The word doctrine is mentioned more than 30 times in the New King James New Testament. It's importance cannot be overstated. Clear Biblical main-frame doctrine is not ours to play around with, to bend and twist, to stretch and shrink, to add to or to take away from.
We have two choices set before us. We can either accept it, or we can reject it.
If Jesus cannot agree with our doctrine then we have a serious problem.
Having said that, I believe, no, I know, that there is a rapidly developing slide towards doctrinal apostasy within the Body of Christ, and yet we don’t speak of it. It is the elephant in the room.
We keep talking about Jesus and the cross and our forgiveness etc - the crux of the faith, but the vital foundational doctrines that God underpins the gospel with have almost gone.
The church is leaking doctrinally at a frightening rate and I don’t believe that God will allow doctrines of man to hold it together in some apparent shape of solidity for outward show and for our peace of mind.
Paul urges us, the individuals that make up the Body, to do a doctrinal check-up.
Note that he did not say here that we examine others.
He is speaking to the Christian. He tells us to test ourselves, lest we miss the fact that we may have disqualified ourselves by no longer being "in the faith".
That is a serious statement.
How then would we test ourselves to see if we are still in the faith?
Our faith's integrity is based on the Person of Jesus Christ.
Just speaking about, or singing to, or praying to a person whom you refer to as Jesus does not mean that you are interacting with the incarnate Jesus as revealed in scripture.
For instance, the Jesus that Jehovah's Witnesses address is Michael the Archangel, whom they say God adopted as His son at the river Jordan.
The Mormon's Jesus is a son born out of a physical sexual relationship between God the Father and Mary with no involvement of the Holy Spirit.
The Muslim Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception and was given power by God to perform miracles to aid him in his ministry, but the Muslim Jesus is not God incarnate, the Son of God, but a mortal man, a muslim prophet, a messenger of allah, and a precursor to the prophet Mohammed.
Then there is the Hindu Jesus, the Buddhist Jesus, the Bahai Jesus, the Rastafarian Jesus, the Unitarian Jesus, the Christadelphian Jesus, the Christian Science Jesus, the New Age Jesus and the Esoteric Jesus.
You get the idea.
How do we know for certain that none of these are the real Jesus?
That’s easy of course, because these various people called Jesus are not Jesus the Messiah so clearly revealed to us in scripture.
The Jesus we worship, the Jesus we follow MUST BE the Jesus as revealed in scripture.
He is the Word become flesh.
All Christians must surely say amen to that.
So if Jesus believed something that later proved to be untrue then He could not be the Truth. He could not be Immanuel. He could not be the Messiah. He could not be Lord.
All Christians must surely say amen to that.
We are called to believe what Jesus believed, but so often we have shaped our Jesus into a person who believes what we believe. Therefore we end up worshipping ourselves when we worship this üeJesusüf
Here's the elephant in the room. The issue we don’t want to speak about.
A very large number of people who claim to follow Jesus, including many leaders, have decided to believe that the creation events as recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis are not truth. Babylonian myth perhaps. Poetry perhaps. Symbolic perhaps. Allegorical perhaps.
But not truth as so clearly described.
Yet in Mark 10:6 Jesus quotes from Genesis 1:27 and in His next sentence He quotes Genesis 2:24 verbatim. Clearly He believed these chapters to be truth.
The real Jesus would still do so today. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The third chapter of Genesis carries the first and possibly most dramatic Messianic prophecy.
It is certainly not the Holy Spirit who is inspiring men and women to avoid the clear descriptions of God's creative or destructive acts described in the early chapters of Genesis.
It cannot be the Holy Spirit who is behind the ever growing menu of counter theologies such as day-age, gap and soft gap theory, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, revelatory day and progressive creation, all of which seek to try and make God's Word say something that it clearly does not say. In some of these theologies we are introduced to soul-less pre-adamic races and Lucifer's flood. To a created world that pre-existed, was ruined and then reconstructed again.
A very large number of people who claim to follow Jesus, including many leaders, have decided that there never was a real Adam and Eve.
Yet no less than six of the New Testament books refer to Adam, or to Adam and Eve, as real, literal people.
Atheists understand the argument surrounding the literal reality of Adam and Eve better than Christians.
