And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
In this simple sentence are a lot of assumptions that go against the expectations of many in the church today.
First comes the assumption that we are listening to God through His teachers. For us to hear what was taught, we have to listen. This means we need to be an active part of a worship service, attend a bible study, or at least listen to a Christian podcast. While we are also called to test our teachers and be sure they are preaching Truth, that is a thought for another day.
Second comes the assumption that we are listening to Godly teaching in community, specifically, “in the presence of many witnesses”. So the podcast thing is out. Klyne Snodgrass, professor emeritus at North Park Theological Seminary, has said that the only way to do theology is in community, where we can try out a new idea, get input, and accept or reject it together.
Third comes the assumption that what we hear in community we will pass on to others. We are so used to reading/listening/taking in information just for ourselves that we don’t even think about passing it along in any useful way (i.e. NOT through social media). Yet that is not only a command of God (“Go and make disciples”) but an expectation that is so obvious much of our mission is based on it.
And fourth comes the assumption that we are not just passing along information out of duty but out of a desire that it be spread as far and wide as it can. To hear good bible teaching is good. To teach it to someone else is better. To teach someone else how to teach it is the best. But to teach another person how to teach their pupils to teach it means it will never stop spreading. And that is our goal with the gospel – to never stop spreading it.