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Bible verses about Doctrine
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The pagan religion of Rome was a series of rites rather than a body of doctrine. In effect, the emperor declared, "This you must do, but you can think as you please." Roman worshippers believed they needed only to perform the proper ceremonies of religion, whether they understood them or not. As far as they were concerned, a hypocritical skeptic could be just as "religious" as a true believer as long as he offered sacrifice in the temples of the gods.

Conversely, it is vital that true Christians believe and behave in accordance with God's doctrine. Jesus states unconditionally, "[T]rue worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24). What we believe in our minds and feel in our hearts, we will perform in our actions. When based on truth, Christianity follows this principle. As John writes, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him" (I John 3:18-19). Jesus Christ's way of life requires genuine obedience to God's doctrines.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Doctrine


 

Psalm 11:4-5

The church was scattered when the doctrines were changed, producing confusion and badly disturbing the doctrinal foundation. But David is reminding us that, in reality, God is still on His throne! He knows what is occurring, and we are not to lose hope. He is testing us to see our reaction is to the destruction of what we thought was so solid. But truth cannot be destroyed! We must still have faith in it. If we do, we will use it despite what is happening around us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 3): Ephesians 4 (A)


 

Psalm 11:4

The church becomes scattered when the foundations—the doctrines of our faith—are altered, and confusion is produced because the doctrinal foundation is so badly disturbed. But David is reminding us that the reality is nothing has changed because God is still in charge—and we can have faith in that. He has not changed. Men may attempt to change the doctrines, but God has not changed, nor has His truth or His purpose. We can continue on as before—we are not to turn aside.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)


 

Daniel 11:31-35

We have been warned that this is coming. There is always the possibility that God will not require that of us, and that He will take some—perhaps all of us—to the Place of Safety. Whatever the case, we need to take advantage of the time given to us to take the opportunity to stand firm in these days of training—our lives right now, when we are dealing with smaller tests of life—so that, when truly dangerous conditions arise, we will stand firm.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Matthew 9:16

Jesus' illustration derives from a well-known fact: No one with a reasonable amount of experience in mending clothes would waste a piece of new cloth to repair an old garment. If new cloth is used to patch an old garment, and the patch becomes wet, it shrinks as it dries and puts strain on the old garment. The tear becomes worse than it was.

Jesus is showing that His "new" doctrines do not match the old rites of the Pharisees, which required a lot of fasting. If His "new" doctrines were attached to their old ones, it would distort the truth. Christ is preaching against syncretism, the mixing of beliefs. We must completely replace the old human way of life with the new godly way of life (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9-10). Because God's "new" way is righteous and spiritually strong, it cannot be combined with the "old" wicked and weak human way of life. They are incompatible.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins


 

Matthew 16:6-12

In addition to representing sin, leaven represent false doctrine as well. Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees' doctrines, and Paul advises the Corinthians to partake of the bread of sincerity and truth. False doctrine causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. True doctrine promotes sincerity, humility, and obedience to the Sovereign of the Universe, the overall lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Staff
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread


 

Romans 1:18-20

In Romans 1:18-20, Paul asserts that things involving God's existence, power, and nature are clearly seen, but mankind suppresses the truth. What God wants man to know, man willingly ignores and suppresses through the addition of beliefs, customs, and traditions that cloak the truth. The truth is still there, hidden behind a screen of falsehoods that most never attempt to remove.

Theologians call this process syncretism. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, it is "the combination of different forms of belief or practice." Syncretism could possibly describe other fields, like philosophy, but scholars use it almost exclusively in religious contexts. Syncretize, the verb form of the word, is very revealing. It means "to attempt to unite and harmonize especially without critical examination or logical unity." In other words, those who syncretize will frequently attach one belief or practice to their religion without trying to ascertain whether it is proper to do so.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

1 Corinthians 10:12

This verse warns that we must not presume at this time, while there is still time for us to get in shape, that because God has not come down on us like a ton of bricks, everything is fine with our character and attitudes.

Paul includes this verse in a context that lists three or four of Israel's outstanding sins. Could they have also thought that they were in good standing when they were not? Were they presuming something? The answer is likely, yes, they showed a careless presumption by their lack of concern about works—by their belief that God is so merciful that He will accept any old attitudes and behaviors and just overlook them. However, by doing that, God would not be showing love because they would not be prepared for the Kingdom of God. Without that preparation, they would not fit into the culture around them and be absolutely miserable in the Kingdom of God.

