Matthew 28:19-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you …”
Many men and women of every country throughout history has chosen the profession of being a teacher. In a sense, on a small scale to a large scale, we have been a teacher throughout our lives. On a small scale, each time you have given a lost driver direction, you have taught or on a more moderate scale if you have ever been assigned to help a new fellow worker how to carry out his or her job you have taught. When you help others by teaching them something that they did not know, so that it improves their life in some way, you too gain a measure of satisfaction.
When we think of the responsibility of every Christian as a teacher of God’s Word, we have a unique trust given to us. We are commissioned to “make disciples of all the nations …, teaching them.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Men have been given an extended weightier responsibility to teach within the Christian congregation as well. Qualified men are appointed to serve as “shepherds and teachers,” with a view to “building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) Mature Christian women are to “teach what is good, and so train the young women.” (Titus 2:3-5) There is no greater privilege than to be able to share the Word of God with others, be it unbelievers, or within the Christian congregation, so as to bring new ones to Christ and to help others to grow spiritually.
How, though, can we become more effective in our teaching of God’s Word? Essentially, it is by IMITATING THE GREAT TEACHER, Jesus Christ. Yes, all of us likely give pause to the idea that we can imitate the Son of God, who was a divine person and a perfect human after all. Admittedly, none of us can be perfect teachers. Nevertheless, regardless of our backgrounds, skills, experience, or strengths, we can still do our best to imitate the way Jesus taught. In the next few blog posts, including this one, let us discuss how we can employ four of his methods: simplicity, effective questions, logical reasoning, and fitting illustrations.
Keeping It Simple
Many pastors love to say that the Word of God is not complicated or difficult. This just is not the case. Now, to be fair there are many basic truths that are simple and straightforward within the Word of God.
Matthew 11:25-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for such was well-pleasing in your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.
11:25–27. In these verses, Jesus was speaking to his Father. He praised his sovereign Father for his wisdom and his grace—wisdom in his discretion regarding who should receive revelation of the truth and who should not, and grace toward those who received the revelation (1 Cor. 1:18–31). Implied here, and stated clearly in verse 27, is the fact that no person on his own has the ability to know or understand the supernatural realities that only God can reveal (2 Cor. 4:3–4). Jesus would continue to manifest the same type of wisdom as he transitioned into his later style of teaching (beginning in Matt. 13), presenting truth in such a way that those who had “ears to hear” would understand it, and those with hardened hearts would not.
God takes an active hand in the blindness of the hard of heart, as an act of judgment. He hides the truth from the proud of heart (11:25; cf. 13:14–16).
Those with “ears to hear” were the “little children” (11:25); those who came to Jesus with the humility and simple faith of a child (18:1–4; 19:13–15). Those whose ears and hearts were closed to the truth were the wise and learned (skilled, wise, and intelligent). These are those who, in their own eyes, are too knowledgeable and mature to stoop to childlike humility. Those who think they know truth do not, and those who realize they do not know the truth will have it revealed to them (cf. Prov. 3:5–7; 12:15). It is the same today. As usual, Jesus turned the world’s value system on its head, for it was exactly opposite from that of the Creator.
These things (11:25) refers to the knowledge of Jesus’ authority and identity, based on his teaching and miracles. Jesus himself was at the heart of what was being revealed or hidden.
The Father was pleased that only those who recognized their own spiritual poverty (5:3) would receive revelation regarding Jesus’ authority and identity (11:26 cf. God’s pleasure and will in Eph. 1:5, 9, 11).
The Father, who is Lord of heaven and earth (11:25), has delegated all things to Jesus, his Son (v. 27). Jesus has total authority and discretion on earth about who will find true knowledge of the Father (cf. 28:18, as Jesus empowered the disciples to fulfill the Great Commission).
Only the Son and the Father truly know each other. The word for know here is epiginosko, which takes the root word ginosko, “to know intimately by experience” (a term of relationship, as opposed to oida, “to know factually”), and intensifies it with the prefix epi-. The resulting verb implies thorough, intimate, experiential knowledge, as in a very close relationship. This is the nature of the Father-Son relationship. Incredibly, those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him [the Father] can also participate in this divine intimacy but no one else has a clue, being excluded by their lack of faith. The Christian can revel in his walk with Christ, while the arrogant unbeliever does not know it exists.
