Month 7:14, Week 2:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5940:190 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 14 October 2016
What If I Am Wrong?
Teachers and the Evidence
Teachers Must Demonstrate Great Care
Every teacher if the Besorah (Gospel), if he is aware of the Scriptures, knows that he has to be very careful:
Judgment of Prophets and Apostles
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1, NIV).
Similarly, the nevi'im (prophets) have to make absolutely sure that their prophecies are from Yahweh. If teachers are judged more strictly, then nevi'im (prophets) face an ever harsher judgment: under the Old Covenant, death was the mandated judgment on a false navi (prophet) which in the New Covenant (remembering that the Judgment of the Torah/Law was taken on Yah'shua/Jesus for those who repent) could either mean a ban on prophesying (since no false navi/prophet is ever called by Yahweh) or a period of suspension (if he was called) whilst he gets straightened out. Likewise, false apostles - though no Torah-penality is prescribed to them - must surely suffer an ever worse fate for preaching a false Messiah, given the level of responsibility:
All are Recovering False Teachers
"In the assembly (church) Elohim (God) has appointed first of all apostles, second nevi'im (prophets), third [Torah] teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of languages" (1 Cor.12:28, NIV).
Every teacher should therefore rigorously check His doctrine honestly, be willing to eat humble pie if he is wrong, and change his teaching where necessary. Not so long ago a preacher graphically reminded teachers like myself of an emet (truth) we must never forgot, namely that we are all 'recovering false teachers'. Every one of us, from apostle to lay member, has got doctrine wrong at one time or another and it is only through the grace (undeserved loving kindness) or our Elohim (God) that He forgives us and gently bears with us as He nurtures us into all emet (truth). I often say that if I have not changed my mind about at least one important thing each year that there is a strong chance that I myself have become unteachable. The Remnant is always on a sharp, ascending learning curve.
Teachers are Always in Need of Instruction
Unless a teacher is completely brainwashed by a tradition and slavishly follows what human masters insist he teaches as a condition of remaining in a denomination, he (or she) will be constantly learning and changing. Learning is a dynamic - you don't get the whole emet (truth) downloaded into your brain all at once, not even those persons who have misapplied those scriptures to themselves believing they are either sin-free or no longer in need of any instruction. Teachers, as well as those they teach, need instructioon both directly from Above as well as from those more knowledgeable and experienced in the Davar (Word).
Always a Need for Teachers
The goal of every great teacher is that his pupils should be greater than himself in knowledge and understanding. The goal is to continually progress the Body of Messiah, not keep it fossilised in institutional cement. There is, of course, a balance here, and not so many find it. Clearly, if teachers were not needed, Yahweh would not have either ordained or sent them, just putting pay to one lie in certain Christian circles that the presence of teachers is evidence that you are no longer listening to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And though there may be some truth in this assertion at certain times amongst certain people, it is unwise at best - and foolish at worst - to be so dogmatic. As a teacher, many have been my teachers and continue to be my teachers. I do not accept uncritically what they say, even if I respectfully listen to them, but I test and weigh their teachings up. Thus it is written:
Faith and The Faith
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the emunah (faith); test (prove) yourselves" (2 Cor.13:5, NIV).
Please notice that this is not saying whether you should test to see whether you have emunah (faith) but whether you are "in the emunah (faith)". There is a difference between 'faith' [in Messiah] and 'the faith' (doctrine, teaching, Torah). We have to have both, obviously. But a teacher must be careful to test his doctrine. Personally, I have a 'grand review' roughly every seven years to make sure that the doctrine as a whole is internally consistent, cohesive and in harmony with all that I have come to learn about the original text (as far as that may be known) of the Bible. Sometimes a doctrine can be way off simply because we have misunderstood a single word (like 'tongues') which has been propagated in English-language translations because of the bias of the translators.
Amongst Baptist KJV-Onlyers
So, no, there is no rest for KJV-Onlyers - they must work hard like the rest of us! Last summer I met with a Baptist KJV-Only teacher, a brother-in-law, in the USA and he proudly showed me his massive library which he had built up over the years. Like him I have a big library too only I don't give carte blanche anymore to the 'revered greats' like Charles Spurgeon (Victorian Baptist Preacher from London) and Albert Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Seminary and Boyce College) even if I still hold them in enormous regard and with the greatest of respect. For all their brilliance (and they are, or were, incredible servants of Yahweh), they were, or are, either boxed in by their KJV-Only tradition (Spurgeon) or Evangelical Protestant tradition (Mohler) which limited, and limits, their understanding and theological range. Both are still inspirational to me, and I have most of their books, but I cannot in all conscience chain myself to a single, fallible English translation or to man-made tradition. My brother-in-law, like many of my KJV Baptist relatives, are amazing preachers and teachers, but they absolutely refuse to challenge their dogmas. Scary though this can be, it is necessary if we are to be faithful to our commission.
