My Doctrine Is Not Mine
Or, On the Importance of Maintaining
by Tom Stewart
"Jesus answered them, and said, My Doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (John 7:16).
Any honest hearted Christian should be able to say with the LORD Jesus, " My Doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (John 7:16). In other words, our Doctrine is what we believe God has given us. That means we will have to grow and change our Doctrine, as God grows and changes us. "But grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18). Doctrine is one of those words that often puts people on edge, as if they may be forced to mindlessly parrot things they do not understand, much less believe. However, "Good Doctrine" (Proverbs 4:2) is the teaching that God gives to us from His Word. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine [Greek, didaskalia, teaching, learning, instruction, precepts], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2Timothy 3:16). Man may be the intermediary that transmits the Doctrine to us, but God does not expect us to accept, believe, or practice it, unless we have been persuaded by His Spirit that it came from Him. "20 But ye have an Unction [Greek, chrisma, anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the Truth, but because ye know It, and that no lie is of the Truth. 27 But the Anointing [Greek, chrisma, unction] which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing [Greek, chrisma, unction] 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 2:20-21, 27). Our willingness or voluntariness is pivotal in the learning of Good Doctrine, for He expects us to be willing to do His Will before He will teach us the meaning of His Doctrine. Jesus said, "If any man will do His will [literally, is willing to do His Will], he shall know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself" (John 7:17).
Good Doctrine, Good Practice
It is a legitimate concern of God that His people will maintain Good Doctrine, for Good Doctrine is essential for Good Practice. "19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). Throughout the history of the people of God, we can see a pattern of Truth discovered, lived, perpetuated, lost, miserably lost, forgotten, then rediscovered, only for the process to be repeated again. What a joy to see Judah's King Jehoshaphat understand the Doctrine of Faith, then trust the LORD, only to emerge victorious-- without any human effort-- over a vastly superior, invading enemy! "12 O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee. 20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the Earth, and none escaped" (2Chronicles 20:12, 20, 22, 24). Good King Hezekiah's son, Manasseh-- later called by Biblical historians the Nero of Palestine-- assumed the throne from his father. Quickly, he did evil, forgetting the Covenants and Doctrines of the LORD. "2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. 9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel" (2Kings 21:2, 9). God, in His mercy, motivated Esarhaddon, King of Assyria to conquer, imprison, and afflict Manasseh, which in turn, caused Manasseh to humble himself into heartfelt submission to the Living God! "11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto Him: and He was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God" (2Chronicles 33:11-13). And, we become elated when we read that another Saint of God was successful in reviving the cause of the Everlasting God and the Doctrine of Obedience, when King Josiah tore down the images of Baal, restored the worship of the Temple, and rediscovered the Book of the Law of God. "8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. 11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he rent his clothes. 13 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us" (2Kings 22:8, 10, 11, 13). "And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers" (2Chronicles 34:33).
Doctrine of Last Things
Maintaining the doctrines concerning the Study of Last Things-- Eschatology-- is particularly important for Endtime Christians, who are "looking for that Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13), as the age waxes worse. We, who understand that we are living in the "Last Days" (2Peter 3:3) and that the "Coming of the LORD draweth nigh" (James 5:8), can appreciate the fact that the "Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the Latter Times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1Timothy 4:1). For this reason, we must be eternally vigilant that we do not believe the Lie or Deception that already the "Day of Christ [the Rapture] is at hand [Greek, enestaken, is present, i.e., has already taken place]" (2Thessalonians 2:2) and that we were left behind. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie [literally, the Lie]" (2Thessalonians 2:11). Why would God send any Endtime Dwellers delusion? Because: (1) "They received not the love of the Truth" (2Thessalonians 2:10), and (2) They "had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2Thessalonians 2:12). The Apostle Paul wrote this second epistle to the Thessalonians for the express purpose of assuring them that the Great Event of the Second Coming of Christ, which John the Beloved affirmed that "He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him" (Revelation 1:7), and its attendant worldwide Rapture of the Saints, i.e., "by the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him" (2Thessalonians 2:1), had not yet taken place. He was necessitated by the Holy Spirit to correct the unsettling misunderstanding of the Thessalonian Christians, i.e., "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the Day of Christ is at hand" (2Thessalonians 2:2), that they had already entered into the events of the Tribulation Week or Seventieth Week of Daniel. [See our article, "The Seventy Weeks of Daniel" ---New Window, where this author explained the Seventy Weeks, and at that time, held forth the erroneous hope of a 1998 Rapture.] Paul understood that doctrine believed is doctrine lived, i.e., "be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22); and therefore, he could not allow to stand their newly received and incorrect doctrine that the "Day of Christ [the Rapture] is at hand [i.e., has already taken place]" (2Thessalonians 2:2). For, if they could be made to believe such an error, it would weaken their walk, taking away their hope and certainty of future deliverance from their current sufferings. "4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the LORD Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels" (2Thessalonians 1:4-7).
