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Although it may not be true in all cases, many people tend to use the word "Doctrine" in one way, which is "Doctrine equals Truth".
We have not only heard the word doctrine used, but many of us have used it to define our confidence in the truth of our faith. But what is doctrine, and does it always equal Truth? Letís start out by looking at the word "Doctrine" so we can get a better understanding of the true meaning. The definition of "Doctrine" is something that is taught. A body or system of teaching relating to a particular subject such as the "doctrine of a Church". Doctrine doesnít have to relate to a religion such as we see in what is called "The Monroe Doctrine". Itís the dogma or precept of any teachings true or false, sound (valid) or irrational (invalid). The word doctrine in the Greek is, didache (did-akh-ay'); and means instruction, or teaching. When doctrine is used in relation to the written word of God itís used either as the doctrine of devils, the deceitful doctrine of men, or sound doctrine from God. So by this we see that there can be false doctrine put forth as truth in a Church.
Let's see how Jesus used the term doctrine.
The Messiah condemned the doctrine of the Pharisees because it was of human origin. "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"(NKJ throughout) and in Mark 7:7-9. there is more added to this... "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men-- the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." And He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." We see by these scriptures that Jesus, 1) revealed that we can worship Him in vain if we are putting forth doctrines of men as if they are the commandments of God. 2) The doctrines of men had to do with the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things they did, which was many ceremonies.
The earliest true doctrine of the Christian church declared: (1) That Jesus was the Messiah, (the Christ,) Acts 3:18; (2) that God had raised Him from the dead Acts 1:22; 2:24,32; and (3) that salvation could only be given by faith in His name (Authority) and sacrifice Acts 2:38; 2:16. These three truths were presented as a clear fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. There was also the command by Jesus to baptize in His Name (Authority) Matt: 28; 18-20, and to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2. Jesus did not come speaking his own doctrine, but only what He received from the Holy Father in heaven. Let's read this in John 7:15-16, and notice that the Jews knew Jesus did not go to their learning institutions. "And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine (teaching) is not Mine, but His who sent Me."
Many years before Jesus came the first time God informed Moses that He would send a Prophet like him from among their brethren. God stated that He would even give This Prophet the very words he would speak. Just who was this future prophet, and has this prophesy been fulfilled? Let's read carefully what God had to say about this Prophet and what He would do. 'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 'And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. Deut 18:18-19.
Jesus, a common man of His time was in the temple teaching the written word of God during the feast. The statementÖ"How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" shows that the Jews knew Jesus had not been taught by their educational institutions and were marveling at how He knew so much about the written word of God which at that time was the Old Testament. Did they truly get the meaning of the situation when He stated that what He spoke was not from Him but from the Holy Father? Did they make the connection in Deut. 18:18?
Paul taught that true doctrine is essential for Christian growth. 1 Tim 4:6-7. "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness." We also find that a time will come when some will not endure sound doctrine. 2 Tim 4:3, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. Paul also taught that we should beware of false doctrine in the church. Rom 16:17-18, Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
Misusing the word "Doctrine"
There are some ministers misusing the word "Doctrine" today because they are involved with those that would destroy the truth or sound doctrine we have received from God. Please understand that I do not accuse all teachers of being part of this movement and I realize that there are those that have not looked into the word and itís meaning, and therefore can only be accused of bad teaching practices. God knows the hearts of all so Iím not going to point to any minister or Church as being deceptive in a malicious way, but we do need to be aware of the true meaning so we will not become deceived when others try to change sound doctrine for their own purpose.
Letís look at some history of those in charge of the Christian religion so we can understand their stand on doctrine, and remember, their stand on all Christian beliefs are taught by the churches they have influence over. The World Missionary Conference of 1910, held in Edinburgh, marked the beginning of modern ecumenism. From it flowed three streams of ecumenical endeavor: evangelistic, service, and doctrinal. Today, these three aspects are furthered through the World Council of Churches, constituted in 1948, and in the early 1980s it included more than 295 Churches in more than 90 countries. The evangelical concern of modern ecumenism brought about the formation, in 1921, of the International Missionary Council, comprising 17 national mission organizations. This movement proceeded under the slogan "service unites but doctrine divides." Notice the very important sloganÖ"service unites but doctrine divides." This is one of the most dangerous movements there is today for all sincere Christians, and this is why we must address this word "Doctrine". Please keep this in mind as we go through this study and remember, those that want to lead us from truth do not make the distinction between true doctrine and false doctrine. There has already been statements made in papers and sermons that there is a difference between truth and doctrine, and then it has been stated that the Sabbath, and Holy Days are doctrine. This is a very sly way of getting people to accept error and reject truth. If you would like to know more about the Ecumenical movement check out Ecumenical Movement Just what is it? at the end of this study.
We see in this next scripture that there can even be false doctrine in the true church of God. Rev 2:14-15 "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." This was a letter sent by way of the angel of the church in Pergamos which is Godís church. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans is the hierarchical church government that suppresses the people, and keeps them from following Christ because the ministers place themselves in between Christ and the people stating the people must believe their doctrine. Nicolaitan means "victor over the people" the Greek word nikee means "victor, and the Greek word laos, means the people or the lay members. Put the two words together and you have Nicolaitanes. Also notice in verse 16 God states He would come and fight this Church that disobeyed Him. 'Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth." So we can see a biblical record of a doctrine called the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that God hates proving there can be false doctrine. If there is false doctrine, then there must be true doctrine that we must continue in, and to change it would be sin.
Letís read what the apostle Paul admonished in Eph 4:14-15, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Here is a quote from a minister who stated that doctrine was not truth and we can see by his quote here where he went wrong.