What if I am Wrong?
So what if I am wrong? Well, for one thing, it's your responsibility to test everything I teach - carefully. My authority to teach is not a licence to indoctrinate with my personal theological preferences. But equally, it is my responsibility to challenge and to encourage you to seek, learn and apply. Young teachers are easily upset when their teaching is rejected, but that is a feature of the human condition that all teachers must get used to. Our goal is not, in any case, to prove ourselves right but to seek and share the emet (truth). Whether people accept it or not is their absolute right as free agents so long as they realise that there are serious consequences for rejecting emet (truth). I like Paul's farming analogy when it comes to teachers and teaching:
Learning From All
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but Elohim (God) made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only Elohim (God), who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour. For we are Elohim's (God's) fellow workers; you are Elohim's (God's) field, Elohim's (God's) building" (1 Cor.3:6-9, NIV).
True doctrine (ultimately) brings growth and good fruit: false doctrine (ultimately) brings stagnation and bad fruit. And some doctrines need a long time to be tested, often generations. The churches and messianic assemblies are a bit like a giant museum of exhibits and we can observe and see where Yahweh is working and where he is not, what triggers people into rage and meanness and what triggers avahah (love) and da'at (wisdom). That's why I am grateful, as a teacher, to have had a long journey through many churches and denominations, and knowing many people from them too. In America I received real and beneficial ministry from Baptist relatives and friends but I also saw dysfunction which no doubt in part was a bad fruit of some false doctrine. So we have to be open and honest. And, yes, it surprises and sometimes annoys some of my friends that I drop by cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses now and then for if nothing else they provide contrast. We often can't see the emet (truth) until it is offset by a lie. And my last 10 minute visit to the Witnesses convinced me utterly that I would shrivel up and spiritually die were I ever to be amongst them for any length of time. The same with the liberalised and secularised Lutherans...but for different reasons. At least the Witnesses recognise the paganism in some Christian tradition which the Lutherans are blind to whilst they themselves are blind to their own insular and spiritually stiffling errors. You learn by 'bouncing' off others. The world is a school and there is so much to learn.
Dogmatism and Exclusivism
I am pretty satisfied by what I currently teach and no longer am afraid to be 'shown up' if I am wrong. I am not the ultimate guardian of the emet (truth) - even though I am supposed to 'guard' it - it is its own guardian, and all I have to do is share what I know enthusiastically and confidenly, and make mention of other things I am not 100 per cent sure of, making sure others realise that there are areas I am still exploring. There is nothing wrong in being 'dogmatic' if the dogma (a strong set of principles concerning emunah/faith, morals, etc.) is true. Christianity/Messianism is dogmatic in that it is exclusivist - there is no other way to the Heavenly Father save through His Son. Others may not like that but it's a fact, even if it enfuriates the heathen. Scripture is unequivocal about it so we may proclaim it boldly. Liberals, like the current Pope and heads of some of the traditional Protestant Churches, may not like it but that's their problem - they're not true believers. Period. Indeed, they're not only not true believers, but dare I say they are hell-bound? Obviously they are, and it's essential doctrine which a true teacher must teach or be judged strictly and harshly:
Teaching Righteousness Righteously
"Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:23, NKJV).
Yet the way we teach is also very important. Being right doesn't make us righteous. I can yell and scream and call you names if you don't accept that no one can be saved without the Son. Relaying a factoid is not the only thing a teacher must do - he must relay that truth-factoid in the spirit of emet (truth), in a certain way that obviously reflects the character of Elohim (God) rather than our fallen flesh. Factoids don't save - emet (truth) does, which is why I use the Hebrew word because it implies far more than factual information, just as shalom says far more than 'peace' or an absence of hostility. The emet (truth) must resonate inside our very being, not just fit into a vaccant mental slot in our brain. Teaching is far, far more than relaying correct information - we are not mental brain surgeons like the world's school system - the data must have chayim (life) or ruach (spirit) in it, which is why a teacher's heart must also be right. He has got to be in right relationship with Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) the Son. His doctrine must be living.
So a teacher must not only examine his doctrine but also his conduct and his heart. He is a representative of the Most High in his Bible instruction, as though Yahweh were speaking it atop Mt.Sinai and as though Yah'shua (Jesus) was preaching the Beatitudes to the multitudes. His toqef or authority will be self-evident and soul-moving:
"The people were amazed at his teaching, because He taught them as one who had toqef (authority), not as the teachers of the Torah (Law)" (Mark 1:22, NIV).
Those listening to Yah'shua's (Jesus') 'truth-factoids' also felt His ahavah (love), His strength, His daat (wisdom) and His humanity. They knew He cared and they saw that He was willing to give everything He had in order to reach them. He didn't just know Torah like the scribes of the day, He also knew Elohim (God).
So must the teacher.