Apt To Teach
This is a study series that is to feature during the fortnightly Mens Breakfast events beginning 11th February and will continue to the end of this year.
THE VALUE OF THE TASK
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.2 Timothy 2:24-26
It is difficult to consider what else can be more important than that which has an impact that shall last for eternity. It is the Gospel therefore that must take its precedence over everything else. Therefore, it is the preaching of the word of God that is the work that must be attended to with all diligence so that many may be made disciples.
We might wonder what might be the single sentence that can be put on paper to reveal the infinite value of preaching. There are none better than that found in the scripture itself.
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.2 Tim 4:1-2
“To preach the Gospel and to make disciples of men”
In that text we find a charge given by Paul to the young pastor Timothy, a charge that has its purpose laid in the eternal scope of Christ respecting the judgement of mankind at the end of his days, and at the appearing of Christ and revelation of his kingdom. This final state of all who live and who have died is the eternal state of man that shall never be changed, and so it is for those who are his preachers to be always ready, “instant in season [and], out of season”, teaching and preparing people for this latter end. There is simply no higher calling and no greater purpose and to which all those who are his already have as the end point of any gift the Lord has given them.
We might also consider the oratories of those in the past that have been able to transform cultures and societies and even nations, but all of this, no matter how profound, cannot compare to the simplicity of the work gathered in the full understanding of the sentence, “To preach the Gospel and to make disciples of men”. This is a creedal paraphrase of Mark 16:15 & Matthew 28:19-20.
The Value is Everlasting
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.Mark 16:15-16
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.Matthew 28:19-20
Within these verses and encapsulated in the creedal sentence above, are both the scope of infinite bliss and the scope of infinite misery and warning. These verses hold within their meaning the everlasting value of the work at hand. Though words alone seem to escape our ability to comprehend the value of the work, some men have indeed attempted to do so.
“Preaching can never lose its place so long as the mystery of the human spirit remain”Charles Sylvester Horne ‘The Romance of Preaching’
“I have had but one passion, and I have lived for it – the absorbingly arduous yet glorious work of proclaiming the grace and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”J.H. Jowet “The Preacher: His Life and Work
“I maintain that ultimately the only true basis for personal work, unless it is to degenerate into purely psychological treatment, is the true and sound preaching of the gospel”Dr Martin Lloyed Jones “Preaching And Preachers”
To think that it is the very words that stem from our lips that has the capacity of moving a heart heavenward, is for us a privilege of infinite proportion
As I give my consideration on the matter I cannot but find myself overwhelmed by the importance of the task of the preacher, and of all those who should and must become “Apt to teach”. To state that the matter is of eternal significance also seems cliché without considering deeply the two aspects of eternity under consideration.
Heaven; that eternal home and wonder where there is a forever unity with God our creator. A place of everlasting joy and happiness where the fellowship of the saints come to perfect union with Christ our Saviour. Where light dwelleth, were we shall be in the company of angels and in blessed harmony with all that surrounds us. Eternal comfort and blessing in unimaginable joy, that celestial city for which we could only imagine for glory, indeed that which;
“eye hat not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”1 Cor 2:9
To think that it is the very words that stem from our lips that has the capacity of moving a heart heavenward, is for us a privilege of infinite proportion. So it will be when we consider what it is to be “apt to teach”.
“Hell is the polar opposite to heaven…”
Hell, however, finds its place in the starkest of contrasts, for this is that end to which man shall go if God can find none ‘apt to teach’. The LORD has given to man the work of that which is everlasting, and how can the lost find their way without those called to attend to this work? Hell is infinite, conscious misery, where it would have been far better if the mind were not capable of comprehending its eternal sorrow, yet we are informed through scripture that there will not only be a clearer comprehension in eternity than in this life, but a perfect memory of history past when opportunity was denied to escape.
The simple consideration of a fully awakened conscience, to the sorrow of eternal existence in hopeless abandon, is more than enough to sicken the heart. The forever-knowing that all hope is lost, that there remains but an eternal “I was” as the name of the wicked is forgotten (Jb 24:20), should motivate the gospel as a fire shut up in our bones that we cannot refrain from speaking (Jer 20:9). O how our heart should trouble us to the sorrow of the damned, yet hell’s sorrow is not its only misery.
The darkness of hell alone precludes any light and the loneliness of it precludes fellowship for eternity. Eternity… eternity, but could we even comprehend eternity, and we would hazard our lives to preach and train our minds to become ‘apt to teach’.
Hell is the polar opposite to heaven, all that heaven is, hell is not. Where there is comfort and joy above, there is torment and misery below (Lk 16:23), where light dwells in and with the saints, darkness prevails from the heart and around the damned (Jd 13), where the glory of the celestial body clothes the righteous, the worm shall not die nor the fire quenched for the wicked (Mrk 9:45-48), where a new name, even the father’s name, forever identifies the children of God, the name of the wicked shall rot (Pr 10:7).
But how, how can the lost find their way, how can they at least be given opportunity to reject the gospel, if there be none to preach? How shall they hear of hope without you?
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”Romans 10:13-15
It is that infinite work of the gospel on the heart of man that stems first through the hearing, for “faith cometh by hearing” (Rom 10:17), that will do its forever work. Scripture teaches plainly that Jesus came to bring a sword (Mt 10:34-37), to separate rather than unite this world, for “what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14), so is that infinite work of proclaiming the word of God, it will perform its task and not return to God void (Isa 55:11). This separation, this dividing work highlights rather than conceals the distinction between good and evil and it continues to do its work to condemn or convict the heart of man.
Certain then it is that if the fullness of the work be understood if the fullness of the value of the work of the gospel be comprehended, especially today as we see clearly the day approaching, nothing would come near troubling us more than becoming ‘apt to teach’. Indeed, we ourselves would be determined to change from who we are to become who we need to be that we “might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22).