Part II On Doctrine. Why Is Doctrine Shunned?
As I pointed out in my last letter, more often than not doctrine will take a back seat in your 21st century Christian experience. I also promised that in this letter I would attempt to answer the question, why is doctrine shunned in this day?
The short answer is that doctrine causes division, which is a fair claim I think. Adolf Hitler, so it is said, claimed Christianity as his religion. Whether he actually did or not I don’t know, nor do I care, for who in this day would judge the divisions brought about by Hitler’s doctrines harshly? No, any such divisions ought to be considered profitable.
As we can see, division in and of itself is not always a bad thing. While Paul admonishes true Christians to be unified, he at the same time was sharply divisive when it involved the preaching of a false Gospel:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9)
At the root of these strong words is doctrine. Paul would not have another doctrine on the Gospel. Yet we can see here Paul passionately admonishing believers to be unified:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:10-13)
At the core of Paul’s teaching is sound doctrine. Not all are going to interpret the scriptures in the same way, and as such not all will have the same doctrines. But this is not to say that doctrine in and of itself should be rejected even though it is sure to cause a certain amount of division, even among true believers. But remember that it is not doctrine that is the problem, it is the division within the Body that is the problem. Now with this in mind, let us go back to God’s Word and look at Paul’s instructions to Timothy:
“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following”. (1 Tim 4:6)
Paul also warns of a time, very much like your own time, when doctrine would be considered a negative:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Tim 4:3)
So what do we do with this? To begin with let us remember that all people know that the world is messed up, and they are ever searching for ways to escape its problems. Some use drugs or alcohol. Some latch onto a “cause” that they are convinced, if enacted, will fix everything that is wrong. And some use diversions of pleasure and thrills which are too many to count.
Those seeking this escape will find their way into your church in their quest for eluding this world’s ills. The Gospel however has nothing to do with escaping the ills of this world but rather it has everything to do with escaping the wrath of God. Many, not all, of these will reject that their own sinfulness deserves this wrath and so will reject the doctrines of the gospel. But this does not mean that they will move on, having rejected the true Gospel. Rather they will stay with a vision of turning “Church” into another one of their causes or diversions.
Be sure that they will not be content with your doctrine of the good news of Christ Jesus. Instead they will create their own Jesus to worship in your midst. But this Jesus will bear no resemblance to the Jesus of scripture. This Jesus won’t care about how you live, he won’t care about God’s law, and he will love your sin. In short, this Jesus will not love you enough to warn you of the wrath that is to come. (Mt. 3:7-12) They will insist that this Jesus only desires that more people come and escape from reality by singing songs about how much their Jesus loves us. These folks will have no taste for doctrine, much less sound doctrine. If you are attending a church that does not teach, or otherwise shuns, sound doctrine, that church and its people will be defenseless against worldly infections. The world will challenge, deceive and ultimately commandeer that church in the name of love and unity, and it will do so without fear of the division its actions will cause, and with no shame of its hatred for true Christianity. So please, dear children, heed Paul’s warnings and worship at a church that holds to and teaches sound doctrine.
Think about it. If you were to put all who claim Jesus in a really large group, it wouldn’t take long before divisions would arise. Some in that group will have been indoctrinated to believe that the Bible is only a book written by men and is not dependable. Others will have been indoctrinated by the culture and will reject all teachings in the Bible that do not align with the doctrines of culture. Others will allow their own feelings and experiences to trump scripture. And on and on it will go. Division. But the true Church will be unified!
If you are to be a student of the Word of God you will be called upon to engage with this world, as well as other Christians, some of which will be fake, yes, but others will be true sons of the living God who may hold to slightly different doctrines than your own. Pick your battles wisely. Always let your gentleness be evident to all, regardless. Both will sharpen your sword, and that is good. But whatever you do, do not shy away from doctrine in favor of some worldly concept of unity. Remember these words of Jesus: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division…“(Luke 12:51)
So dear Children, I pray that you would keep and guard sound doctrine near and dear to your heart, and that you would not stray from that narrow path. I pray also that you would fix your gaze upon the Author and Finisher of your faith, your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May He give you revelation so that you will be able to discard unbiblical doctrines while holding fast to biblical ones. In Jesus name I beseech you LORD for these things.