Good Men, Differing Doctrine
Good men can differ on Doctrine and the Interpretation of Scripture, when they do not understand what the other man honestly sees; but, when the message of the Scripture has been mutually revealed by the Spirit, "no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation" (2Peter 1:20). Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), the celebrated pastor of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle for 49 years, called himself "neither an Arminian nor a hyper-Calvinist, but a Calvinist of Calvin's own stamp" (The Two Wesleys, p. 4). Spurgeon-- lectured on the lives of John Wesley (1703-1791) and Charles Wesley (1708-1788)-- touching on their Arminian doctrine-- on December 6th 1861. Comparing John Wesley with Spurgeon's ideal of a good Calvinist preacher, i.e., George Whitefield (1714-1770)-- who was at one time, a fellow worker with the Wesleys, Brother Spurgeon said, "In fact, I think I might say that George Whitefield had his eye fixed on heaven, and he read all the truth in the light of God, while John Wesley had his eye fixed on man, and with a tear in his eye, weeping over man's fall and ruin, he read truth in the light of his sympathy with man" (The Two Wesleys, p. 4). Continuing, he suggested the balance that fit the examples of the lives of both Whitefield and Wesley. "That man will just hit the truth, who can read the truth in both ways; with his eye full of tears thinking of man; with his eye gleaming with sunlight, thinking of God; he who can preach Divine sovereignty, and yet preach human responsibility; he who can declare that God 'hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth,' [Romans 9:18] and yet with equal vigour can say, 'Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?' [1Corinthians 9:24]" (The Two Wesleys, p. 4). Clarifying to his Calvinist listeners that he was at odds with Wesley's Doctrine of Sinless Perfection and Wesley's rejection of the Doctrine of Election, Spurgeon stated, "As for John Wesley's doctrine, I have not an atom's worth of sympathy with him, except so far as he preached the Gospel of Christ. Now the essential doctrine of the Gospel is justification by faith. 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' [Romans 5:1] That he did preach" (The Two Wesleys, p. 4). In all fairness to the doctrinal dissension of the great and good C. H. Spurgeon with the great and good John Wesley, listen to how Great Heart Spurgeon encapsulates John Wesley: "Peace to his ashes, death to his errors, life to all the truth he preached, and may the blessing of God make any one of us but a tenth as earnest as he was, and a tenth as useful! With what we think to be clearer views of Divine truth, we can only justify our belief by being more zealous and more devoted to the Master's cause" (The Two Wesleys, p. 45). And finally, in the conclusion of his lecture on the two Wesleys: "As for John and Charles Wesley, they seemed to fly with all the speed of seraphs, -- they had never a moment's rest; they were, from early in the morning till late at night, incessantly engaged in the good cause. As I have read their lives, and the lives of others, whom I hope to introduce to you on future occasions, I have felt as if I had not yet begun to live, and did not know how to begin. What have any of us done? Oh! these times need as much energy and fire as ever those times did; there needs as much passion and earnestness for the conversion of men now as then; there needs as much exertion that we may be good ministers of Christ, and clear our souls from the blood of men as in the olden times" (The Two Wesleys, p. 62). "26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 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" (Acts 20:26-28).
