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Big Idea:

Teaching helps us know God, His word, and His will for our lives.


Good morning. Welcome to Church Online. Thanks for joining us.
Hope you had a wonderful 4th! I’ve discovered New England really knows how to make this day special!
This morning we are finishing our “What’s Included” series. It’s a series that’s part of our grander, year-long series, that’s using Legos as a theme to help us “Grow in Christ.” And “What’s Included” has been focused on spiritual gifts. And we’ve studied a lot them (not all of them - all of them aren’t even listed in Scripture). But we’re going to close with the “gift of teaching.”

What is it?

So, what IS the gift of teaching? We can define it this way:
It’s the Spirit-powered ability to teach Scripture and apply it to people’s lives.
That’s pretty straight-forward. The gift of teaching is simply the ability to help people understand and apply the Bible to their lives.
Now, here’s something unique about this gift: It’s rare.I believe this based on what the apostle James (Jesus’ half brother) says...
James 3:1 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
I don’t think this is just James’ opinion. Rather, the Holy Spirit giving both instruction and clarification.
God is serious about His Word.
God is serious about His children.
Therefore, the responsibility to teach His children His word is serious business.
And not many are given it. Not like some of the other gifts we’ve discussed.
So, who does have it?

Who can have it?

I’ll put the answer in 3 categories:
Anyone can have it. Just because not many have it, doesn’t mean God can’t gift it to whoever He chooses. Paul says, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:27) When it comes to teaching, God chooses whoever He wants, even if it’s a surprise to everyone else!
Furthermore, He can choose either man or woman, young or old. Now, that statement might make be uncomfortable to some of you. That’s good. As we’ll see later, this gift properly used should challenge us!
I’ll at least mention this. There is much discussion over gender and teaching the Bible. This sermon will not go into that. But what we can know is the Holy Spirit chooses as He wishes: man, woman, young, or old, black, white, or in between.
Thirdly, Eph 4:11-12 says, “And God gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ...”
That phrase, “the pastors and teachers,” describes an interesting dynamic about the gift of teaching and leadership in the church.
In the original language, these two titles (pastor and teacher) are connected, but also describe separate leadership roles.
Which leads us to this: A pastor should always have the gift of teaching, but those with the gift of teaching aren’t always pastors.
I’m a pastor. I believe the Bible requires me to be able to teach the Bible. However, there are people who God has called to teach the Bible, who aren’t called to be pastors.
Make sense?
With that groundwork laid (what it is and who can have it), let’s talk more about what else this gift involves?
To do this, I want to introduce a young man in the Bible named Timothy. He’s someone Paul discipled. He was a dear friend. Paul wrote two letters to his friend that are found in the Bible. At the time, Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. And false teachers had snuck into the church, So, Paul was writing Timothy to instruct him on how to correct the situation. And in these letters, we learn a lot about the gift of teaching.
I believe this particular gift is extremely helpful:
1 Timothy 4:13 ESV
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
In this short verse, we see three important aspects to the gift of teaching.

1) Teaching gives attention to the Scriptures.

This is kinda a “no duh” point, especially since our earlier definition involved the phrase, “the ability to teach Scripture.” But Paul makes emphasizes this when he writes, “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.” The sense “WHEN YOU TEACH, USE THE BIBLE!!!”
Here at The River Church, I teach in two different styles:
Topically: I pick a topic to teach on.
Expositionally: Meaning I teach thru a portion (or even whole book) of the Bible.
In both cases, what I say, what I teach, the applications I make, are all sourced from, and involve, the Bible.
In the Church, the gift of teaching is more than inspirational speaking. More than funny stories. More than engaging information - like a TED talk, podcast, or YouTube video. It is using accurately teaching through Scripture.
It involves:
Reading and being familiar with the text.
Properly interpreting the text based on history, culture, language, and context.
And, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, properly making application for our lives.
Maybe some of you are think, “That sounds like a lot of work!” It is!
You know, I FULLY believe everyone CAN and SHOULD read the Bible! I believe it’s healthy. That’s why we’re such HUGE FANS of the YouVersion Bible App! I want us all to personally feed on God’s word!
At the same time, the Bible is not an easy book to read. Some of you said, “Amen!”
This is an ancient document written over a thousand years, thousands of years ago, thousands of miles away, by multiple authors, who lived in different cultures and circumstances, and spoke different languages. This can be hard to understand!
But… God wants us to understand! Which is why He gives the church people with the gift of teaching! Those who teach us the Scriptures. People who help us understand who God is, who we are, and what’s His purpose for our lives!

2) Teaching Exhorts/Encourages others.

