At the end of this blog entry are the 10 things worth looking for in the attitude and life of bible teachers that you choose to listen to.
It is not an exhaustive list and you might be able to think of other characteristics worth bearing in mind. This particular list came about through my own time reading the Bible. I have found it useful as a “check-list” for the teachers either recommended to me by others or that I have personally stumbled across.
During the discussion that followed this 15 minutes! a couple of things came up in conversation that are worthy of further comment. These are worth reading after listening to the recording.
Comment 1: Does ‘live amongst us’ mean they have to have a Swansea postcode?
No. The point being made was to seek confidence and assurance that who we are listening to has a transparent life before other believers – in other words – that they are openly accountable. We do not need to know them personally and they certainly do not need to be in our ‘stream’ of churches. So it is not unwise to read Christian books (including those written by authors who have since died), listen to preaching on the web etc. Quite the opposite! We should be encouraging one another to be pro-active in getting solid teaching from reliable sources.
The real issue is the reliability of the teacher. My purpose was to encourage wise consideration regarding from whom we get our teaching, and ensuring that our attitude to teaching is neither exclusive (dogmatically limited to one teacher) or reckless (open to whichever teachers ‘You Tube’ or ‘Google’ search engines choose to show me!).
To use a biblical example, it does not matter whether it is from ‘Paul’ or ‘Apollos’, as long as it is definitely the good news of Jesus we are reliably being taught!
4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? 5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3
Comment 2: If the source of our teaching exhibits the 10 characteristics I have listed, should we blindly just listen to them?
The answer is an emphatic no! It is very clear that the Bible places significant weight on receiving teaching, but also on personal reading, study and understanding. One very important principle of the Christian life is to carefully consider everything taught to us, and be eager to examine the teaching personally as to whether it matches up with the Bible.
One classic example from the Scriptures were the people of Berea, of whom it was said that “they searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth” (Acts 17:11).
My top ten things to consider when looking for reliable teachers:
1. They should live ‘amongst’ us…
2. They should be consistent, transparent and humble
3. They should be bold and willing to say it as it is
4. They should live for what profits the church not themselves
5. They should have no desire for platforms or tie microphones
6. They should teach certain key truths
7. They should be sensitive & obedient to the Holy Spirit, whatever the cost
8. They should live in a way that there words and their deeds witness to the truth
9. They should be interested in the living Kingdom of God not just doctrine
10. They should be sobered by what is at stake