The Forum

The Forum

Dear brother G.

I do value and appreciate your Food for the Flock… In particular your reply to J. G. L. in March issue … We must read and study daily…

We humbly suggest that you should direct us regularly by a nice collection of wise suggestions…

Please add more methods and manual instructions on the employment of our gifts.

Warm Christian greetings,

Beloved Brother,

We agree that it is most unfortunate that so few are going in for expository teaching among the assemblies of today.

At your suggestion, we might point out for those who are exercised, a few scriptural principles relative to deeper study of the Word and to teaching.

It is commonly recognized that all spiritual gifts come from the same source, the Divine Trinity (1 Cor. 12:4-6), and that each gift as it functions has for its objectives; first, the acknowledging of Christ as Lord (V. 3); and, in second place, the edifying of all saints (V. 7).

Consequently, all Christians should know the true features of real spiritual ministry. These features may be detected in the threefold result: edification, exhortation, and comfort.

Edification educates the mind in the art of right thinking. Exhortation controls the conscience in the art of right acting. The ministry of comfort sustains the heart in a proper attitude toward God in all the adversities of life.

It is interesting to notice how the first three gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, link themselves with an expository ministry. We read, “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit.”

Wisdom may be considered as the applying of truth to some particular circumstance; knowledge, the acquiring of a broader apprehension of truth; and faith as the believing the truth of God, the resting upon its infallibility.

It has been suggested that wisdom in a special way is needed by the pastor; knowledge, by the teacher; and faith, by the evangelist.

From these facts and suggestions it becomes apparent that to engage in a ministry characterized by these features, one must spend much time in the presence of the Lord in perfect reliance upon the Holy Spirit. There must be an application to the Word of God, and to the best means of communicating to others what is thus gathered in the sanctuary.

Six salient points related to methods of teaching are noticed in the preacher of Ecclesiastes (12:9-11).

Constancy: “He still taught the people knowledge.” He was conscious of their need and sought to meet it. Consequently, he was constantly gathering fresh knowledge to impart to his listeners. He saturated his mind regularly with the Word of God. Similarly, the Word must be studied and absorbed regularly and systematically. There must be a digging for the treasures of truth which lie below the surface of the text.

Consideration: “He gave good heed” (or pondered, R.V.) what he studied. He endeavoured to find the proper meaning of things.

Of Ezra and his associates, we read, “They read in the book in the law of God distinctly (pronounciation) and gave the sense (elucidation), and caused them to understand the reading (interpretation).” We must ever remember that knowledge is communicated only in the degree that it is first personally understood.

Composition: “And set in order.” There was in the mind of that ancient preacher a composite arrangement of his material. It is this fitting together in sequence of subject matter that enables one to teach effectively. Moreover, a discourse thus presented is more easily understood by the listeners.

Illustration: “Many proverbs” were devised by that preacher, and we may rest assured, were used by him to illustrate and clarify his subject.

Application: “The preacher sought to find out acceptable words … even words of truth.” A message to be accepted by the people of God must be couched in language understood and appreciated by them. It must be delivered in a way that appeals to them.

Objective: The wise preacher had a twofold objective before him. First, “The words of the wise are as goads.” That is, they are to prod and arouse the hearers from sluggishness to action. In second place, “The words of the wise are as … nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.” Surely, this suggests a ministry that edifies. As nails fasten parts firmly together, even so does a spiritual expository message.

There is an additional consideration we might add, variety in ministry. All must come from the same source, the One Shepherd Who gives abundant pastures for His sheep. God-endowed teachers are like masters (school masters) of assemblies and they guide the saints into the unsearchable riches of Christ. They are like the Kohathites to whom was entrusted the furniture of the tabernacle, they know exactly where everything properly belongs.

May these suggestions provoke further exercise relative to the character of ministry in the assemblies today.

Yours in Christ,
R. McC.