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Sermons & Study Guides

Confessionalism and the Need for Creeds Pt. 9 - (Creeds and Confessions and their Relation to Public Teachers in the Church)

James Dodson

Confessionalism and the Need for Creeds

(Creeds and Confessions and their Relation to Public Teachers in the Church)

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2) 

Question.—What is the basis upon which the responsibility of teachers to the confession of the church arises? Answer.—The fact is that the ministry of the Word, or the teaching office, is not a human or merely ecclesiastical invention but a work which displays the divine wisdom, 1 Cor. 1:21; and an office established by God in the church, Ps. 68:11; Jer. 3:15.    This  office  is  made  manifest  ordinarily  by  a  two-fold  outward  call, primarily, by the congregation, or assembly of believers, which is a choosing out one  particular  to  the  ministry,  Acts  6:3; secondarily,  by  the  presbytery,  or representative  assembly,  for  the  confirming and  sending  of  the  one  chosen,  1 Tim. 4:14.  As such, he is subject to a series of responsibilities: First, to the Lord who has called him to that office, 1 Tim. 1:12, 13.  Teaching is  a  gift  that  is  not  so  much  learned  as  received,  1  Cor.  4:7;  especially  in  the context of the divine institution, Eph. 4:11, 12. Therefore, no man can simply take this office upon himself because no man can gift himself, Heb. 5:4. Second,  to  the  congregation  over  which  the  Holy  Ghost  has  made  him  an overseer, Acts 20:28.  This teaching office is given to feed the flock, Jer. 3:15; and not for personal gain or preferment, Ezek. 34:3.  It is to be undertaken willingly and not by any external constraint, 1 Pet. 5:2, 3. Third,  to  the  presbytery,  or  representative  church,  as  part  of  a  regular ministerial  order,  2  Tim.  1:6.    As  a  member  of  the  presbytery,  there  exists  a responsibility both outward, 1 Tim. 4:6; and inward submission, 1 Cor. 14:32, 33.  There  is  a  responsibility  to  speak  and  minister  as  the institution  of  the representative church. 1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:15. Question.—How comes the church to make this establishment of the teaching office?  Answer.—The teaching office, or ministry of the apostles, is by Christ’s command to continue till the end of time, Matt. 28:19, 20.  Thus, the church must constantly be concerned to establish true public ministry for the upholding of the means of grace from generation to generation, 2 Tim. 2:2.  This is necessitated because not all are called to teach, 1 Cor. 12:29.  Only those who by a special and legitimate call  have  been  separated  for  this  office  by  God,  Acts  13:2;  Jer.  23:4.    This legitimacy  is  confirmed  by  voice  of  the  church  ordinarily,  1  Tim.  3:1-7.    The purpose of maintaining the ministerial institution is to keep the vision of God before His congregation, Prov. 29:18. Though the ministry, or office of teaching, is distinct from the priesthood of all believers, John 6:45; Jer. 23:21; yet, it is not some special state of Christian, or degree of communion, higher or more holy than the assembly of believers, 1 Pet. 
2:9.  They are as those who minister amongst a priestly people, 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 4:5.  And that, although there is to be admitted a certain power granted unto the ministry of the Word, 2 Cor. 13:3, 4.  Nonetheless, this power is not a different confession but rather the confessional message sent forth to those who would hear, Rom. 10:14, 15. This means that the mouth of the teacher must speak for the church to the congregation,  or  assembly,  Ps.  40:9,  10.    This  must  be  done  according  to  the analogy of faith, Rom. 12:6; and in the language of the church, 1 Cor. 14:16.  The mouth of the teacher must stay upon the confession of the true religion lest he corrupt  the  covenant  amongst  the  people,  Mal.  2:7,  8.    Thus,  the  church,  in confirming  the  teacher  in  his  office,  places  a  demand  that  he  speak  with  the consent of the ministerial institution, 2 Tim. 1:13.  In this way, he is fitted to lead the assembly in their common spiritual priesthood, Rom. 15:16. Question.—What authority do ministers, or teachers, have in relation to the confessions and constitutions of the church? Answer.—Since  the  church  is  no  kingdom  of  rulers  and  ruled  but  one  holy brotherhood of common confession, Matt. 23:8; none, including teachers of the church, ought to seek to exercise authority over others, Matt. 20:25, 26.  The fact is that all ministers are equal and, furthermore, the church is greater than the ministers, 1 Cor. 3:6, 21, 22.  Thus, the power of the keys lies not with one man, but  with  the  presbyterial,  or  representative,  church,  Matt.  18:18-20.    The ministerial  demeanor  must  be  exercised  with  due  patience  and  submission  to both the congregation and the representative church, Rom. 12:10, 16. If  a  public  teacher  of  the  church  speaks  beyond  his  commission,  he  is speaking contrary to the example of Christ, 1 Pet. 2:22; whose speech followed the  heavenly  pattern,  Matt.  17:5.    Men  who  take  upon  themselves  to  speak contrary  to  the  church  ought  not  to  be  countenanced  regardless  of  other excellencies of person, Gal. 2:11.  Furthermore, those who speak to deform speak contrary to the true authority of the church which is only to reform, 2 Cor. 10:8.  The speech of the faithful teacher should always be seeking the purity and peace of the church, 1 Cor. 11:34. Question.—How may we confirm that public teachers are not authorized to speak contrary to the church and her confession? Answer.—The  subordination  of  the  public  teacher  is  made  evident  in  the matter of church discipline wherein it is clear that jurisdiction over the offender is held by the presbyterial, or representative, church, Matt. 18:15-20.  And, by the fact that the carrying out of a sentence cannot be accomplished apart from the consent of the congregation, or assembly, of believers, 1 Cor. 5:4, 13.  Since all discipline is tied to confessions and constitutions of faith and order, 2 Cor. 2:6; 1 Tim. 5:20; there can be no individual right existing in a public teacher to teach anything  contrary  to  the  faith  or  practice  of  the  particular  church wherein  he exercises ministry, Rom. 16:17, 18.  Such teachers are not to be received, Prov. 19:27.