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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Friday, May 07, 2010
Not Many Teachers...
It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. - Job 42:7 [NASB]

We are admonished us in James 3:1 in this way, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment" - [NASB]. The focus there is typically on those who would teach. But I want to begin this post with the thought that those who teach must first be taught.

The truth is that not everyone takes instruction equally.

Some are more willing than others to honestly examine not only what they hear, but also what they presume to believe already. The one who is contrite in heart, is not only [a] more likely to correct their own doctrine, but [2] likely to do so more often than the one who presumes to be right simply because he or she knows himself or herself to be sincere and well schooled in what they believe.

It isn't a question of denomination or education however. Whatever your denominational or educational circumstances may be, the odds are good that (for all your genuine zeal and sincerity of heart) a fair bit of your personal theologically is [1] imprecise, some smaller portion is [2] off center, and for some, perhaps a portion is even [3] contrary to scripture.

When we hear the proverbial James 3:1 sermon, the admonition is usually that you shouldn't take up the mantle of a teacher haphazardly because teachers incur a stricter judgment. The reason for this, or so the standard sermon goes, is because your theological error, while it is your own, is only polluting you. But when you take on the mantle of a teacher, you may well spread some polluted doctrine to others, who in turn may spread it abroad, and in so doing you incur a greater judgment upon yourself.

That's a very good and true point, and I repeat it here because it is good and true. That alone is sufficient reason for any right thinking person to think twice before opening their mouth to teach another anything pertaining to God.

But we do not hear a lot of sermons that dwell on God's anger directed at those who, though well meaning, and full of zeal, preach or spread error.

I don't know why it is, but the flavor of our day is that God is pretty laid back when it comes to error, as long as the person spreading it is sincere and well meaning. The idea, I suppose is that as long as I am sincere in trying to promote God's kingdom, God can't really be mad at me if, in my zeal, I flub some "inconsequential" truth, especially if in doing so I am engaged in "kingdom work".

Good gravy! Truth is never inconsequential. It may not be directly applicable, it may not be immediately relevant, but misrepresenting or misstating the truth is never inconsequential. Okay, I digress.

But in this passage from Job, the picture we get of God is not one of a laid back, anything goes as long as their heart is in the right place, sort of God. His anger is clear and dangerous. I mean, it isn't described as "displeasure" or "annoyance" - it is described as wrath. God help anyone who doesn't tremble at the mention of His wrath, for there would indeed be a heart that is almost stone.

I wish people still feared the Lord. I wish they were afraid to take up the mantle of teacher, afraid to handle the word of God, lest they incur wrath upon themselves and others. I wish people would only dare to speak when God's word provokes them to do so. I wish preaching wasn't an occupation. I wish that the next sermon you hear springs from a soul that is at once terrified at the thought of mishandling the word of God, but only slightly more terrified of withholding that truth when it needs to be declared. How many pastors are going to step into the pulpit on Sunday, trembling before God's word?

Some might imagine that by saying this I am encouraging you, the reader, to evaluate your pastor. Is his preaching full of fire, or is it lame. Pffft. I am not suggesting any such thing. I am writing to you, the reader, and I am saying that God's word is exalted, and holy, and must be handled properly. I am writing to encourage you, the reader, to hold your tongue when it is right to do so, and to wag it when God's truth demands it. If you dare to recite some truth from scripture, do not handle it poorly - God's word is not to be mumbled, or shuffled into, or roped lazily alongside, some idle conversation - it is a fire, a burning fire that demands primacy, a cannon that booms, a thunderous eruption full of gravity and exalted in significance in every uttering. Handle God's word as one handles power itself. Abandon its casual use so that when it comes out from you, it takes center stage.

Sure, we are His children, and every sin we can commit is washed clean in Christ's blood, but God help us all when we take upon ourselves a mantle before we are ready for it. Would that I could go back ten years and shut my mouth.

I find that the longer I am in the Lord, the less I want to preach. The more inclined I am to God's glory, the less I wish to sully it with my own words. It seems to me an odd thing to desire so strongly to proclaim the truths of God and all the while to tremble at the thought of speaking it.

I encourage you therefore, preacher, speaker, sharer of truth, that in whatever capacity your mouth opens to speak truth, that you regard that opportunity with the gravity it deserves.


posted by Daniel @ 9:26 AM  
  • At 10:23 AM, May 10, 2010, Blogger Jim said…

    I am wondering if the converse is not also true; teachers will be accountable for what they teach, but also for what they avoid teaching.

  • At 10:57 AM, May 10, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, well said.

    If a teacher knows some truth, but refuses to teach it, that can do damage as surely as teaching error.

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