The presumption that Paul is talking about is the same flaw that appears in the Laodicean's thinking, revealed when he says, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). They felt very good about themselves, but everything was not all right. Their self-satisfaction reveals that their judgment is far from reality, which is that God threatens to vomit them out (verse 16)! We can see what the sin of a Laodicean is. It is presumption, self-satisfaction that everything is okay.

Because of his lack of faith in the knowledge of God, the Laodicean is deceived into thinking, as Ezekiel 8:12 says, "The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land." In other words, they believe that God does not care. But God has always cared—not even for one second since Adam and Eve has He stopped caring!

We must never overlook the principle in Ecclesiastes 8:11: "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." They presume that everything is okay with the way they are acting. There is a flaw in human nature that persuades men to think that, if God does not immediately punish, He must approve. Yet, do we ever consider that God's non-punishment may very well be the trial that He has imposed on us to see if we will pass it and make the necessary changes ourselves?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

1 Corinthians 11:2

The apostle Paul is writing to a church he raised up. His instruction to this badly divided church is "keep the doctrines as I delivered them"—not somebody else, but as Paul taught them to the church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 1): God and HWA


 

1 Corinthians 14:33

God continuously, from the beginning of the Book on, reveals Himself working through one man at a time. Does God send two or three or five ambassadors speaking somewhat different things to the same country at the same time? That would be confusion, and "God is not the author of confusion" (I Corinthians 14:33). He avoids confusion by speaking through one voice, and we need to understand that. We need to believe it and make it a part of the operation of our lives. When we become confused about the voice God is speaking through, the church tends to blow apart, and people go their own way.

To restore the holiness of His name and to guarantee that we enter into His Kingdom, God leads us into groups where we can continue to be sustained until we learn this bitter but very vital lesson and submit to Him by following the voice that He sent into this world to restore and preach the doctrine to which He wants us to conform. He does this so that we will be transformed into the image that He wants by our making right and holy choices.

What kind of leadership would it show God to have if He spoke in a confused tongue, as it were, having two or more men in the same area saying different things about the path to the Kingdom of God? Doctrine is that recipe that will form the correct product in the end—if it is believed and applied in our lives through the choices we make.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

2 Corinthians 10:13-16

Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. It was his province, his area of authority, his area of influence. Paul says that he lived within it and worked within it. He did not go into other men's areas to extend his influence beyond what was given to him. Peter was made preeminent over them all, and then as the work grew, God divided it up, saying in effect, "Paul, concentrate on this. Peter, concentrate on that." They had leadership in those areas, and it was almost as though the two shall never meet.

The picture that appears from all of this is that, not only did Paul adhere to the sphere of influence that God had given him, but so did the other twelve apostles. They divided up the world, went to their areas, and conducted their spiritual and governmental responsibilities only within their regions. That is the only way God could keep order over a worldwide work at the time.

The people who responded to the teaching of those men in those areas were not confused by other voices speaking to them. Each stayed within his own sphere of influence, the one that had been given by God. In that area, he was the top authority, as far as the doctrines that were to be followed, and in this way, God could keep order. Quite likely, the apostles were all speaking the same thing, yet by this method, confusion in terms of government was kept to a minimum. The people were not confused about whom they were to look to in their region for authority in matters pertaining to their relationship with God. It is a wonderful system.

God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). Doctrine was put into the church as the work expanded in the way that He has always done it - as He did through Moses, through whom He gave the first five books; as He did through Samuel, who may very well have been the author or main editor of all the books from Joshua to II Samuel; then through others whom God used to add to the scriptures so that we might have the complete Bible today.

So, it is God who puts doctrine into His church by the man He chooses to be His ambassador, His representative to those who have been called. That keeps matters in order. Our job is to have faith in God's decision and in the pattern that He reveals in His Word. That will keep us on track if we choose to make the right choices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Galatians 1:8

Paul says here that if he or any of the other apostles—or even what would appear to be an angel—were to preach a different gospel to the Galatians than what they had first understood, that teacher was to be accursed. Being "accursed" could run the gamut from God's judgment and wrath falling upon him to being an instruction to part company from that person and not allow him to teach any longer.