Many have spent much time debating the Doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the Saints-- which is a Blessed Doctrine believed by this writer-- however, most of the discussion revolves around the human perspective of "Can I lose my Salvation?" and not God's perspective of "The LORD is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you" (2Chronicles 15:2). In other words, why does God owe us the Assurance of our Salvation, if our fists and heart are clenched in rebellion against Him? In answer, God's Word only testifies to us through the voice of the Holy Spirit that we are His, if we are presently walking and abiding with Him. "3 And hereby we do know [Greek, givoskomen <present, continuous action> knowing] that we know Him, if we keep [Greek, taromen <present, continuous action> keeping] His commandments. 4 He that saith [Greek, legon <present active> saying], I know him, and keepeth not [Greek, ma taron <present active> not keeping] His commandments, is [Greek, estin <present tense> is] a liar, and the Truth is not [Greek, ma estin <present tense> is not] in Him" (1John 2:3-4). This is paramount to saying that the Holy Spirit gives us permission to say that we presently know Him, only if we are presently keeping His commandments. And, anyone who is saying that He knows Him, and is not keeping His commandments, is presently a Liar, and the Truth is presently not in him. Remember, the Truth is Jesus, i.e., "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6); so, it is calculated to be unsettling for the Holy Spirit to say that He is not within the disobedient. If the Spirit of God calls the disobedient "liars," then there can be no comfort of Heaven, when "all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the Second Death" (Revelation 21:8). God comforts the obedient child with the Assurance of Salvation, while assuring the disobedient of a "certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27). No assurance or comfort is owed to anyone presently walking in disobedience, regardless of how free the Grace of God is, or how unmerited the Mercy of God is bestowed. Most assuredly, the Sovereign God-- Who "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2), because He "will not lie" (1Samuel 15:29)-- will never arbitrarily set aside His promise to comfort the obedient and unsettle the disobedient. It would be easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away, than for "one jot or one tittle" (Matthew 5:18) of God's Eternal Law of Love not to be fulfilled. So, though Eternal Salvation can never be lost, the Assurance of Salvation should be removed from anyone, who walks in known disobedience. "19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1:19-20).
Consistent Christianity May Require Changing Doctrine
Men generally prefer traditional Creeds and Statements of Faith, because they give the benefit of safety in a verifiable agreement with a greater body of Godly men. "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). This doctrinal agreement is not just convenient, but essential in maintaining consistent conduct; however, with the greatest caution and reverence for the opinions of great and good men of the past, "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20) of the Holy Spirit, as He has illuminated His Word-- even if it may contradict, much less improve upon the understanding of our predecessors, who are rightly and justly esteemed. "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the Perfect Day" (Proverbs 4:18). For example, I humbly believe it to be a mistake to conclude that we cannot have any idea of the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ-- though we may not necessarily have any specific date or time-- just because the Early Church was specifically denied the privilege of knowing such information. "6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, LORD, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His Own power" (Acts 1:6-7). It appears that the LORD Jesus was more desirous of their planting, spreading, and watering the Primitive Church, than wanting them to set down and wait for the unveiling of the Kingdom, for He immediately gives them the same Great Commission marching orders that are in effect today. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth" (Acts 1:8). We will surely bear the blame and condemnation of a Holy God for confusing and impeding the progress of the people of God for teaching False Doctrine. "My brethren, be not many masters [Greek, didaskaloi, teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (James 3:1). Just as we have the power of great harm, we have the opportunity of great good-- and, we are held accountable for our opportunities. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). This writer, who has the utmost respect for Charles G. Finney's Lectures on Systematic Theology (1851), must differ with his understanding of Bible Prophecy in regards to the progress of the Church before Christ's Return. Brother Finney put forth the optimistic view that the enlightenment of the Gospel through the Church will ultimately fill the whole Earth, to which I agree. But, unlike Brother Finney, I believe that the LORD Jesus Christ will, of necessity, have to return first before such an agreed upon Worldwide Victory for the Gospel of Christ and for the Worldwide Rule of the Law of Love to occur-- though we are all still required to give our lives and utmost in trying to bring it about. In the Autobiography of Charles G. Finney, originally entitled the Memoirs of Charles G. Finney, he recorded in Chapter 27 ("Another Winter in Boston") an interview he had with an American Baptist preacher, William Miller (1782-1849)-- whose preaching prompted the founding of Seventh Day Adventism-- in the fall of 1843. Let it be stated that Finney believed in the Doctrine of the Millennium: "The state of the world is still such, and probably will be till the millennium is fully come, that religion must be mainly promoted by means of revivals" (excerpted from Charles G. Finney's Revival Lectures, Lecture I, "What a Revival of Religion Is"). Accordingly, his disagreement with William Miller was not simply over Miller's date setting-- Miller's first date, March 21, 1843 was later revised to October 22, 1844 (the Great Disappointment)-- but indicates Brother Finney's disagreement with William Miller's Premillennialism, i.e., that the Second Coming will immediately precede the Millennium. This indicates that Finney had a disposition towards Postmillennialism, i.e., that the Church will usher in the Golden Days of the Millennium before the Second Coming of Christ to Earth occurs.
