“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed” — Acts 14:1.
Why do you teach the Bible? Stop and think through that question before you give an answer. If you have the responsibility and the calling to teach the word to others, then you answering this question is one of the most important things that you could never do before you teach your next lesson. Why? Because it will reveal the true motivation of your heart as a teacher of God's word.
Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue on a regular basis to teach about Jesus, using the Scriptures to prove that he was the Messiah. They preached about Jesus. He was the main topic of their teaching. And the result of their preaching was this: a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. In other words, people came to surrender their lives to Jesus.
So why do you teach? Is it to be remembered? Is it to be recommended to others? Is it for a paycheck? Is it to elevate yourself rather than to exalt Jesus? I ask these questions not in judgment or arrogance, but rather to ask you the questions that I've had to ask myself over the years to make sure that the main reason for my teaching about Jesus is that people might believe in Jesus. But what does this mean for the preacher? I think these points are important to remember as we prepare to preach.
1). Be prepared. It is true that the Holy Spirit will give you the words that are necessary in order to preach so that others might believe, but that does not mean that you don't study during the times when you're not standing before people. Paul told Timothy to do his best to present himself to God as one who was approved, a worker who had no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). So we study. We wrestle with the passage. People are trusting us to spend the time that is necessary to help them in their relationship with Jesus. This is a huge responsibility. We must take it seriously. We must do the work. And yes, it can get so hard at times having to prepare a message every week, but that's why they call it work.
2). Improve. As teachers of the Bible, we can never have the attitude that we have arrived. We must always strive to improve as teachers. We want to do whatever we can to make the message as clear as possible to others so that the Holy Spirit might do his work without us getting in the way. So listen to preachers who have proven to do well in teaching the Bible. Also, listen to comedians, for they are one of the only groups of people who also stand before an audience by themselves, keeping their attention.
3). Be real. People need to know that we too are in process. I am not sure where the idea came from that the pastor or preacher has to have his/her life put together before he/she is able to teach on any topic. I have found that the most powerful and effective pastors and teachers of the Bible are the ones who can openly admit that they too are still in process. So be real. Be vulnerable. Let people see the work of the Holy Spirit in you rather than only noticing you.
4). Be reliant. We do our part and then trust God to do the rest. When a person surrenders to Jesus, it is because the Holy Spirit has done his work. This does not mean that we get lazy in our work, but rather remember that we are in partnership with the God of the universe as we fulfill his desire to teach the whole world about Jesus. So we do our part, but we never do it alone. We must be in constant prayer, both while preparing the message and while delivering it to those that God has called us to give it to.
So I ask you again: Why do you teach the Bible? May our only reason for teaching the Bible be so that Jesus is exalted, resulting in people believing in him.