Completely Equipped as Teachers of God’s Word
“God . . . has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers.”—2 CORINTHIANS 3:5, 6.
1, 2. What efforts at preaching are at times made, but why do they usually fail?
HOW would you like to be given a job that you are not qualified to perform? Imagine: The materials you need are spread out before you, and the tools are at hand. But you have no idea how to carry out the task. Worse yet, this particular job is urgent. People are counting on you. How frustrating that would be!
2 Such a dilemma is not entirely imaginary. Consider an example. At times, one of Christendom’s churches has attempted to organize and carry out a door-to-door ministry. Such efforts have usually failed, fading out within weeks or months. Why? Christendom has not helped her adherents to qualify for the job. Even the clergy are not qualified for that preaching work, often despite years of education at secular schools and seminaries. Why can we say that?
3. At 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6, what expression is used three times, and what does it mean?
3 God’s Word explains what qualifies a true preacher of the Christian good news. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers.” (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6) Note the expression used three times here—“adequately qualified.” What does it mean? Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says: “When said of things [the original Greek word] signifies ‘enough’ . . . ; when said of persons, it means ‘competent,’ ‘worthy.’” Thus, one who is “adequately qualified” is competent and worthy to undertake a given task. Yes, true ministers of the good news are qualified to do this work. They are competent, fit, or worthy to preach.
4. (a) How does Paul’s example show that qualifying for the Christian ministry is not limited to an elite few? (b) What are three means by which Jehovah qualifies us as ministers?
4 From where, though, does that qualification come? From personal talents? From superior intellect? From specialized education at prestigious schools? The apostle Paul evidently had all those things. (Acts 22:3; Philippians 3:4, 5) Yet, he humbly acknowledged that his qualifications as a minister came, not from schools of higher learning, but from Jehovah God. Are such qualifications for only an elite few? Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation about “our being adequately qualified.” That certainly suggests that Jehovah makes sure that all of his faithful servants are competent, able to do the job he has assigned them to do. How does Jehovah qualify true Christians today? Let us discuss three means that he uses: (1) his Word, (2) his holy spirit, and (3) his earthly organization.
Jehovah’s Word Qualifies Us
5, 6. The Holy Scriptures have what effect upon true Christians?
5 First, how does God’s Word help to qualify us as ministers? Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) So the Holy Scriptures help make us “fully competent, completely equipped” to carry out the “good work” of teaching people about God’s Word. What, though, about all those adherents of the churches of Christendom? They have access to the Bible. How could one book help some people to become competent ministers and not help others? The answer lies in our attitude toward the Bible.
6 Sadly, many who attend church do not accept the Bible’s message “just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Christendom has built up a shameful record in this regard. After spending years studying in theological institutions, are the clergy equipped as teachers of God’s Word? Not really. Why, some students begin seminary studies as believers in the Bible but graduate as skeptics! Thereafter, instead of preaching the Word of God—which many of them no longer believe—they direct their ministry along other lines, taking sides in political debates, promoting a social gospel, or highlighting human philosophies in their sermons. (2 Timothy 4:3) In contrast, genuine Christians follow the example of Jesus Christ.
7, 8. How did Jesus’ attitude toward God’s Word differ from that of the religious leaders of his day?
7 Jesus did not allow the religious leaders of his day to mold his thinking. Whether teaching a small group, such as his apostles, or vast multitudes, Jesus made good use of the holy writings. (Matthew 13:10-17; 15:1-11) This practice set him apart from the religious leaders of the day. They strongly discouraged the common people from peering into the deep things of God. In fact, it was customary for a teacher in those days to hold that some Bible passages were just too profound to discuss with any but his most intimate pupil—and even then, only in a low voice and with the head covered. Those religious leaders were almost as superstitious about discussing certain portions of the Bible as they were about pronouncing the divine name!
8 Christ was not like that. He believed that not just a select few but people in general needed to consider “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” Jesus was not interested in giving any key of knowledge to an elite group of scholars. He told his disciples: “What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops.” (Matthew 4:4; 10:27) Jesus ardently desired to share the knowledge of God with as many people as possible.
