The Importance of Teaching Others the Christian Faith
1423 words, read time approx 4-5 minutes
Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
God desires for all of his children to be teachers of others. Teaching others about God, His love and plan of salvation is central to our walk with Him. Some would prefer for God to write His message in the sky for all to see, but God prefers to use human vessels to convey His message to the world.
When Jesus told his followers to “Go into all the world and make disciples”, He was actually calling them to go teach. The Greek word that some of our English Bibles translate to read “make disciples” actually means to become a pupil; to instruct, teach or disciple. I think the better translation of this text is found in the King James Version which reads, “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matthew 28:19)
In Acts 14:21, it tells that the disciples “preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many”. The word “preached” comes from the Greek word euaggelizo meaning to announce good news. It’s where we get the term evangelism. The word “taught” however comes from the same Greek word used in Matthew 28:19 meaning to disciple or teach. In other words, there is a distinction made between proclaiming the gospel message and teaching a person to be a disciple of Christ.
Why is this important? Well, sometimes as believers we think that our responsibility is complete when we share the good news of salvation found in Jesus to those who don’t yet know Him. However, our responsibility does not end when we share the good news or even when a person comes to faith in Christ. We are called to teach others in the ways of God and help them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
The Scriptures place a significant emphasis on the importance of teaching, or discipling children. In the Old Testament, parents were instructed to diligently teach their children to love the Lord God.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, 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. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
I have occasionally met parents who knew God and were brought up in Christian homes yet chose not to teach their children the faith, but instead let them “decide for themselves what to believe”. In each of these scenarios, the children never continued on in the faith. And it’s easy to understand why. The teaching of children about God is meant to be done by primarily by their parents. To just let a child be subject to chance is absurd! Would any sound minded parent say, “Well, I’m not going to teach my kids about the danger of drugs, I’ll let them figure that out for themselves.”? Of course not!
Some may reason, “Well I don’t want to indoctrinate my children.” Let me break the news to you, if you don’t “indoctrinate” your kids in the ways that are good, wholesome and right, there is a world of evil that is just thirsting to feast on your children’s vulnerable minds, a devil who hates them and their own flesh that is bent towards doing evil. Your children desperately need your teaching!
If we desire our children to be wise and avoid living foolishly, we must also teach them to fear the Lord. (Deuteronomy 4:10, Psalm 34:11) Teaching our children to fear God does not sound nearly as appetizing as teaching them to love Him. Yet the scriptures repeatedly teach that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 15:33) Therefore, if we desire to raise up wise children who make good decisions, we must teach them to reverently fear the Lord and worship Him in His grandeur.
Teaching Others Who Are Younger
If you are not a parent, you may think you’re off the hook from teaching the younger ones around you. Not so fast! Each of us is called to teach others who are younger in the faith about the Lord and His ways. Paul told Titus to instruct the older women in the church to live godly lives and to teach the younger woman the same. (Titus 2:3-4)
As we grow and mature in the Lord, we should be continuing to pass on our faith and knowledge to those who are younger in the Lord. The operative term here is maturity. The writer of Hebrews expressed his disappointment with believers who had not matured to the point of teaching others.
For when by reason of the time you ought to be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
If we are to teach others, we must first ourselves be of a teachable spirit and spend time with God in His Word and in prayer. Paul exhorted Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Paul had previously told Timothy to live an exemplary life before others that he would not be despised because of his young age. (1 Timothy 4:12) We need to be cognizant that teaching others does not mean that we just tell people what they should believe, but also demonstrate our beliefs through a godly lifestyle.
Rewards and Warnings
Teaching others about God can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It brings joy to the heart when we see people we have taught or mentored grow deeper in their faith. “I rejoiced greatly that I found some of your children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” (2 John 1:4) If you really want to make the most use of your time, invest it in the lives of other people who are hungering to learn about God. You will find that what you give of your own time and talents is no comparison to what you will receive as you watch another grow. You will be surprised at times how much you can learn from the person you were supposed to be teaching yourself!
We must also take into account the high stakes involved in teaching others. If we teach people the true ways of God, we will be rewarded with great returns. If we teach people erroneous doctrine, we will be held accountable for what we’ve taught them. We need to carefully weigh our own words and our actions as we teach others. Jesus warned of the danger in leading children astray. “Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he was thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck.” (Mark 9:42) Since children are keen to observe our behavior as carefully as they do our words, we must be sure that we not only talk the talk, but that we also walk the walk.
While all Christians are called to teach, or disciple others, we must be prayerfully cautious of taking on the official title or office of teacher within the church. James the brother of Jesus warned of the weightiness of this role when he said, “Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.” (James 3:1-2) For this reason, it is imperative that we pray for our leaders and teachers in the faith to have a close walk with God and to have discernment and wisdom as they teach God’s people. I myself would be grateful for your prayers and this ministry. Amen.