This topic is a difficult one for me to share with you my brethren. I desire to be obedient to our LORD and so I feel I must attempt to put this topic before you. If anyone at all should decide to read this article, I pray that I am acting in accordance to God’s will in writing these words.
Men love heroes. We desire to make for ourselves images of what “perfection” would look like if it took the form of a man. In athletics we like our heroes to be muscular, tall, fast, strong, fierce, and most of all... successful men who make a habit of dominating their opponents. In business we like our heroes to be tall, well dressed, well groomed, well spoken, highly educated, highly paid men of power and influence.
Does this carnal desire of ours stop simply at the world’s exit and the church’s doorstep? Or does that same manmade image we crave bleed its way into the sanctuaries of our churches, and even as far as our desire for ‘sound doctrine’? In our desire to understand our LORD, do we attempt to circumvent the mysteries of God and the uncertainty of faith by clinging to the ‘sound doctrines’ of this age which, in large part, are creations of men who we consider to be heroes of our faith?
The LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
"Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day--in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also.
"Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them." 1 Samuel 8: 7-9 NASB
I think that every believer can agree that sound doctrine is a key to remaining obedient to Jesus Christ. How can we deny the importance of sound doctrine when God instructs us so clearly toward it?
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4: 3-5 NASB
Where is your doctrine taking you today? In 2 Timothy, through Paul, God so clearly directs us toward His word as the source of sufficiency. In order to receive salvation, and in order to keep growing in the LORD, His word does not tell us that we need university degrees or diplomas; successful ministries led by men of power and influence; or a theological understanding of His word that attempts to remove the mysteries of God and His sovereignty. Where does God’s word tell the believer the way to salvation is through understanding? The beginning of wisdom is a fear of God, but the way to salvation only comes through what Jesus Christ did at the cross! Jesus said we must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God.
Do not be deceived my brethren. If you find yourselves clinging to a doctrine where you hear very articulate and well educated men making intelligent sounding, deep doctrinal conclusions that go way beyond what God’s very word says, step carefully! If these men cannot accept that faith does not come from what they know, then they should examine themselves to see if they actually have faith. If the original disciples of our Saviour could not understand how Jesus could drive a demon out of a boy while they failed, and Jesus called their faith too little to do so, then who are we to decide that we have unlocked the mysteries of God and His word? (Matthew 7: 14-20) We must believe what we cannot understand.
I don’t know about you, but there are many times I read God’s word and I have to ask Him to help me with my faith. But with those areas where God has so clearly left allowance for us to have to rely on Him in faith, aren’t we tempted into idolatry instead? Corporately, don’t we seek a hero that will explain to us that which we cannot understand? The mystery of election unveiled and explained according to a particular doctrine. The unfortunate part of that doctrine is that its many followers seem to identify themselves with that man’s name, almost on par, beside that of Jesus’. And those that subscribe so vehemently to its teachings alienate others within the faith that may claim a less certain view of such things, that their doctrinal teaching states as fact.
If you’re reading this and you need to have a complete understanding of how God elects His people, maybe you should ask yourself why. Why do you need to know how God elects His people? Will that save you? Will your knowledge of election save others? Will your knowledge of another man’s teachings gain you or anyone else salvation? When we seek knowledge of God to the extent that we go beyond His word and give way to a deep theological dogma, aren’t we seeking a ‘works’ focused salvation? If you’re a doctrine focused Christian, do you find yourself looking beyond your own helpless and sinful state, and what Jesus Christ did for you at the cross to save you, in favour of your own intellect and the intellect of those spiritual heroes that are kings to you and so many others?
Israel wasn’t content with relying on God. They needed a King. And then when they received ONE true KING, almost all of them missed Him. They wanted what men today want. They failed to seek God, but instead they looked to a man hero for help. They knew--in all their theological supremacy they knew--if a “King” was going to bring them out of their oppression, he would have to be a man of great power and influence. He would have to be wealthy and much greater than any simple peasant. Because of their lack of faith, according to Jesus, even the disciples failed to see all of what God could have revealed to them.
I myself am a man of faith that at times seems quite small; to that I confess. I suffer from fear, sometimes, for my daughter’s health. I also find peace when I run to Jesus. I find joy when I've spent some time on my knees. When I confess my fear to our LORD, He helps me. But I confess there is much about God and His word that I simply do not understand. I know that He forgives me for my lack of perfection, and as I seek Him He continues His work in me. But the only reason any of that is possible at all is because Jesus Christ died on a cross for me, and in some mysterious way He gave me an opportunity to hear His name, repent, and believe in Him. That is grace. I don’t know if my response was His choice or mine. But I don’t need to know, do I. God’s the boss, God’s in control, God knows.
So brethren, please seek Jesus and His word. Stop looking for a King among men. We have our KING and He is mightier than all kings combined! If God left mystery in His word, then how can any man attempt to remove it in a way that makes his personal understanding the correct understanding, but a stumbling block for others? (Luke 17: 1)
If the LORD has made you a teacher, then teach His word! Do not attempt to teach a system of understanding His word, which goes beyond His word. Do not attach yourself to a religious order that could prevent you from speaking His word in truth. Do not make for yourself an idol of another man and omit key portions of God’s word as you teach, so that you will not contradict your doctrine. Instead allow the Holy Spirit to teach each man according to God’s will. Rebuke the believer that lives against God’s word and sins, but do not attempt to fill in the blanks of scripture with a doctrine that divides.
Please brethren. Put aside pride and prejudice, and seek His word in its Holy sufficiency. Let us come together in our weakness, and faith in Jesus Christ. Let us rely solely on His salvation, His provision, and His wisdom, not our works. Let us be uncertain about the things that God deemed to be so. As we discover truth, let us know that our hearts can be deceived and so we must never put our discovery above God’s word.
Blessings to you in Christ.