The Doctrine of Christ
The Doctrine of Christ
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2John 1:9)
Let me begin, today, by discussing what we mean when we speak of the Doctrine of Christ. I believe that we can define the Doctrine of Christ this way: “The Belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Saviour of men.” Christianity declares that men are sinners, that mankind is lost, and that God will judge men for their sins. In order for there to be any hope – in order for there to be any salvation – there must be a Saviour, a Christ, a Redeemer, “One Who Atones For Our Sins.” That Saviour is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
The Jews expected and looked for the Messiah. The teaching that Jesus is that Christ or Messiah, is the essence of the Doctrine of Christ. I suppose we could say, then, that the Doctrine of Christ concerns greatly the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems that the two are almost inseparable, and nearly identical. This is because we cannot preach the Gospel, without preaching the Doctrine of Christ. And we cannot preach the Doctrine of Christ without preaching the Gospel.
The early Church presented Jesus Christ as the Gospel – in other words, they preached the Doctrine of Christ. We read in Acts 5:42, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” When Philip spoke to the Ethiopian Eunuch, and when he explained the message of Isaiah, we read, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (Acts 8:35.) Jesus is the Gospel – He is the Good News for lost and wicked men.
When we preach Jesus, we must, and we do, present Him as the Christ. With this thought in mind, I like the way that Paul’s message is summarized in Acts 17:2-3. “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you is Christ.” Paul preached that Jesus is Christ. This is the Doctrine of Christ.
Notice that Paul reasoned with them out of the scriptures. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (Jn. 5:39.) The Apostle Paul used the Scriptures to preach about the Christ, and about the fact that Jesus is Christ. Paul preached to the people about their need, and he presented Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of that need. He explained to those that would listen, that the Christ, when He comes, must needs have suffered. What he taught the people was that men were sinners. Therefore, in order that their sins might be paid for, the Christ must Suffer, and He must die. And then, Paul preached to the people that the Christ must Rise again from the dead. So, our Christ must suffer and die – because we are sinners. And our Christ must Rise Again – because He must conquer death and present us as just before God. Paul preached all of this to the people, all the while using the Scriptures as evidence of the Truth of this preaching – and he then points to Jesus as the Christ, the Saviour of men. We read that he says to the people, “…this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” This is the Message of Paul, and this is the Gospel. This is what Paul preached, and this is what his manner was. People must be shown their guilt; people must be shown the need of a Christ; people must be shown the work of the Christ; and then Jesus must be identified as the Christ.
Paul presented the Gospel as the Gospel of Christ, and the simplicity of that Gospel, when he said, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1Cor. 1:23-24.) This is what Paul is speaking of when he said to the Colossians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-9.) And Peter tells us the same thing when he says, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name or Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12.)
The Doctrine of Christ is Imperative for Salvation
Since the Doctrine of Christ is something that we cannot separate the Gospel, then it only goes to follow that the Doctrine of Christ is also something that we cannot separate from Salvation itself. We read in 2Jn. 9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Jesus Christ said, “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (Jn. 6:53.) Any gospel, or any doctrine, that eliminates, or seeks to navigate around, the Doctrine of Christ, cannot be the True Gospel, or the True Doctrine of Christ. If the Way unto Heaven is to be truly taught, believed, and contended for, then it must be the Doctrine of Christ as it is expressed in the Gospel. There is no other Way to be saved, and there is no other Name that can save. We read the Words of Jesus, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (Jn. 10:9.) Those who are elect unto salvation are the ones who will abide in the Doctrine of Christ. These are the ones who will and do have both the Father and the Son. Truthfully, if a person does not have both the Father and the Son, can that person be saved at all?
John the Beloved focused on the Deity of Jesus Christ, both in his Gospel account, and in his epistles. He knew – and God knows this as well – that men need to be reminded again and again, of these basic truths: Jesus Christ is God, and He is Man. Jesus is the Christ, and He is the Saviour of Men. The Father is in Heaven, and Jesus Christ will bring us to Him. Those who deny these truths, or who will resist these truths, cannot be saved, and must be declared liars and anti-Christ. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. (1John 2:22-25)
If any Religion or Denomination will present unto you a salvation that does not include the Life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus the Christ, then that Religion or Denomination is not presenting unto you the unadulterated Doctrine of Christ. And, if any Religion or Denomination will present unto you a salvation that adds more than the Doctrine of Christ, then that Religion or Denomination is presenting to you a perverted Gospel, and it is a Gospel that will not save.
The Doctrine of Christ is Necessary for Faithful Service and Rewards
We should also notice that in order for us to serve God acceptably; and in order for us to store up rewards in Heaven that we may use to glorify God in Eternity; we must partake of the Doctrine of Christ. Certainly, the Doctrine of Christ is Imperative for Salvation, but the Doctrine of Christ is also necessary for the success of our ministry in Christ. It is in Him and through Him that we serve and please God Almighty.
I want to use the Second Epistle of John again in making this point. We read in 2Jn. 7-8, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” The point being made here, seems to be that there is a possibility of losing rewards if we do not faithfully confess…that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This Doctrine of Christ, and His Earthly, Physical Presence, and His Deity, and His Sacrifice, and His Eternal Life, must be proclaimed or our service to God will become a service that is not profitable and is not worthy of reward. It is Jesus Christ Whom we exalt, not ourselves. It is God in Heaven Whom we please, not ourselves.
