The Doctrine of Separation

Separation

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1)

            Our text issues a call, nay, a command to separation. It is based upon the fact that there are things and people that are incompatible one with another. Righteousness cannot fellowship with unrighteousness; light cannot dwell with darkness; believers have no share with unbelievers; and the temple of God has no agreement with idolatry.

            This has been so from the beginning of Creation. God separated time from eternity, matter from nothing, and the heavens from the earth. He went on to divide the light from the darkness, day from night, and the seas from the dry land. After that, God separated the beasts from humans and put a difference between male and female. He also told man that there is a difference between good and evil, warning him of the judgment for committing sin.

            When man sinned, there came death, which is a separation between God and man. Scripture tells us, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” (1 John 1:5–6) There is also the ultimate separation from God in outer darkness. 

            Cain killed his brother and was separated from his family and from most of humanity. Noah had to separate from the rest of the world in order to board the ark and be safe. Abraham had to separate from worldly Lot. Lot had to separate from wicked Sodom. Israel had to leave Egypt, and also had to live separately from other nations.

            The covenant of circumcision had Israelite males separating themselves from a portion of their flesh, signifying both their faith in God and their separation from sin (See Colossians 2:11).  The circumcised were also to be separated from the uncircumcised.

            The Levitical law and holiness code called for a separation from those who were immoral. Often the separation was due to the execution of the death penalty upon those whose sins were harmful to family and society. We also see that the leper had to live separately from those who were healthy.

            We also find a separation placed between those Jews who were atoned for and worshiped the LORD and those who were not atoned for and did not worship the LORD.

            Numerous times in the Scriptures we find that God commanded Israel to put a difference between the holy and the profane; and He also rebuked and chastened them when they did not do so.

Separated Minds

            It is especially interesting to notice that Israel was to be separated from the unbelieving nations around them even in the things that they ate (See Leviticus 11). Why was this so? God wanted the people to be distinct from the nations around them, even in the normal habits of life. Paul told Timothy that, while the dietary laws have been abolished, the principle of separation still stands and is seen in our willingness to nourish ourselves with the good Word of God while refusing profane words and myths (1 Timothy 4:1-7). Just as we are taught to not be led by the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1), we should always recognize the need to be separated from the influence of the world upon our thought lives. 

            Too often we have thought of separation as merely a separation from doing sin, but we must recognize that God wants us to have purity of thought also. Our transformation comes from the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2), and that began when we were born again (Colossians 3:10). We are taught to surrender our minds to the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), and to become fools in worldly wisdom that we might gain godly wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:18). Lot, sadly, failed to do this and troubled his mind greatly with the things that he saw and heard in Sodom (2 Peter 2:7). Lot’s failure in this respect let him to compromise and a testimony that was so weakened that he could not help many in his own family. 

            Israel’s dietary laws separated them in their nutrition and eating habits so that they were not like the nations around them; and that pointed to our need to nourish ourselves only with that which is good. Many things that we eat today are enjoyable yet unhealthy. Whether they are filled with sugar, feed inflammation, too fattening, or simply devoid of nutritional benefit, much of today’s food is harmful to us. Just as we must beware of our nutritional intake so that we can be healthy, so we must be very careful of the things we see and hear, because they will greatly impact our minds and holiness. Our music, our reading, our conversations, and our television viewing all have effects on our minds; and they will feed either holiness of worldliness in us. We must be a separated people, feeding ourselves only on that which is good.

Separating From Doctrinal Error

            Doctrinal error is a very pervasive thing, steadily working like leaven and spreading its corrupting influence throughout the body of Christ (Galatians 5:9). Paul told Timothy it is like gangrene, spreading, decaying, and destroying (2 Timothy 2:15-17). It is for this cause that we must separate ourselves from grave doctrinal errors.

            Paul warned the Romans to take notice of those whose teaching contradicted the doctrines of the gospel and holiness (Romans 16:17-18) and to turn aside from them, because those people would be servants of their flesh rather than followers of Jesus. Peter warned that there would be false teachers whose teachings would tempt and mislead others to walk away from Christ (2 Peter 2:1-22). It is partly considering this that Peter teaches us to be holy (2 Peter 3:11,14).

            John also battled false doctrine, and those who were teaching falsehoods about Jesus. Mainly they said that Jesus had not come in the flesh, and their teaching then affected the morals of the people they influenced. John said, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 10–11) John is teaching that we should not give material, spiritual, or moral support to the purveyors of false doctrine, because one becomes a partner in their error by so doing. Separation is essential for the health, prosperity, and survival of the churches.

