Tag Archives: Doctrine

Guard Against Apostasy

It has been said that, at any given time, the church is only one generation away from apostasy. We see it happen time and time again in the Bible, and in congregations around us. Others have suggested that because of Biblical ignorance, some Christians are only one sermon away from apostasy. The apostle Paul warned, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

God reveals several things that can lead to apostasy, including materialism (Deuteronomy 6:10-12), boredom (Deut. 6:13-15), disobedience (Deut. 6:16-19), and the assumption that faith and values are being passed on (Deut. 6:20-25). The responsibility rests with each one of us to make sure we are not being led away, and to encourage those around us to continue in the old paths.

To prevent apostasy, we must stand fast in teaching the Word of God. True, Biblical faith is only produced by the Word—nothing more, nothing less (Romans 10:17). It is in the gospel that God’s power to save resides (Romans 1:16). When we depart from the truth, we put ourselves and those around us in eternal danger (Galatians 1:6-9).

Take a moment to recognize and be grateful for the blessings that we receive from God, especially for our deliverance from sin. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

We need to realize how dangerous Satan really is. Yes, he “walks about like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), and we know how dangerous a beast like that can be. But the Scriptures also tell us that he “transforms himself into an angel of light,” and “his minsters also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). We must be grounded in the truth to protect ourselves from seemingly innocuous attacks from the father of lies.

Does Doctrine Matter?

Several years ago, Rick Warren released a book called The Purpose Driven Life. While the premise of the book is a good one, much religious error is propagated throughout its pages. It is not a book that should be read or studied by those who do not have a good grounding in the Scriptures, as they may be misled by the author’s errant views.

Take, for instance, what Mr. Warren says on page 34, concerning the final judgment: “God won’t ask you about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him?”

Think about this statement for a moment. Does not one’s “religious background and doctrinal views” depend directly upon one’s acceptance, love, and trust of the Savior?

If one truly accepts Jesus, he will follow Him. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Do you accept Jesus as the only way into a righteous relationship with the Father?

If one truly loves Jesus, he will follow Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Do you obey Jesus, or do you only say you love Him?

If one truly trusts Jesus, he will follow Him. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Do you trust Jesus, or do you “explain away” this crystal-clear statement?

One who accepts, loves, and trusts Jesus will have the “religious background and doctrinal views” that God expects and desires of His people. “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

Doctrine does matter! We must give heed to those things taught in the New Testament—not only accept them as true, but obey them! If we reject the words of the Lord, if we rebel against Him and refuse to obey, we have no one to blame if we are lost (John 12:48).

“My God is too big for one religion”

I have seen those words on a bumper sticker. Many people who call themselves Christians (regardless what the Bible says) would say something similar to that, though they would probably substitute the word “denomination” for “religion.” Ecumenism is a dangerous concept—“One church is as good as any other,” or, “You believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe.” God is quite clear that there is but one faith (Ephesians 4:5), and that we are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). People may call me intolerant, but I am more concerned with what God thinks than what man thinks (Galatians 1:10).

But this particular bumper sticker—“My God is too big for one religion”—takes the idea of ecumenism even further. If one truly believes this statement, then not only are all “Christian” denominations included, but so are all religions that outright reject the Christ – Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu, etc.

A Roman Catholic priest once said on Larry King Live, “Jesus rejoices when His Father is glorified. And when a Muslim or Jew glorifies the Father I can’t imagine Jesus coming and saying, ‘Oh, well, when are you going to look at Me?’ The joy of Jesus is the glorification of God.” Yet, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Church, was asked by Larry King if he thought his religion was right. Talbert answered in the affirmative, but denied that all others were necessarily wrong. “I believe my God is large enough to be inclusive of all human beings who were created in God’s image and that includes those religions that are not Christians.”

God’s Word is firm: those who wish to come to the Father must do so by Jesus—not Mohammed, nor Buddha, nor the Pope, nor any other teacher of error. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.