Atheist Frank Zindler said,
Atheist Richard Bozarth said,
(If you believe that evolution is a proven fact rather than a working hypothesis -a faith statement - then please go to me study paper 'Creation or evolution' here.)
All the major foundational Christian doctrines are rooted in the early chapters of Genesis, so when you declare those chapters to be steeped in unreality, then you abandon the foundations of essential Biblical doctrine. The dominos begin to topple, each one knocking down another in the chain.
For instance, why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Because of Adam's sin.
Christian foundational doctrine is that sin entered through one man - Adam - and was dealt with by God through the grace of one man, Jesus.
Thus if you deny the reality of the first Adam you can longer claim that the Jesus you worship and follow is the Last Adam.
Scripture will simply not permit them be separated.
A Jesus divorced from any links to the first Adam is not the Jesus that Paul preached.
A very large number of people who claim to follow Jesus, including many leaders, have decided to believe that God did not flood the whole earth covering 'all the high mountains under the entire heavens' as described in the Bible. It is, they believe, myth, perhaps based on stories of a local flood.
Yet in Matthew 24:37 Jesus refers to Noah, the ark, and the great flood. Clearly He believed this event to be truth.
The real Jesus would still do so today.
A very large number of people who claim to follow Jesus, including many leaders, have decided to believe that the Genesis 19 story of God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah in judgement for Sodom's total descent into gross and aggressive homosexual behaviour, was a myth.
Yet in Luke 17:28-30 Jesus refers to the raining down of fire and brimstone that wrought destruction on Sodom and Gomorrah. Clearly He believed this event to be truth.
The real Jesus would still do so today.
A very large number of people who claim to follow Jesus, including many leaders, have decided that Jonah being swallowed by a large fish was mythical.
Yet in Matthew 12:40 Jesus refers to Jonah and the three days and three nights that he spent in the belly of the great fish. Clearly He believed this event to be truth.
The real Jesus would still do so today.
Jesus referred to Moses again and again and again. His name is mentioned some 37 times in the gospels alone. Jesus spoke with Moses (and Elijah) face to face on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Even after His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus expounded the scriptures beginning with Moses. There is little doubt that He would have begun by referring to what Moses wrote about Him in Genesis 3:15
So much of the Bible, and therefore its integrity, is linked to Moses and of course the Ten Commandments written by the very Finger of God Himself on Mount Sinai. Moses and the Old Testament are inseparable. Moses and the New Testament are inseparable.
Every Christian would say amen to that. Or would they?
The fourth commandment, written by the Finger of God Himself, contains this sentence.
For emphasis this declaration is repeated in Exodus 31:17-18
If you do not believe that 'in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them,' then you must choose one of the following options.
Moses made it all up, or recycled a Babylonian myth, and was a deceiver.
However we cannot escape the fact that God declared to Israel that with Moses and Moses alone He spoke face to face. Moses did not get his written accounts from a dream or a vision or an impression. He got it, along with the Ten Commandments, from God. Face to face.
So maybe God got it wrong!
Either way, you have a problem.
And then so of course did Jesus.
If your God got it wrong, if your Moses got it wrong and if your Jesus got it wrong, then whom you profess to worship is not The One who is revealed in scripture.
Jesus taught that the entire Old Testament - “the scriptures” - are divinely inspired.
Here’s what He said..
To quote the ESV Bible commentary,
When the Bible says that ”He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, it cannot mean just a few scattered predictions about the Messiah. It means the Old Testament as a whole, encompassing all three of the major divisions of the Old Testament that the Jews traditionally recognised. “The Law of Moses” includes Genesis to Deuteronomy. “The Prophets” include both the ‘former prophets’ (the historical books Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings) and ‘the latter prophets’ (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 minor prophets, Hosea - Malachi) ‘The Psalms’ is representative of the third groupings by the Jews called the ‘Writings’ (The book of Daniel was placed in this group)
Despite this clear teaching from Jesus, a very large number of people including many leaders, have decided that the Old Testament in particular is awash with errancy.
The following polls are all from the USA.
George Marsden in his book ‘Reforming Fundamentalism’ stated that a survey taken at one of the nation’s leading evangelical Bible colleges revealed that 85% of the students did not believe that scripture is inerrant.
He also quotes from a 1987 Geoffrey Hadden survey of 10,000 American clergymen. They were asked if they believed that the Word of God was inspired, inerrant and the word of God in faith, history and secular matters, and the following figures represent those who did not believe that.