            The failure to separate from those teaching and embracing false doctrine has wreaked havoc among churches over the last one hundred sixty years. Whether it was the accepting of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the denial of the Deity of Jesus Christ, the rejection of the inerrancy and infallibility of Scriptures, the introduction of corrupted Bible versions, the denial of the virgin conception and birth of Jesus Christ, or the rejection of the reality of miracles, it is painfully obvious that the state of Christianity in Europe and in the United States of America has suffered greatly because of this. Furthermore, we now see the prevalence of prosperity theology that is merely greed masquerading as spirituality, using God as a genie to get what we want; and this is heretical, but people are embracing the slick looking, smooth speaking men who present the therapeutic pep talks that make folks feel better. Ultimately, these things affect worship and morality, and bring great harm. We must separate ourselves from grave doctrinal error.

Separating From Schismatics

            While the principle of separating from doctrinal heretics is real, so is the principle of separating from practical heretics. Heresy is primarily schism, which is simply division. Some divisions are doctrinal. Other divisions are practical. Some people have correct doctrines but have poor practices and are fractious, contentious, and disturb the peace and well-being of the body of Christ by their contention or by introducing harmful practices. Paul commanded Titus to warn the divisive person two times and then avoid him or have no fellowship with him (Titus 3:10). Why is this seemingly extreme course commanded? Because the person who will not heed godly warnings about divisive and harmful behavior is corrupted and sinful, and his own heart and behavior condemn him (Titus 3:10-11). It is imperative to note that, while many ironically condemn biblical separation as being judgmental, this passage teaches us that the one being separated from has condemned himself. 

            John, while being considered the apostle of love, shows us that love will separate from those who create divisions. Notice he spoke concerning Diotrephes, a man who decided that he would be the ruler of the local church where he was a member, refused to receive and help God’s men, and excommunicated those who did help God’s men and stated that he would remember Diotrophe’s words and ways. In other words, rather than Diotrephes being the one casting out, he would be rebuked and cast out unless he repented. Not only so, but John commanded the church to follow good, and that those who did not follow good are not of God. (3 John 9-11). This is nothing less than the principle and doctrine of Biblical separation from divisive people being described and put into practice.

            Few people think of the great damage that divisive people cause and fail to realize that separating from them in a godly fashion will do much good. Whether it is immorality as seen in 1 Corinthians chapter five, false doctrine and divisive actions as seen in Galatians (See Galatians 2:11-14;5:9-12), or wagging tongues, anger, unreasonableness, and strife as seen in James, divisive people do much harm. The leaven of sin spreads. Anger festers, builds up, comes to a head, and erupts, causing much damage. Notice James’ statement: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16) We can expect all sorts of sin to flourish in the presence of division and strife, and that is why we must call divisive people to repentance and then separate if they refuse to amend their hearts and ways.

A Warning Against Compromise

            Scripture also teaches us that we must be on our guard against compromise and separate from it when we see it. We are warned that friendship with the world is enmity with God and spiritual adultery (James 4:4). Scripture commands us to love our God supremely, and that love for the world denotes an absence of love for God in our hearts (1 John 2:15-17). We know that the LORD rebuked Jehoshaphat for joining in with wicked Ahab (2 Chronicles 19:1-3). The text heading this article also teaches us that light and darkness, righteousness and wickedness, Christ and Satan have no true fellowship. We cannot stand with our feet in both worlds but must choose between the two.

            Why is compromising a thing to guard against? Compromising is a joining of forces with those who are believing or practicing wrongly, and is a lending of support to them, which makes us partakers of their wrongdoing. Paul warned Timothy against partaking of other men’s sins (1 Timothy 5:22), and we have already seen that John spoke similarly (2 John 10-11). We must beware of compromising and choose to separate, or we will be guilty of aiding and abetting others in their sins.

            While it may not be quite as obvious as in other issues, compromise is ground for separation as well. Notice that compromise makes one a partaker in another’s evil deeds. Just as one who is present with another when a crime is committed is considered an accessory and one who helps is considered an accomplice and both are considered guilty of the crime, so it is with compromise. When we know of ministers and churches who offer fellowship to heretics or compromise with immorality, we must exercise separation from them as guilty of the same spiritual misdeeds. Their compromise demonstrates their sympathies to those sinning and demands our separating from them so that they will not affect us with the leaven of compromise.