Quote: "Doctrine, on the other hand, is not "the Truth." Doctrine is our best approximation of the truth. It is what we have decided to teach and therefore doctrine is man made. No human being, nor any church, can claim to have discovered perfect truth. As long as we are human, we can make mistakes, and it is patently wrong not to acknowledge our fallibility in our doctrines. The number of changes we have had to make in our teachings over time is witness to our imperfection and fallibility in doctrine."
Notice the statements "Doctrine is our best approximation", and "It is what we have decided to teach". He came to the wrong conclusion that all doctrine is man made because he and those he has known have taught what they decided to teach. He may not realize it, but he is talking about manís doctrine not Godís. When men try to interpret the doctrines of God they will never come to understand the truth, but as long as we get ourselves out of the way and let the Holy Spirit interpret the doctrines we will always have and understand true doctrine.
This is very evident by the fact that the apostles were men as we are and they allowed the Holy Spirit of God to work in them and they knew and understood the true doctrines. The truth is that when men make the statement that "As long as we are human, we can make mistakes," referring to the written word of God, they are trying to justify their lack of yielding to the teachings of the Holy Spirit. It's recorded in John 14:26. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, It will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."
This same minister is quoted as saying the truth does not need defending and that it's the ultimate arrogant person that would say they were defending the truth. This type of statement brethren is made by a very deceived person, or someone that is trying to put down those that would confront him on biblical issues. Let's look at a scripture that brings to light this very fact. Rev 20:4 "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Notice the reason these future brave and faithful brethren were murdered. They were beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God. They defended the written word of God which is true doctrine. Yes! Truth needs to be defended and if it were not for those faithful men and women in the past that defended it, we would not have it today! Anyone that states the truth does not need defending is a wolf in shepherds clothing. Mark him and beware.
Doctrine that is not of God is false doctrine, and when men state that doctrine divides with out truthfully stating that false doctrine is what divides; these men are without understanding, or they are trying to do away with true doctrine so they can lead people into the coming beast system. Letís look at some scriptures that show where true doctrine comes from. John 7:16-17, "Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."
If Jesus would not change the doctrine God the Father gave Him to speak then man needs to be very careful not to change it, or they will become false ministers and enemies of the great God. The question is; do they want to do Godís will or their own will? Do they want to teach the doctrine that comes from God thatís given by His Spirit, or do they want to teach their own doctrines? Those who teach that doctrine is not truth are themselves not of the truth and needs to be exposed so they canít deceive. They hate this type of study because it shines a light on their deception. If a minister has stated that doctrine is not truth without realizing what he was doing then someone needs to help him see the truth so he can repent and return to God.
This minister has also tried to place doctrine in the same category with policy Quote: "Church organizations, that are even now struggling over their rules, would benefit by declaring that they are not attempting to rule the church, but merely to govern the organization. Then a person who disagrees with policy can still be a member of the church as long as he works within the policy. Since no claim of divine privilege is made for policy, one is not deemed to be rebellious because he disagrees with policy and tries to change it. Since no claim of Eternal Truth is made for our doctrines, then a person who disagrees with one or more of them need not be considered a heretic. Who knows, he may be the harbinger of a better understanding."
This is very deceptive and can break down all true teaching on true doctrine because he is not making the distinction between the doctrines of God or the doctrines of man, and demons. His statement that no claim of Eternal truth is made for OUR doctrines is true only when speaking of manís doctrines. By not making a distinction he is reducing the true doctrines of God down to mere policy of men for the purpose of governing the church. This minister is in great error and should not be taken seriously unless he repents and begins to teach the truth about true doctrine. It seems that he does not understand where Satan wants to lead Godís people or he does know and is knowingly involved in the deception. God is the final Judge.
Remember, those that are the enemy of the truth teach that "service unites, but doctrine divides". They are against doctrine because true doctrine exposes them. We have already seen from this study that what comes from the Father in heaven is truth and is also true doctrine. Itís sound doctrine if it comes from God and to say otherwise is to say God is lying. The Gospel Jesus brought is from God and is also true doctrine. Laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit, the teachings of the Resurrection, Repentance, Baptism by full emersion, The teaching of the coming Kingdom of God meaning that Jesus will return, and the teaching and commands from God concerning the Sabbath. All commands from God are truth and are true doctrine. We should hold fast to the true doctrines of God brethren, which means there are true, and false doctrines as we find recorded in Titus 1:7-9 "For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."
We have been warned down through time that men would come deceiving and being deceived. We are warned that a great falling away must come before the man od perdition can deceive the world. Those that donít want to obey God in keeping to the true doctrines will try to do away with truth by saying doctrine is not truth and then stating that the Sabbath is doctrine. Remember the warning we read above recorded in 2 Tim 4:3-4. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
The purpose of this study is to keep in line with what we need to do as true servants and stewards of the written word of God. In humility we need to correct those in error so that if God will grant them repentance, they can also come to the truth and fellowship with us. Do I make mistakes when writing study papers? Have I thought I understood the meaning of scriptures, but was wrong? Absolutely! And I have no doubt that there are some areas I'm still wrong about, but the fact is that we need to be willing to be taught and corrected by the Holy Spirit of God and understand that there are in fact true, and false doctrine. We need to beware that there are, without a doubt, men whom are out to deceive for their own gain. Men whom are proud, and obsessed with power and position that use disputes to divide brethren in order to sweep as many as possable to themselves. Men who love to strive, and boast because they truly want to be in charge over you.
In conclusion I leave you with these sound words written long ago, and please never let any man deceive you. Rom 16:17-18, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."
See companion study Just What is the Church?
And companion study "Church Government"
And also you might want to understand Truth about tithing
Ecumenical Movement Just what is it?
Apostolic Succession and Temporal Power.
Women and Leadership
The Lord's Table
In Jesus' Service