Our 100th Q&A: Does doctrine really matter?

OUR SPECIAL EDITION 100TH BIBLE Q&A: DOES DOCTRINE REALLY MATTER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Many in Christendom argue, “Doctrine divides, so we need to forget doctrine and just unite around the ‘love of Jesus.’ Jesus prayed for harmony among all His people and doctrine just hinders fellowship.” What would be the Bible believer’s answer to such comments?

(NOTE: While this is a very lengthy Bible study, much more could be written on this subject. Hence, I have determined to comment as little as possible on the verses quoted. These passages largely speak for themselves, and in order to save space, I have forgone much remarking.)

Dear friends, if we knew of no other Bible verse, 1 Timothy 4:1 answers our question as to whether or not doctrine matters: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” It may shock you to learn that Satan loves to teach doctrine, particularly Bible doctrine, just so long as that doctrine furthers his agenda rather than God’s. The Bible student will recall that Satan audaciously quoted the Bible to, of all people, Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11)—the Devil butchered the text, obviously, but he certainly preached a message from the Bible that at least sounded good. Satan took two verses (Psalm 91:11-12) out of their context and attempted to apply them to a time period to which they did not apply. Likewise, there are “spirits” (preachers’ voices) uttering vain words in many pulpits around the world today. They too are quoting Scripture, and like Satan, citing verses that have nothing to do with what God is doing at the present time. The Holy Spirit Himself speaks very clearly—some professing Christians will abandon sound Bible doctrine and embrace these “doctrines of devils!” Again, the phrase “doctrines of devils” clearly says that not all doctrine is good. Doctrine matters—the quality of doctrine matters. We want to now look at this topic from various angles.

THE SERPENT’S SUBTILTY

As King James Bible believers who understand, believe, and enjoy the Scriptures dispensationally, who rejoice in the riches of God’s grace to us in Christ, we are on the receiving end of various types of complaints (especially from professing Christians). “Why do you make such a big deal about doctrine? Why do you emphasize the Gospel of Grace so much? Why do you emphasize Paul’s ministry so much? Why do you stress the King James Bible so much? Why do you talk about God’s grace so much? Do we really need to be so nit-picky about such issues? Why are you such a ‘hair-splitter?’ As long as we are all Christians, is that not enough? Why can we not just all get along and ignore our denominational differences?” How would Father God have us reply to such questions?

In 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, we read what the Holy Spirit wrote through the Apostle Paul: “[1] Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. [2] For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. [3] But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. [4] For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul knew that there were many false religious systems in the world, systems that sinful man had created, systems that Satan used to his advantage to counterfeit what God was doing. Had doctrine not mattered, it would have been a waste of Paul’s time to be so concerned about such a matter. The Holy Spirit also knew that people would even use His Word to previous generations and prior dispensations, to force onto us. They would use misquoted verses (those from Israel’s plan and program) and make us follow passages God never gave us to obey. Whether it is a religious system that man created out of “thin air,” or verses from the Old Testament that a denomination uses to promote the idea that God is still doing those things today, these religious systems further Satan’s policy of evil. Just as the Devil had deceived Eve to focus on her will instead of what God had instructed, so Satan still uses religious works to blind people as to what God wants them to do. The Devil will even use Scripture—that is, Scripture not applicable to us—to cause people to think they are in God’s will.

When compared to the doctrine God spoke in Genesis 2:16-17, did Satan and Eve tell the truth in Genesis chapter 3? We read in Genesis 2:16,17: “[16] And the LORD God commanded the man [Adam], saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Let us carefully compare this with Genesis 3:1-4: “[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die….”

Satan first questioned God’s Word. Then, Eve misquoted it (note the underlined, bolded phrases—Eve added to God’s Word, subtracted from it, and watered it down). Satan finally denied God’s Word, although he knew what God had told Adam (and what Adam had told Eve). Satan’s doctrine was not acceptable; doctrine does matter. It was false doctrine that brought down the human race, that introduced the curse of sin into the creation.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 was JEHOVAH’S warning for Israel to be vigilant regarding people who would deceive them using miraculous demonstrations: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”

Every Bible student knows of the Pharisees’ religious activities and empty theology. The Lord Jesus’ rebuke of them is found in Matthew 23:23-26: “[23] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [24] Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” We have many religious leaders today to which these woes would apply—they look so good but they are false!

We read some interesting language in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” Yes, Satan has “ministers,” and they speak of and advocate “righteousness,” religious works that are needed to make yourself accepted before God. Again, they appear very godly, but they are not. Avoid them!