Separation Vs. Isolation

            Separation, as we have seen, is a Biblical doctrine and practice. We are often prone to extremes, however, and can sometimes take separation too far and become isolationists. We cannot totally separate ourselves from the presence of sinners, or we would have to leave the world. This is what Paul told the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Jesus prayed for His people, not that they would be taken out of the world, but that they would be kept from evil (John 17:15). It is easy to stand aloof from others, look down our noses as the Pharisees did, scorn and criticize, and become “holier than thou,” but that is not separation. That is isolationism, and it is contrary to the commands of God, who told us that we should seek to convert our erring brother (See Matthew 18:15-17;James 5:19-20;1 John 5:16). 

            Paul’s directions to the Corinthians concerning the man in an incestuous relationship was that they should separate but not isolate themselves from those in immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). The purpose of separating was two-fold: it was for the purity of the church, so that the leaven on sin would not spread, and it was for the spiritual good of the one being separated from, so that he would come to repentance. It seems to have been successful, because Paul later wrote to them and admonished them to show grace and love in forgiving him (2 Corinthians 2:1-11). With this in mind, we conclude by asserting that the Biblical doctrine and practice of separation is a positive doctrine that seeks the holiness of the church and the repentance of those from whom we separate.

The Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Work Of The Holy Spirit

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” (John 16:12–16)

 

 

Note: The reader would do well to first read the following article on the Divine Essence.

 

The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and thus has no beginning or ending. Thus it is when we see the very beginning, we are not surprised to find that the Holy Spirit was active in the Creation. “Inthe beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2) When man was created, the Spirit of God was busy. “The Spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)

We then see the Spirit of God calling men to repentance for a time. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lordsaid, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:1–3) The Scripture later speaks of this as the longsuffering of God (1 Peter 3:20). Jesus also told us that the Spirit would convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), pointing men to Jesus.

When a person trusts Jesus, the Spirit applies to that person the benefits available to us in Christ. “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18) He sanctifies, redeems, justifies, and cleanses us. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) Taking residence within us, He is the earnest of our inheritance, thus promising to bring to us all of the blessings of Christ in this world and in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Spirit has worked in people, giving them various gifts and skills that they might do the work God desired of them. “And the Lordspake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,” (Exodus 31:1–3) The Spirit was laid upon men for leadership positions also (Numbers 11:16-17;28:17). “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lordcommanded Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:9) We see similarly in 1 Samuel 10:6;16:13. This continues to this day within the body of Christ, as “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 and context) We are warned that we need not think that we can work without the aid of the Holy Spirit. “This is the word of the Lordunto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, Saith the Lordof hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

The Spirit also guides us (John 16:13;Acts 8:29;10:19;11:12;16:7;21:4) Being omnipresent and omniscient, He is a perfect guide who is always with us. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7–10) In His guidance, He instructs us. “Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:18–20) It is important to note that the Holy Spirit guides us by instructing us. We must never think that our feelings and opinions are important or crucial in being guided by the Spirit, because He directs and guides us by teaching us. Holy Spirit guidance is Word based guidance.

It is very important that we understand that the Spirit is deeply involved in the work and ministry of the Word. We read, “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, And the man who was raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lordspake by me, And his word was in my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:1–2) Thus, He spoke to the prophets (Cf Ezekiel 2:1-3;Micah 3:8;Zechariah 7:12;1 Peter 1:10-12;2 Peter 1:16-21). We also find that the Holy Spirit was active in giving to us the New Testament. “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25–26) He was promised to testify of Christ, using the apostles to bear witness (John 15:26-27), which they did (See 2 Peter 3:1-2, where Peter states that the writings of the apostles are of the same authority as those of the Old Testament Scriptures.). Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth, telling us things to come (John 16:12-15). We see this throughout the New Testament Scriptures, as the writers often acknowledge their words as being of the Spirit, or God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:10-14;7:40;1 John 5:6,9;Revelation 1:9-20). In fact, Peter was so bold as to call Paul’s writings by the name “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:14-16), and John placed his writings on the same level as the law (Revelation 22:18-19 Cf Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Yes, the Spirit has given to us the Scriptures we have today.

Not only does the Spirit give to us the Scriptures, but also He helps us understand them. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9–16) We are taught in the Scriptures that God gives to us understanding (Proverbs 2:1-9;James 1:5;John 16:12-16;Ephesians 1:15-17;2 Timothy 2:7). Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we can understand the wonderful gifts and words of God to us in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures present to us many promises of the Spirit being poured out upon the earth and upon men. It is then that the earth will be renewed and filled with righteousness and peace (Isaiah 32:15-20;44:1-5;Ezekiel 39:25-29;Joel 2:28-32;Acts 2:17), and men will be transformed. This promise began to be fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2), and continues to be fulfilled in everyone who believes to the saving of the soul (Romans 5:5;8:9;1 Corinthians 12:13;Galatians 3:26-29;Ephesians 1:13-14). (See the article The Baptism Of The Spirit.)

