The Work of Preaching and Teaching

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In many churches today, God’s Word, the Bible, is being misrepresented and misapplied. These misapplications of the sacred Word results in erroneous teachings, false doctrines, and a variety of heresies—all of which are dishonouring to God and demonstrate a total disregard for the infallible truths of God’s Word. This inexcusable mishandling of the Word of Truth results in a complete failure to feed God’s flock adequately. It fails to nourish and strengthen the people of God with the imperishable truths of the Scriptures and build up the church on sound doctrine.

Many ‘preachers’ (so-called) proclaim a false Christ or a false gospel because they take God’s Word out of context, make the Scriptures mean something the Spirit of God never intended them to mean, or add to God’s Word with supposedly ‘new revelations from heaven’.

We cannot hold fast to the Truth while misapplying God’s inerrant and unchangeable Word! We cannot say we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture while adding supposedly new revelations to that infallible and final written Word of God!

We as teachers must first study the Word thoroughly before teaching others. We must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. We must know how to understand and interpret God’s Holy Word correctly.

Essential Qualifications

Concerning those who would aspire to teach others in the doctrine and principles of God’s Word, James says:

James 3:1 LSB

“Do not, many of you, become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment”. (See v.2)

It should go without saying that no one can be qualified to teach God’s Word unless they have had a personal saving experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. Unregenerate individuals should never undertake the teaching of God’s Word. They may be highly gifted, talented or qualified in intellectual knowledge and oratory. Nevertheless, those still living in spiritual darkness and still abiding under God’s wrath against sin (Rom. 1:18) cannot teach the way of light and life, whatever their gifts or qualifications.

Only those called and regenerated by the Spirit of God unto salvation and eternal life are qualified to proclaim the Word of the Lord.

Importance of Teaching Sound Doctrine

The work of teaching, and the accuracy of our teaching, will exert a powerful influence— either for good or bad, for better or worse—on the minds and lives of others. Thus, we must ensure that we know the Word of God thoroughly ourselves before we ever presume to teach that Word to others.

Those who engage in the work of teaching must be aware of the greater responsibilities they are under and the greater strictness by which the Lord will judge them. This spiritual awareness applies to anyone who teaches God’s Word—whether a pastor, evangelist, Bible class teacher, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, elder, deacon, missionary or any other kind of Christian teacher. He must ensure that he teaches God’s Word correctly and strictly according to sound doctrine.

Inadequate Knowledge Leads to Errors of Faith and Practice

Failure to know and understand the whole of God’s Word will inevitably lead to teaching errors. Errors in teaching will result, in turn, in corresponding errors in belief and practice within the church. ‘Minor’ mistakes, misinterpretations, or misunderstandings in one area of God’s Word may result later in more significant and more serious mistakes, misinterpretations, or misunderstandings. Unless recognised and corrected, these mistakes may culminate in some serious doctrinal and practical errors.

If we are to be faithful in teaching the truths of God’s Word to others, we dare not neglect the careful study of that Word or the secret place of prayer and meditation. Suppose our study, preparation, and prayer periods are inadequate or rushed. In that case, we risk misleading others with our mistaken interpretations or incorrect views of a particular doctrine or principle.

Thus, those in a formal teaching capacity must, for example, study hermeneutics to understand, interpret and apply God’s Holy Word correctly. Similarly, it is advantageous for formal Bible teachers to have a working knowledge of the original languages in which God’s inspired Word was written and spoken—Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

Proclaiming the Whole Will of God

Not only is it essential to know, understand, and adhere steadfastly to sound doctrine, but it is also essential to proclaim the whole will (or counsel) of God. (Acts 20:27) Every subject covered by the Word of God and relevant to the Christian faith and life should be covered—and covered adequately— by those who engage in preaching and teaching. This not only includes everything of a spiritual nature contained in the Word of God, but it also includes everything of a moral nature. It includes not only what we must believe but also what we must continually practice in our daily lives.

Each Man’s Work Will be Judged

It is because of the influence that our teaching will have on other people’s lives that the Lord will judge us more strictly. Among other criteria, the Lord will judge us according to how well we have learned the Word of God and how well we have taught that Word to other people. In this regard, each one of us will receive a reward according to the degree of our faithfulness to Christ and his Word. If we have proved consistently unfaithful to the Lord in this respect, we could lose part or all of our reward (although not our salvation). This degree of faithfulness includes the diligence we have employed, or have failed to employ, in making the Word of God known to others. We will suffer a loss of reward if we have not been diligent in presenting the Word of God faithfully. On the other hand, we will gain the commendation of Christ and an eternal reward in heaven if we diligently endeavoured always to present God’s Word faithfully. We must do this, however, in love, in humility, without compromise, and according to sound doctrine.

Judgment by Fire

Concerning the strict judgment that the Lord will apply to those who have taught God’s Word—or rather, that he will apply to the quality of their teaching—the Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 LSB

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11) 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (cf. Acts 4:11-12; Eph. 2:20).

12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident, for the day will indicate it because it is revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (See vv. 1-23)

The judgment by fire or ‘revelation with fire’ (v.13) pertains to the strict or searching judgment of teachers of God’s Word and the nature and quality of their teaching. The sure and immovable foundation has already been laid, and that foundation is the Rock of our faith: the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Preachers and teachers of God’s Word are responsible for building upon that foundation and that foundation alone. However, the Lord will assess and judge the quality of the material they use—i.e. the nature and quality of their teaching—and he will reward them accordingly. If they have used worthless material—if their teaching was of little substance or value in the sight of God—they will suffer a loss of reward. They themselves will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (v.15 NIV).

Thus, it is the believer’s duty and responsibility to be faithful in his service to the Master. He will judge each one of us according to our works. We will be rewarded or will forfeit our reward (although not our salvation) according to the diligence we have employed in exercising the particular gifts that God has given us. If we have failed to serve others in their need, we have failed to serve Christ. If we have been careful to serve others, and have ministered to their needs, then we have served the Lord of Glory and ministered to him.

Dear friends: Are we rightly dividing the Word of Truth—or are we misunderstanding, misrepresenting and misapplying God’s Holy Word?


(Scripture quotations taken from the Legacy Standard Bible (LSB) ©2021 by The Lockman Foundation.)

Author’s Article adapted from the doctrinal study, Bible Truths Explained: Good Works (BTE13), Part 7 by Gordon Lyons, 2005. 05/12/22 (Online PDF document)

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