9. True Christians make what use of the Bible?
9 God’s Word should be the focal point of our teaching. When we give a talk at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, it is usually not enough to read selected verses from the Bible. We may need to explain, illustrate, and apply a scripture in context. Our goal is to lift the Bible’s message off the printed page and impress it upon the hearts of our listeners. (Nehemiah 8:8, 12) The Bible should also be used when it is necessary to give counsel or to administer corrective discipline. Although Jehovah’s people speak different languages and come from a variety of backgrounds, all of them respect the Book of books—the Bible.
10. What effect can the Bible’s inspired message have on us?
10 When used with such respect, the Bible’s message has power. (Hebrews 4:12) It moves people to make changes in their lives, such as turning away from the unscriptural practices of fornication, adultery, idolatry, drunkenness, and thievery. It has helped a great many to strip off the old personality and put on the new. (Ephesians 4:20-24) Yes, if we respect it above any human opinion or tradition and use it faithfully, the Bible can help make us competent, completely equipped as teachers of God’s Word.
Jehovah’s Spirit Qualifies Us
11. Why is Jehovah’s holy spirit fittingly referred to as “the helper”?
11 Second, let us discuss the role of Jehovah’s holy spirit, or active force, in making us completely equipped. We must never forget that Jehovah’s spirit is the strongest force there is. Jehovah has empowered his beloved Son to wield that awesome force in behalf of all true Christians. Aptly, Jesus referred to the holy spirit as “the helper.” (John 16:7) He urged his followers to ask Jehovah for that spirit, assuring them that Jehovah would provide it generously.—Luke 11:10-13; James 1:17.
12, 13. (a) Why is it important that we pray for holy spirit to assist us in our ministry? (b) How did the Pharisees show that the holy spirit was not at work in them?
12 We need to pray for holy spirit daily, especially to help us in our ministry. What effect can that active force have upon us? It can work on our mind and heart, helping us to change, to grow, and to replace the old personality with the new. (Colossians 3:9, 10) It can help us to build precious, Christlike qualities. Many of us can recite Galatians 5:22, 23 by heart. Those verses list the fruits of God’s spirit. The first is love. That quality is essential to our ministry. Why?
13 Love is the great motivator. Love for Jehovah and for fellowman moves true Christians to share the good news. (Mark 12:28-31) Without such love, we could not truly qualify as teachers of God’s Word. Note the contrast between Jesus and the Pharisees. Matthew 9:36 says of Jesus: “On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” How did the Pharisees feel about the common people? They said: “This crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.” (John 7:49) Those Pharisees had no love for the people but plenty of contempt. Clearly, Jehovah’s spirit was not at work in them.
14. How should Jesus’ example of showing love in his ministry move us?
14 Jesus felt for people. He was aware of their pain. He knew that they had been abused, skinned, and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. John 2:25 tells us that Jesus “knew what was in man.” Having been Jehovah’s Master Worker during creation, Jesus had a profound understanding of human nature. (Proverbs 8:30, 31) That understanding deepened his love. May such love always be the motivating force behind our preaching activity! If we feel that we could improve in this regard, let us pray for Jehovah’s holy spirit and then work in harmony with our prayers. Jehovah will answer us. He will send this irresistible force to help us be more like Christ, who was supremely qualified to preach the good news.
15. How did the words of Isaiah 61:1-3 apply to Jesus and at the same time expose the scribes and Pharisees?
15 Where did Jesus’ qualifications come from? “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me,” he said. (Luke 4:17-21) Yes, Jehovah himself appointed Jesus by means of holy spirit. Jesus needed no further credentials. Had the religious leaders of his day been appointed by holy spirit? No. Nor were they equipped to fulfill Isaiah 61:1-3, which Jesus read aloud and applied to himself. Please read those verses, and see for yourself that the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees did not measure up. They had no good news to declare to the poor. And how could they preach a release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind? In a spiritual sense, they themselves were blind and in bondage to man-made traditions! Unlike those men, are we qualified to teach the people?
