9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:9–10, NKJV)
Nicodemus should have understood what Jesus said about being born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:1-8). After all, he was a teacher of Israel. Teachers who do not understand what they teach are poor educators. Uninformed and misinformed teachers harm their students and themselves. Therefore, teachers must be willing to accept instruction (2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 2:21). Scripture warns of those who stray and turn aside to idle talk, “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:7). Such “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. These “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. This sort of teacher accommodates his teaching to his audience (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This sort of teacher becomes the false teacher who brings in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). Teachers of God’s word are commanded to take heed to themselves and to what they teach (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Teachers have the responsibility to teach the truth, and are held accountable by God for what they teach (James 3:1).
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. (1 Timothy 1:5–7, NKJV)
To faithfully teach the gospel one must first be willing to be taught (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Commitment to the commands of God produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Love for God, for truth, and for others compels us to learn God’s word before trying to teach it. Desire to teach the gospel without having a knowledge of it may well result in leading a person astray from the very truth he desires to teach. Like zeal without knowledge, desire to teach that is not fettered to knowing the truth produces vain, yet confidently asserted babbling, instead of “godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). Take time to study and learn God’s word. Examine your motive for desiring to be a teacher of the word. Is it “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith?” And remember, faithful teachers never stop studying to learn and know the truth they teach.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40, NKJV)
By definition, the disciple is not superior to his teacher. A disciple is one who learns; a pupil, a student. A disciple is not content with obtaining knowledge; he trains in order to be like his teacher. Even so, faithful disciples of Jesus not only learn His teachings, they also put into practice what they learn. His disciples do not assert themselves above Jesus Christ; they willingly submit to His instruction. Disciples of Jesus (Christians, Acts 11:26), live what they learn. Those who claim to be His disciples, but do not obey Jesus, are not truly His disciples (John 8:31-32). Jesus asked rhetorically, “But why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Disciples of Jesus let the word of Christ dwell in their richly (Col. 3:16). Then, they obey their Teacher in order to be like Him.
28 …And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:28–31, NKJV)
Do you understand the Bible when you read it? If not, you are not alone. We are not suggesting the Bible is impossible to understand; just the opposite, in fact. Jesus said we can know the truth (Jno. 8:32). We are commanded to understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:17). To do so, we must be willing to be taught. One way God helps us understand the Scriptures is through the work of teachers. Just as we need teachers to guide us through our academic training, we need teachers to guide us in understanding the word of God. Jesus “gave some to be…teachers” in order to equip us to serve Him and His people (Eph. 4:11-12). We should never let pride or any other obstacle keep us from humbly admitting that we need to learn God’s word, and to ask for help to do so. The Ethiopian knew he needed someone to guide him in understanding the prophet Isaiah. God knew it, too, so He sent the man a teacher, who taught him about Jesus and salvation (Acts 8:34-39). God is willing to teach you today, if you are will to be taught by those who teach the truth (Jno. 6:45).