Vol.IX No.II Pg.3
April 1972

Unplain Talk

Dan S. Shipley

Man has nothing more valuable than his own soul (Mt. 16:26) and can learn nothing more valuable than how to save his soul. That is why gospel truth is the most important thing any man can learn or be taught. And that is why all who teach the word of God should remember the extreme seriousness of their task as emphasized in Jas. 3:1: Be not many of you teachers my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgement. So, teaching Gods truth is not something to be taken lightly. In fact, all Bible teaching should be flavored with the realization that, unlike other teach­ing, it is wrought with eternal con­sequences for both teacher and stu­dent. No math or English teacher ever had that kind of motivation!

But effective Bible teaching in­volves more than just talking about the Bible. It must be plain talk! — teaching that is understandable. Paul states this principle in connection with speaking in tongues: So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will be speaking into the air. (1 Cor. 14:9) Without plain talk in our Bible teaching there can be no understanding in things that need most to be understood. Worse, there can be misunderstanding and confusion.

Regrettably, unplain talk is dis­pensed in several hard- to-understand varieties, one of the most popular being ambiguity. This involves the use of expressions and terms that are susceptible to different interpretations or that might convey more than one possible meaning. The learner must understand words in the sense intended by the teacher. Unwitting ambiguity may result with the use of such common terms as church, baptism and Christian, depending on the learners background. Failure to understand such terms in their Bible sense may cause them to appear as nonsense—as with the brother who taught that an elder could not join a labor union because he was to be no striker.

Generalization is another kind of unplain talk hindering good teaching. While it is true that men must do the will of God to be saved (Mt. 7: 21), His will consists of specifics to be known and obeyed. Sin cannot be ef­fectively dealt with generally simply because sins are not committed gen­erally. Speaking out against immodesty is one thing; mini-skirts and bathing suits are something else. Be­ing the slave of bad habits general­izes; being the slave of tobacco is specific. Everybody believes in the autonomy of the church — until you get down to specifics. Over—generalizing is like speaking into the air for all the good it does. Souls are at stake; understanding is essential; be specific!

Unplain talk may be impressive, entertaining and eloquent without being instructive—and thats the whole point of teaching. The real measure of effective teaching lies in its being understood and remembered; not in the plaudits it may receive from men. Teachers, what greater service can be rendered to others than helping them to understand and remember Gods truth?