When the Spirit comes upon a person, He also indwells him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:15–18) This wonderful indwelling of the Spirit is the very presence of both the Father and the Son within us (See Romans 8:9-11, where the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. See also Colossians 1:27.) Not only so, but the promise of Jesus is that the Spirit will be with us forever. God has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), and His Spirit will ever be within us.

As the Spirit works within the child of God, we have already seen that He instructs us and enlightens us regarding the Word of God; but He also is at work in us to sanctify us. Paul stated, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22–25) The Spirit works within us to give us the will and the power to please God (Philippians 2:13), and He enables us to put to death sinful lusts and live holy to the glory of God (Romans 8:1-14).

The Spirit also assures us of our salvation and son ship. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:12–16) We know that we belong to Christ because of the presence of the Spirit within us transforming us into His likeness (Ephesians 1:13-14;1 John 3:24), and giving to us promise of greater and more perfect things to come (Romans 8:9-11;Galatians 5:5;Titus 2:11-15).

This is but a very small portion of the things that can be written concerning the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is a beginning for us. Let us search the Scriptures, pleading with God to fulfill His promise of giving to us enlightenment and understanding, so that we might indeed know the things He has freely given to us. “Open thou mine eyes, That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

 

 

Is The Transcendental Argument Circular Reasoning?

It is said that the transcendental argument, which states that truth and meaning exist and therefore the God of the Bible exists, is circular reasoning. The claim is that we are using the Bible to prove that the Bible is true.

This argument fails to take into consideration the linear nature of the transcendental argument, which would say:

There is truth and meaning.

Therefore there is a standard of truth and meaning.

There is a standard of truth and meaning.

Therefore the God of the Bible exists.

and

There is a source and standard of truth and meaning.

Therefore the God of the Bible exists.

The God of the Bible exists.

Therefore the Bible is true.

That is what is presented in the articles ( Here and here) regarding the existence of God.

See also

https://frame-poythress.org/transcendental-arguments/

https://frame-poythress.org/presuppositional-apologetics/

Sound Doctrine And Sound Behavior

knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 1:9–11) 

                  Notice that the apostle tells the young preacher that sound (hygienic) doctrine has behavior that corresponds to it. Doctrine is essential in the church. We are to give heed to it in our preaching (1 Timothy 4:16), and our preaching should be full of it (2 Timothy 4:1-3). 

Doctrine alone is not what we need, however. Doctrine should lead to practice. This is why we read that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, for the purpose of changing our hearts, minds, and behavior and making us the people God wants us to be.

Paul told Titus that the doctrine of God has a lifestyle that goes along with it, and that sound doctrine should be like clothing for us (Titus 2:1-15). 

Brothers, we cannot neglect doctrine because we think it is impractical. All sound doctrine is ordained by God to lead to sound minds and sound behavior, and we neglect it to our own peril.

Church Discipline pt 1

Church Discipline

Matthew 28:18-20

            As we consider the subject of church discipline, we should first ask ourselves the purpose of discipline. Note that there is a close connection between discipleship and discipline. A disciple is one who submits himself to the teaching and training of a master teacher. In so doing, the disciple submits himself to the discipline of learning from the master teacher. With the Holy Spirit being our teacher, the Holy Scriptures our textbook, and God-given pastor-teachers our guides, let us then learn of the duty of the church in discipline.

The text before us tells us that the duty of the disciples is to make disciples. We are to preach the Gospel, calling men to yield to the Lordship of Christ by repenting of their sin, trusting Christ, with the understanding that we are obligated to obey Him. Even faith in Christ is called obedience (Romans 10:16-17), and the unbelieving are called the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3). We are then to discipline the believers in following Christ. We are to teach in order that discipleship occurs. One cannot be a disciple without learning the way of Christ, who said we are to learn of Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

            This is why the Scriptures are given to us, that we might become followers of Christ. Paul told Timothy, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 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. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14–17) Notice how this passage corresponds with our text. Just as we are to make disciples, Scripture shows us that salvation comes through faith in Christ; and, just as we are to teach the disciples the Word, the Scriptures disciple us by teaching us, showing us our error, correcting us, and training us to be the follower of Christ that He would have us to be. Scripture is given to us that we might come under the discipline of Christ by trusting Him and following Him.