Miraculous demonstrations are not necessarily of the God of the Bible. One classic example of Satanic deception with regards to miracles, is Acts 8:9-11: “[9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: [10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. [11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” Jesus warned His disciples in Mark 13:21-23: “[21] And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: [22] For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. [23] But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” We read of the Antichrist, a coming political leader who will deceive Israel and the world, in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2: “[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

In our opening remarks, we briefly talked about “spirits” that teach error. These “spirits” are the voices of false teachers, preachers, people who claim to believe the Bible, people who quote the Bible, people who claim to be representing and speaking on behalf of the God of the Bible, but they are anything but and doing anything but. The Apostle John warned in 1 John 4:1-4: “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. [2] Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: [3] And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. [4] Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Earlier, we read an excerpt of 1 Timothy 4:1-5. We will now read the full passage: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Do you know of any religions that forbid you from eating certain foods (fasting) and that command individuals not to marry (forced celibacy)? The Bible calls these teachings “doctrines of devils!”

The latter part of Jeremiah chapter 23 is JEHOVAH’S rebuke against the false prophets of Israel, those who had misled His people from His pure religion, who deprived His people of His Word, and they caused them to join to idols. We would do well to understand that the God of the Bible would say these same words to many church leaders today: “[16] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. [17] They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. [18] For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? [21] I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. [22] But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. [25] I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. [26] How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; [27] Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. [28] The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. [29] Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? [30] Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. [31] Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. [32] Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. [33] And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. [34] And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. [35] Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken? [36] And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.”

Jesus Christ said to the Jewish assembly in Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey) in Revelation 2:2: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” If there were false apostles in John’s day, we can only imagine how many false religious leaders there are today 20 centuries later. They profess to be servants of Jesus Christ but are someone else entirely! Yes, dear friends, doctrine matters!

Previously, we looked at Deuteronomy chapter 13 and Jeremiah chapter 23, passages from the Old Testament that talked about false prophets in Israel, “prophets that made [his] people err” (Micah 3:5). In light of that, the Apostle Peter warned in 2 Peter 1:19–2:3: “[2:19] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [2:20] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [2:21] For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. [2:1] But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2:2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [2:3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

DOCTRINE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HATES

In the book of the Revelation, we read of two “doctrines” to which the Lord Jesus Christ clearly objects. Both of these “doctrines” affected the church of Jewish believers in Pergamos (in modern-day Turkey):

  1. Jesus Christ said, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14). Found in Numbers chapters 22-24, Balaam was a prophet whom pagan Moabite king Balak recruited to curse Israel, that her God would destroy her rather than him (Balak) having to engage in war with her (Israel was a massive nation, and Balak probably did not think he would win a war with them anyway). Balaam instructed Balak to mislead Israel using false doctrine, doctrine that was contrary to the Mosaic Law that JEHOVAH had given Israel through Moses. Israel’s men ultimately did sin against JEHOVAH by having sexual relations with the Moabitesses in Balak’s kingdom and the Jews began to worship the pagan idols of the land (Numbers 25:1-9). The book of the Revelation says Balaam played a role in Israel’s apostasy. In short, God does not want His people fellowshipping with false religion or idols (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-33).
  2. Jesus Christ said in Revelation 2:15, “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” While space prohibits an in-depth discussion of this verse, suffice it to say that Jesus Christ, in no uncertain terms, declared that He “hated” the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. The term “Nicolaitanes” means, “to conquer the laity,” referencing the idea that clergy were bullying or dominating congregants—these leaders were being lords over the common people’s faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 5:3). Jesus Christ is strictly against “the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes”—interestingly, modern Bible versions omit the phrase, “which thing I hate.” In short, God does not want His people being dominated by teachings that oppressive clergy teach, particularly doctrine that gives clergy an advantage over the common Christians.

“BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE!”

There must be good doctrine and bad doctrine, for we read many times where the Scripture tells us to “beware.” If all doctrine were acceptable, there would be no need for such caution to be exercised.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). If doctrine did not matter, the Lord Jesus Christ was surely mistaken when He warned of false prophets. He warned His disciples about the doctrine of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and Herod—surely He did not think their doctrine was sound. Doctrine mattered to Jesus Christ, so it should matter to us.

Matthew chapter 16: “[6] Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. [7] And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. [8] Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? [9] Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? [10] Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? [11] How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? [12] Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

In Mark 8:15, we read: “And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Herod, Jesus said!

The Apostle Paul used the word “beware” in the following passages: “[1] Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. [2] Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. [3] For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:1-3). Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

We read about Satan “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Are lies ever 100% false, or do they contain some truth? Would not Satan approach us with a little bit of truth to make it sound good, to make his lie appear true? Again, did he not quote the Bible to Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11)? Satan certainly sounded good, but he was dead wrong! Jesus Christ was certainly not fooled, however. We not should be just as wise to Satan’s schemes as Jesus Christ was.

If doctrine were not important, the Apostle Paul’s admonition to “take heed” (same as “beware”) would be completely unnecessary. In the Apostle’s mind, doctrine did matter: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” If doctrine did not matter, Paul wasted three years of his life warning the Ephesian Christians to be careful about what doctrine they believed!

