We live in the information age. The sources of information available to us seem infinite. But just because so many sources exist does not mean they all should be trusted, discernment and wisdom are needed. This is especially true when it comes to those we entrust to teach us the Word of God. Bible teaching is not about sharing a preacher’s opinion, it is about disseminating divine truth and wisdom to God’s people so that they may continue to grow in the grace God has provided.
The apostle Peter addressed this issue in his second epistle by discussing the preeminence of the Word of God above all else (1:12-21). For Peter, the truth of the Scripture was paramount, not the popularity, or novel interpretations of individual teachers. We must agree that the Word of God is the true treasure, but also that God has given us a gift in doctrinally sound teachers who help us understand and apply God’s truth to our lives.
Sound teachers help us by constantly reminding us of the truths we need to know and how they apply to our lives. Peter said we know the truth, because we are established in it (1:12), but we need to hear it again and again, presented in different ways and in different contexts because that is what helps us remember it. The truth we have never changes but the depth of our understanding increases. Constant reminders from sound teachers help us to remember and apply God’s Word to our individual life circumstances accurately.
The heart of sound teachers is their responsibility to teach. Peter said he thought it right to continue to stir up his people by way of reminder (1:13). A sound teacher feels the weight of responsibility that goes along with the job. It is a burden that hangs on them, it is a force that compels them, and a responsibility that torments them. I can remember many years ago seeing my own pastor’s mentor preach in our service one Sunday morning. He was an aged man, who was rolled onto the platform in his wheelchair, who was moved to the pulpit with the aid of others, who had a microphone lowered to his level, and whose broken and raspy voice made it a challenge for him to even get some of the words out. Why did he do this? Why did he put himself through the struggle? Because he was a sound teacher who thought it right, as long as he was in that body, to stir us up by way of reminder. Our need to be taught was greater than his physical limitations. That is the heart of a true Bible teacher.
In chapter one, verse fifteen, Peter shares with us the hope of sound teachers, “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” So, through repetition of the truth and pointed application, Peter hopes that his readers will remember these things (the things that they should do) long after he is gone. Some folks will tell you good preaching is all about how good your illustrations are because that’s all people remember anyway. Others of us would argue that good preaching is about applying God’s Word to people’s lives so that they remember what to do in real life situations, not the cleverness of our story telling. The hope of every sound teacher is that people will recall the teaching, not the teacher.
So, whoever you are, and wherever you are, do the hard work of finding a Bible teacher that has this level of commitment, this burden of responsibility, this heart that puts your need to learn and understand first. And when you find that teacher, learn from them. God has given us the gift of sound teachers to increase our knowledge and multiply our spiritual growth. Our responsibility is to learn and grow in the grace God has provided.