            The early church took the discipline of teaching seriously, it seems. When many were converted to Christ on Pentecost, the next thing we read is, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41–42) New converts were immediately brought under the doctrine/teaching of the Word of God. We also see that the apostles took the ministry of the Word very seriously, and refused to be distracted from the task, and so the office of deacon was established (Acts 6:1-7). Finally, when Paul would say his farewell to the Ephesian elders, he commended them to God and His Word, saying, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32) 

            Then we see that the church has been gifted with leaders whose job is to teach. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16) These teachers are given so that we would grow to become followers of Christ. Their teaching is to form us into the image of Christ in our sanctification. This is why pastors are required to be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2), to apply themselves to teaching (1 Timothy 4:16), and to preach by teaching the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-3).[1]

Thus we are to yield to the discipline of the Word, by both hearing and doing it (Hebrews 13:22;James 1:21-27;2:14-26). Discipleship occurs when we yield to the teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. This is both the beginning and the most important part of discipline within the church.


[1]The word “doctrine” in 1 Timothy 4:16 & 2 Timothy 4:1-3, means teaching.

Baptist Distinctives

Baptist Distinctives

There are biblically based doctrines that make Baptists unique among professing Christians. Not all Baptists hold to all of these doctrines and practices. Since the beginning of Christendom there have been those who have not held to everything that is mentioned here. The failure to do so has often led to Baptists losing their unique identity as Baptists, though the name may remain on the church and on the sign. The totality of the doctrines believed is what makes Baptists unique. In addition to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity listed above, these are as follows:

  1. Salvation by grace through faith, apart from any good works or religious deeds.
  2. The eternal security of the believer in Christ. (John 10:27-30;Romans 8:28-39;Ephesians 1:12-14;1 Peter 1:1-9).
  3. The baptism of believers by complete immersion in water as an ordinance that is requisite to church membership. (Matthew 3:1-18;28:18-20;Acts 2:38-47;Romans 6:1-4)
  4. The beginning of the New Testament church during Christ’s earthly ministry. John came immersing those who repented, and Jesus led His followers to do likewise. (See Matthew 3:1-18;John 4:1-3;Matthew 28:18-20)
  5. The identity of this church as Baptist in doctrine and practice.
  6. The independence and autonomy of the local church under the headship of Christ and the leadership of His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:1-3;Galatians 1:1-5 Note that here the churches are recognized as local and distinct bodies with no connection to one another beyond that of Christian fellowship. None had authority over the other. See also Revelation chapters 2-3, 2 Corinthians 8:18-24 and Colossians 1:1-2;4:15-18.)
  7. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion Service, as an ordinancein the church by which the members of the church remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as the promise of His return. (Matthew 26:17-30;Luke 22:1-20;1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
  8. That Baptists have existed in all ages since Christ established His church and are not Protestant, having begun before the Roman Catholic Church.

Of Duties And Doctrine

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, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” (1 Timothy 1:3–4)

 

As Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, he gave him very explicit instructions concerning his duties. Timothy had three things to do:

  1. Charge them to teach no other doctrine.
  2. Command them to not listen to religious stories and tales that stir up doubts in people.
  3. Charge the teachers to edify the people in the faith.

 

Note that there are three things one must do when it comes to wrong doctrine:

  1. We must not teach it.
  2. We must not listen to it.
  3. We must teach the truth in order to build people up.

 

Brothers, we must be established in what the truth is in order for these things to have a place in our ministry. We can only discern the doctrine that is not good by knowing the true doctrine. Sadly we are finding ourselves in the times of which Paul later told Timothy, times in which people would rather hear tales and stories rather than true doctrine (2 Timothy 4:1-8). Even in the pulpits of conservative and fundamentalist churches there is little concern for sound doctrine. A man who studies and spends time teaching and preaching doctrinally is an oddity who is often looked upon as out of touch and potentially dangerous. This should not be. Brothers, we must be established in doctrine. We must spend time studying doctrine, and we must saturate our preaching with doctrine. The very basic truths of the faith are often considered as deep things which cannot be understood. This is not only sad, but it is very dangerous. We must be established in the truth that we might teach the truth in opposition to fables.

 

We must not listen to unsound doctrine. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Bad company and unsound teaching will lead to ungodly behavior. Brothers, if it takes calling people by name, we must stand in the pulpits and warn people against those who teach unsound doctrine. There are those who write books, appear on TV, and are on the radios, of whom we should warn the people. They do not need to hear it. If they hear it, they will be tempted to accept it. In accepting even a little bit of untruth, God’s people can be led astray into ungodliness. Brothers, notice that we cannot say, “Well, I simply want to teach the people how to live right: I’m not to concerned about academic and intellectual pursuits.” That will not do. Doctrine is necessary to right living (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must teach and preach sound doctrine if we are to lead God’s people into holiness. We must also realize that we must combat falsehood by commanding God’s people to not listen to it.