BEGUILED, BEWITCHED, POLLUTED, AND UNSTABLE

The Lord Jesus Christ had much to say about false religion in His own day. He knew that this spiritual wickedness led to weak souls, deceived souls, confused souls, and unstable souls. The pure Word of God was not being upheld; manmade tradition had taken preeminence in the Jewish religion, and JEHOVAH’S laws meant little to nothing to the Jewish religious leaders. There were “commandments of men” used as doctrine 2,000 years ago in the Jewish religion, and we would be naïve to think that religious tradition does not have such a stranglehold on Christianity today.

We read in Matthew 15:1-9: “[1] Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, [2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (The parallel passage is Mark 7:1-13.) Do you know anyone today who rejects God’s Word for the sake of keeping a religious tradition?

That same religious system that polluted Israel would taint newly-established Christianity. Consequently, the Holy Ghost moved Paul to write to Timothy in his final epistle: Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). If doctrine did not matter, if all doctrine was equal in quality, then Paul would have no need whatsoever to encourage Timothy to firmly hold on to the doctrine he had heard from him. Again, doctrine matters.

Paul the Apostle wrote in Colossians 2:4: “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” Verse 3 says that in Christ “are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” We do not need philosophy, religious tradition, extra-biblical revelations, et cetera, to gain God’s wisdom and knowledge. We have it already in Christ. The Bible says that someone in religion will come along and try to trick us, to draw us away from that simplicity in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3), to seduce us (1 Timothy 4:1), to entice our flesh with some type of religious work (ceremony, rite, ritual, experience, et cetera). We should pay no attention to them. “[We] are complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10). We do not need to work in our flesh to enhance what the Holy Spirit did in our lives (Galatians 3:3). Anytime someone wants to add to our Christianity, they are actually taking from our Christianity. They cannot add to something that it is complete.

The Apostle Peter wrote about people who corrupt the Bible, who twist God’s precious Word to fit their own denominational beliefs and church statements of faith. These people and their theology only led to unstable souls, people tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). We read in 2 Peter 3:15-17: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [“twist, corrupt”], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [17] Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”

LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN

We read of a familiar idol in Jeremiah 10:1-8: “[1] Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: [2] Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. [3] For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. [4] They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. [5] They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. [6] Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. [7] Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. [8] But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.”

JEHOVAH told Israel “learn not the way of the heathen” (verse 2). They were not to make idols of wood, trees decked with silver and gold (do these sound familiar?). JEHOVAH’S people were not to engage in pagan religious activity because they would then ignore Him and His Word to them. The “stock” (a reference to wooden idols) “is a doctrine of vanities” (verse 8)—the doctrine associated with these idols was “vanity,” emptiness! Here is another example of worthless doctrine.

The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle John to write in 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” John admonished his Jewish brethren to guard themselves against idolatry. He was particularly warning them of the (still-future) time when the Antichrist will have a talking idol for people to worship (Revelation 13:15). Moreover, an idol does not necessary have to be a statue—it could be material possessions, man’s praise (fame), power, sex, et cetera. We too should be careful not to place anything before the Lord Jesus Christ. False doctrine will cause use to ignore Jesus Christ.

Paul’s converts in Corinth were being deceived, religious leaders were seducing them, drawing them away from the message he had preached to them earlier. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:19-21: “[19] What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? [20] But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. [21] Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” There were nearby satanic religious systems, and the Holy Spirit through Paul said He did not want these members of the Body of Christ to pollute themselves with devil worship, pagan idolatry; notice that this evil system involved a cup and a meal. Hence, Paul wrote to them that he may manifest God’s truth to them, and expose the doctrinal error. As 1 Corinthians 11:19 says, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

“[10] And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. [11] These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:10-11 shows us that the believers in Berea gladly heard the words of Paul and Silas, but these Christians “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Unlike the average Christian today, they did not believe anything and everything (doctrine obviously matters!). They even checked the Apostle’s word against the Holy Bible. If such measures were taken with apostles, how much more should be taken today when false teachers abound and apostles are absent?

Notice how Paul instructed Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13)—doctrine matters. Timothy was to “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” There is profit in sound Bible doctrine, and studying it is the way to extract that profit that God has placed into His written Word, the Holy Bible.

“COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM”

The Ecumenical Movement is defined as, “Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches.” In the mid-1990s, a number of prominent Evangelical (Protestant) leaders gathered with Roman Catholic leaders to sign a declaration of unity. They all promised to cooperate with each other’s ministry in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—“Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT). The Ecumenical Movement is what we could call a “Reverse Reformation”—rather than Protestants fleeing from the Roman Church, they now want to cooperate with this seemingly innocent institution. After centuries of the Roman Church calling Protestants “heretics,” Protestants have been called “separated brethren” in recent decades.

Dear friends, Bible believers are not spiritual brothers and sisters with lost people. We are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26); those who have not placed their faith exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are not God’s children, and they are not our brethren. Under no circumstances will we discard God’s pure Word for an amalgamation of human viewpoint, church tradition, paganism, and Scripture. We honor God’s written Word, and we have no fellowship with those who do not. We pray for them to come to the truth, but we will not pollute ourselves with their gross error.