1 Corinthians 1:26-28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 For consider your calling, brothers, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that he might bring to nothing the things that are,
Thus, the Father has chosen (those who are by worldly standards considered weak, insignificant, and inferior), to reveal his will and purposes. Therefore, we can understand why THE GREAT TEACHER, Jesus Christ made simplicity a key feature of his teaching. When we share the Word of God today, how can we teach with simplicity? Well, this is exactly why we are looking to THRE GREAT TEACHER. Many of those whom Jesus taught throughout his three and half year ministry was “uneducated and untrained,” Jesus, therefore, used basic language that they could easily grasp. (Acts 4:13) So, our first step in teaching with simplicity is to keep an eye on our vocabulary. Our using high-sounding words or phrases are not going to make the truth of God’s Word more convincing to others. Such “lofty speech” or “superiority of speech” can come across as very scary and intimidating, especially to those who may have a limited education or ability to understand. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2) Jesus helps us to appreciate that if we chose our simplified words carefully we can convey the truth just as powerfully as any longwinded teacher with his winsome words, even more so really.
Aside from using an easy to understand vocabulary, another way to teach with simplicity is to define terms that may not be easily understood. We do not want to completely dumb down the truth but rather bring our listener up to the truth. If we have to use such biblical terms as atonement, tribulation, foreknowledge, sanctification, reconciliation, justification, or propitiation, to name just a few, we need to define these terms in simplified terms. If we are talking about terms that are related to the Bible such as the Septuagint, inerrancy of Scripture, textual criticism, dynamic equivalent, hermeneutics, or any other technical term, these also need to be defined in easy to understand language.
However, there are other concerns that one must consider in keeping it simple. We do not want to give our listener too much information too fast. Of course, different settings will require different amounts that we may choose to share. For example, maybe we make a Bible comment to a person in line at a store, this would be very brief, maybe giving them a Bible tract to take with them. Then, there might be a time when you are on public transportation like a train, which means you have more time, or in a waiting room at a doctor’s office.
Then, again, maybe we are witnessing to them in their home because we or our church is carrying out some kind of house to house ministry. In this case, we can spend more time and share more information. Yet, we need to pay attention to their body language. We should never stay more than one hour if we are invited in unless under very special circumstances. Generally, we can all sense when some’s interest level falls off a little. If this happens, we do not want to overstay our welcome. We need to be careful to avoid overwhelming the unbeliever with too much information. Jesus was thoughtful of the limitations of his disciples. (John 16:12) For example, if the unbeliever is interested in a certain Bible topic, we do not need to explain every single detail of that Bible topic. Nor should we rush through the Bible topic thinking that we must completely cover the topic as if this is the most important thing. Rather, we need to focus in on the unbeliever that we are talking to, what are his or her abilities and interest levels, as this will determine the pace and the amount that should be covered. Our main goal is to teach God’s Word and to make disciples of Christ. We need to take whatever amount of time is necessary to carry out this commission. We need to take whatever time is necessary to help the unbeliever to grasp clearly what he or she is learning. It is the biblical truths that will move the right-hearted ones to action. – Romans 12:2.
If we are privileged to be able to teach a Bible study class in the Christian congregation or to give a talk before the whole church how can we “utter speech” that is ‘intelligible’? Paul cautioned the Corinthians concerning speaking in tongues, but the principle helps us as well as teachers. He wrote, “So also you, unless you with the tongue use speech that is easily understood, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” (1 Corinthians 14:9) Here are three suggestions that can help us. First, just as was mentioned above, explain any terms that may be unfamiliar. Those who are Christians have a unique vocabulary as it is. Christians with a deeper Bible knowledge have an even broader unique vocabulary that encompasses many technical or theological terms. If we use such expressions as “redemption,” “repentance,” “Lord’s Day,” and “apostasy,” we may need to explain them with simple phrases that make the meaning clear. Second, do not become wordy in an effort to explain something that can be said with few words, as you will likely lose many in your audience. Simplicity and clarity come from trimming off any unnecessary words and phrases. Third, again, as before with the unbeliever, do not try to cover too much information in your allotted time. As we are researching our Bible study for the class or the sermon to the church, we may come across many interesting details. However, it is better if we just pick a few of the most important and organize the material, so that it supports the point of the study or the sermon.
 Figuratively speaking, Jesus’ disciples were given understanding because they humbly sought answers, as spiritual babes, unlike the Jewish religious leaders, the so-called wise and intelligent. Infants; Young or Small Child; Baby: (Gr. nēpiazō) This refers to a small or young child of about three to four years old, who is helpless and totally dependent on the aid of others. Figuratively, this also refers to a person who is like a child in that they lack experience, wisdom, or judgment and have a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is true. In the case of the Jesus’ disciples, they wisely chose to seek answers as opposed to remaining a spiritual babe.
 Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 167–168.
 Lit see
 I.e. human standards
 Or base things; Lit unborn; implying a lack of noble descent, inferior
 Or unlettered (YLT) that is, not educated in the rabbinic schools; not meaning illiterate.
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