The underlying thought here is the same as Jude 3: to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." It is evident that there is a specific gospel which Christ brought, and any variance from that is a falsehood. In the Old Testament, God required the utmost purity in the way He was worshipped. Now, under the New Testament, the purity has to be even greater—Christ came to magnify the law and reveal the spirit and intent, thus doing away with loopholes and technicalities. Just as there were rigid requirements under the Old Covenant, the gospel of the New Covenant is precise and does not allow for variance. There is only one "way" to eternal life—our relationship with God made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The notion of "many paths, all leading us to the same place" is utterly erroneous. If the gospel is changed, or any of the associated doctrines are changed, the resulting body of understanding will produce a different faith than that which is necessary for salvation. Purity of the gospel and doctrine is extremely important.

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 2:10

Notice that the church leaders in Jerusalem felt there was nothing that they needed to correct in Paul's understanding or approach—there appears to be perfect unity and agreement in what was being taught. This is also touched upon in verse 6. At a later time (when Peter came to Antioch; verse 11), there was a dispute between Peter and Paul, and in one of Peter's epistles he observes that some of Paul's writings can be twisted by those who want to ignore God's law (II Peter 3:15-16; see also I John 3:4; Romans 6:23; 8:7 to see that disobedience to the law leads to the destruction that Peter is talking about. Compare Matthew 7:12-14; Philippians 3:17-19; I Timothy 6:9), but at this point, there is nothing that Peter, James, or John felt they needed to change about Paul's teaching.

David C. Grabbe


 

Ephesians 2:20

The church is built upon the apostles and the prophets and the words they wrote. They not only prophesied (foretold events), but they also recorded accurate accounts of ancient history. Besides that, they taught a great deal of doctrine, the teachings we believe and after which we pattern our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Ephesians 4:17-32

Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.

He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.

With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.

Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).

In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.

We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.

In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.

This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?

Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.

Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

1 Thessalonians 5:21

I Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to "test [prove, KJV] all things," which would include our old notions, and then "hold fast" to the good ones—the ones that pass the test. A mistake many make is to follow tenaciously the instruction of Revelation 3:11 to "hold fast to what we have" while completely ignoring the additional instructions of I Thessalonians 5:21 to test first.

Experience proves that not all that we believe is truth, even if held fast for forty years. We have to test our beliefs continually and rigorously against the only standard that counts—the Bible (Acts 5:29).

Human nature is lazy and takes the easy road at every opportunity. It will rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition rather than do the hard work of studying the Bible and believing what it actually says. Human nature also will not naturally do the humbling work of allowing the Bible and its plain, unambiguous verses to prove matters rather than following humanly devised ideas. The church's history over the last few decades displays the fruits of taking doctrine for granted rather than allowing clear scriptures to guide our understanding of the truth.

Why do people have so many different opinions about what the Bible says? Generally, people come to the Bible with preconceived ideas and latch on to any scripture that seems to prove their belief. At the same time, they will ignore or make light of a clear verse that obviously contradicts their belief.

God can use this as a test to determine the true intents of the heart. Where does one's allegiance really lie? Will a person humbly submit to the clear instructions of God, allowing them to lead him or her to create a true spiritual foundation (Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Psalm 149:4)? Alternatively, will they choose instead to hold on to their preconceptions or other ideas of men—their idols (Revelation 21:8)—desperately grasping at the straws of unclear scriptures to build a shaky foundation?

When doctrinal disputes arise, if a person cannot or will not prove beliefs using clear and unambiguous scriptures, that fact should raise a red flag. Clear scriptures are a solid-rock foundation. Ambiguous scriptures, open to private interpretation, lead to a foundation of sand. Only one of these foundations will stand when storms come (Matthew 7:24-27).

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part One)


 

1 Timothy 4:6-7

Paul's repeated emphasis on sound doctrine implies that the body of teaching in the church is more than just a gospel about Christ. It is the gospel of Christ—what He taught and lived in His own life, and what He expects us to follow as well. His doctrine is "the pattern of sound words," the body of truth, once for all delivered to the saints. God inspired the writers of the New Testament to warn us that His church must have a solid foundation in the truth of Christ to defend and contend for the faith because of the constant bombardment of false doctrines.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Doctrine


 

1 Timothy 6:20

In Paul's letters to Timothy, he urges the young evangelist in the strongest of terms to stand firm and to hold fast to the doctrine that the apostle had given to him (I Timothy 6:20). Paul needs to warn him because, by about AD 65, the church is already sliding away from the truth that Jesus Christ had entrusted to the apostles.

