By Irven Lee
One of the most popular doctrines taught in the name of religion in America today is that we are all right. One faith is as good as another, we are told. It is admitted that there are some differences, but the idea is that we differ only on trivials that do not matter. In fact, according to the popular concept, doctrine or teaching does not matter. Many say that they do not like “doctrinal sermons.” Is this the same as saying that they do not like sermons that teach? Doctrine and teaching are synonyms. Then teachers should not teach.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8,9). The Lord revealed His will to man because doctrine and religious practice do make a difference (Rom. 10: 1-3; Gal. 1: 6- 10; Rev. 22:18, 19). The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but this does not make it right before God. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25). “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). There are many verses that deal with the sin of teaching the wrong doctrine, and no hint that whatever we teach pleases God (Gal. 1:6-10).
We should search the scriptures to see what is right (Acts 17: 11). Danger is present so we should try the spirits and beware of false prophets. (See Matt. 7:15; 1 John 4: 1; 2 John 9-11; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Acts 20:29-31; Col. 2:8; Heb. 2: 1; Rom. 16:17; Matt. 15:9, 13, 14; Rom. 10: 1-3). Please do not teach men to be careless, and to take their own salvation for granted. Please do not be unconcerned about finding the narrow way of truth and holiness in your own case. Few there be that find it, but the Lord has pointed out the way of truth with clear marks of identity. It takes the hunger and thirst after righteousness to cause one to seek the right way of the Lord. Ignorance is dangerous and inexcusable (Hosea 4:6).
Some teach that we are saved by faith only, and some teach that salvation is not by faith only. Are both right? Is it all right to teach a man the wrong side of this issue? (Read James 2: 14-26.) The Bible emphasizes obedience just as it emphasizes faith (Matt. 7:21; 2 Thess. 1:7,8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 5:9; Mark 16:15,16). The Bible does not teach both sides of this issue. There ought to be more concern and more searching for the truth on the matter. Many things other than lack of faith are mentioned as keeping one from inheriting life. (Read Rom. 13:1,2; James 1:26; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8.)
Some teach that baptism has nothing to do with our salvation. Others say we are baptized for the remission of sins. These two ideas cannot both be right. We want to know God’s will in the matter, do we not? We need to know the truth for it is truth that can make us free. Search and see. (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:1-18; 1 Peter 3:21.) We should, as it were, leave no stone unturned in making our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10). Does one have more freedom to say that baptism, which is evidently a clearly stated command of God, is not necessary than to say that honesty is not necessary? The teaching on both is from heaven from the One with all authority.
Some teach that one cannot fall after having saving faith. Others say that we need to take heed lest we fall. Both cannot be right. We either can or we cannot fall. It is high time to search and see. (2 Peter I: 10; 2: 18-22; Luke 8:13; Phil. 2:12; 1 Cor. 10: 12; Heb. 3:6, 1114; 4: 11.) We should walk circumspectly because all roads do not lead to heaven. If a man can fall, and is in great danger of falling, is it an innocent thing to tell him that he cannot fall?
Religious people differ in name, in the type music offered to the Lord, and forms of church government. Some partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week while others leave it off for months at a time. Do these things matter? These are called little things, and men say that they do not matter. Bricks are small building blocks, but there are large buildings that could be taken down one brick at a time. Every detail of instruction given by the Lord and His apostles concerning His church has been changed by some denomination or another. Why did He give the instruction if these things do not matter? We, as was Moses concerning the tabernacle, are given a pattern which we should follow (Heb. 8:5). The Bible gives us ‘all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
To mock at baptism, which is a picture of His burial and resurrection, and to deny its significance is no little thing. Is sprinkling the same as the burial and planting mentioned in the scripture? (Rom. 6:4,5; Col. 2:12.) It is not minor if commanded by the Lord. None of His commandments is to be treated lightly (I John 2:3,4; 5:3; John 14:15,21,23). Christ purchased His church with His blood, and built it according to God’s eternal purpose. His testament describes in detail its terms of membership, its work, its form of worship and of government, and its standards of conduct for its members. Who has the authority to change a single detail? The facts are there for those who would follow the pattern and walk by faith. Seek and find.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 21, pp.11-12
March 29, 1973