 

Finally we must teach the truth in order to build up. Timothy was to command the ministers and teachers at Ephesus to edify in the faith. The faith is the doctrine God has given to the church. It is the truth which we believe when we are saved. It is the doctrine which helps us gain greater assurance. It is the teaching that increases our love for God. The faith is the doctrine that teaches us how to worship God and honor Him in every aspect of our lives. The faith is doctrine that builds us up. It is the duty of those who lead the flock of God to teach them in order to help them to grow. Brothers, we cannot help people be established in the faith if we do not teach and preach the faith. We cannot build up our brethren without presenting doctrinal truth to them. We can lead the flock to worship and serve God acceptably without informing them of who God is and what He expects from us. Edification comes through the faith, which is our doctrinal foundation.

 

There is a great deposit given to the people of God. It is the “faith which was once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) This great deposit is ours to uphold, as the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (See 1 Timothy 3:14-16). We have young people who are starting their families, and they need the truth so that they can raise their children aright. The children need to be instructed in the truth from their youth that they might believe it and be saved. Old people need to be reminded of the truth so that they might maintain holiness in their later years and not let it slip away. When the true doctrine is taught, believed, and put into practice, it will establish us in holiness (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

 

Brothers, let us saturate our preaching with doctrine! As far as the unsound doctrine goes, don’t teach it and don’t listen to it. The faith will edify us all.

The Necessity Of Sound Doctrine

The Necessity Of Sound Doctrine

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 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. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 3:13–4:4)

The text before us presents to us a picture of the aged apostle, nearing his death, and desiring to see his protégé Timothy hold fast to the truth he had taught him so that the church where Timothy was pastor would prosper. Paul knew that the way of true prosperity for the people of God would be through the teaching and receiving of sound doctrine. It is sound doctrine that Timothy is commanded to preach and teach.

What is this thing called sound doctrine? The word doctrine simply means teaching. It is in the Word of God that is the source of this sound doctrine that is to be to our benefit. Furthermore, sound doctrine is that which is clean, healthy, and pure, as the word sound comes from the Greek word γιαίνω, from which we get our English word hygiene. The cleanliness and purity of doctrine are determined by its origin and content, both of which are to be Scriptural.

 

The Source And Authority Of Sound Doctrine

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16–17)

God ordained Jesus’ doctrine. All that Jesus said and taught had its origin in His Father (John 5:30-40;12:44-50). As Jesus taught and performed various miracles, it was known that His teaching was with authority (Luke 4:32). The source of that authority was the very Word of God. Jesus’ doctrine was based upon Scripture. Though He is the Word of God (John 1:1-4,14), Jesus came to fulfill God’s Word (Matthew 5:17-20) and confirm its authority and validity (Romans 15:4,8;2 Corinthians 1:20). When questioned concerning the resurrection, Jesus’ reply was Biblical and the people were astonished at His doctrine (Matthew 22:23-33). The way that Jesus taught doctrine was to properly explain and apply God’s Word. If that was the way of Jesus, it should be our way as well.

As the apostles went forth preaching and teaching, their practice was to continue in the doctrine of Jesus Christ. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22) The early church was built by their continuing in the doctrine of the apostles (Acts 2:41-47), which was nothing other than the doctrine that they learned from Christ and the doctrine that was about Christ and His work. This doctrine was Biblical through and through. One only need read the Acts and the writings of the apostles to find that they based their teachings solely upon the Scriptures.

It is our duty to do the same as Christ and the apostles. Our text tells us that we are to find our doctrine within the inspired Scriptures, which are God’s Word. Our doctrines are given to us so that we may profit by them in learning, in seeing our sins, in correcting our errors and sins, and in becoming transformed into the people God would have us to be so that we might please Him. Thus it is that Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 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 4:13–16) He also told him that the pastor is to preach and apply the Word with doctrine (2 Timothy 4:1-5). In other words, the profit of the church is found in preaching that is doctrinal in nature. It is the duty of pastors to teach God’s Word as they preach (There is no Biblical distinction between preaching and teaching.), and to show the application of doctrine (reprove, rebuke, exhort) to the people. The source of sound doctrine is the Scriptures.

Jesus upheld the principle of doctrine being Biblically based when He said to the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7–9) And when He was inquired of concerning marriage, Jesus pointed men back to the Scriptures (Matthew 19:1-6). His reply concerning the resurrection was founded upon Biblical authority (Matthew 22:23-33), and we must hold to the same today. Sound doctrine has Scripture as its authority and source.

