Teacher, Teach Me!
Ellen just passed her eleventh birthday, and plays enthusiastically with her friends in the schoolyard. The bell now rings. She and her talkative classmates rush back to their classrooms. Lunch recess is over, and it is now time to sit quietly, while Mr. Ozeman reads to his fifth grade class. He is a tall, kind man, who speaks with a slight Czechoslovakian accent. What will he read today? Will it be from the Bible, as yesterday? Will he read to the class about Daniel, or Joseph, or Abigail or Hannah? Ellen hurries to her desk and sits down quietly. Even at her young age, she has developed a passion for learning. This is her favorite time at school. She listens intently now, while Mr. Ozeman reads the story of young Samuel, and how he learned to hear the voice of God. Christian, who will teach us now? Will you hear the voice Samuel heard, the voice of the greatest teacher of all? Will you quiet yourself now and pray with the Psalmist, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth” (Ps. 86:11).

by Jerry Gentry

“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it” (2Kgs. 22:8).

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa. 28:9).

Teachers are sometimes called book worms, because they devour books with a passion. They live in the world of facts and information. They dig deep and find “the rest of the story,” without which, they feel less than certain, less than fulfilled. You’ll spot this passionate natural teacher, sitting in the bleacher at a baseball game, with a book in his lap. On a trip, he always wants someone else to drive, so he can read in the car! He is driven for learning!

It is not enough to inform the natural teacher the truth of a matter. He must also know first hand why such is true. This natural teacher feels he must search out all the details, line upon line, and discover all the ins and outs of a matter. His burning desire drives him into this deep research. He must find the truth and nothing but the truth, by searching all the nooks and crannies of information. He leaves no stone unturned until every detail has been found and pieced together.

Satisfaction and fulfillment comes, for him, when he has found and validated the truth, never mind the consequences. Knowing and imparting that knowledge is everything to him. A few facts are not enough. He must dig into every possible source until all facts are opened to the light of day. Only then is the jigsaw puzzle solved. Only through thorough research is his subject illuminated completely, as the Bible teaches: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov. 25:2). To the end of finding and imparting knowledge and understanding, this natural teacher’s life is dedicated. He is the last to turn out the light at night, because he brings his book even to bed with him!

The gift of teaching is a plain and pure gift of scripture, third in rank but not importance after apostles and prophets. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1Cor. 12:28).

Further, the teacher is a distinct gift. “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?” (1Cor. 12:29).

We all need this teacher, who starts by reading, just as Mr. Ozeman reads to his class. Through ample reading we all learn, the teacher knows. Without reading, no men of letters ever rise into the realm of scholarship. Illiterate men learn little beyond the basics, as we know from reading about Christians of the middle ages, when the millennium of darkness settled over the masses, when the common people were forbidden even to read the Bible in the common language. Without the Bible, few people ever learn to read at all. It is through thorough reading that the teacher gift shines brightest. Teachers are smart people, because they read widely.

Remember all those homework assignments from school? Remember how at that time, you wondered in bewilderment, “Why do teachers assign all this stuff for me to read?” Only later did you come to see that it was not so much what you were assigned, though that certainly was important too. But more so, it was the fact of your reading widely, that gave you a broader sense of learning. Charles Dickens may have been boring then. Through reading you were learning how to learn, without realizing it. Why did God give us all those “begats” chapters in the Bible? Could it be partly at least to challenge us all in the art of sounding out words and learning to read them, while we also learn the importance of Israel’s genealogy?

Words are power. And powerful words fill the Bible, which we often take for granted. Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). What is he teaching us, in that statement? Think for a moment. Here is a book which internally claims to be the very words of the LORD GOD of Israel, the Creator of the universe, Whom you and I have never seen. This book claims to embody to Israel “the words of the LORD their God” (Jer. 43:1).

How will we learn those words? The answer is clear. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:7). Will we diligently, even passionately read and teach the Bible, especially to our children? Every parent is called to develop the teacher gift!

