by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 48 August 5, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:The choice of whether to be a teacher or not is to be made on the basis of necessity and not on the basis of personal fulfillment (especially of the desire to be held in high esteem by others).
Introduction:Last week we concluded the section of James' letter that had to do with the pursuit of security through material acquisition. According to the theology of the Bible, that issue is one of the "big three" issues of life. Our security is to arise out of our relationship with God Who has chosen to give the greatest benefit to those who function by the richness of faith, regardless of the condition of their material situation.
This evening we are going to embark upon a study of a second of the "big three": the temptation to seek status from men on the basis of their recognition of our accomplishments. This, like materialism, is a huge problem that has resulted in these latter days' concept of secular humanism. It will ultimately usher in the reign of the Antichrist. It is that diabolical. And, it is no light matter for a Christian to dabble in it.
Interestingly, James saw the problem primarily in terms of the desire men have to wield influence in the Church. The primary position of influence is that of "teacher". Thus, we have James' opening statement in his treatment of the temptation to the pride of life as being a command to not seek to be a teacher in the Body.
I. Some Theological Considerations That Provide a Context for James' Command.
A. 1 Corinthians 12-14.
1. Particularly 12:8-11: The dispensing of gifts to the Body by means of individual members of the Body is the prerogative of the Spirit and the exercise of the gifts by the members is a matter of serious stewardship (1 Peter 4:10-11).
2. Also 12:31 and 14:1: Believers are urged to earnestly desire to have the ability to edify the Body of Christ.
B. The historical and theological realities that form the setting of James' words.
1. The theological reality: man is driven to possess status and he cannot escape that drive by any means. He can only satisfy it by works or by faith.
2. The historical reality: all Christians were culturally despised and humiliated in their setting, so that they were fundamentally blocked from achieving status in the eyes of their world. Thus, they had to either accept their status by faith or they had to work to achieve it in the Church: there was no other place to get it.
II. James' Command.
A. A requirement that "teachers" be driven by a sense of divine necessity and not by a sense of personal need.
1. The forbidding is to be taken at face value.
a. Whether to be a teacher in the church or not is not to be decided without clear understanding that the position is not an optional issue based upon what one is to receive from it.
b. The majority of people in the church are not called by God to the task of being a teacher of the Church.
2. The forbidding should only be overridden IF there is a sense of compulsion from God that cannot be denied.
B. A warning that being a teacher is subject to a rather large liability.
1. There are many today who falsely teach that there is no judgment to come upon believers for their misdeeds.
a. 1 Corinthians 3:17 pointedly declares that there are serious consequences for corrupting the church.
b. 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 pointedly declares a valid basis for "fear" in the face of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
c. 1 Corinthians 11:29-34 declares divine judgment upon believers.
d. 1 John 2:28 declares one of the consequences of failure.
e. James pointedly declares "we SHALL receive greater judgment".
2. There is a heirarchy of judgment upon believers--with a greater judgment upon the ones who wield the greater influence.