As we mentioned earlier, the Corinthians were being misled by false religious systems. Hence, the Apostle Paul wrote to them in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “[14] Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Returning to our earlier comments, the goal of the “Ecumenical Movement” is to have all “Christians” of every denomination ignore their doctrinal differences, and fellowship as though they were all servants of Jesus Christ! This passage screams against such nonsense. (Actually, the Ecumenical Movement is preparing society for the one-world religion of Revelation chapter 17.) Opposed to the ecumenical slogan, “Come as ye are, we accommodate all faiths!,” Scripture declares: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” This is actually quoting the Old Testament passages that God directed to the nation Israel! (Refer to Exodus 25:8, Exodus 29:45-46, Leviticus 26:12, Isaiah 52:10-11, and Ezekiel 37:27.) God told Israel not to mingle with the world’s (satanic) religious system, and we too are not to mix with error.

As the psalmist declared: “[4] For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. [5] For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:4-5). The Thessalonians abandoned their former religious life, idolatry and false teaching in religion, and they embraced the sound doctrine of “the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), the God of the Bible, and the doctrine Jesus Christ committed unto the trust of the Apostle Paul. These pagans who came to know Christ Jesus discarded their heathen practices and assembling around false gods, and we should do the same. Doctrine matters.

SEPARATE UNTO THE WORD OF TRUTH RIGHTLY DIVIDED

Paul advised Timothy about preparing for the coming apostasy, the turning away from “the faith” (the doctrine committed to Paul) and the embracing of “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). He continued in verses 6,7,13,16: “[6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. [7] But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. [16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (We will come back to this passage later.)

Years later, the Apostle Paul cautioned in 2 Timothy 3:13-17: “[13] But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. [14] But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; [15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Especially in Christendom, there are “evil men and seducers,” people who will cause us to abandon sound Bible doctrine. They will use the Bible but not rightly divide the Bible. They will take Israel’s verses and make them fit us. They will cause us to leave God’s grace and they will put us under Israel’s law. Paul was careful to remind Timothy not to be deceived. He told Timothy that doctrine matters!

Romans 16:17-18 says: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Doctrine matters, so unity at the expense of sound doctrine is unacceptable. If we are to maintain sound Bible doctrine, sound testimonies, we must separate unto that sound Bible doctrine, and not unite in error. There were people in Paul’s day attempting to draw away his disciples by enticing them with nice-sounding words. These false teachers were idolaters—they did not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites and desires. How much more should we watch out for these phony church leaders, nearly 20 centuries after Paul!

In 2 Timothy 2:14-19, we read about some false teachers erring concerning the time of the Rapture, when the Church the Body of Christ would leave planet Earth to be caught up into heaven: “[14] Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. [19] Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Surely, accepting false doctrine was to be avoided—it would lead to nothing but “ungodliness!”

Just in case we missed it in our previous passages, we will at 1 Timothy 6:3-5 now to see if doctrine matters: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” There is “doctrine which is according to godliness” (verse 3), so there must surely be doctrine which is not according to godliness. We are commanded of God to avoid those who do not obey this passage.

Colossians 2:4,8 informs us further: “[4] And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words…. [8] Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Doctrine matters. We do not appeal to the world, to theologians, to philosophers, to tradition, for our doctrine!

We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:14: “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Again, doctrine matters; Christians should be accepting God’s Word, and the Bible says they should refuse to fellowship with those who reject it.

And 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says it all, that those—even within Christianity—will turn away from God’s truth, and embrace fiction, fairytales, opinions, manmade doctrines, et cetera: “[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

While Acts 17:16-34 is an extremely large passage, too enormous to quote and thoroughly discuss here, you can read it on your own to learn how the Apostle Paul believed doctrine did matter, and his actions and words spoken in that chapter proved that heathen doctrine should be abandoned. He preached the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to rescue the pagan Athenians from spiritual ignorance, idol worship, and Satan’s policy of evil. Had doctrine not been important, Paul would have wasted his breath!

Acts 19:21-41 is another very large passage that discusses how the Apostle Paul and his ministry coworkers were the center of a riot in Ephesus, where the goddess Diana, “the queen of heaven,” was worshipped; you should read this one too in your own time. Paul was preaching that idols were nothing, and these Ephesians were thus abandoning the idols and embracing Jesus Christ as Saviour. The silversmiths who made silver shrines for Diana were worried that their incomes would plummet, so the silversmith Demetrius instigated a mob to harass Paul and his companions. The pagans believed their doctrine mattered, and the apostles believed their doctrine mattered. Obviously, neither would give in to the other. Doctrine is important.

THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH

The Bible says in Titus 1:9-16: “[9] Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. [10] For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: [11] Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. [12] One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. [13] This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; [14] Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. [15] Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. [16] They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

Scripture says there is such a thing as “sound doctrine” (verse 9), implying that there is also bad doctrine, doctrine “which they ought not [teach]” (verse 11). We read that there are “many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, [especially Jews] Who mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” In other words, God Himself said that these religious leaders needed to be quiet. Surely, had they been preaching the truth, He would not have said what He did.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The local church is “the pillar and the ground of the truth.” This implies there is error, and that, if we are to remain doctrinally pure, we should have no association with error. Just as God wanted Israel to be a pure nation, free from false religion, so He wants us to be free from doctrinal error and spiritual bondage. He wants to use us to reach others with His truth, just as He wanted to use Israel to reach others with His Word. We are to be “the pillar” (supporter) and “ground” (foundation) for truth; the lost world is to come to God’s people, the Church the Body of Christ, if they want His truth. That is why we need to have His truth! That is why we need to learn sound Bible doctrine. That is why doctrine matters! This is why Bible versions matter—if the Bible translation we use is based on faulty manuscripts written and copied by apostates, we are building into our lives error. Hence, we make a “big deal” about Bible versions, and the authority of the King James Bible.

Ephesians 4:11-14 concludes: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” Friends, there is deceptive doctrine out there, doctrine that will hinder your spiritual growth, doctrine that you will embrace if you are not grounded in the Word of God rightly divided. May you heed the numerous warnings in God’s Word.

RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO NEED TO HUSH

Does doctrine matter? Why do you suppose the Holy Spirit insinuated that there were religious leaders who needed to be quiet, who needed to be silenced, that they not speak their error anymore?

We read in Titus 1:9-16: “[9] Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. [10] For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: [11] Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. [12] One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. [13] This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; [14] Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. [15] Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. [16] They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

Let us read Matthew 15:12-14: “[12] Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? [13] But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. [14] Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Jesus said that the Pharisees were “blind”—they were spiritually blind, they could not see His truth because they did not want to see it. Consequently, they taught wicked religious doctrine; they were not to be trusted, and they were to be left in their ignorance because they did not want to know any better.

Without commenting, we will simply quote 2 Timothy 3:1-9, another passage that proves that doctrine matters, that there are false teachers in religion, people who look good and sound good but who are not good: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [8] Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”

It is often stated, “Doctrine divides, so we toss out it and just unite around the ‘love’ of ‘Jesus.’” Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is a God of love, but He is also a just and holy God. He is fair, and He will not permit error to remain unpunished. His justice will enforce His righteousness, and He will see to it that liars are held accountable for their deception. “And through covetousness shall they with feigned [counterfeit] words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (2 Peter 2:3).

HOW TO RECOVER YOURSELF SPIRITUALLY

If we have peaked your interest with these verses, and you are now aware that you are caught in a religious system, the snare of the Devil, we would be eager to share with you what you can do to get out of the dilemma you are in.

We learn in 2 Timothy 2:25-26: “[25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Lost people are living contrary to God’s will for them; they need to be saved from their sins and the everlasting penalty of their sins (eternal hellfire) by trusting exclusively the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork on Calvary. Most professing Christians are living contrary to God’s will for them; they need to be saved from false doctrine, religious teaching, and denominational systems. Denominational Christians and lost people need to be recovered out of “the snare of the devil.” Satan has taken them captive, and as long as they are not functioning on the information God has revealed to them in and through His written Word, they are fulfilling Satan’s will. Lost people need to realize their need for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. God can only save those who realize that they are lost. Christians need to be rescued from denominational teaching; they need to learn God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. They need to rescue themselves from such error. They need to acknowledge the truth, the truth of the rightly divided Word of God.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:13-17: “[13] But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. [14] But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; [15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The “salvation” of 2 Timothy 3:15 is the “salvation” of 1 Timothy 4:16: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” If we want to be saved from false doctrine, the deception false teachers promote, we must guard the sound doctrine from corruption. We must return and continue in the grace doctrines committed to the Apostle Paul and through his epistles, Romans through Philemon, committed to us. Not only are we to use the Bible, we are also to “rightly divide” the Bible. Dispensational Bible study is the key to understanding and enjoying the Bible. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

BEING A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST

After warning of the coming apostasy, the departure from the faith (the doctrine committed to the Apostle Paul), the embracing of doctrines of devils, the commanding to abstain from meats and marriage (verses 1-5), Paul told Timothy, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (1 Timothy 4:6). Nourishment is the idea of spiritual growth, strong, mature saints who will not be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).

Verse 7 of 1 Timothy 4 says, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” There is doctrine that is to be avoided: it is doctrine that is useless, worthless, profitless, and it is just as detrimental to your spiritual health as junk food would harm your physical body. Likewise, there is doctrine that will lead to godliness, godlikeness, God living in and through you; this is sound Bible doctrine, and this is what we need to embrace if we are to mature spiritually. Finally, verse 8: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Sound Bible doctrine will cause the Christian to enjoy the eternal life that they have now; they will not have to wait to die and go to heaven to have eternal life. They can know what God is doing today and they can cooperate with Him in doing it. They can know God personally today through Jesus Christ.