Paul tells Timothy to “give attention… to exhortation.” Some translations use the word “encouragement.” Both phrases are helpful because they tell us that when the gift is in use, the church is built up - it grows in its faith!
Teaching adds spiritual value our lives. We saw this verse earlier...
Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Teaching equips! It causes growth. It supports. It encourages!
Which also means it doesn’t “beat the sheep.” Teaching doesn’t focus on telling people how bad they are. Maybe you’ve heard that you’re a sinner. That “your heart is desperately wicked.” While that’s true and found in the Bible, it’s not the purpose of “teaching.”
The “gift of teaching” is designed to help us understand our new life in Christ by explaining and encouraging us from the Bible. For example, when I share…
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Romans 8:1 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:37 ESV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Colossians 1:12–13 ESV
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 1:6 ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:4 ESV
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
I could go on for a long time. And as a follower of Christ, when you hear these verses, when you’re taught these verses, you should be encouraged. It should give you godly strength and confidence to walk in God’s purposes for you. That’s the way it’s designed to work!
But sometimes, we “teachers” get distracted. Or, we forget the purpose of the gift. And instead, we focus on thing like Paul references here...
1 Timothy 4:7 ESV
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
There were false teachers in Ephesus. People teaching things that added no value to their faith. The purpose of their teachings had little or nothing to do with building up the church through the teaching of Scripture.
We can do similar things today. We debate over end-times. Politics. Major on minor issues. Or, guilt and shame people into behaving like “real Christians.”
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and place for secondary discussions. There’s also a need to teach truth about hard things like: We are sinners. We are broken. We desperately need a Savior. False teachings.
We need to teach hard truths that challenge us to examine the sin in our lives. Our rebellion toward God. It’s an essential part of the gospel message, but it’s NOT the gospel message!
This is the gospel is good news! Yes, we need the bad news to make the good news truly good. But the bad news isn’t the focus or goal! Our goal is the GOOD news!
Teaching always points to God’s grace found in Jesus! It encourages us to know God and equips us to live in His purpose for our lives! That no matter how much we keep blowing us, we have forgiveness, power, and security in Jesus Christ! That’s good news!

3) We teach for transformation.

This point is directed towards those who have the gift. But, it also helps the rest of us know what we should be looking for in a pastor and bible teacher.
When someone has the gift of teaching, they teach for transformation. And that starts with this: When we teach, people should understand.
That means we use language people understand. We use stories people connect with. We consider our entire audience. And we communicate in a way that brings about the most understanding....
I have to remind myself of this all the time!
Just because I study big theological words, doesn’t mean they need to be in the sermon.
When I tell a story, do people understand why I used that story?
Am thinking about the 77 year-old woman, the 7 year-old kid, and everyone in between when I’m teaching? Because when I use my gift - it should aim to bring understanding of the Scriptures to all of them!
The average person remembers 1-3 things from a sermon. When I teach, what do I want them to understand? Am I communicating in a way that accomplishes that?
Teaching for transformation involves prioritizing understanding!
But as important as that is, it can’t just be my words. Teaching for transformation requires I personally live a transformed life. Paul told Timothy...
1 Timothy 4:16 NLT
Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
People who hear me teach are also watching how I live. If it doesn’t match, there won’t be transformation! We must practice what we preach. The salvation of the community we love depends on it!
And I’ll finish with this… everyone is being transformed by some type of teaching. Facebook is teaching us. The news is teaching us. Netflix is teaching us. Our friends are teaching us. There are a lot of teaching voices in our community.
Paul also told Timothy...
1 Timothy 4:1 ESV
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
And just like back then, we are still dealing with false teaching. Voices that are teaching. And what they’re teaching isn’t based on God’s word. They may sound right, but they are false.
Which is why it’s important for the church to have people with the gift of teaching.... Those who can:
Teach us the truth of Scripture - what God says versus the lies of the enemy and this world.
Those who can teach for transformation and give us an example of what a transformed life looks like!


As we close today - and for this series - let me give us a couple of ways we can respond to THIS teaching...

If you have the gift...

Take your gift seriously! Dig into God’s word. Prioritize it! God has given you the responsibility of teaching His word, to His people. People are constantly bombarded with the voices of the enemy. You are God’s plan for combating and conquering that!
That means you might need to get training.
Find someone a little (or a lot) above you. Someone who can help you grow in your handling of the Word.
For TRC, those type of relationships are found in our Life Groups. So, if you have the gift of teaching but aren’t in a Life Group, get in one! Your gift is grown in community.
It’s also in community that you have the accountability to practice what you preach, which is necessary for everyone’s transformation.
Those of us with this gift should aim to be able to say what Paul told Timothy...
2 Timothy 3:10 NLT
But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance.
It’s that kind of teaching that leads to community transformation.

For everyone else...

Take advantage of those in your church who have this gift. God has given them for your benefit. They are part of His plan to help you grow in Christ.
That means you need to be in Life Groups with them!
You need to prioritize Sunday morning worship, where the Word of God is taught correctly.
And it also means you use the teaching tools God has blessed our generation with, like RightNow Media or YouVersion Bible App.
I’ll leave it with this passage that describes what happens when the gift of teaching is flourishing. Paul says to Timothy...
2 Timothy 3:14–17 NLT
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Let’s pray...
Father, thank you for Your Word. And thank you for those with the gift of teaching. We pray that through their gift, our lives would be transformed. That we would know more about You. And Your plan for our lives. And that we would be equipped to walk in those purposes.
And Father, before we end, we pray for those who may not know You. Maybe they’re listening to this teaching and this is the first time they’ve heard the gospel. The good news that although we are sinners, You love us so much that you sent your Son Jesus to die on a Cross for us. To pay for our sins. A price we could not pay on our own. And the good simple news is if we turn away from our sin, and put our faith (our trust) in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross (that what He did worked!), that payment will be applied to our lives. We will forgiven and given new life! And we will have the hope of eternity. We won’t need to be afraid of death because just like Jesus rose from the dead, we too will one day rise and spend forever with you.
Lord, we pray that those who need to hear this teaching today would respond and apply it to their life by faith. That they would pass from death to life. From fear to freedom. From anxiety to peace. In Jesus name, amen.
If you’d like to join a Life Group, follow the link on the comments or visit our website: And if you’ve decided to put your faith in Christ today - fill out one of our digital connect card. We’d love to celebrate with you and walk with you in this new and exciting life. God bless you!
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