Q. You have written more than once on how teachers of the Word will be judged more strictly because of the positions they hold. If those in leadership positions are not necessarily interpreting and teaching correct doctrine, but have accepted the penalty paid by Jesus Christ on the cross and are themselves saved, how are they judged differently from those that follow them?
A. The only judgment believers will face is the bema seat judgment where rewards will be given to the deserving. At that time 2 Cor. 5:10 says we’ll receive what’s due us for the things we’ve done while in the body, whether good or bad. By definition good means those things done at the Lord’s prompting and in His strength. Bad refers to things we do on our own and in our own strength. In John 15:5-6 Jesus said that nothing we do apart from Him is of any value to the kingdom, but will be burned up like the unfruitful branches of a vineyard.
James 3:1 says teachers will be judged more strictly in this regard. Even though a teacher may influence hundreds or even thousands to become believers, if he or she does so through the use of false doctrine, teaches things that go beyond the Lord’s intention, becomes enamored with the various “perks” of the position, enters the field without a specific calling from the Lord, or any one of a dozen other such things, none of the fruit of his or her ministry will qualify for reward.
In effect James said teachers will not be given even the slightest benefit of the doubt when the time comes for judging the motives behind their actions, and if their motives were not absolutely pure, their work will be disqualified. In 1 Cor. 3:15 Paul said such people will still be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. In other words, with nothing to show for their life.