The word teacher is an exact translation of the Greek word didaskalos. Although it outranks all of the sign gifts, this is the lowest ranking of the ministry gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28. One who realizes this may think that such a low ranking gift is not worth all the work involved in teaching. But let no one think he is a nobody in the kingdom of God. We should remember that in Luke 9:48 our Lord told us that "he who is least among you all will be great." How great? Luke 7:28 says that "among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (See this again in Matthew 11:11.) The least of today's believers is greater than the greatest Old Testament saint. Further, our Lord Jesus said that "whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42) If even the gift of a cup of cold water will be rewarded, what will be the reward of those who faithfully labor to teach the word of God. Let us remember that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2 Corinthians 4:17)
It is a solemn thing to presume to teach the word of God. James 3:1 warns us: "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." A teacher will be judged by a stricter standard than others. In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 we read that "each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." 2 Peter 3:16 tells us that "untaught and unstable people" twist the Scriptures "to their own destruction." But in spite of these warnings, there are many that push themselves forward; "desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm." (1 Timothy 1:7) Nor are they without followers, for 2 Timothy 4:3 warns us that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers." These greedy followers run after whoever will say what they want to hear, ignoring their Lord's warning:
"Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him." (Mark 4:24-25)
We therefore need to know how to recognize a godly teacher. It is not enough that a man can teach well. We need to judge him by the same standard we previously noted for a prophet, that is, by the written word of God, the Bible.
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