A Little Leaven
by Tom Stewart
September 5, 2000
Church history has seen innumerable controversies concerning all
of its major doctrines, from the Divinity of Christ to the Second Coming of the Messiah;
but, the neglect of the Church to return to its First Love is our most serious
failure. "Nevertheless I have somewhat
against thee, because thou hast left thy First Love" (Revelation
2:4). Falling away from a loving obedience of the LORD Jesus Christ
is evidence that we are close to the appearing of the Antichrist. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not
come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the
Son of Perdition" (2Thessalonians 2:3).
Rejecting our necessity to love our neighbour as ourself, has caused so much confusion
that the Church resorts to the world's psychology rather than the Word of God for
answers to the problems of human relationships. "If
a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not
his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1John 4:20). Our doctrine will soon betray our deficiency
of a "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6), if when the Saviour returns, our
claim to orthodoxy outweighs our proof of loving obedience. "If ye keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even
as I have kept My Father's Commandments, and abide in His love" (John 15:10).
Doctrine is important, because it is the encapsulation of our understanding of the things "which are most surely believed among us" (Luke 1:1). It is necessary to defend the doctrines that ought to be believed. "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" (Jude 3). Each generation is commissioned, not only to "teach all nations" (Matthew 28:19), but to pass "Sound Doctrine" (Titus 2:1) on to the succeeding generations, in its purest form. "6 And these Words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up"
The only true method of maintaining pure doctrine, is to live it
before our children; and ensure that they likewise live what they profess to have
received. "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" (2Timothy 2:2).
In geometry, two lines on the same plane that do not intersect are said to be parallel. When attempting to draw two parallel lines with a straightedge, the slightest amount of error will eventually see the two lines intersect, if extended far enough. The same is true of doctrine that is not backed by a "living-loving" faith, i.e., hypocritical practice will collide with dead doctrine. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1Corinthians 11:1). In truth, we must guard ourselves from receiving or introducing the slightest amount of error in the doctrine that we believe. "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). Only the Spirit of Truth can preserve us from the leaven of error. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9). We, then, should rest confident that the Holy Spirit can address us from His Word, teaching us "Sound Doctrine" (Titus 2:1), if we are willing. "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 7:17). A willing heart is the only pupil that the Holy Spirit can teach. "But the Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as It hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (1John 2:27).
That Anointing (1John 2:27) is the Blessed Paraklete Himself, Who is the Teacher that the Father and the Son have appointed to instruct us. "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" (John 16:13). More than an emanating power from the Son or Father, the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead, being of the same Divine Essence. "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you Another [Greek, allos, another of the same kind] Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever" (14:16). If we stumble, when dealing with the doctrines of the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Spirit, we rob ourselves of our Divine Instructor, as well as, our Divine Protection From Error. "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" (14:26).
Another basic doctrine, such as the Doctrine of the Trinity, when refused and denied, can yield all kinds of negative consequences, i.e., denial of the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Spirit, denial of the Divinity of Christ, etc. "Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost... thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3-4). Historically, the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD made a formal statement of the doctrine of the Trinity; and, today, we understand the Doctrine of the Trinity to mean that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, comprising the Godhead, are of the same Substance or Essence, but are distinctly Three Persons. "The grace of the LORD Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2Corinthians 13:14). We have been graced with the childlike simplicity of the Trinity in the Gospel picture of the baptism of Jesus. "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a Dove upon Him, and a voice came from Heaven, which said, Thou art My Beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).
A denial of such a doctrine as the Trinity, is sufficient to fuel the way for the Antichrist; and, is consistent with most of the major cults, e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc. "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am" (John 8:58). Comparing the Scriptures with the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, we have found that anti-Christian movements most often will deny the Trinity. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (1John 2:22). But, the New Testament plainly teaches the Doctrine of the Trinity. It reveals that the Godhead is One in Essence, but Triune in Personality. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are represented as equally Divine. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). Both the Father and the Son make their abode with the Saints through the Spirit, i.e., "And he that keepeth His Commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us" (1John 3:24). "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23). The New Testament teaches the Unity of God, that the Godhead is One in Its intrinsic properties of Divinity, but It further reveals the Tri-Unity of God as also being distinctly separate in Personality. "For there are Three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are One" (1John 5:7).
Both the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons deny the Doctrine of the Trinity. The Jehovah's Witnesses say:
"...Such doctrine is not of God... The obvious conclusion is... that Satan is the originator of the trinity doctrine" (from "Let God Be True" , Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, pp. 100, 101).
The Mormons testify:
"God was once as we are now, an exalted man... We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see... he was once a man like us, yea, that God Himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth the same as Jesus Christ did... Here then is eternal life-- to know the only wise and true God, and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves..." (from Joseph Smith's "Times and Seasons", August 1, 1844).
Further, the Mormons contradict the very concept of the Omnipresence of the Holy Spirit:
"It has been said, therefore, that God is everywhere; this does not mean that the actual person of any one member of the godhead can be physically present in more than one place at one time..." (from James Talmage's "Articles of Faith", p. 42).
In conclusion, "keep
thyself pure" (1Timothy 5:22). "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the
mercy of our LORD Jesus Christ unto Eternal Life" (Jude
21). The Doctrine of the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ is
designed specifically to keep the Body of Christ pure until He comes for us.
"Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the
glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). A constant abiding in expectation and
readiness is our LORD's method of maintaining our purity. "2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear,
we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself,
even as He is Pure" (1John 3:2-3).
Then, a corollary teaching, such as the Doctrine of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture
of the Church, is eminently designed to secure the purity of the Saints, as well
as their doctrine, until He calls, "Come
up hither" (Revelation 4:1). "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be
accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand
before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
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