What exactly does it mean to teach the Word of God? This may seem like an easy question, but it is one we ought to be very clear about. Perhaps the best answer is given in the Bible itself. Let’s look at this rich passage from several translations:
- They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. Nehemiah 8:8 (NIV)
- They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading. Nehemiah 8:8 (MSG)
- [They] explained the meaning of the passage that was being read. Nehemiah 8:8 (TLB)
- They read from the Book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. Nehemiah 8:8 (ESV)
- They read the Book of God’s Teachings clearly and explained the meaning so that the people could understand what was read. Nehemiah 8:8 (GW)
- They read from the Book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading. Nehemiah 8:8 (NASB)
Teaching is about making the message of the Bible clear. There is a large gap in time between us and the Bible writers. There is even a larger gap in culture. Until we understand something of this gap, we will never really understand Scripture.
- We must understand what foot washing meant to them before we can understand what it means for us.
- We are told in Scripture that women are to cover their heads. Why is this? What did head covering mean to them? Until we understand what it meant to them, it is impossible to understand what meaning this has for us.
- There is a verse somewhere that speaks of tattooing. I have a preacher friend who was asked about this verse recently. The woman who asked did so because she didn’t like tattoos and someone in her world—a child or grandchild—was getting a tattoo. She wanted a chapter and verse to say that this was wrong. In the same section of Scripture it also says it is wrong to pierce the body. The woman speaking had pierced ears. We tend to pick and choose. Effective Bible Teachers teach the whole counsel of God. They teach the meaning of God in its context. They help us to understand what the passage meant to them so that we can understand what it means for us. They make the passage clear. Clarity is the key point.
A lot of people are enamored by deep teachings. I have never really understood what is meant by deep teachings. I have never been accused in any teaching I’ve ever done of being deep. I am not bothered by that. To me, deep teaching is often just muddy. My goal, like the goal of the teachers in Nehemiah’s day, is to make the passage clear.
We have essentially four tools to make the Bible clear:
- Object lesson
We will talk about each one of these, but before we do, I want to mention something else.