Why is doctrine so important to God? Why does He not want his people to deviate from what He spoke in His Word? The answer is basic and simple: Deviation from orthodoxy will not produce the right fruit in fulfilling His purpose.

God makes allowances, of course, for minor variations. Not everyone will have the same level of obedience or understanding. Not everyone is equally wise or educated. However, His people will have a strong belief in the doctrines most important and central to His purpose. If these central doctrines are missing, then the deviations that are present will endanger the purpose He is working out.

Perhaps the analogy of following a recipe in the baking of a cake will suffice to show the principles involved in keeping doctrine pure. If in baking a cake, a baker left out certain ingredients, or if he added others that the recipe did not call for, or if he used the right ingredients but in the wrong proportions, it is entirely possible with any of these combinations not even to end up with a cake! Obviously, to produce a perfect cake, one must use the right ingredients in the right proportions.

Though this is certainly an ideal, God wants His people to aim for it because of His purpose. One may never hit such a high target, but that does not relieve one of the burden of striving to develop the right proportion of the right ingredients in every part of life. Ephesians 4:13 says, ". . . till we all come . . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

The called of God have a tremendously high purpose and hope: to be gods! The Bible unequivocally states that we are to be like Him, that is, like Jesus Christ (I John 3:2). It follows that the ingredients that produce that potential be as close to perfect as possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

2 Timothy 1:5

Paul had reason to entrust Timothy with the church's doctrine: He had been trained in the scriptures, in a Christian way of life, by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. He was a third-generation Christian, and he had the training that gave him the background to be an evangelist within God's Work. How extensive and personal his training was is open to question. At least he had a form of the right kind of training.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

2 Timothy 2:15-18

In this era of the church, the one that we are living in, we have our own problems with certain doctrinal matters. The first century also had problems with certain doctrines that they had to deal with. The very first bridge that they had to cross had to do with justification—justification by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

This was a new concept, which is why God commissioned the apostle Paul to write so much about justification by faith—not by works, not by earning justification, but by faith in what God said and what Jesus Christ did. This doctrinal instruction takes up much of the books of Romans and Galatians.

The second bridge they had to cross was law and grace. Even today, people like to separate the two, as if a Christian cannot believe in law and grace at the same time. The apostles had to convince the people that law and grace are not opposed to one another, but work in harmony to complete the process of justification and then sanctification. God not only forgives us, but He also gives us gifts by His Spirit by which we can be sanctified unto holiness, the middle part of the process of salvation, which absolutely cannot be left out.

The third thing is the second coming of Christ. As time passed, the pressure mounted and the return of Jesus Christ became increasingly important in the minds of people. It naturally led people to believe that they had plenty of time to overcome, and it seemed to work to cast them adrift. This is why Paul says that the Hebrews were neglecting their salvation.

In Matthew 24:42, we find that Jesus anticipated this. He really understood human nature. Incidentally, do you want to know what it is that causes people to go to sleep spiritually, so that you can be aware? It is not a hard principle at all to understand. It is having to face so many difficulties, so many pressures, that one becomes weary with facing them. This is a simplification, but it is true. When people have to face so many stresses, they become apathetic and say, "What's the use?" We need to stir ourselves up and recognize that this can happen to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic


 

2 Timothy 2:16-18

The metaphor changes from cutting a road (verse 15) to shooting an arrow at a target. The word of truth, the gospel, is the target. If you shoot an arrow at a target, one of three things will happen: 1) the arrow will hit the bull's-eye; 2) it will go slightly off, left or right, top or bottom, still hitting somewhere within the target area; or 3) it will miss the target completely.

Some Bibles translate verse 18 as "who have swerved" (Revised Standard Version), "wandered away" (New International Version), or "erred" (King James Version) from the truth. None of these translations are complete in capturing the metaphor. When you shoot an arrow, it goes straight, but not necessarily straight at the target! If you watch someone else shoot an arrow, where are your eyes pointing? Do they not follow the arrow to the target? That is the point. The arrow is the teaching that the teacher gives, and no matter how straight he gives it, if he is not aiming directly at the bull's-eye and hitting it, his students eyes will not be on the right goal!

