#21. True Fellowship will be Characterized by Teaching
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
We are returning to this passage in Paul's letter to the Romans in order to see some of the other gifts that God has given to His children, that they may use in the context of fellowship for the good of the whole church. Last time we saw that we are all to be servants and to serve in true fellowship. This time, we are considering the gift of teaching. The word used in the Greek implies the provision of instruction in a formal or informal setting. As with service, we see a continuum in the church in relation to this gift of teaching:
Jesus is called the "Good Teacher" om Luke 18:18, using a Greek word with the same root as that used in our text by Paul.
The Lord gives people to the church who are particularly gifted as teachers and are set apart in that role. These men teach with Christ's authority, in view of their calling from the Lord (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:28)
Individual members of the church are expected to teach and admonish one another as equals in Christ. Not having the calling of the elders, they do not have the same authority in the church but they are to exercise this ministry nonetheless (1 Corinthians 14:26,Colossians 3:16) So then, we see that teaching is to be conducted in various ways, by various members of the body of Christ, and with differing callings and degrees of authority. This is to be part of the normal process by which the church builds itself up in love. What are the occasions and the opportunities in which teaching may occur? Certainly, the preaching (or authoritative heralding) of the Word by the man or men set apart in a fellowship and gifted as pastor-teacher(s) must be the primary formal teaching opportunity. The members of the fellowship are to submit in the Lord to this instruction. After that, though, teaching must occur in the context of fellowship, and it occurs as the word of Christ dwells richly among God's people and they admonish one another as equals in Christ. It is edifying and not destructive. It is factual and not slanderous. It is always done in love. So true fellowship should be marked by this formal, authoritative teaching as well as this informal mutual admonition and edification within the body. Before we all run off to teach our brothers and sisters, though, a word of caution is in order. James warns us that not many in the church should presume to be teachers, because those who take this upon themselves will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1). No doubt, James was thinking of those appointed to formal, authoritative teaching positions in the church, but the harm that can be done to the souls of our brothers and sisters if any one of us (even inadvertently) becomes a teacher of error is something that should give pause for thought. We are not saying this to suppress teaching and admonition in the church, but to ensure that all of us live close to the Lord and that whatever we say is firmly grounded in His Word and is said from a heart of love. That said, we need to rejoice that the Lord can use any of us to speak a word in season to