frolic in the bright sun. New mountains rise majestically above the plain, in the far distance a thunderclap announces a rain storm, which quickly gives way to a perfect rainbow.
In a tent supported by gopher wood scaffolding, a wise old man studies the scriptures with his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. He ensures they are well versed in the Genesis event, in the fall of mankind, the promise of a Redeemer born of woman, the increasing reprobation of mankind and of warnings ignored, the call to their father to build an ark in the midst of dry land, and the wrath of God coming when no-one on earth expected it. Above all, they knew that God was a gracious God and one who kept covenant with all those who trust in him. From these three men, all of the people of the whole earth were dispersed (Genesis 9:18-19).
The Bible Lost
The year today is AD2011, over 4,300 years have elapsed since that faithful man Noah instructed his sons in the scriptures. Then they went out throughout the whole earth, splashed to the four corners of the compass with their languages confused. Today you can go throughout this terrestrial ball and find people who today have utterly no recollection of the God who deluged the world in wrath, but chose to save just eight of their ancestors. Today legends and traditions and mysteries abound of a monotheistic Creator God who accepts atonement, who flooded the earth, and/or who is the first cause and self-existent one, but the details are lost, his name is veiled, his character is blurred, his communication is less than a memory, and his salvation is unknown.
How can there be so many nations, tribes, and tongues who descended from Shem, Ham, and Japheth who are ignorant of the God of their forefathers? Was it because God forgot them? No, for he promises to save a saint from every one of these peoples, even writing his first Gospel accounts to them, Matthew to the Semites, Mark to the Hamites, and Luke to the Japhethites. Then it must have been that the knowledge of God was lost by some hapless teachers in the past, those who felt that transmitting the Word of the Living God, the very words of eternal life, was not important, and by so doing condemned both themselves, and their hearers.
Not Many of You Should Become Teachers
Jesus tells us that the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. An ancestor of every person on that broad way at some time in the past knew how to find the narrow path, but failed to teach it. They led their entire progeny down the wrong road and great will be their destruction.
This is why James, the brother of Jesus, says so emphatically, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1) One bad teacher can condemn an entire church, an entire city, an entire people group. There is no more overpaid or overappreciated person than the one who teaches little ones to sin by ignoring the Bible. Truly Jesus was clear when he said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
The teacher who fails to teach the Bible, or fails to teach it faithfully, is setting themselves up for a great fall, and are doing immense damage not only to themselves but also to the souls of those whom they teach and those whom those will teach and so on.
You Ought to Be Teachers
The Apostle says to the Hebrews, “by this time you ought to be teachers”, speaking to a group of Christians who had been saved for some time, who had heard much truth and been instructed in the basics of the faith (Hebrews 5:12-6:3).
I am finding a sad trend in my area of people who read their Bibles, but don’t take them seriously and who certainly don’t tell others about what they’ve read. They read their Bibles through such a lens of tradition that they are not transformed or even interested in being transformed. They read verses like Matthew 22:7, Hebrews 1:9, and Revelation 14:10-11 and refuse to believe that God hates anyone or that Hell is eternal conscious torment inflicted by him. Others claim that free-will is the running theme of the New Testament, yet don’t realize that the word is never used in the New Testament, or that the Bible is violently against the concept. Others read the Bible to find the promises of health, wealth, and happiness, or trying to puff up their own self-esteem by overemphasizing their worthiness to save. They are much more interested in what the Bible means to them, than what the Bible actually means.
I am not lying one bit to say that these genuinely read their Bibles often. One recent conversation I had was with a young lady, a homosexual and communist advocate, who is on a strict reading plan of a chapter a night. But they perish for lack of knowledge, no-one has ever taught them how to read their Bibles or what the main theme is, no-one has ever confronted them in their errors.
Beloved, if you are a Christian, if you know what the Bible says, and you know how to rightly exegete a passage, declaring what the original author intended, then you ought to be a teacher. If you can’t do all of those things, then you ought not be a teacher, you should run from that role. Dan Phillips, author of the excellent book, The World-Tilting Gospel, gives the best advice, “Scripture meant one thing before you were born, means the same now, and will mean the same, should you die. Preach that meaning.”
Strive to Speak For God
Perhaps, dear Christian, you do not feel called to teach, or you do not feel equipped, or you just plain don’t want to. Then I call you to submit to the command of the Bible, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) Prophesy in the Old Testament occasionally dealt with new revelation, but more often than not was an exhortation to love God and love your neighbor, repenting of sin. Prophesy in the church deals exclusively with speaking for God out of the closed canon of the scriptures. When you quote John 3:16 or Romans 5:8, you become a prophet, because you are speaking for God.
Not only so, but as a herald and priest of the King (1 Peter 2:9), you ought to love to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of the darkness into his glorious light. You are commanded to strive for the ability to speak for God faithfully and with love.
And beloved, in so doing, you will perpetuate the words of eternal life, your students and hearers won’t be left in the dark as to who God is, what he demands of humanity, and how he is saving a remnant from every nation, tribe, and tongue by sending his Son to be the propitiation for their sins. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
Your church, your city, your people group is potentially only one generation away from complete spiritual darkness, all you have to do is fail to teach the Bible. If you claim to be a teacher in any capacity, then for the love of Christ and his church, teach that he has made himself known and can be known in perfect fellowship through the power of his resurrection revealed in the inerrant and infallible words of the Bible. Please do not face a stricter judgment by failing to teach the love of Christ, but open up your Bible and proclaim it in Spirit and in truth, living it in deed and in truth.
In an age when Bibles are available in every hotel, at every book store, in any library, for free at any festival, online in every translation and with an overabundance of explanatory notes, handheld in most phones, the Bible is being lost to future generations for lack of solid teaching. I beg you to not be guilty of condemning future generations by not caring enough about God’s Word or the message of the Word Incarnate to teach it faithfully and put your love into action.
Beloved, preach your Bible, declare the truth of Christ and him crucified, stand on the firm foundation of scripture; I pray you will, and I pray that the audacious words of Paul will be true of you, “Devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching…Practice these things, immerse yourself in them…Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:13,15,16)