The weight of responsibility is heavy on the minister. Not only is he to give instruction that is plain and clear, he is also to give instruction that is right on target so people do not get distracted by false doctrine. A minister can be perfectly sincere, but if he points his teaching toward the wrong goal, he will miss the target. Fortunately, our God is faithful and makes every effort to turn us toward the right goal.

These metaphors and illustrations show how important doctrine and having the right gospel are. Doctrine forms belief; belief determines action and character. Minimizing the future aspects of the gospel alters our vision of where we are going with our lives. The future aspects of the gospel cannot be demoted in priority to second or third place without seriously compromising our Christian lives since it removes the right goal and deflects people away from the Kingdom of God. When people are deflected from the right goal, the teaching of the gospel changes, and God's creative process begins to wind down and may even stop entirely.

God is concerned about doctrine because it determines what a person is now and will be in the future. As one lives it, it becomes more ingrained in his life and will eventually become indelibly stamped on his character. Then God has a choice, either to give him immortality, or consign him to the Lake of Fire. Regardless of how straight we pursue our objectives in life, if we are aimed at the wrong goal, we cannot produce the kind of life—the character—that God wants in His Kingdom. Correct doctrine is eternally vital!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

Hebrews 6:1-2

The seven doctrines listed in Hebrews 6 are not all the doctrines of the church, but represent a basic understanding of God's truth early in the process of conversion. The first, "go[ing] on to perfection," means pressing on to or striving for spiritual maturity. It is not enough for a Christian to maintain a basic level of understanding - He must grow toward perfection, completion, or maturity in the doctrines of Christ. Part of this process we call "overcoming sin."

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Doctrine


 

Hebrews 6:1

During the time of the Exodus, the people of Israel heard a message of good news from Moses (Hebrews 4:2). It consisted of redemption from slavery, the Passover, baptism in the Red Sea, and a journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The good news, then, included the occurrences of and the knowledge about all the steps along the way, all of the benchmarks. The purpose for which all those events occurred was the most important part. What good was it to have the death angel pass over their house, for them to receive the forgiveness of sin and redemption from slavery, if they never made it to the Promised Land? That is Paul's warning. The steps, though vital in themselves, are not as important as the goal.

This warning applies especially to today. What Jesus Christ did in His life, in His death and in His resurrection, is awesome, a wonderful and great gift. It is good news that these things have occurred, but they are not the good news. The good news is the goal, and that has not yet occurred. What Jesus Christ did is exceedingly important to the fulfillment of God's purpose, but it's still possible for us to reject the Son of God even after we have accepted His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, as Hebrews 12 also shows very clearly. So in this analogy, life in, possession of and governance of the Promised Land was the culmination, the good news, the fulfillment—at least physically—of the promises to Abraham.

The message that Jesus Christ brought, the gospel, is about the Kingdom of God, the culmination, the goal, the fulfillment. Certainly it includes the knowledge of and information about those benchmarks along the way, but the Kingdom of God is the goal toward which every Christian is aiming.

These doctrines or principles are very important, as Hebrews 6:1 shows. God will grant us repentance and forgive us through the blood of Jesus Christ. What good news! But it is not the good news. That is the principle: Being granted repentance and having faith in and through Jesus Christ are good news, but the result of those things is the real good news. It is the culmination of the process—"let us go on to perfection"—that is the good news.

What if the gospel concentrates solely on the person of the Messenger and overlooks the message He brought? If it focuses on the greatness of the Messenger, all of the good news about Him, and His importance to the process, His significance actually begins to diminish. If one concentrates on the Messenger, he will believe that salvation comes merely because he believes in the Messenger (see Matthew 7:21). Further development of that human being stops because he has made the wrong choice. That is the problem with concentrating on the Messenger, as important as He is.

The gospel does not specifically concentrate on Christ, yet we do not want to denigrate the major role He plays either. The process pivots around Him, though its ultimate purpose will end when He delivers the Kingdom to the Father (I Corinthians 15:24). The Messenger became the High Priest, and we are saved through His life. Christianity has to go beyond the fact that He was the Messenger. Now He is the High Priest in heaven. And though He is High Priest, we still have choices to make in relation to the Kingdom of God.

