Every Member a Bible Scholar
According to Eph. 4:11, the risen Christ has placed teachers in His church, and therefore we are to listen intently and eagerly to what they have to say.
However, it is unfortunately easy for us to distort the scriptural pattern by developing a passive learning-style that makes us dependent on others for our spiritual nourishment. As Paul reminds us in Phil 1:1, the saints are not “under” but “along with” their leaders. No Christian ever need go to God through an earthly mediator. As a kingdom of priests, we all have right of access through the torn veil into the Holiest Place (see Heb. 10:10).
This great New Testament truth is confirmed by the apostle John when he writes, “You all have an anointing from the Holy One... and have no need that any man should teach you” (1 John 2:20, 27). Of course, it was a man who taught us this truth. But his language is a reminder that the priesthood of all believers is an essential part of the biblical idea of the church.
Thus, while teaching is indeed a function required of elders (1 Tim. 3:2), and while the ministry of God’s Word is essential to their shepherding task (Eph. 4:11), this provides no excuse for the kind of pastor-dependence we are witnessing today.
“Every member a Bible scholar” can and must become more than a Christian cliché. Insofar as pastor-teachers deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Word, they serve a good, indeed an indispensable, purpose. The purpose turns sour when being “under the ministry of Dr. So-and-So” is made to mean “living on someone else’s predigested food” and becomes an excuse for dismissing the need and importance of personal Bible study.
April 29, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.