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Qualified to Teach?
all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in
doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."
Probably one of the most difficult issues in the Christian church today is discussing what is happening in leadership. When we find that our leadership may be promoting error we are bound to uphold the word of God regardless of how difficult the situation becomes. This article, although based on personal experience, seems to reflect a world wide pattern.
So many times when we see the leadership in our Christian circles upholding false teachings, we are uncertain how to deal with them. When we try to discuss the issue, and give them the scriptural basis that points out the error, we are often met with a haughty or indignant attitude. Who are we to question the leadership in our churches? Instead of upholding scriptural truth on these issues, it is suggested that we should "agree to disagree". That puts those who are upholding the word of God in a position to make a choice. Do they fade back into the ranks and accept the compromise as the rest are doing, or do they choose to separate themselves from the error?
We have thought often about various leaders and others who claim to be called by God to lead in congregations or who feel that their role is to teach or act in an "elder" position. Often those who feel they are knowledgeable or perhaps gifted, step into these roles, not necessarily at the call of God. They are often chosen because of who they are, or the social position in the church or community. Sometimes it is because they will offer the least resistance to the change in direction that is needed to move the church into worldly or ecumenical thinking.
Often these people are unable to recognize what has or is happening in their congregation, leadership or even in their own spiritual lives. Too often they can walk the walk, but do not have the knowledge or understanding that comes from in our hearts. They merely have head knowledge and many are using conditioned responses.
How do we deal with these issues, as more and more people are subjected to deceptive leadership in one form or another?
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:9-10 "... But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience," showing that his ministry, doctrine and life was well disclosed, not hidden.
We know that many do not know the word of God. This is probably the foremost reason for people being deceived by false teachers. Those that do appear to be well versed in the scriptures also tend to be those that are upholding false leadership. Why? Is it because they choose to depend on these leaders to lead them and teach them, instead of weighing all to scripture? They appear to set aside the warnings and even their own responsibility in favour of those that they perceive as "good".
1 John 3:7-11
"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard for the beginning, that we should love one another."
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth forever."
Proverbs 17: 27
"He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit."
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
The scriptures speak of the qualifications of those that would lead and teach. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of leaders that are turning away from the truth in the word of God. Sadly, many are deceived into thinking that they are still upholding God's word.
1 Timothy 3:1-13
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
1 Peter 5:1-6
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lord's over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."
Titus 2: 7-8
" In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
"The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide."
"...and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
Many in leadership positions have fallen for various reasons. Some have been deceived by false doctrines. Some have been caught up in fleshly desires. Some have not resisted the desire for worldly wealth and have been seduced by desire for gain.
How it must grieve God's heart when those that are to take care of the flock are more interested in buying lottery tickets or planning their investment or long-term financial futures. These things are becoming more common place in the ranks of our leadership.
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
It would seem that one of the examples that the apostles left was that they should not have to commend themselves as being Godly, but others would see God in them and uphold and speak well of them. They would also follow the apostle's teachings, recognizing that these men were indeed teaching the doctrines Christ had given them. As well, they reflected the character of Christ qualities that should be recognizable in those that would be in leadership or teach.
2 Corinthians 5:9-12
"Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart."
"Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."
2 Timothy 2:11-16
"It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us: If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:19-26
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness."
"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God."
If God views the disobedient "shepherds" of Israel in the following manner, it is most likely He views pastors and others in leadership to His flock in the same manner. He commands the flocks to deal with false leaders and deceptive people in a particular manner.
"Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord."
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the Shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock."
"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out."
"For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed."
2 Thessalonians 3:2-6
"And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
1 Timothy 1: 4-7
"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
2 Corinthians 11:12-15
"But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them."
"This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold unto eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
Romans 2:17 -21a
"Behold thou art called a Jew, and resteth in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of the babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? ..."
Those that are blessed to be in truly Biblical churches or groups of believers will understand and recognize those that are gifted to take a leadership or teaching role. Those that are unable to find a fellowship will also recognize those they come in contact with as being of God or not, and whether they are Biblically qualified to teach or lead. In these perilous times it is well worth the effort to weigh carefully what the scriptures say about these issues. Those that are of God in leadership or teaching roles need to be upheld. If they fall, that must be addressed in love. If we fail to rebuke or correct our brothers and sisters in Christ that have fallen into sin, and rather, uphold them and their actions as godly or good, we are taking part in that sin.
1 Timothy 5:17
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."
1 Timothy 5:19-21
" Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."
"He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord."
"Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
"Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
Through out the Bible we see the answers and guidelines for how we are to approach error in leadership. Failure to deal with these issues will lead to us partaking in the error and compromising truth.
All scripture quotes taken from the Authorized King James Bible
Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.