16. What confidence may Jehovah’s people today feel as to their qualification as ministers?
16 True, we have not studied at Christendom’s schools of higher learning. We have no appointment as teachers from a theological seminary. Are we lacking, then, in qualifications? Certainly not! Our appointment as his Witnesses comes from Jehovah. (Isaiah 43:10-12) If we pray for his spirit and work in harmony with our prayer, we have the highest of qualifications. Of course, we are imperfect and fall short of the example set by the Great Teacher, Jesus. Nonetheless, are we not thankful that Jehovah uses his spirit to qualify and equip us as teachers of his Word?
Jehovah’s Organization Qualifies Us
17-19. How do the five weekly meetings provided by Jehovah’s organization help to qualify us as ministers?
17 Now let us discuss a third means by which Jehovah equips us as teachers of his Word—his earthly congregation, or organization, which trains us to be ministers. How? Just think of the program of instruction we enjoy! In a typical week, we attend five Christian meetings. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) We gather in small groups at the Congregation Book Study to enjoy an in-depth Bible study by means of a textbook made available through Jehovah’s organization. By listening and commenting, we learn from and encourage one another. We also receive individualized instruction and attention from the book study overseer. At the Public Meeting and Watchtower Study, we take in further rich spiritual food.
18 Our Theocratic Ministry School is designed to give us instruction on how to teach. By preparing student talks, we learn how to use God’s Word to teach on a wide range of subjects. (1 Peter 3:15) Have you ever been assigned to give a talk on a subject that seemed quite familiar, only to find yourself learning something new about it? That is a common experience. Nothing sharpens our knowledge of a subject more than teaching it to others. Even when we are not assigned a presentation ourselves, we can still learn to be better teachers. In each student, we observe good qualities, and we can think about how to imitate those qualities.
19 The Service Meeting too is designed to equip us as teachers of God’s Word. Week after week, we enjoy lively talks, discussions, and demonstrations geared toward our ministry. What presentation will we use? How can we deal with special challenges in our public ministry? What avenues of preaching are open to us that we may need to explore further? What will help us to be more effective teachers when we make return visits and conduct Bible studies? (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) Such questions are addressed and discussed in detail at the Service Meeting. Many meeting parts are based on articles in Our Kingdom Ministry, another tool provided to equip us for our vital work.
20. How may we benefit fully from the meetings and assemblies?
20 By preparing for and attending our meetings and then applying what we have learned to our work as teachers, we receive extensive training. But there is more. We also have larger meetings—assemblies and conventions—that are designed to equip us as teachers of God’s Word. And how we look forward to listening attentively and putting such counsel to work!—Luke 8:18.
21. What evidence shows that our training has been effective, and to whom does the credit go?
21 Has the training that Jehovah has provided been effective? Let the facts speak for themselves. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are being helped to learn basic Bible doctrines and to live in harmony with what God requires of them. Our number is increasing, but none of us can personally take credit for that. We must view matters realistically, as Jesus did. He said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” Like the apostles of old, we are for the most part unlettered and ordinary. (John 6:44; Acts 4:13) Our success depends upon Jehovah, who draws honesthearted people to the truth. Paul put it well: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow.”—1 Corinthians 3:6.
22. Why should we never get overly discouraged about participating fully in the Christian ministry?
22 Yes, Jehovah God is actively involved in our work as teachers of his Word. We may not always feel qualified as teachers. But remember, it is Jehovah who draws people to himself and his Son. It is Jehovah who qualifies us to minister to those new ones by means of his Word, his holy spirit, and his earthly organization. Let us respond to Jehovah’s training by applying the good things he is now supplying to make us completely equipped as teachers of God’s Word!
How Would You Answer?
• How does the Bible equip us for the preaching work?
• What role does the holy spirit play in qualifying us as ministers?
• In what ways has Jehovah’s earthly organization helped you to qualify as a preacher of the good news?
• Why may we be confident when engaging in the ministry?
[Picture on page 25]
As a teacher of God’s Word, Jesus demonstrated love for people