Finney recounted his interview with William Miller in Chapter 27 of his Autobiography: "In the fall of 1843, I was called again to Boston. At my last visit there, it was the time of the greatest excitement in Boston, on the subject of the second advent of Christ. Mr. Miller, who was at the head of the movement, was there lecturing... The last time that I had attended his Bible class, he was inculcating the doctrine that Christ would come personally, and destroy his enemies, in 1843. He gave what he called an exposition of the prophecy of Daniel, on the subject. ["34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the Whole Earth. 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:34-35, 44).] He said, the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, that rolled down and destroyed the image there spoken of, was Christ... I then asked him if he supposed that the kingdom of God would destroy those nations, in the sense in which he taught that they would be destroyed, with the sword, or with making war upon them? He said, no, he could not believe that. I then inquired, 'Is it not the overthrow of the governments that is intended, instead of the destruction of the people? And is not this to be done, by the influence of the church of God, in enlightening their minds by the Gospel? And if this is the meaning, where is the foundation for your teaching, that, at a certain time, Christ is coming in person to destroy all the peoples of the earth?'... Believing, as they most certainly did, that the advent of Christ was at hand, it was no wonder that they were too wild with excitement, to be reasoned with to any purpose."
Later, Miller humbly acknowledged his error. "Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I then had, to be honest with God and man, I should have to do as I have done. I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment" (Memoirs of William Miller, Sylvester Bliss, p. 256). "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). Though his preaching gained the profession of Ellen G. White, she-- not he-- is the spiritual founder of Seventh Day Adventism. "Render therefore to all their dues" (Romans 13:7). Seventh Day Adventism does have its doctrinal errors, but William Miller did not contribute to them with his teaching on the Premillennial Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Before Miller, few churches emphasized the Early Church's Doctrine of Premillennialism. It took a Sensationally Wrong Date to get attention for the Sensationally Significant Doctrine of the Premillennial Second Coming of Jesus Christ. A British writer aptly recorded: "We shall all, under Christ, be indebted to Mr. Miller, even if the Lord shall not come in 1843" (from the Christian Messenger and Reformer, 1843, Froom, Vol. 4, p. 716). "27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" (1Corinthians 1:27-28).