Paul concludes 1 Timothy chapter 4 by saying, “[13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. [15] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. [16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” We are to pay attention to reading the Bible, we are to pay attention to encouraging others in Christ, and we are to pay attention to doctrine. There are systems aimed at promoting the doctrines of devils listed in the opening verses of this chapter, and Paul tells Timothy to save himself and others from that false doctrine by embracing and teaching sound Bible doctrine, God’s Word rightly divided, the message of God’s grace to us in Christ, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, and so on. If we are to be “good ministers of Jesus Christ,” we too need to warn others of doctrinal error, denominational teaching, non-dispensational Bible study, religious tradition, works-religion, and the other methods Satan uses to distract people from God’s work today. God wants all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)—this means that He wants them to avoid doctrinal error! May we share His desire to have people trust Christ Jesus and to have them see that God’s spokesman to them today is the Apostle Paul.

EDIFICATION: THE GOAL OF SOUND BIBLE DOCTRINE

The Bible says in 1 Kings 6:7: “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.”

We normally associate construction sites with very loud noises—jackhammers, front loaders, drills, hammers, cranes, dump trucks, et cetera. Yet, the Bible says that the builders of Solomon’s Temple (960 B.C.) were knowledgeable about geometry and masonry to the extent that they chiseled out stone blocks at the quarry and transported them to the building’s foundation, fully knowing that these stones would fit perfectly with each other! There was no hammer or axe or other iron tool heard at the Temple Mount; JEHOVAH’S house was literally erected silently! (I wonder if any architect or construction worker today could manage such a massive project so quietly?).

The Holy Spirit says in Ephesians 2:19-22: “[19] Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [20] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The “preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25,26)—His death, burial, and resurrection as the fully satisfying payment for our sins (Romans 3:24; Romans 4:24,25; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—is the means whereby God is building a new house, a new temple. Hence, Christians are called “an holy temple in the Lord” and “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21) Notice how the Bible says that we are built in Jesus Christ—like the stones of the Temple, “fitly framed together” (meaning, “organized compactly/neatly;” cf. Ephesians 4:16).

Beginning with the Ten Commandments (Exodus chapter 20), but throughout the Old Testament, JEHOVAH God constantly warned Israel not to pollute herself with false doctrine. He was building her into a marvelous nation, His kingdom of priests to reach the (Gentile) nations. Israel was not to sabotage that plan by forsaking Him and following pagan idols and bad doctrine.

Moses, just before dying, advised His people in Deuteronomy 4:1-2: “[1] Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. [2] Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Simple! Simple! Simple! Israel was not to add and not to take from God’s Word. Israel did not listen. In Exodus 34:10-17, JEHOVAH told Israel: “[12] Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: [13] But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: [14] For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: [15] Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; [16] And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. [17] Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.” There were false religious systems operating in Palestine, and JEHOVAH told Israel not to partake of them at all. There was no room for compromise at all. Israel did not listen. They partook of that devil worship, they added to God’s Word and took away from God’s Word, and He severely judged them for it.

Before we point fingers at Israel, professing Christianity has added to and taken from the revelation the ascended Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul, Romans through Philemon. They are not content with God’s grace as Paul presents it; they toss that away. Instead, they prefer everything He gave Israel—water baptism, tongues, tithing, miraculous demonstrations, Sabbath day, rules and regulations, angels, and so on. They have combined the New Testament Scriptures with Judaism and pagan (non-Christian) doctrine and then they still call it “Christianity.” What a sad commentary!

The Apostle Paul, writing one final time to young Timothy, penning his farewell letter to the Church the Body of Christ, provided the key to guarding ourselves against the ravening wolves now attacking the completed Bible (and thus us): “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Not only were we to “study” that Bible—to read it, carefully consider it, and compare verses with verses—we were also to “rightly divide” it. Note that the Christian is called a “workman.” We are already saved unto eternal life, forgiven, justified, and redeemed, but God saved us, forgave us, justified us, and redeemed us for a purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). There are some mighty works God wants to perform in us, and He accomplishes them when we walk by faith in His Word to us (the Bible rightly divided) (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

We read in 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. [9] Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

The quality of the doctrine we store in our inner man is either “good” or “bad,” to be evaluated when we get to heaven. We can be faithful workmen, Christians “skilled in the word of righteousness,” experienced workers as those of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:7); or we can serve denominations, traditions of men, philosophy, ourselves, the world, et cetera, and sabotage our Christian work.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 3: “[9] For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. [10] According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Scripture is quite clear that we need to “take heed how [we] buildeth thereupon.” Beware! Beware! Beware! The Apostle Paul is “a wise masterbuilder,” the “chief architect”—the ascended Lord Jesus Christ gave him the blueprints of what He is doing today. If we go anywhere else in the Bible but Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we will miss God’s blueprints for today, and we will thus build something God is not building. We will be using the wrong materials, placing those materials in the wrong place, thus weakening the structure, and so on. The “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25), He is the foundation. We only read about this “mystery” (secret information) in Paul’s epistles.