 

The Content And Product Of Sound Doctrine

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, My speech shall distil as the dew, As the small rain upon the tender herb, And as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the Lord: Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: For all his ways are judgment: A God of truth and without iniquity, Just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: They are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:1–5)

Moses’ teaching shows us that doctrine must begin with God. Many people speak negatively about theology as though it were a bad thing. The reality is that theology is primarily the study of God. We all have a theology. Our theology is what we believe about God. Thus even atheists have a theology, even if it is an anti-theology.

If we are to have sound doctrine, it must be theological in content. We cannot worship God correctly without knowing who He is. Jesus said as much when speaking to the woman of Samaria: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21–24) Jesus tells us that there are two things necessary to acceptable worship (We are to worship God in spirit rather than worry about locations such as temples, and we are to worship God in truth rather than in ignorance as the Samaritans did.), and the most important of those two things is to know God so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. Doctrine is absolutely necessary if we are to worship God acceptably. This is why Paul preached a doctrinal sermon to a group of lost people in Athens, they were worshiping a god they called “The Unknown God.” Paul corrected their theology by preaching a doctrinal message that called them to repent and trust Jesus Christ (Acts 17:22-31). Sound doctrine begins with teaching about God. No doubt this is one reason why our Bible begins with God in the very first verse.

Our obedience is based upon the doctrinal starting point of who God is also. “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lordhe is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lordthy God giveth thee, for ever.” (Deuteronomy 4:39–40) We can only obey God when we know Him as He reveals Himself in His Word. This is why Paul went into great detail regarding the deity of Christ, His sufferings, resurrection, and ascension back into Heaven in Philippians chapter two (Philippians 2:1-11): he knew that our obedience is only as good as our knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, and it was to obedience that he is calling us all (Philippians 2:12-16).

Faith in Christ and faithful obedience are the products of sound doctrine. This is why Paul commanded Timothy to hold fast the Word of God that he had been taught: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 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. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14–17) It is those who abandon sound doctrine who are rebuked of Christ (Matthew 15:1-9), and who go astray into destructive ungodliness (1 Timothy 6:1-16).

 

The Necessity Of Sound Doctrine

Sometimes the attitude is present that seems to say, “Well, I guess doctrine is fine for the academics and the seminarians, and others who care for such stuff: we only wish to worship God and see people saved.” What should our response to this be?

First of all we should realize that worship is not something that is done in ignorance of theology and doctrine. Worship is grounded in good doctrine. That is why Jesus told us that we must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Before Paul could help the people of Athens, he needed to correct their theology, so he said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:22–23) God’s complaint against Israel was not that they did not worship, but that they had too little knowledge of Him: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6) Israel worshiped, but they worshiped incorrectly. In fact, their lack of doctrinal understanding led them to worship other gods rather than the one true God. The only way that we can worship correctly and acceptably is to have a doctrinal knowledge of God. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29)

Salvation is also a doctrinal issue. Paul rejoiced that the Roman church had obeyed the doctrine that was delivered to them, that is, the gospel. “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Romans 6:17) The leaders of Israel understood that the preaching of the gospel of Jesus was a doctrinal issue, because they said, “Did not we straitly command you that you should not teach in this name? and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (Acts 5:28) Paul also instructed Timothy that sound doctrine harmonizes with the gospel (1 Timothy 1:10-11). It is for this reason also that Paul the apostle warned the Galatians as he did regarding their errors. Salvation is a doctrinal issue, so we ignore doctrinal teaching at the very peril of our souls and the souls of those who hear us.

This being so, sound doctrine also is demanded for the health and salvation of the church. “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 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 4:13–16) Pastors and churches who are careless with doctrine could very well find themselves having been deceived and misled regarding the gospel. This is why Paul tells Timothy that taking heed to sound doctrine could save both him and the church. Matthew Henry spoke well on this passage saying, “He presses it upon him to be very cautious: ‘Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine, consider what thou preachest; continue in them, in the truths that thou hast received; and this will be the way to save thyself, and those that hear thee.’Observe, (1.) Ministers are engaged in saving work, which makes it a good work. (2.) The care of ministers should be in the first place to save themselves: “Save thyself in the first place, so shalt thou be instrumental to save those that hear thee.” (3.) Ministers in preaching should aim at the salvation of those that hear them, next to the salvation of their own souls. (4.) The best way to answer both these ends is to take heed to ourselves, etc.[1]” We need never expect our churches to be saved and healthy apart from the preaching and believing of sound doctrine, and the only life that stands the test of the judgment is that which is based upon sound doctrine (Matthew 7:21-29).