Through our passion for the words of God, we can excel in understanding, as the Psalmist teaches: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Ps. 119:99)? David reads the words of God. He also listens carefully to his teachers. The prophet Nathan taught him a parable of a rich man who stole a poor man’s single little ewe lamb. David judged the parable. Then Nathan told him, “Thou art the man” (2Sam. 12:7). David sat as king. He held the power of the throne. He could have denied the charge and discredited Nathan as God’s messenger. Instead, he received the message and judged himself: “I have sinned against the LORD” (13), he admitted. David was teachable, in a very personal failing. He repented. Through personal application of what he had been taught, David later became “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22), who ruminated on God’s words and lived by them day and night. Are we today teachable, in the deepest, most personal areas of our failings? When our faults are pointed out, will we justify ourselves, or will we say with David, “I have sinned against the LORD?"

We have all sat in classes and listened to many words being read and expounded by teachers. How well have we listened? Teachers get pretty detailed at times, and sometimes we have fallen asleep! We said it was boring, but it should not be boring, if the teacher is doing his job, and if our ears are atuned to learning. Our passion for learning must be rekindled, through submission to the word of God. The wisest man of all time tells us: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). What is wisdom, but to know and see from God’s viewpoint? How will be find His viewpoint, except we “seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deut. 4:29). The natural teacher’s passion for learning the ways of God is our cue to do the same.

Jesus taught at Nazareth on the Sabbath day when he “stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). He minced no words with those folks whose “eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him” (v. 20). He spoke with authority. He proclaimed the truth in their face and afterwards, when “they heard these things, [they] were filled with wrath” (v. 28). They “rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong” (v. 29).

This was a close call for Jesus at Nazareth! Even so, he hid himself from them, in plain sight. He lost himself in the crowd, a lesson he teaches us by example, when we deal with civil and religious authorities today. “But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (v. 30) to Capernaum, where his reception was a bit better. There, He also “taught them on the sabbath days” (v. 31).

“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (v. 32). What would it have been like to sit as a learner at his feet? Today, He has sent the Comforter, “the Spirit of truth. . . he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Will we submit that still small voice, who speaks to our hearts through our reading of the Word, Who brings conviction, Who “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). The same Jesus who taught his disciples personally speaks to us today through the Word brought to our remembrance by the Holy Spirit.

The candle of faith always flickers dimmest, when the teacher gift is suppressed, as the apostle Paul reminds us. Twice, he exhorts Timothy that ministers in the church must be “apt to teach.” (1Tim. 3:2; 2Tim. 2:24). Women also are instructed to teach. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:3-4). How many older women in the church today sponsor open classes for the younger women? How many older women will put their spiritual necks on the line and specifically “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.” This love is not limited to emotional affection alone. For “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1John 5:3). Whether it is against gossip or backbiting or being a busy body or a tale bearer or other temptations, younger women must be taught to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.” They must learn when to speak and when to be silent, as in “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1Cor. 14:34). To suggest that a woman’s silence in the church makes her inferior to man is preposterous! Her silence over men in public convocation is simply part of God’s order of things. There is a time and place for all things, if we believe and follow the word of God.

Men often cannot teach these qualities to a woman. She will not hear, unless she is converted, because she often feels threatened and throws up her defense mechanisms. Teaching younger women and children how to behave is the job of “aged women,” who have learned the fear of God. Until women also teach these things, male ministers will find little success. These ministers will be mocked in word and in practice!

Much has changed now, four decades after Ellen listened intently when Mr. Ozeman read the Bible to his fifth grade class. The Holy Bible has long ago been thrown out of the public school classroom. If Mr. Ozeman were alive and still teaching today, he would be fired! Today, teachers read only the approved, politically correct materials, which do not offend the “heathen” establishment which dominates public policy. The teacher gift has been officially silenced, disconnected from the God of the Bible, gone out of control from the top to bottom, in the public arena. It’s enough to make a Godly teacher cry! A silent teacher is a worthless, out of control teacher! What he knows, he can no longer teach openly and publicly.

This very book which the Pilgrims and Puritans brought to America some four hundred years ago, upon which this nation was founded, is now banned from most public buildings, lest it influence people who might come there! Teachers can no longer plumb it’s depths publicly, for fear of offense, lawsuit and banishment. Teachers in the public arena have become hirelings for profit, pawns of a a particular religion called secular humanism. Some few public school teachers still believe the Bible and bring it’s principles to bear whenever possible. These teachers must be supported and applauded. They are an endangered species.