If we do not “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we will not recognize Paul’s special apostleship and ministry to us. As the builders of Solomon’s Temple were ever so careful to handle their instructions and their materials (1 Kings 6:7), we too are working. Are we following the directions God gave us through Paul? Are we using “gold, silver, precious stones?” Or, are we using “wood, hay, stubble?” Are we using God’s Word rightly divided, or worthless materials such as church tradition, human wisdom, and non-dispensational Bible verses? It will make a difference in the structure we build in our lives.

The Apostle Paul gently rebuked the Corinthians for their building pagan philosophy into their lives: “[12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

In Paul’s epistles alone we find our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny; outside of Romans through Philemon, we find Israel’s doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny. According to the book of Proverbs (3:13-15, 8:10-11, 8:19, 16:16, and 20:15), gold, silver, and precious stones are related to spiritual wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual understanding. If we are to have spiritual wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual understanding in this the Dispensation of Grace—doctrine that is well pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ—we must go to Paul’s epistles, to the doctrine Jesus Christ spoke to him for him to then write to us.

Christendom’s constant push to “go back to Pentecost” and its persistent cry to “go by what Jesus said” (the Four Gospels), is a disregard for the new revelation that Jesus Christ gave after His earthly ministry and after Pentecost. The Holy Spirit said through Paul, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). Now, we know Jesus Christ according to His heavenly ministry, Paul’s ministry. Will we submit to God’s current building plans, or, like the Corinthians, will we continue to do whatever we want in religion?

According to 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, we can build into our Christian lives “gold, silver, precious stones” (God’s Word rightly divided), or we can build into our Christian lives “wood, hay, stubble” (religious tradition, non-rightly-divided Bible, philosophy, denominational thinking). Verse 16 asks, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” We should be careful not to defile God’s temple, our bodies. Scripture warns these false teachers who mislead the Body of Christ: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (verse 17).

We would hate to stand before God as those who stand in the pulpits and parrot nothing but the traditions of men, denominational thinking, worthless religious doctrine. All those false people are undermining God’s people, polluting them with bad doctrine, and yet, they are ever so covert that they appear to be servants of Jesus Christ and are thus rarely identified as ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Romans 16:25-26 says that God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us using a three-fold process: “according to my [Paul’s] gospel,” and “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,” and “by the scriptures of the prophets.” Paul’s Gospel is the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day. Jesus Christ according to the mystery (secret) program is revealed in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. The Scriptures of the prophets is all of the Bible in light of Paul’s writings.

Since church members usually ignore dispensational Bible study, they lack spiritual stability, they are unskilled in Christian service, and they cannot function as God intended. Let us guard against the Adversary’s wiles, that we may participate in God’s silent building.

Father God’s will for us is that we grow spiritually. The Lord Jesus wants to not simply indwell us but feel comfortable, feel “at home,” in our inner man. His life will then become our life (for our Christian life really is His life!). Our identity in Christ is only in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon: the Body of Christ is described nowhere else in Scripture. To focus on and apply to life other Scripture is to ignore your identity, overlook what God is doing today, neglect what God gave you, and so on.

Not knowing your identity detrimentally impacts your life. Satan’s assault against members of the Church the Body of Christ is to have them ignore Paul’s epistles. Once they focus on all the other Scriptures and apply them to their lives, they operate apart from the identity God gave them in Christ. Satan’s system causes us to focus on Israel’s prayer promises, Israel’s baptisms, Israel’s tithing, Israel’s miracles, Israel’s earthly kingdom hope, Israel’s material blessings, Israel’s laws, Israel’s feast days, Israel’s apostles, and so on (all found outside Romans through Philemon). No wonder people go around saying we are “spiritual Israel”—claiming Israel’s verses as our own leads to no other conclusion! The only hope for the Body of Christ’s salvation from false doctrine and doctrinal confusion is to return to Paul’s epistles. Had we not left God’s Word to us, we would not claim God’s Word to others.

Religionists always emphasize seeing and hearing “God” (?) at work in circumstances—miracles, visions, angels, audible voices, and so on. However, God is not working audibly or visibly today. His Holy Spirit is working silently in each Christian, using His Holy Word rightly divided to build in them doctrine that cause them to be His house forever, vessels of His life!

In his final epistle to the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit said: “[20] But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. [21] If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20,21).

Beloved, we can either be “garbage-can Christians” or “grace-motivated Christians.” “Garbage-can Christians” are filled with garbage doctrine—the sins of the world (lasciviousness, secularism, loose living, human evil) and/or the sins of the spirit (religious tradition, non-rightly-divided Scripture, philosophies of men, human “goodness”). “Grace-motivated Christians” are filled with sound doctrine—always mindful of God’s grace to them in Christ, that He is their everything (their life, strength, Counselor, Head, righteousness, hope, and so on). One can only be a “grace-motivated Christian” if he or she is skilled in God’s grace (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

“Garbage-can Christians” are not living in their identity in Christ; although bound for heaven, their Master cannot use them because the Bible says they are “vessels to dishonour.” If we are to be “grace-motivated Christians,” if we are to be “vessels to honour,” able to do “every good work” (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16,17), we must heed the “doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness” in Romans through Philemon, that we may work with God in building His temple today.