Paul taught that the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation, and it is upon Him, and upon the Doctrines that concern Him, that we must build up our service to God. We read in 1Cor. 3:10-15, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” No man can build up a service that is lasting and glorifying to God, except that that service would be built upon Jesus Christ. In other words, it is apparent that the Doctrine of Christ is necessary for any service that would be acceptable in the Sight of God. Because He is Christ; because He is our Saviour; because He has come to us; because He is gracious to us; because He gives us strength, desire, knowledge, wisdom to serve Him; because of Him and for His glory we follow, obey, love, and serve such a God as ours.
I believe the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is speaking along these same lines when he said, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Heb 6:1-6) The principles of the doctrine of Christ involve the Basic and Necessary things which comprise our Salvation and our initial service to God. (Such things as repentance…faith…baptisms…laying on of hands…resurrection…eternal judgment are considered the basic things of the Doctrine of Christ.) With a right understanding of these principles of the doctrine of Christ, we, as servants of God, can go on to learn even more, and we can go on to build upon this Firm and Immovable Foundation, which is Jesus Christ.
Those who reject such principles – those who confess, and then deny Jesus as the Christ, or deny Jesus as the Lord of their life – these folks cannot be used of God to accomplish His service and worship in this world. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32-33) God will reward those who proclaim Him, and He will deny those who deny Him! Jesus Christ and what He has done for us – and Who He is to us – must be the focus of our ministry, and the glory and praise of our lives! This is the only service and worship that is acceptable to our God and to our Saviour.
The Doctrine of Christ Must be Contended For
We read in the Epistle of Jude, “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 1:3) When Jude warn us, and when he exhorts the Churches of Jesus Christ to earnestly contend for the faith, I believe he is speaking, in large part, of the Doctrine of Christ, and all of those Doctrines and Teachings and All Things that are built upon the Doctrine of Christ. If a Church, or a People, or an individual Person wants to contend for the faith as Jude exhorted us to do, then that Church, People, or Person, must contend for the Doctrine of Christ. One cannot be saved without the Doctrine of Christ; one cannot serve God properly without following in the Doctrine of Christ; and one cannot stand for Truth and Christ, without contending for the Doctrine of Christ.
We find that the early Church thought it was important to stand for the things of Christ, and to stand against those heresies that might creep in. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal. 3:1.) When error or laxness or heresy would be discovered in the Church, then the Church must address these things and purify the Church from these false teachings. And, when we hear a false gospel preached, then we must cry out against that false gospel. And, when we hear heretical statements being proclaimed concerning our Christ, and our Saviour, then we must speak out against that error. Paul said to the Church at Corinth, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” (1Cor. 5:6-7.)
God give us the boldness to speak out against those that would corrupt the Gospel and the Doctrine of Christ! John speaks of this when he tells us, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: For he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2Jn. 9-11.) And Paul reminded both Timothy and Titus that from time to time it would be necessary to rebuke those that spoke falsehoods and heresies. We read in 1Tim. 5:20, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” And we read in 2Tim. 4:1-5, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Perhaps the greatest and most prominent of heresies that have been proclaimed against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and against the Word of God, are those heresies that deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, or that belittle or diminish the Sacrifice and Atonement for sins that was accomplished by Jesus Christ. The world hates God. The world of religion hates True Christianity. Worldly religion hates the Doctrine of Christ. Mankind wants his idolatries, his religious works, his inherent goodness and worth. The genuine and sincere declarations of the Doctrine of Christ – especially as those declarations and proclamations are preached in the Churches of Jesus Christ – take from man his false and wicked ideas of self-worth and abilities, and they give glory to God and the Grace of His Work of Salvation, in Jesus Christ. It is no surprise that the world and even religious folks will resist such a Doctrine of Christ. They hated the Author of Salvation when He walked in their midst! We who believe, and we who are the people of God, must stand up against false teachings, and we must proclaim the Truth. The world needs the Truth! They cannot be saved by following Liars and Anti-Christs!
The need that we have to stand against falsehood and heresies is made even more clear in Paul’s words for Titus in Titus 1:10-14. “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fable, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
Paul made it clear that both Timothy and Titus should consider it their duty to rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. He even says, concerning the unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, that their mouths must be stopped. This is something that it is hard for you and me to do. I know that I, at least, find it difficult, because of my lack of boldness, to address some lies or hypocrisies or blasphemies when I encounter them in the world. However, we should be faithful to proclaim the Doctrine of Christ, even in those places where it is not understood, or where it is not highly esteemed. Those that are in error concerning the Doctrine of Christ and the Gospel itself, need us to tell them about their error. Perhaps God would use our feeble abilities to convert some sinner, or to instruct some weak saint. I only pray unto God that he would use this Church, and each of us as individuals, in this way.
I suppose that the gist of the message today is this: That we would consider the Basic Importance and Indispensability of the Doctrine of Christ, and that we should see that it is our Duty, Privilege, and Responsibility to Declare that Doctrine of Christ. We must not be ashamed of the Christ that came to save us, and of His Person or Work. We should also not be ashamed to Declare His Name and His Doctrine. O, that God would give us the boldness that we need, and the wisdom that we crave, so that we might Teach and Preach and Witness of the Doctrine of our Christ and our God! There is no more glorious subject of preaching, or topic of conversation, or pattern for the conversation of our lives, than that of Christ!