These figures are from the USA but UK figures may be higher.
A very large number of people, including many leaders, have decided that there is a heaven but no hell. It is but a dark ages myth. And so concern for the hell bound world has almost disappeared from the Christian’s heart and mind.
Yet Jesus affirmed its reality again and again and again.
A very large number of people, including many leaders, have decided that there are, or may be, other ways to get to heaven outside of Jesus. Others go further and teach universalism, a doctrine declaring that all people will be saved.
Yet Jesus made it clear that "no one comes to the Father except through Me" John 14: 6
This clear doctrine that for centuries has sent missionaries to the four corners of the earth is underlined in the book of Acts where it is written,
So there is the problem. The elephant in the room.
This very large number of people, including many leaders, who take their truth from the regular updates from the world and not from scripture, are thus declaring that Jesus was naive to believe such things.
Thus for them, Jesus is not 'The Truth'.
And if not 'The Truth' then of course He cannot be 'The Way' and 'The Life'
Thus the Jesus they claim to follow is a flawed Jesus. A mistaken Jesus. A well meaning but naive Jesus.
And a flawed, mistaken, well meaning but naive Jesus is of course, not the incarnate Son of God. He is not Immanuel. Just a good man. But a mistaken man.
You cannot, repeat cannot, believe that these, or indeed any other Old Testament accounts, have been severely disproved by the wisdom of this world and still keep your Jesus separated out as an intact, isolated, unsullied item of belief.
Just as you cannot separate Moses from the New Testament, you cannot separate Jesus from the Old Testament.
John the beloved, the apostle closest to Jesus, declared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is The Word become flesh. Paul confirms in 1 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is God breathed.
When John declared that, and when Timothy confirmed it, the Word at that time was the Old Testament.
Indeed Jesus quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah and Malachi.
He referred to the Old Testament as 'the scriptures", "the word of God', and "the wisdom of God"
Not one word of the New Testament gospels or epistles had been written when Jesus said that the Scriptures - thus referring to the Old Testament books - testified of Himself.
Again and again and again He referred to the Old Testament scriptures as an infallible and unbreakable source of truth.
He is the Word become flesh, not a mixture of myth and The Word that became flesh.
He is The Truth, not a mixture of myth and The Truth.
God makes it clear again and again that He will not have mixtures. (Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:1, 2nd Corinthians 6:14-16)
It is therefore safe to say that He has not permitted His Word to be a mixture.
However taking away from God's Word brings more than a rebuke.
On the last few sentences on the last page of the last book in the Bible we read a dire warning.
If it is applicable to this last, prophetic, book of the Bible, then of course it must be applicable to the very core of scripture itself.
Throughout the ages past, and in many countries in this present age, hundreds of thousands of people have chosen to go to their death rather than add, take away from or deny the integrity of scripture. They understood.
What this host of witnesses must think of our many layers of underlying unbelief I can only imagine.
The 'god of this world', 'the ruler of this world' , that old serpent called satan could not get the old saints to deny one line of scripture even while being burnt at the stake, yet today, as 'the prince of the power of the air' he can get millions to ditch huge chunks of doctrine through a television documentary or a popular hyped-up book written by an atheist.
From page one onwards the acts of God are super-natural, and are, and always will be foolishness to the wise of this world. Foolishness to the natural man.
The natural man says that these things cannot be done - therefore they were not done.
The Red sea parting cannot be done. The iron axe head floating cannot be done. Jesus walking on water cannot be done. Water into wine cannot be done. Feeding thousands on one boys lunch cannot be done. The dead rising cannot be done. Etc. etc etc.
But they were done.
The miracle of the new birth is super natural and the natural man cannot comprehend it.
When natural men succeed in getting us to view the super natural acts of God in scripture through their unopened eyes and their natural understanding then we join them in their darkness. The Bible - rather than revealing truth - closes over.
If you struggle with any of these issues then the best prayer is that of the distressed child's father as recorded in Mark 9:24
But to continue to hold to a view that what Jesus directly, or indirectly, affirmed as truth is not truth, puts you in great disagreement with The God you claim to worship.
Oswald Chambers said "The Bible is either absolute or it is obsolete"
Charles Spurgeon said, "If I did not believe in the infallibility of Scripture - the absolute infallibility of it from cover to cover, I would never enter this pulpit again!"