Paul did not want ignorant Christians, spiritually impotent Christians, spiritually weak Christians—this is much of today’s Christianity, sadly. He wanted strong, mature Christians, those who could do the work of the ministry, those who would not be tossed around and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:12-14). Paul knew what the Holy Spirit knew: once the Christian gets a grip on God’s Word rightly divided, then God’s Word rightly divided gets a grip on the Christian! Christ can then dwell in our hearts by faith (us believing that sound doctrine)—our eternal life can be brought into our lifestyle!

There was a time when mankind could not know what God was doing (for God had not revealed that information). Now, with the “revelation of the mystery,” all of God’s will is revealed (Ephesians 1:8-10). God wants to fill us with His life, to one day use us in the heavenly places! It all starts when we study and believe God’s Word rightly divided, that the Holy Spirit will then build in us that edifice of sound doctrine, that dwelling place of Christ!

Throughout the Bible’s New Testament Scriptures, we read about “edification.” The word means, “to instruct or benefit; uplift.” “Edify” is derived from two roots, the first meaning, “to build,” and the second, “house, temple.” The idea is building a structure of sound doctrine inside a person’s soul. Paul and Timothy wrote, “…we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying” (2 Corinthians 12:19). “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord giveth us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed” (10:8).

We read in 1 Timothy 1:3-4: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, [4] Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” Paul instructed Timothy to tell those false teachers in Ephesus to quit teaching law and start preaching grace (verse 7). The Holy Spirit wants “godly edifying,” the building inside a person’s soul sound Bible doctrine that will lead to godliness (remember our earlier comments about 1 Timothy 4:7-8). If the doctrine is not correct, then it will not lead to godliness. Yes, indeed, doctrine is important.

CONCLUSION

When you think about it, “Does doctrine really matter?” is actually an absurd question. Were it not for doctrine, Christianity would be no different from the world’s religions. Ask any Muslim, any Jew, any Buddhist, any Hindu, any person of any world religion, and they will express to you in no uncertain terms that they value and respect what they believe, and they will rarely compromise it to please you. They will never be convinced that doctrine does not matter.

In light of this, it makes no sense when professing Christians urge other professing Christians to throw away doctrine, and just fellowship around “Jesus.” How do we know one class of professing Christians is not advocating a counterfeit Christianity, a counterfeit Jesus, a system that appears to be derived from Scripture (and perhaps some of it is Scriptural), but overall, it is a system that is not entirely trustworthy? How do we know that there are no non-Christians in disguise trying to infiltrate true Christianity with non-Christian beliefs and practices? How do we know that it is the “Jesus” of the Bible, the Jesus whom the Apostle Paul preached? They could simply be using His name to preach something anti-Jesus. What did Jesus say? “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

How much respect do we hope to gain as Christians when we claim that doctrine means nothing to us? The Evolutionist will certainly not compromise his doctrine with Bible-believing Christians, but strangely, there are professing Bible believers who see no worthwhile reason to hold to a specific set of doctrines. How ridiculous! I wonder how a public school system would respond if we went into its classrooms and exclaimed, “Doctrine does not matter. Creationism is just as good as Evolutionary theory!” (They would hold on to and defend their humanistic paradigm much quicker than the average Christian would hold to and defend the Bible’s creation account!)

Again, the phrase “doctrines of devils” clearly says that not all doctrine is good. Doctrine matters—the quality of doctrine is important. We have only briefly touched on the verses here, but no one could read the Bible and honestly conclude that all doctrine was okay, acceptable, pleasing to God.

Someone might say to us, “There is a little good in all religions, a little good in all denominations.” In closing, we reply in the words of a bygone evangelist: “There is some good bread in the garbage can, but I do not want to get my bread there! I had rather go to the supermarket and buy a loaf of good clean bread than to pluck it from the garbage can from among the other garbage, even though the bread might be wholesome and good.”

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Saints, our goal this past year has been to provide you with sound Bible studies so that you can save yourself from the apostasy, the departure from God’s truth, so rampant in Christianity today. It is hope and prayer that we have been a help and an encouragement to you this past year, that you study the Holy Scriptures for yourself, and that you not take anyone’s word for it. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to continue to serve you here for years to come! 🙂

NOTE: Our Bible study, “Be Ye Separate” is another good article to which you can refer regarding this matter.

Also see:
» What is dispensational Bible study?
» How does Satan operate today?
» Do all Bible versions really say the same thing?

2 responses to “Our 100th Q&A: Does doctrine really matter?

  1. Thank you for the exhaustive work you did in preparing these lessons, and especially
    this particular work. It requires more than one sitting to take in, so I will be coming back to it frequently.

  2. Pingback: Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

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