Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Monday, September 19, 2016

Titles of distinction?

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  - Matthew 23:8

Today, we have men and women who attach titles before their name, as if they should be exalted to a higher status over the brethren. For example, 'Dr. R.C. Sproul', 'Dr. John MacAthur', or the various other titles such as reverend, apostle, etc. The verse I gave is from our Lord; He forbids such nonsense. Let's look at Albert Barnes' commentary on the first part of the text, "Jesus forbade his disciples to seek such titles of distinction. The reason which he gave was that he was himself their Master and Teacher, They were on a level; they were to be equal in authority; they were brethren; and they should neither covet nor receive a title which implied either an elevation of one above another, or which appeared to infringe on the absolute right of the Saviour to be their only Teacher and Master. The direction here is an express command to his disciples not to receive such a title of distinction. They were not to covet it; they were not to seek it; they were not to do anything that implied a wish or a willingness that it should be appended to their names. Everything which would tend to make a distinction among them or destroy their parity - everything which would lead the world to suppose that there were ranks and grades among them as ministers, they were to avoid. It is to be observed that the command is that they were not to receive the title".  'Rabbi' - This title corresponds with the title “Doctor of Divinity” as applied to ministers of the gospel; and, so far as I can see, the spirit of the Saviour’s command is violated by the reception of such a title, as really as it would have been by their being called “Rabbi.” It makes a distinction among ministers. It tends to engender pride and a sense of superiority in those who obtain it, and envy and a sense of inferiority in those who do not; and the whole spirit and tendency of it is contrary to the “simplicity that is in Christ.” A. Barnes

How is it then we have many within the ranks of evangelicalism that sport such titles proudly? This is a direct violation of the text. We are not to give titles to ourselves, regardless of the schooling one boasts of to back the title. 

Matthew Henry is in agreement with Barnes, "1. Christ's ministers must not affect the name of Rabbi or Master, by way of distinction from other people; it is not agreeable to the simplicity of the gospel, for them to covet or accept the honour which they have that are in kings' palaces. 2. They must not assume the authority and dominion implied in those names; they must not be magisterial, nor domineer over their brethren, or over God's heritage, as if they had dominion over the faith of Christians: what they received of the Lord, all must receive from them; but in other things they must not make their opinions and wills a rule and standard to all other people, to be admitted with an implicit obedience. The reasons for this prohibition are,
(1.) One is your Master, even Christ, Mat_23:8, and again, Mat_23:10. Note, [1.] Christ is our Master, our Teacher, our Guide. Mr. George Herbert, when he named the name of Christ, usually added, My Master. [2.] Christ only is our Master, ministers are but ushers in the school. Christ only is the Master, the great Prophet, whom we must hear, and be ruled and overruled by; whose word must be an oracle and a law to us; Verily I say unto you, must be enough to us. And if he only be our Master, then for his ministers to set up for dictators, and to pretend to a supremacy and an infallibility, is a daring usurpation of that honour of Christ which he will not give to another."

So is A.W. Pink, "What strange methods God sometimes employs in teaching His children much needed lessons. This has recently been the writer’s experience. He has been approached by a “University” to accept from them a degree of “D.D.” Asking for time to be given so that he might prayerfully seek from God, through His written Word, a knowledge of His will, fuller light came than was expected. He had very serious doubts as to the permissibility of one of God’s servants accepting a title of (fleshly) honour. He now perceives that it is wrong for him to receive it even complimentary. Various friends, as a mark of respect, have addressed us as “Dr. Pink.” We now ask them to please cease from doing so. Let it not be understood that we hereby condemn other men for what they allow. No, to their own Master they stand or fall. The principal passages which have helped us we now mention, praying that it may please God to also bless them to others. First, to the false comforters of Job, Elihu (God’s representative) said, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man” (Job 32:21). Second, “Be not ye called Rabbi” (Mat 23:8), or “Teacher,” which is what “Doctor” signifies. Third, John 5:44 reproves those who “receive honour one of another,” and bids us seek “the honour that cometh from God only.” Fourth, none of the Lord’s servants in the New Testament ever employed a title: “Paul, an apostle,” but never “the Apostle Paul.” Fifth, the Son of God “made Himself of no reputation” (Phi 2:7). Is it then fitting that His servants should now follow an opposite course? Sixth, Christ bids us learn of Him who was “meek and lowly” (Mat 11:29). Seventh, one of the marks of the Apostasy is “having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16). Eighth, we are bidden to go forth unto Christ outside the camp “bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13). For these reasons it does not seem to us to be fitting that one who is here as a representative and witness for a “despised and rejected” Christ should be honoured and flattered of men. Please address us as “Brother Pink.”

Isn't that exactly what our Lord states when He said "all ye are brethren"? Let us not break the command of the text by referring to any mortal man as anything other than a brother or sister. 

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