When teachers fail to read and teach the Bible, as Mr. Ozeman knew and practiced, the foundations of society crumble. Today the great Puritan foundations of early America are torn down, lying in rubble. Our Puritan roots are laughed to scorn, traded for pleasure and profit and profound apostasy in the church. Teachers will rise to the occasion and lay the whole truth bare before our eyes, unless they slide into the “dark side” of that gift, which manifests itself in at least the following four ways.

1) The darkened teacher sometimes becomes so detailed that he never reaches a conclusion. He becomes an academic egghead! He knows much about nothing. He fails to pull together details into a whole, and make sense of all the pieces of his discovery. We’ve all known such educated fools who have no practical understanding. The educated fool knows about everything but is a master of nothing. He must refocus on goals. He must find conclusions and practical applications. He must discipline himself and avoid biting off too much. He must avoid the never ending research project, or at least break his projects down into manageable pieces. He must bring his gift into the practical world through project completion.

2) Akin to the educated egghead is the darkened know-it-all teacher. You cannot tell this person one thing. He already knows. At least he thinks he knows better than you know! He is the epitome of knowledge puffed up with pride. He is condescending toward those that don't know as much. This darkened teacher lacks patience to deal with those who haven't plunged into the depths and realms of study that have consumed his time and effort. Such a teacher can no longer be taught because of his assumption that he already has all the answers. He becomes aloof and totally unreachable. He condescends in his attitude to all who would reach out to him. He is a useless dinosaur in society, until he humbles himself and submits to the greatest Teacher of all.

3) Another dark aspect of an out of control teacher is that he/she continually corrects others for each and every mistake. Taken to an extreme, this causes those longing to be taught to withdraw and quit asking questions. They quit communicating all together with the teacher who won't let a single, minute misstep go unchastised. A kind description of this type is, "nit picker," who can be very exasperating! He is out of balance, out of control, and must learn that charity, or love, “shall cover the multitude of sins” (1Pet. 4:8). He must exercise patience.

4) Yet another darkened teacher digs deep, reaches accurate conclusions, but fears to speak out when his conclusions are politically incorrect. He fails to teach what he knows deep down. He is knowledgeable but cowardly. He is silenced by what he perceives as negative personal consequences for what he should teach. He therefore pulls into his shell and fails to make much of a contribution of what he knows and understands, when he thinks it will not serve his own purposes. Over time, he moves from a motive of love of the truth to a motive of fear of consequences. He is silenced largely from lack of courage. He must pray for a rekindling of his love of the truth. He must also pray that God will open doors through which he can exercise the fullness of his gift. He must worry less about offending men. He must concern himself more about offending God through his silence. He must learn the lesson: “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Rom. 2:21).

Every teacher must maintain a heart of humility and submission to God. “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1Cor. 8:2). Such a reminder keeps the teacher gift in line, because surely “Knowledge puffeth up” (1Cor. 8:1).

The teacher knows that his gift is not a one way street, but a two lane highway: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6). Feedback from others is a very important encouragement and correction to teachers, who must not get ahead of themselves. They must learn to wait on God: “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching” (Rom. 12:7). They must not depend solely on the wisdom imparted through research and books. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1Cor. 2:13).

“Teach me thy way, O LORD!” the Psalmist prayed over and over. Today, teachers and learners alike must pray this same prayer, lest true knowledge be lost, as in days of old when “now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law” (2Chr. 15:3). We find ourselves today in much the same predicament, when teachers and preachers have abandoned the law of God, which is His very standard of righteousness. Christians must stand against the antinominian spirit of our day. God’s law must be restored. What the prophets declare, the teachers much teach in detail, just as in the days of old. God’s law must be found and restored in our generation.
We all must pray, teach me thy way, O LORD. We look to you, our teachers, to shine your light before our eyes, that we may walk in the light. Teachers, will you rise to the occasion? Make His ways plain and illuminate our eyes, while you fulfill the wonderful gift of teaching that God has placed in you!

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