That is why Hebrews 6:1 says, "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection." As we go through the process that the Messenger went through and begin to experience what He accomplished, He is magnified in our eyes, because we try to do what He did and realize how awesome and difficult what He did was. While we try to imitate Him, the process of creation is going on. If we stop trying to imitate Him, He becomes diminished. That is why we have to go on to perfection, to completion, because the process is not complete with just believing in Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

2 Peter 2:1-3

These verses show us in a general way that traitors will come from within the church and subvert many to follow their carnal ways. Peter uses the word "but" to provide a contrast with the preceding section about the "sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19, KJV). These traitors to the faith are not led by the Holy Spirit as were those God inspired to write the prophecies (verse 21). The apostle immediately warns that these "false teachers" will come from within the church, or as Peter writes, "among you." The implication is that "forewarned is forearmed"! Therefore, be on guard!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

Alarming as II Peter 2:1-3 is, Peter does not define heresy, but he does tell what one heresy is and will be. He also does not tell us here what the source of heresy is either.

Heresy is the translation of the Greek hairesis—meaning literally "choice" or "selection"—which has an interesting secular as well as biblical history. Until its biblical use, it had no evil connotation. Even in the Bible, it is mostly used to refer to a party or a philosophy with which a person had chosen to identify or ally himself. Thus, hairesis is frequently translated "sect." In Acts, Luke applies it to the Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5). Outsiders also used hairesis in Acts 24:5, 14 and Acts 28:22 to identify the Christian church.

However, when Paul and Peter's writings began circulating, hairesis meant a destructive element within the church that creates division through consciously formed opinions and ideas in disagreement with the orthodox teachings of the apostles. Paul condemns it in Galatians 5:20 as one of "the works of the flesh." Sometimes it is translated "factions" or "party spirit," but regardless of its translation, Paul says that people who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21)!

In the ordinary course of secular life, heresy was of little consequence; one person's opinion or choice about most things in life is just as good as another's. A person can be given any number of alternatives, any one of which he may be perfectly free to believe. However, in Christianity we are dealing with revelation, with God-given truth, with absolutes. When God's truth comes to men, we either have to accept or reject it. Thus, a heretic is a man who believes what he wishes to believe instead of accepting the truth of God that he ought to believe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

2 Peter 2:1

If "secretly" ("privily") were translated into the closest English synonym, it would have been rendered "smuggle." They smuggle in heresy by cunning deceit. The word literally means "they bring it along side," that is, they present this heresy in such a way as to make it appear favorably with the truth. "Oh, it's just a refinement. We're not really changing anything. You understand that, don't you? We're not really changing it. It's just a refinement, a clarification."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1

One denies the Lord by failing to submit to Him in obedience. If the doctrines gradually begin to be changed, then submission to Christ will be put in different terms as well.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1-2

Destructive will also translate into the English word "pernicious," which means "deadly." We hear it most frequently in a medical term, "pernicious anemia." What is so interesting is that it may appear innocent, but all the while it is destroying life. It gives the appearance of being not overtly or openly dangerous, but all the while it is undermining one's health. Peter, of course, is talking about spiritual health.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

2 Peter 2:1

The King James Version calls their heresies damnable, implying that their words—their messages—are destructive to one's faith and relationship with God. "Denying the Lord" does not mean they deny that He lived or died or that He is God, but that their words and conduct are opposed to His fundamental nature. Their lives deny any close contact with Him.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Revelation 2:1-29

Consider that this is Christ's message to His church just before the end, and this is what is most important for His people as we approach the end. Doctrine is mentioned seven times. Is that interesting in light of the times in which we live? We are seeing a major part of the church going haywire on doctrine! Is there something in the letter to Thyatira that mentions things that are happening in that group?

The letters contain at least eleven warnings to these seven churches but also at least twelve promises. Christ mentions faith, patience, conduct, and doctrine. But the two greatest, related concerns for His church at the end are works (Revelation 2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8, 15) and overcoming (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21).

Today, an awful lot of people are interested in church government at this time. It is not even mentioned by Christ! There are people who are interested in rituals, sacraments, and ceremonies, of which would be things like baptism or the Passover. But nothing in the seven letters alludes to these things. Nor is there anything in them about preaching the gospel around the world. These things have their place, but what we see is Christ's concern with doctrine, conduct, warnings to repent, and promises of reward.

Now these things that are not mentioned are less important than faith, repentance, and holiness, all of which directly impact on doctrine, conduct, and receiving the promises. All of these are bracketed between His statements about works and overcoming.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works


 

 




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