An Apostolic Fellowship – Part Three

The Doctrine of Christ

The apostles’ doctrine emphasized the centrality of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Christ is the first, last, and central of all truths. He is the Truth. Leaders today must continually point to Jesus and lift Him up. Lost souls must be directed to come to Him, and believers must be admonished to abide in Him. Jesus is not a hope. He is the only hope for this world, so he must remain the central  point of all teaching.

Acts 5:28 “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

Acts 5:42 “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”

Acts 9:20 “For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”

Acts 15:35 “But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”

The Bible gives the pattern for balanced Christian living. Local churches fed a diet of basic truths and foundational doctrines and so the people were settled and grounded in God’s Word. When this is true, they are less susceptible to being controlled by feelings or led astray by curiosities. To make it faithfully to the end, they need balance.

Colossians 1:22-23 “He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

The Bible says doctrine is like the dew of heaven (Deuteronomy 32:2), yet so often church leaders and church members get carried away with so many other things some of which are not biblical in the least. It seems that Jesus is no longer enough but we need Jesus + angels, or Jesus + the third heaven teaching, Jesus + talking to dead saints, and on the list could go. I have simply found that I can (and do) fill my life with Jesus and little else. He is enough to occupy both my personal time in the Word and prayer as well as in my teaching ministry. He was THE central doctrine and focus of the early church and should still be today.

Critics object to an emphasis on doctrine claiming:

1> It is divisive. Critics say doctrine divides the church into denominations/ Really doctrine existed before the Church began. God originated it. The Church did not. Doctrine is not divisive; people are. The way people use doctrine causes conflict in the Body of Christ. 

2> It is irrelevant. Some say, “What you believe does not matter; what matters is who you believe in.” Jesus said, “False Christs … will arise” so when people say they believe in God or in Jesus, which Jesus do they believe in? Where do they get their information about God? Knowing God personally requires knowing truth — doctrine — about God and thus accepting the beliefs of the early Church as written in the Bible.

3> Being right in doctrine is not acceptable to God is you are wrong in spirit, yet being right in spirit while wrong in doctrine is acceptable. The world is filled with people who are sincere — sincerely wrong! Why not determine to be right in spirit and doctrine?

4> Doctrine is dry, dull, dead, useless. Doctrine is not as exciting as dancing and shouting. It does not draw big crowds like miracles and loud music. But only doctrine builds genuine strength and sustains growth.

Here is a true saying: If you have the Word with the Spirit, you will dry up. If you have the Spirit without the Word, you will blow up. If you have the Spirit and the Word you will grow up.

Healthy churches with life and power always have a combination and balance of the Spirit and the Word, true to the New Testament pattern. 

The Bible identifies four sources of doctrine:

1> The doctrine of God. This doctrine is refreshing and the foundation for growth. “May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass,

and like showers upon the herb” (Deuteronomy 32;2)

2> The doctrine of Christ. Jesus was accepted as a Rabbi in His day. He was a Master Teacher. He spoke with authority and clarity. “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribe” (Matthew 7:28-29).

3> The doctrine of the apostles. The apostles’ doctrine guided the New Testament church. They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).

4> the doctrine of devils (demons). Doctrine can be empowered by evil spirits speaking through evil men. Not all teaching comes from the mind of God. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons …” (1 Timothy 4:1) Believers know the doctrine of demons by discernment and by examining it in the light of Scripture.