Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 5, 1970

Questions And Answers

Send All Questions To: Eugene Britnell, P.O. Box 3012, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203

From Cleveland, Mississippi:

"Would you please write something on James 3:1-9 about teachers and teaching? In the class I teach there is one who is fearful to teach for fear of a more strict judgment, and seems to think that this means the judgment day." — J. D. J.

To save space, I suggest that you read the verses in your Testament.

In the King James Version, verse one reads: "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." The American Standard Version reads: "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier (Gr. greater) judgment."

I certainly believe that there is a greater responsibility upon those who profess to teach others the will of God. Generally speaking, people are going to be what they are taught to be — if they believe and obey it. If the teacher is not going to influence others, then there is no point in teaching.

Throughout the history of God's revelation to man, he has warned men who taught it — prophets, priests, fathers, elders, evangelists — that they were responsible for what and how they taught.

"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deut. 4:2) "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith... Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken?"(Jer. 23:30, 31, 35.)

In these last verses and others connected with them, God voices His opposition to the prophets and priests who would dream or imagine something and then palm it off on the people as the word of God. Many preachers and teachers do the same today! How often do we hear men preaching something as the will of God when we know that God has willed no such thing? The responsibility of the teacher then was to ask, "What hath the Lord spoken?" In our time, the great question is: "What is written. . . how readest thou?" (Luke 10:26)

God holds both the teacher and the hearer responsible: "For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." (Isa. 9:16). "And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (Matt. 15:14).

I am glad that the man in the class is fearful of the responsibility of teaching the word of God, but he should seriously consider the alternative. Each time I step into the pulpit, sit before a radio microphone, write an article, or talk to someone about his soul, I fear the responsibility of teaching God's word — but I am more fearful of not doing it! The apostle Paul said, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16). Many gospel preachers today who are, without sufficient reason, devoting much of their time to something other than preaching, need also to consider this. Yes, I am afraid to preach, but I am even more afraid not to!

If every man took the position that he should not preach or teach because of the serious responsibility, then the gospel would not be preached to the world and the Lord's commands would not be obeyed. We just need to make sure that we are declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11), and not perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7-9).

The other verses (2 through 10) of the chapter deal with the use of the tongue. These principles are applicable to the preacher, teacher and all Christians.