Saturday, October 29, 2016

Service Not Status

"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." James 3:1

This verse is loaded with many truths about false teaching and Godly teaching.  Christ himself breaks down this verse in Matthew 23.  Here is what we can learn:

1. False teachers are incredibly "law" oriented.  Even their gospel message is actually another dose of law, usually something invented by the teacher himself to try to help his congregation continue to earn their salvation.

2. The law is good, but false teachers do not practice what they preach.  They may seem to hold fast to the letter of the law, but they do not practice the spirit of the law, which includes thought and word.

3. False teachers usually burden their congregations with too much legalism, so that they feel better about themselves.

4. Everything a false teacher does is to gain name recognition and status.

5. Names like "teacher" and "father" are not forbidden, but only when they are used to gain some kind of status among others.

6. This is crucial.  There is only one teacher, one instructor: the Christ.  Earthly teachers are only to point their congregations to the heavenly teacher, who does the heavy lifting through this Spirit.

7. As earthly teachers, we are to submit ourselves to our congregations and serve them, not reap status.  This is the main difference between false teachers and Godly teachers.

Paul has some details to add in his first letter to Timothy:

1. Godly teachers are to call out false teachers, encourage them to teach good doctrine, and exhort them to avoid worldly speculations that come from outside God's word.

2. Stewardship is to be promoted among the clergy, and this service is given to God's teachers from God himself through his Spirit.

3. Teachers must keep Christ's commandments in thought, word, and deed, through faith alone in Christ.

4. When teachers swerve from true faith in Christ and keeping his commandments, the result is vain instruction based completely on keeping artificial laws that understand not the foundation of the scriptures.

As Timothy's mentor, Paul instructed his charge to fold fast to the faith that had been handed down to him, not swerving to the right or the left but to stay focused on the God who made him.  Paul's instruction comes directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ. As perfect teacher, Christ's own teachings pointed to himself, and he submitted himself to mankind, taking the form of a servant, even dying on the cross on our behalf. We conclude with Philippians 2:6-8:

"Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God [status] a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."