 

Sound Doctrine Versus False Doctrine

Jesus Himself warns against false doctrine. He warned His disciples of the doctrine of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:5-12). He also stated that there would be false doctrine in the end times that would be very persuasive and deceitful. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24) This is why many will reject Christ and go to hell, Paul tells us: “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: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8–12)  It is very important that the church be zealous in order to know and believe true doctrine. False doctrine has the power to condemn people forever!

Sound doctrine has the power to stop ungodly people from continuing in their sin and false teaching. Paul told Titus that a pastor must be sound in doctrine, “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. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” (Titus 1:9–11) The only way that we can convince people of the truth is to be able ourselves to speak the truth, prove our point, and live it out in such a manner as will be winsome and a blessing. The knowledge and preaching of sound doctrine has the power to convert to Christ those who are lost deceivers who mislead other people. The power of sound doctrine is the power of Christ! (See also Luke 4:14-32.)

Paul also taught Timothy that sound doctrine has much to do with our obedience to Christ. He told him (1 Timothy 1:3-11) that sound doctrine is in accord with the gospel, honors the law of God in its rightful application in our lives, and should lead us to love God and our fellow man. He also commanded Timothy to be sure that he applied himself to learning God’s Word, because false doctrine will lead us astray into more and more ungodliness: “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 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.” (2 Timothy 2:16–19) Just as surely as the commandment is for those who call upon the Lord to depart from iniquity, when we embrace sound doctrine it will lead to holiness in our lives.

 

Contending For Sound Doctrine

The early church was marked by their continuing in sound doctrine (Acts 2:42). The Word of God came to them numerous times commanding them to be firm in sound doctrine and to seek to be pure in doctrine. Paul told the Ephesians that pastors were given to teach the church so that the church would be strong in Christ. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11–15) Sound doctrine is to be contended for because it is necessary to our salvation, and is also necessary to our Christian growth. Today there are many whose spiritual growth is stunted because they are not being fed sound doctrine. We should contend for sound doctrine in the churches because it is necessary to the spiritual well being of God’s children.

The church at Ephesus was warned against false teachers (Acts 20:28-32), Peter warned of them as well (2 Peter 2:1-3), John did also (2 John 1:7-11), and Jude said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3–4) We must be on our guard against false teachers and false doctrine at all times.

We are also told that there are times that we must separate from people who hold to false doctrine. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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.” (Romans 16:17–18) False teachers look and sound as if they are the real things. The have good words and speak well. What they say is appealing. They could not deceive people if their teaching were not appealing. Paul warned the Corinthians of such saying, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 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.” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15) False teachers will often fit in with good, godly people until their teaching demonstrates their error. Sometimes it is their lifestyle that will show their error before it shows up in their teaching. (This is why we should sincerely seek to be sure that those who are pastors in the churches are men who are qualified according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.) Their nice manners and good sounding sermons or teaching will often lead people astray. This is why we must warn them of their divisive doctrines as soon as we become aware of them (Titus 3:10), and separate from them if they do not repent. Believing and teaching things that are contrary to the truth regarding the nature of God, the way of salvation, and the morality and holiness that are to be in the lives of God’s people cannot be tolerated. We must separate from those who hold to false doctrine.

 

Final Thoughts

We are living in the day of which God’s Word warned us saying, “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; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3–5) It is indeed our duty to be watchful and to hold fast to the truth. There will be many who resist, yet we should hold fast to the truth, uphold the gospel of Christ, and be willing to suffer for the truth if need be. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), and we should strive to grow stronger as we uphold sound doctrine in the church, in our lives, and in the world.

It is also necessary for us to realize our need to grow. We should never think that we have come to the point that we know all that there is to know of the doctrine of our Lord. Too many people sit smugly, thinking that they have the truth, that all those who disagree with them even on minor points are wrong and ungodly, and that they have no need to examine where they stand. We should ever be seeking to grow and examining our doctrine so that we can worship God acceptably and be a blessing to others. I was once told of a minister who is now deceased who studied the way of salvation more than any other doctrine. His reasoning was that if he were wrong on that, nothing else mattered. There is much truth in this. We should always be willing to examine where we stand in order to learn more than we presently learn, and that we might grow to better serve our Savior.

Finally, those of us who are pastors need to remember the words of Paul, who told Timothy, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2) There is a great need for us to educate and train the next generation of preachers so that they will be equipped to carry on the work of preaching sound doctrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume(Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2356.