Returning to Charles G. Finney and the fact that Consistent Christianity may require changing doctrine, Finney recorded a most appropriate passage that illustrates the need to "grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18) in the Preface to his Lectures on Systematic Theology (1851): " I have not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so. The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions. Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast, as we can obtain further information. I call this Christian consistency, because this course alone accords with a Christian profession. A Christian profession implies the profession of candour and of a disposition to know and obey all truth. It must follow, that Christian consistency implies continued investigation and change of views and practice corresponding with increasing knowledge. No Christian, therefore, and no theologian should be afraid to change his views, his language, or his practices in conformity with increasing light. The prevalence of such a fear would keep the world, at best, at a perpetual stand-still, on all subjects of science, and consequently all improvements would be precluded. Every uninspired attempt to frame for the church an authoritative standard of opinion which shall be regarded as an unquestionable exposition of the word of God, is not only impious in itself, but it is also a tacit assumption of the fundamental dogma of Papacy. The Assembly of Divines did more than to assume the necessity of a Pope to give law to the opinions of men; they assumed to create an immortal one, or rather to embalm their own creed, and preserve it as the Pope of all generations: or it is more just to say, that those who have adopted that confession of faith and catechism as an authoritative standard of doctrine, have absurdly adopted the most obnoxious principle of Popery, and elevated their confession and catechism to the Papal throne and into the place of the Holy Ghost. That the instrument framed by that assembly should in the nineteenth century be recognized as the standard of the church, or of an intelligent branch of it, is not only amazing, but I must say that it is highly ridiculous. It is as absurd in theology as it would be in any other branch of science, and as injurious and stultifying as it is absurd and ridiculous. It is better to have a living than a dead Pope. If we must have an authoritative expounder of the word of God, let us have a living one, so as not to preclude the hope of improvement. 'A living dog is better than a dead lion;' so a living Pope is better than a dead and stereotyped confession of faith, that holds all men bound to subscribe to its unalterable dogmas and its unvarying terminology... I hold myself sacredly bound, not to defend these positions at all events, but on the contrary, to subject every one of them to the most thorough discussion, and to hold and treat them as I would the opinions of any one else; that is, if upon further discussion and investigation I see no cause to change, I hold them fast; but if I can see a flaw in any one of them, I shall amend or wholly reject it, as a further light shall demand. Should I refuse or fail to do this, I should need to blush for my folly and inconsistency, for I say again, that true Christian consistency implies progress in knowledge and holiness, and such changes in theory and in practice as are demanded by increasing light."
Doctrine Not Lived is Doctrine Lost to You and Lost to Others
It is manifest that doctrine we no longer practice, teach, speak about, or observe, is, for all practical intents and purposes, forgotten. "Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day" (Deuteronomy 8:11). If we are concerned that False and Faulty Doctrine should not be taught, now or after we have departed (if the LORD should tarry the Rapture), then we need to be presently living "by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Doctrine is not preserved simply by books or web pages, but by the lively practice of Willing Hearts abiding in Christ. "1 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. 2 Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:1-5). Faith in the God of Love can only be exercised in the Present, even when talking about the Future. "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me" (Acts 27:25). If our Adversary the Devil could wipe the planet clean of the Practicing People of God-- which he cannot, for the "gates of hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]" (Matthew 16:18)-- he could destroy the Remnant that testifies to the Truth of the Word of God, and Good Doctrine would cease. But, "when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a Standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19). We even have a promise from Jesus that the Elect will ultimately resist the Deception of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. "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). Our goal must be to continue to live the Word of God and testify of Its Truth, as long as we have breath, and to the extent that the Providence of God gives us opportunity. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth" (Acts 1:8). Though we must approach the business of preserving Good Doctrine as if it were solely up to Finite Us, we know that it is the appointed way that we can be assured that the Infinite God has been enlisted to carry the burden. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).
How can we be assured that the Doctrine Lived will not be Doctrine Lost?
O that our Doctrine would only be a copy of His Word, for then our Doctrine could never perish! "Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). The Doctrine that we practice, at minimum, is not lost to us. "Blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it" (Luke 11:28). Our goal must never be to enshrine our own opinions and call down the power of the Almighty to secure them, but to honestly mine the riches of His Word for the benefit of all. "Every scribe which is instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52). It would be brazen egotism and vanity to suggest that everything we have ever taught is Good Doctrine, but it is our responsibility to make the best possible effort to discover and teach Good Doctrine. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the Whole Earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). In the end, we are not bearing the burden of preserving and propagating Good Doctrine alone, for we have the Shoulders of the Almighty to assist. "29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). Keeping our eyes upon Jesus, we can successfully bear the Light Burden of maintaining Good Doctrine for our own benefit, as well as the good of others. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Remember, whether or not there ever is a great movement in your lifetime toward the Doctrine you teach, you have at least been benefitted yourself, as well as whoever else has willingly heard you. "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" (1Timothy 4:16). Lay hold of Him, Who "is called the Word of God" (Revelation 19:13), and Good Doctrine will never be lost! "Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the LORD endureth for ever" (1Peter 1:23-25).
Amen, and Amen.
[For more about Good Doctrine, please visit our Topical Links: On Sound Doctrine ---New Window.]
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