THE MYSTICAL ORDER OF SPIRITUAL BAPTIST Inc
FROM THE DESK OF THE ARCHBISHOP AND APOSTOLIC HEAD
Sir Dr. Godfrey Gregg
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:1-12)
I have been considering some deeply searching truths which would examine our sincerity and probe into/. the intent of our hearts. And there is more to come, for there are areas of vital importance that must be sounded out. These are sensitive areas because we are dealing with the most sensitive parts of our nature — the heart and soul and spirit. It is a well-known piece of human experience that a physical wound will heal and be forgotten much more quickly than a wounded spirit or deeply hurt feelings. That is why I have been encouraging us to make amends now. I want us to be like David when approached by Nathan the prophet. We as Spiritual people know this conversation and the results.
Our Lord Jesus likened the correcting of a fault in your brother to an eye operation. (Matthew 4:1-5) Surely the eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Our Lord councils that before you attempt correcting your brother, first consider your own fault and take care of that. Why? So we would be more holy than our brother? No! No! So that you can see clearly in order to properly help your brother, and you will not do more harm than good. You could damage his vision too. This is where we look into ourselves and see our faults and failures. We must be able to set our house in order and then help our brothers and sisters. We must take out the beam in our eyes first and then we will see the mote in that of our brother or sister.
Undoubtedly the awareness of this became very real to James at this point of his writing, for he opens this new paragraph with what we should consider precious counsel. Not many of you brethren should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation or judgment. James includes himself as he uses the word “we”. We are brought to feel the humility and the sense of awe and responsibility that seems to grip him as he expresses the seriousness of the position of one who would teach others. The matters are great and the issues are eternal, thus the responsibility is sobering. Yes, my loved ones we see it and hear it daily and when we are gathered in our churches. We teach or preach but our lives tell another story. Children learn at home and very well, and most times practise on the outside the things they saw at home. So spiritual children do exactly what their leaders teach or how they live their lives. Listen to someone preaches and you can easily tell who taught them or where they were raised.
There are two areas of consideration in these verses which we must take time to look at. The first has to do with the teacher and the responsibility of his position; the second has to do with the teacher and his personal weaknesses, and hence his possible natural tendencies.
FIRST: CALLED OF GOD – DIRECTLY
First, let us consider the teacher and his position. We are discouraged from becoming teachers because of the awesome responsibility connected with the position, and thus the exposure to greater judgment. Perhaps at first, it might seem strange to us that the Scripture would discourage one from desiring to be a teacher. (not today?) But God would have us see divine wisdom here (remember that while we feel James’ conscious concern here, in reality, it is the Holy Spirit of God compelling him to write these words of counsel and warning).
Two background truths make this directive understandable: God has His own way of providing teachers, and some people are attracted to occupations only because they appear to have popular public appeal or recognition. In some cases, people are qualified to teach after years of learning and graduating from a university. Keep in mind now that this is referring to teaching as a vocation or major interest. For in one sense, all of us are teachers in one or more ways. Parents teach children; older people teach younger people, etc. In this sense, there is something in these verses for everyone. We were in one way or another taught something positive in the communities by our elders and older citizens. Teachers are in many forms but we are dealing with only two groups.
Scripture teaches two ways by which men become teachers in the divine economy, and consequently two different ministries of teaching. The first is the one chosen by the Lord Himself, gifted by the Lord for the teaching ministry, and given by the Lord as a teacher to the church. “He gave … pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12) Also, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him … and God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers …”. (1 Corinthians 12:18,28) These are men gifted by God and have been enabled to understand and interpret the divine will as recorded in Scripture.
Many today are content with the idea that they have a Bible at their fingertips and the ability to read it, but God in His wisdom has set teachers in the church to be guided so that all may come to a “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13-16) Everyone wants a ministry and yet, does not understand the Ministry. You can ask a Bishop what are his duties and only a few will be able to tell you. (Please read the document pertaining to the office of Bishops and Abbesses posted on 2/28/2014 at http://www.mysticalorderinc.org)
Philip asked the Ethiopian dignitary, who was reading the Scripture with great desire, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” To which he replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me.”(Acts 8:26-39) Philip had been sent there by the Lord to give just such guidance. Yet many are too proud to accept the teachers God has set in the church and to humbly listen to the voice of God through His chosen servants. Many have walked away but I urge you to preach the word of God and teach with all respect and due care to save souls.
SECOND: CALLED OF GOD – INDIRECTLY
The next kind of teacher the scripture recognizes is the one who has been carefully selected by the “pastor-teacher” in the church and instructed to teach others the things they first have been taught.
Paul instructed Timothy, who was ordained and gifted by God for the ministry, that the things he had learned should be committed to faithful men who would be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
This kind of teacher will make up the majority of teachers but note the requirements. They must be faithful men, that is, proven men. They must also be able to teach. Note to their assignment. It is to teach that which they first have been taught by the pastor-teacher which God has given to the church. The fact that they should be able to teach indicates they are gifted and that their gift is evident. In either case, the man does not choose to be a teacher but instead is chosen either by the Lord himself or by the Lord’s servant. That’s why this Mystical Order has a committee for selection and the final approval rests with the Patriarch and Chief Apostle.
Teaching is a holy calling. For this reason, James, by the Holy Spirit, counsels men not to be self-appointed instructors of others and thereby invites condemnation upon themselves by not accurately teaching and practising God-given truths.
IT MAY SEEM ATTRACTIVE
Then too, as has been already pointed out, the danger does exist of individuals desiring to be teachers because of the apparent lustre (sheen, glow, chandelier) of the office, or the desire for public recognition. Of course, this sort of thing is altogether wrong. I deliberately use the term, “apparent lustre”, because the true teacher does not view his position in this way. He sees it as a privilege, but even more than that, he sees it as an awesome responsibility. He is responsible not only to teach truth but first to seek it and find it. This requires asking, seeking, knocking; an exercise in prayer and study. And this in turn requires time and devotion. The Apostles made arrangements by appointing deacons to the church, so they would be free to give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. (Acts 6:2-4) Every gift or office in the church, every appointment is important and must be very sincere. We are to acknowledge God and surrender to His will to be effective in that office. Then comes our obedience to the established Leader and we must bear true allegiance for effective ministry.
The second area of consideration James sets before us has to do with the teacher and his personal weaknesses and possible natural tendencies. Verse two states the fact: “For in many things we all offend.” The word James uses here and translated “offend” literally means “to trip,” that is, to err, or sin, or fail. The same word is translated as “fall” in 2 Peter 1:10, and “stumbled” in Romans 11:11. We must see what the Apostle is aiming at here. James includes himself here by using the word “we.” Teachers, even though chosen by God to teach others, are nonetheless still not perfect themselves. But neither are they immune to judgment because they are working for God. On the contrary, they will be under greater judgment because they are in a greater place of responsibility.
Right on this point I believe rests the whole force of what James has been saying. For a man to take up the vocation of a teacher without a divine call, and thus without divine understanding, would be to invite upon himself greater condemnation. For if a man is chosen by God to be a teacher, he is also equipped by God, not only to teach but to properly recognize and deal with his own faults, that he would walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called. While there is a message here for teachers it is not primarily for them. The message here is to would-be teachers, pointing out to them the many snares they would have to contend with and which could eventually bring judgment upon them in the end. They would be entering a vocation for which they were neither called nor equipped, and therefore their own weaknesses would defeat them, not the least of which is their own tongue.
Oh, how many “would-be” bible teachers have destroyed their own credibility, have done insult to the Holy Word of God and brought reproach upon the name of God, all because they could not control their own tongue. How easy it is for one who lacks such control to use the pulpit or the classroom to vent his own peeves or work on his own frustrations or to subtly attack a brother or a sister with whom he disagrees, or promote his own theories and interpretations to the confusion and hurt of others. All of these things he does under the pretence of teaching the Word of God. How sinful! So it is written: “Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse men, which are made after the similitude of God… My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
A man who can control his own tongue is able also to bridle or control the whole body; but an uncontrolled, undisciplined tongue is a world of iniquity and will defile the whole body.
