There is a growing trend among millennials that church is no longer as important and therefore it does not really matter what doctrine one believes. In fact, in most countries, belief and/or participation in religions are considered to be silent threats as they are perceived to hold doctrines that almost, if not always spark heated debates among people coming from different backgrounds. Sadly, for more than 2,000 years, these differences most often end up in deep tensions among nations, all the way down to severed personal relationships. What has made matters worse is that with the recent terrorist bombings that are commonly associated to radical beliefs, most people shun religion and their respective doctrines with the presumption that these only serve to brainwash society and cause further division and chaos.
The scenarios mentioned above are products of false teachings and false religions that lead people to become either elitist, legalistic and divisive. However, for Christ-committed followers, we need sound Christian doctrine more than ever for the purpose of guidance in that we need a guide into how to truly know God and second, how to bring more people into Christ through the sharing and living of the gospel.
Sound doctrine is so important especially that there are many new ideologies that seem appealing to man but are not in fact acceptable to God. For example, many propose that if God is love, and we are to worship Him, why not just simply love a person by accepting anything and everything he does and just letting him be whoever he wants to be as long as he is happy? Why not just worship God whenever, wherever and however, whichever serves to be most convenient for us?
While these propositions may sound very appealing especially to millennials who are largely known to be allergic to church and all its scrolls of do’s and don’ts, God has firmly reminded us of the danger of relying on one’s own strength and wisdom when it comes to doing things in and for the Lord. He gives out these warnings in the following verses:
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (KJV).
1 Corinthians 3:19
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” (KJV)
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (KJV).
1 Timothy 4:16
“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.”
Furthermore, here are biblical examples of consequences when following human doctrine vs. God’s doctrine.
Let us look into the lives of Cain and Abel, as well as King Saul and David as examples of man’s doctrine that seemed right but wasn’t pleasing vs. God’s doctrine. These are biblical examples with their consequences that our Lord God wants us to discern upon with the help of the Holy Spirit. In these stories, they specifically depict the kind of worship that was in their own human wisdom and might vs. In God’s wisdom and might.
In Genesis 4:3-7, we read that Cain, tiller of the ground, brought some fruits of the ground for offering to the Lord. While Abel, keeper of the sheep, also brought some of his flock and of the fat thereof as offerings to the Lord. The difference lies in what was truly in their hearts when they made these offerings.
With Cain, he gave only ‘some’ fruits of the ground and as a consequence God was not pleased. This was so because Cain offered what was only left of the harvest- the ‘extra’ that he could easily live without. Whereas with Abel, God accepted his offering because it was the first and the fattest, meaning Abel gave his best produce which was also his first, something that our natural selfish nature would not do. The elder brother offered out of obligation, with hesitation, and on his own terms out of most likely what was greed and unbelief that God will not provide his needs. The younger brother on the other hand offered without reservation and with a full sincere and faithful heart and as a result, this was the one whom God was pleased.
The sound doctrine we can use as a basis for the story of Cain and Abel is based on Mark 12:30 that says “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength: this is the first commandment.” Loving God then should always come first for it precedes everything. This is evident in our tithing, in offering the first fruits of one’s labour. It also signifies who is first in our lives and acknowledges the Giver of these fruits.
Next we go to King Saul and David. In 1 Samuel 13:8-14, when Saul saw that the Philistines were assembling, in fear and panic, he no longer waited for the prophet Samuel to offer sacrifices to God. Instead, he went on to do the burnt offering thinking that by doing so, the Lord will grant him favour. But Samuel clearly instructed him to wait for him (1 Samuel 10:8). Here we see that Saul’s worship of the Lord was based on his own human terms. Specifically, his human doctrine of worship was based on (1) solely doing traditional sacrifices for the sake of it (2) obligation and only did it because he thought it would bring him victory and blessing (3) fear and the desire to beat his enemies; he perceived that if he worshipped God in the traditional way, all his enemies will be wiped out and lastly (4) his own method and timing. As a consequence, God removed from him the kingdom he was supposed to rule and instead, appointed a man, a shepherd whose heart was after God’s own, to be the new ruler o the Israelites.
By contrast, In 2 Samuel 6:5, 12-14, David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord with music. There were sacrifices, singing and dancing. It is no different from King Saul’s burnt offerings except that with David, he did all of these sacrifices and offerings out of a thankful heart and to please God. “David and the whole house of Israel played before the Lord.”2 Samuel 6:5. To have played ‘before’ the Lord is like performing in front of a king that we wish to be pleased, and this was what David’s heart had- a heart that wanted to please the Lord. Also, in contrast to King Saul whose focus and purpose of worship was the defeat of his enemy, David’s focus of worship was God Himself. The focus was not on David but on God and His glory. As a result, God established David’s kingdom.
It is worthy to note that God has always given us the free will to choose for ourselves on what doctrine we choose to believe and act upon. Whichever they may be, there will always be consequences. While these biblical examples are very good guidelines to help steer us into the right choice, we are led to another question: How then can we know that the doctrine we are choosing to believe in and live out is the right one for us?
LOVE FOR GOD IS LOVE FOR TRUTH.
When we love someone, we desire to know them better. We desire to know what is in their hearts. As Christians, our hearts are after God’s own and because of that, we search for truth, for sound doctrine. One way to to do that is to devote ourselves into the deep study of God’s Word together with other believers just like the apostles in Acts 2:42 (KJV) “And therefore we must take after what the apostles did in the early days “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Furthermore, as we study the bible, we must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal deeper truths to us, the secrets of God’s kingdom for it is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand God’s truth. The search and revelation of sound doctrine is not by human wisdom alone but also by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, as mentioned in John 16:13-15 (KJV):
“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 he shall speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
Sound Christian doctrine and the understanding of it should not be elusive especially to the one who sincerely seeks to find it. God promises this in Luke 11:9 for His children that whoever asks shall be given, to him who seeks he shall find and to him who knocks the doors shall be opened.