The epistles have much to say about those who do not abide in sound doctrine. The doctrine that Christ's appointed apostles taught, wrote about, usually died for, and passed on to us.
All Christians know, or should know, the Holy Spirit will only witness that which can be confirmed through scripture, so it is safe to say that the Spirit of God has not persuaded Christians to befriend the world's theories where they contradict His clear teaching.
It used to be that scripture judged us. Now, under great pressure from the world, we have been trained to judge scripture. When it is 'thus saith the Lord' versus 'thus saith the world' we all too often bow the knee to the world's proclaimed truth.
An atheist University Professor in Indiana asked Pastors to sign a pro-evolution letter and obtained over 10,000 signatures from Christian leaders. He also helped hundreds of churches to celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday on what he termed ‘evolution Sunday’
This leaven then spreads to other areas in Christian belief formed by scripture. The growing acceptance of sex before marriage, homosexuality, abortion, easy divorce, all faiths may lead to God etc.
Recent USA surveys show that only 1 in 4 Christians now believe that there are moral absolutes. Teenage Christian figures are much worse. UK figures may be even lower.
When we are trained to think like the 'natural man' the next layer of questioning will inevitably be the virgin birth and then the resurrection. After all science can prove that a woman cannot become pregnant without physical semen from a man, and can prove that someone severely beaten, crucified, speared in the heart, pronounced dead and then entombed for three days cannot just get up and walk away.
And then ascend into heaven!
After all, our only 'proof' is that it says so in scripture. If we have stopped thinking in 'super-natural' terms to explain the earlier recorded events in scripture, how then can we justify adopting that stance now.
Have I gone too far?
Brian Edwards (former President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) in his book 'Nothing but the truth' states that around one third of Anglican Bishops do not believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection. Indeed I heard one such bishop on television sating that his faith did not rest on the virgin birth.
Can you see that the slide towards apostasy is well underway as our minds are being conformed to this world? As our mind-set conforms more and more to the pattern of this world we are less and less able to understand God's perfect will, and deceptions sweep in virtually unopposed. Paul's words to the church at Rome are frighteningly applicable today.
If the Holy Spirit is not persuading men and women to distance themselves from teachings that Jesus affirmed directly or indirectly, then which spirits might be at work?
These can only be deceiving spirits, leading men into doctrines of demons, and these spirits have indeed caused great splits in the church. Their success can be judged by the painful truth that teachers who refuse to leave the clear teachings in scripture and teach one of these new theories will rarely get a church pulpit or a Bible seminary post. Some even get heckled in church. (Ask those who work for creation ministries)
The Holy Spirit brings unity around His Word.
Deceiving spirits bring discord and disunity by propagating the age old question that brought about Adam's fall, "Has God indeed said..?"
1st Timothy chapter 4 is usually given the heading 'The great apostasy', where the first verse reads..
Satan is the Goliath who relentlessly taunts the people of God.
It seems that we, God's people, are standing huddled together on the hillside, trembling with fear and weakness as 'the god of this world' daily paces up and down before us, mocking us for our beliefs through his many articulate spokesmen.
In David's day scripture was made up of five books called 'The Torah'.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
David picked five stones out of the river. I believe these stones represented the written word of God as it existed then. He struck down the mocking giant with the very first stone. And suddenly the church of the day was empowered. David was what they were not. A man after God's own heart.
I believe that the first stone David killed the taunting giant with represented the first book. Genesis. That stone is now being thrown back at the church and it is us who are being knocked down, and the enemy empowered.
God's Word is the sword of the Spirit. Satan, tempting Jesus during His forty days of testing in the wilderness could not, even once, get past Jesus' authoritative declaration
The mocking was silenced.
When those who claim Jesus as their Lord and God, reject the complete integrity of God's Word they become spiritually powerless. Like Samson, the seven locks of their hair are being cut one by one, and their spiritual eyesight is dimming towards blindness.
They can no longer, with integrity of faith, and thus authority, boldly say "It is written"
Loved ones, please guard your doctrine and any flock that has been, or may be entrusted to you. Let's listen to Paul again.
We must always remember that all the ills of this world began with a question
Are there any David's out there?
And loved ones, I believe that the One who loves you, the One who died for you, would ask you this,
Are you still 'in the faith?'