ARE ALL TEACHERS? LET’S TAKE A LOOK
It would be in keeping with the scripture to think of the teachers as the tongue-member of the body of Christ, the Church. So that not only what he speaks but the whole of his behaviour would either lend to the edifying of the body of Christ, or to the defiling and cursing of it. So great is the responsibility of the teacher.
WHO CAN TAME THE TONGUE?
“Every kind of beasts; and of birds, and of creeping things, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; …” It is important that we understand what is being said here. It is not saying the tongue cannot be tamed, but that it cannot be tamed by man. We are reminded of a very basic and fundamental truth. In the beginning, the Creator gave to man dominion over the animal world and even the earth itself, but he was not given dominion over himself. He was to be and remain in subjection to his Creator-God and was to obey His Word.
When the man (Adam) sinned, the fall was great. The earth and its creatures lost their king (man). Under the curse, they became subjects of futility and victims of the bondage of corruption. And the fallen king lost his domain to Satan and became a servant of sin. But more than this he lost his communion with his King, the Creator, God His Father, and lost his right to the tree of life. As a servant of sin and cut off from his source of strength, he is powerless to his own fallen nature. The Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, became God’s second man–the last Adam. Through His sinless life and by presenting himself to God as the Lamb without blemish for sin, He reconciled us again to God. Now once again it is possible for us to receive strength and power and wisdom from above. Yes, the tongue can be tamed, but not by man, only by the Spirit of God ruling in our members. As the Scriptures say: “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) And again, “It is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
In verse 2 it was said; “If any man offends not in word (with his tongue), the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” Again the word “perfect” here means complete, and this completeness is possible because of the finished work of the last Adam, the faithful and perfect man. We are complete in Him when He is Lord of our life and His Holy Spirit directs the use of the members of our body, especially the most unruly member, our tongue. So we are nothing without the Spirit of God to control and direct our lives. What is a man that thou are mindful of Him? You tell me because the answer is in the Scripture.
Let us not miss the main point here. These verses are showing us that unless our unruly tongue is obediently under subjection to the Holy Spirit, the listeners will be the victims. They will be cursed rather than blessed by our words. I do not know any other way to emphasise the dangers of the tongue. The best place to see this operation is in the Church. The way we swag our tongue and even at that very moment preach the things that are not of God, and the visitors are dismayed by the actions of the believers who should be the complete example.
The conclusion we are brought to by verses 11 and 12 is this: A fountain cannot send forth at the same place both sweet and bitter water. In reality, then it is not a faithful source of water at all. Something difficult to understand, a self-contradiction, a lie. Neither is it possible for a fig tree to bear olive berries, a vine, or figs. Can you see the analogy? A man who is not a true teacher of the Word, not chosen and equipped and empowered by God; cannot bring forth true and faithful teaching. Men who hunger and thirst after righteousness will waste their time and risk their life if they fall victim to men who are not true teachers of the Word. And those that are jealous and want to be like the other person will do more harm in Ministry than good. The want-to-be self-appointed teachers are only inviting upon themselves greater condemnation. Know this, my beloved brothers and sisters, fellow Ministers of this Mystical Order, give ears to the word of God and be the complete example that God has appointed you to be. Do not let yourself get in the way of good governance of the word of God. You are brought with a price and chosen to minister and because you were found capable, The Holy Spirit through the Patriarch and Presiding Prelate has appointed you to the office you now serve. Please serve with pride and dignity and let your integrity lead your way.
I will close with this final thought. To choose a ministry for which we have not been called means not only that we are committing a wrong against that ministry, but it also means we are failing in the function we were meant to accomplish. “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.” (1Corinthians 12:17-18) Beloved these are the words of the Lord and as a Teacher, I am persuaded to do the job that God has lain on my shoulder. This may not be the pattern of Spiritual Baptists, but God has called us to study the word of God and to prove all things; holding on to all truth. May Almighty God continue to bless and keep you and may we keep living for Him in our words and deeds. He never fails and I pray that our faith fails not, so when we are converted do strengthen our brethren. May the Love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rests and abide in us all now and forevermore.