In several of these “issues” posts I teach on points of doctrine. Yet I am not an ordained elder. What business do I have teaching these things, then?
I have a desire both to explore God’s good ways and to be of service to my brothers and sisters in Christ in encouraging us all toward joyful obedience to our Savior. But God’s purposes must be attained by God’s ordained means, so it’s worth taking a look at what God says about the proper place of the layman when it comes to teaching (exhorting, admonishing, etc.)
They examined the Scriptures
It’s good for us all to hold up teaching to Scripture:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
It could be possible though, that an unordained man should examine the Scriptures privately unless he is an elder.
Teach them diligently to your sons
Every man has a duty to teach his children the ways of the Lord:
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. … “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. ‘Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ “So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.
– Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 20-25 NASB
“For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” – Genesis 18:19 NASB
But what about teaching others?
By this time you ought to be teachers
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Now the Holy Spirit through James also says:
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
So it seems the Lord is not calling all of us to be teachers. That leaves open the question, should the few men who do become teachers be ordained before teaching?
The Scriptures speak to this question also…
Admonish one another
We in the church are responsible for building each other up, and part of this responsibility we carry out by admonishing one another:
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
–1 Cor. 14:24-26
Able to teach
One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). How would you know a man had this qualification unless he had demonstrated it before being ordained?
I’m under authority
I’m under the good authority of my elders, which the Lord gives for my protection and for the guarding of the truth. As the Holy Spirit exhorted the elders:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”
–1 Tim 6:20
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
–2 Tim 1:14
And as the Holy Spirit exhorts the layman:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
It is my duty and privilege to graciously welcome correction from my shepherds if at any point I stray from the path of love and truth.
Happy in this protection then, like a child who is secure in the love and protection of his father and mother, I continue to exhort my brothers and sisters in these matters of the soul.