• OVER 5,000 ARTICLES AND QUOTES PUBLISHED!
  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,387,505 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,276 other followers

  • October 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Aug    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Recommended Reading

  • Advertisements

DO NOT TREAT DOCTRINE LIGHTLY

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9 ESV)

After over thirty years of teaching Christian adults in several churches, I cannot tell you how often I have heard statements in various forms similar to this: “I don’t want to know doctrines. I just want to know Jesus.” This clever response gives the appearance of a deep spirituality but often I have found that the Jesus they are seeking to know is more the idol of their imaginations than the Jesus found in the Bible.

Continue reading

Advertisements

If We are to be Biblical!

Quoting R. C. Sproul:

“If we are to be biblical, then, the issue is not whether we should have a doctrine of predestination or not, but what kind we should embrace.”

Hostility to Doctrine

The Christian idea of a doctrine is not merely an expression of the Christian experience, but on the contrary it sets forth those facts upon which the Christian experience is based. J. Gresham Machen helps us to understand this in reference to modern liberalism in the church:

What . . . is the real meaning of the present revolt against the fundamentals of the Christian faith? What, in brief, are the teachings of modern liberalism as over against the teachings of Christianity?

At the outset, we are met with an objection. ‘Teachings,’ it is said, ‘are unimportant; the exposition of the teachings of liberalism and the teachings of Christianity, therefore, can arouse no interest at the present day; creeds are merely the changing expression of a unitary Christian experience, and provided only they express that experience they are all equally good. The teachings of liberalism, therefore, might be as far removed as possible from the teachings of historic Christianity, and yet the two might be at bottom the same.’

Such is the way in which expression is often given to the modern hostility to ‘doctrine.’ But is it really doctrine as such that is objected to, and not rather one particular doctrine in the interests of another? Undoubtedly, in many forms of liberalism it is the latter alternative which fits the case. There are doctrines of modern liberalism, just as tenaciously and intolerantly upheld as any doctrines that find a place in the historic creeds. Such for example are the liberal doctrines of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. These doctrines are, as we shall see, contrary to the doctrines of the Christian religion. But doctrines they are all the same, and as such they require intellectual defense. In seeming to object to all theology, the liberal preacher is often merely objecting to one system of theology in the interests of another. And the desired immunity from theological controversy has not yet been attained.

Sometimes, however, the modern objection to doctrine is more seriously meant. And whether the objection be well-founded or not, the real meaning of it should at least be faced. That meaning is perfectly plain. The objection involves an out-and-out skepticism. If all creeds are equally true, then since they are contradictory to one another, they are all equally false, or at least equally uncertain. We are indulging, therefore, in a mere juggling with words. To say that all creeds are equally true, and that they are based upon experience, is merely to fall back upon that agnosticism which fifty years ago was regarded as the deadliest enemy of the Church. The enemy has not really been changed into a friend merely because he has been received within the camp. (Christianity and Liberalism)

Hold Fast

Bishop J. C. Ryle:

If we would hold fast that which is good, we must not tolerate any doctrine that is not the pure doctrine of Christ’s Gospel. There is a hatred that is downright charity: that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine. There is an intolerance which is downright praiseworthy: that is the intolerance of false teaching in the pulpit. Who would ever think of tolerating a little poison given to him day by day? If men come among you who do not preach “all the counsel of God,” who do not preach of Christ, sin, holiness, of ruin, and redemption, and regeneration, – or do not preach of these things in a Scriptural way, you ought to cease to hear them. You ought to carry out the spirit shown by the Apostle Paul, in Gal.1:8: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed.” (Tract: “Hold Fast”)

Christian Gullibility

In the 21st century, we presently accept and participate in a very broad and careless understanding of true Christianity. Orthodoxy has been replaced by the embrace of humanism and strange teachings. Historic doctrines have been abandoned in favor of a Christianity which does not offend; and the revelation of God has been forsaken for ideas more favorable to human pride. As Bishop of Liverpool, England – J. C. Ryle also faced these obstacles in his lifetime. He writes:

Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using. Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be carried away!” (Warnings to the Churches, “Divers and Strange Doctrines”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967], 76, 77)

The Wicked Herb

How should we respond to the teaching of false doctrine in the church? John Calvin answers this question below:

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. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

If we have a desire to obey our God as we ought, we must practice that which is commanded us, and pray Him to cleanse the church from . . . the devil’s instruments. This might be applied to all corruptions and stumbling-blocks invented by the devil; but it is here spoken of concerning the doctrine whereby we are quickened, which is the true food of the soul.

Now let us come to that part of the subject, in which St. Paul informs us who are of this number. He saith, “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.” When he names Hymeneus and Philetus, he showeth that we must not spare them, who, like scabby sheep, may infect the flock, but we must rather tell every one, what kind of men they are, that they may beware of them. Are we not traitors to our neighbors when we see them in danger of being turned from God, and do not inform them of it? A wicked man that goeth about to establish perverse doctrine, and cause offences in the church, what is he but an impostor? If I dissemble when I see him, is it not as though I should see my neighbor in danger, and would not bid him beware?

If the life of the body ought to be so precious to us that we would do all in our power to preserve it, of how much more importance is the life of the soul! Those who endeavor to turn every thing upside down will come and sow their false doctrine among the people, in order to draw them into a contempt of God. These barking dogs, these vile goats, these ravenous wolves, are they that have erred, and endeavored to overthrow the faith of the church: and yet we suffer them. Men will frequently say, must we be at defiance with them? Must we cast them off that they may fall into despair? This is said by those who think we ought to use gentleness; but what mercy is it to spare one man, and in the mean time to cast away a thousand souls, rather than warn them? We must not suffer wicked herbs to grow among us – lest they should get the upper hand, and choke whatsoever good seed there be, or utterly destroy it. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

The Controversial Spirit

Many a person who declines controversy over the truth of Christianity has renounced his confidence in the truth; that truth which is like a torch in that – the more it shakes, the more it shines. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) writes:

Are there then to be no limits set to the controversial spirit? Assuredly there are. These limits are, however, not to be sought in motives of convenience or prudence. Christianity thrives on controversy, and exists only by virtue of it—it is in the world to reason the world into acceptance of itself, and it would surely be vain to expect the world to take its reasoning without reply. “It is the native property of the divine word,” says Calvin, rather “never to make its appearance without disturbing Satan, and rousing his opposition. This is the most certain and unequivocal criterion by which it is distinguished from false doctrines, which are easily broached since they are heard with general attention and received with the applause of the world.” “If the presence of controversy,” therefore, adds Vinet, “is not in itself the criterion of the truth of a doctrine, a doctrine which arouses no contradiction lacks one of the marks of truth.” And surely subjective motives cannot exonerate us from bearing our witness to the truth. Indeed it may be fairly argued that even subjective considerations would rather bid us advance valiantly to the defense of the truth, if it be at all the case as Dr. Hort tells us it is, that “smooth ways” in this sphere too “are like smooth ways of action … truth is never reached or held fast without friction and grappling.” And surely we will give quick assent to the same writer’s dictum that “there are other and better kinds of victory than those that issue in imperial calm.” Even a certain amount of heat in controversy may thus find its justification—in the consideration, to wit, that it is not merely the chill logical intellect which may well be enlisted in this war. The poet’s line, “And God’s calm will was their burning will,” is no libel on the spirit of God’s true martyrs and saints. (“Christianity: The Truth”)

%d bloggers like this: