Have you ever heard, “Well, his doctrine is correct.” or “He believes in a sound statement of faith.” These are two examples of statements which are common among evangelicals in regards to community and fellowship. It is imperative that we understand that Christianity is not just about doctrine. A person can be correct on all the major points of theology and yet spiritually dead or heretical in practice. We can be as straight as a gun barrel and just as empty.
In many of our mainline churches, the Christian faith has been reduced to a set of doctrines which one must adhere to. That is good, if we do not stop there! Certainly, the historic faith of Christianity can and should be presented in the fashion of sound theological propositions. However, the ‘faith’ of Christianity is way more than just some accurately stated doctrines or correct mental belief. At its core, it is about an initimate and personal relationship with the risen Savior. And this relationship takes place through repentence and faith in the finished work of Christ at calvary.
There are many ‘professing’ believers who would tow the line on sound doctrine, but whose lives are still destined for hell because they have not entered a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Sound doctrine protects us from cultic/heretical representations and preversions of the Christian faith. Therefore, sound doctrine is essential for accurately presenting and holding to the biblical view of God, Man, Sin and Salvatiion. It is impossible for cults to flourish apart from erroneous doctrine, as false doctrine is the seed bed for strange and heretical views.
While holding to sound orthodox evangelical doctrine, we must guard against stopping there. Jesus did not come just to correct man’s understanding about God and himself, but to bring the life of God to man! This is not a doctrinal or mental excercise. It is a change of the very core of man’s being through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. This change takes place when man repents of his sin and freely accepts Christ’s atoning work as his payment for sin by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is done through faith alone in the finished work of Christ on calvary’s cross.
One of the beauties of the new birth in Christ, is that when a man genuinely experiences it, his heart leaps for and desires sound doctrine. At regeneration, the Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) comes to live inside our hearts; and this new living reality creates a constant pursuit of sound biblical truth by the impetus of the Holy Spirit who now resides in us. In other words, a person genuinly ‘born again’ will have a love for and desire for doctrinal truth. This explain why those within the emerging church demonstrate the disposition of unregenerate men, because they constantly gravitate toward heresy and false teachings instead of sound doctrine. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. (Jn.14:17;16:13) When men constantly embrace false doctrine, and never feel the discipline or constraints from the Holy Spirit, they demonstrate a life which is not under the control of the Holy Spirit.
It is impossible for a person, who is born of the Spirit of God, to continue pursuing false or heretical doctrine. The continual pursuit of false doctrine reveals that a man is under the influence of a religious spirit or his own selfish goals, instead of the Holy Spirit. Can a genuine believer ever ‘bite into’ a false teaching? Sure, but because of the protection of the Holy Spirit, when they hear the truth, they will turn from false doctrine and embrace the truth of the Bible. When a believer is confronted by another believer about an issue of false doctrine, he will search out and abandon the false teaching. He will not hold on to his heresy against the presentation of sound doctrine and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
How do we know what the Holy Spirit leads us into? Simple! He guides us into the truth revealed in the Scriptures. We are not left with subjective ‘make it up as we go’ positions concerning truth. God has spoken, He has spoken clearly, and He has spoken accurately in the Bible. Therefore, when we have a supernatural or spiritual experience, we have a testing ground whereby we can evaluate whether it is from God, from self, or from Satan.
Life is a continual flow of metaphysical experiences. We are not just a collusion of subatomic particles in battle over spatial dominance. We are spiritual beings, longing for and on a quest to find the true meaning to origin, morality, value, redemption and eternity. We find those answers in the God of the Bible, and we experience those answers through an encounter with Jesus Christ when we surrender to Him through faith!
Sound doctrine protects us from foolish and erroneous spiritual claims or experiences. However, and of equal importance, sound doctrine points us toward a genuine and personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. Because of sound doctrine, we are safe to allow ourselves the freedom to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit, knowing that as long as we stay within the prescribed boundaries of Biblical truth, we can know with confidence that our experiences are with and from God, and not from psychosomatic impulses or foreign spirits.
So, again we say: Christianity is not just about doctrine. It is about meeting Jesus personally and experiencing His forgiveness and grace toward us. It is about encountering His Love as we yield to the truth of the gospel. It is about enjoying Him every day in fellowship and sweet communion. It is finding our place and the purpose of our life. Christianity is about abundant life in Christ!
Men of our generation are screaming and scrambling to find the meaning and purpose to their life. Most of the time they are looking in all the wrong places trying to fill the void within your heart. Let us take the gospel to them, not in some strange or mechanical way. Lord knows there are enough gimmicks being used by churches to manipulate men into church. Neither in some dry and doctrinally dead way, as head knowledge by itself will only increase man’s pride. Let us take the gospel of salvation in a living way, presenting truth from a changed life which reveals the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Biblical faith must be rescued from both the doctrinal dryness and subjective foolishness we see in our day. Both are ugly… both are wrong… both are dangerous… both destroy the message of our Savior.
Because of His Grace,