JUST A DOCTRINAL THING?
Those who are true believers in God’s one and only Gospel are often confronted with the argument, ‘Its just a doctrinal thing’, when upholding the biblical standard that no one is saved who does not hold to the doctrine of Christ, which is His glorious Gospel. What exactly do people mean when they say, ‘Its just a doctrinal thing’? Are they implying that it is not doctrine which matters, that all that is required for a person to be saved is to simply love God out of a sincere heart? One so-called pastor has said, ‘Don’t tell me how much knowledge you have, just tell me you love Jesus’. But the question begs to be asked, ‘Is not doctrine the very means by which a man identifies and distinguishes the God/god he worships?’ How is it possible that two people are believing in the same God when they have differing views about Him and hold to different descriptions of Him, particularly when their definitions of Who God is and what God has done are diametrically opposed? Granted, there are doctrines which are not salvation issues. In other words, whilst it is always important to hold to the right doctrine concerning a matter to do with God, some doctrines (teachings), such as whether the Lord will return in our generation or the next, tithing or what the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh was all about, do not affect our salvation. But when it comes to the matter of Christ Jesus the Lord—Who He is and what He has done—doctrine is of immeasurable importance. It is a life and death issue that a person believes what GOD has testified of His Son and not some man-made tradition, an imagination of man’s mind concerning the Person and Work of Christ. This book will examine the statement, ‘Its just a doctrinal thing’ and explain why it is an assertion which is made in utter ignorance of the fact that when it comes to Who God is and which God/god one is believing and trusting in, doctrine can never be just a matter of opinion among equally saved people, or some irrelevant and inconsequential ‘thing’.
It is always a cause of great sadness when a person who professes to be a Christian separates themselves from a believer in the Gospel because of a disagreement over doctrine. The sadness is not due, primarily, to their disagreement, but the fact that the one who departs insists on holding on to false doctrine and is blind to the Truth, sometimes wilfully. It must be made clear at the outset that any disagreement over doctrine which has to do with salvation, is a disagreement about Who God is and what God has done. The situation is made worse when one party refuses to discuss the matter openly and in a civil and adult way, reasoning from the Word of God, deciding rather to end the relationship before any reasonable discussion is entered into. They make their statement, which to their minds is scripturally based, yet when one provides, or in some cases, is just beginning to provide a proper biblical response, one is cut off in mid-sentence and usually abandoned without any further contact. The initial problem here is not doctrine itself. Doctrine indeed separates. Doctrine is divisive, having the inherent quality to distinguish. It is discriminatory in that it identifies, being capable of making fine distinctions. It separates and divides those who are in deadly error from those who hold to the right doctrine taught of God. The problem lies with the person who is unwilling to calmly, objectively and carefully consider the doctrine he disagrees with. People are happy to read and study something by a favorite author which confirms what they believe, but seldom does one find a person happy and eager to read and study that which may point out that what they believe is deadly error. They fail to heed the seriousness of the biblical exhortation to "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in THE Faith..." (2 Cor. 13:5). In contrast, the true believer fears nothing from the truth. He does not want to close his ears to any part of the truth, for it is his friend revealed to him by God. A true believer does know what he believes and why he believes it. No examination of it, and no challenge to it, poses any threat to him or degree of apprehension for him. The reality of the situation is that a person who refuses to examine what he believes to see whether he is in the Faith by studying something he does not believe, is often restrained by fear, a fear of the truth, which involves a fear of change. You cannot look the other way when it comes to doctrine. For many who hear the Gospel for the first time and are challenged by it and it’s claim that none are saved without it, realise quickly what it would mean to their lives if the gospel they have been believing were proven to be false and that what they have now heard is in reality the only Gospel that saves. They would have to judge all their friends and family as lost. They would have to leave their ‘church’. They would lose all prestige and position they might have had. They would be ostracised from their social circle and perhaps even ridiculed. But for most, the great concern would be what their friends would say and also potential family conflict over the change. And for so-called pastors, it would mean the end of their meal ticket (see Lk. 14:26-35). And so those who fear such changes, who fear man rather than God and love the praise of men more than the praise of God (see Jn. 12:39-43) immediately set up a barrier between themselves and the truth and adopt this ‘all-wise’ sounding philosophy in which they seek refuge, that though two people are in disagreement over some doctrines—even doctrines concerning God and His way to salvation—‘The two are basically believing in the same God. It’s just a doctrinal thing. It’s just a difference of opinion, a theological disagreement which even scholars and theologians have not agreed upon, but it does not mean that they are not both saved’. Any debate or disagreement over doctrine is even seen in some circles as humorous, something to be laughed at by those who have ‘overcome’ such puerility and have adopted a ‘mature’ attitude to such things and see tolerance as the ‘loving thing to do’. People come up with the most extraordinary arguments to reason away reality. In many areas of life, including the spiritual, man has created for himself a false reality through which the river of denial flows freely. It is the wilfully ignorant man who finds refuge in another reality, which is nothing but delusion and illusion. True reality is a place where the truth is present. Delusion, or the unreal, is where the truth is absent or where only selected elements of the truth exist. In which do you reside?
Man can convince himself of almost anything. The world’s way of thinking is that we must have unity at any cost. In ever increasing levels, the world’s religions are thinking the same way. No matter how much disagreement there is present, they say two people can still walk together, ‘If they would only concentrate on the positives', those things upon which they are agreed. Though there is some merit in such an attitude, for instance a husband and wife do not agree on everything but they would be fools to concentrate on those things when there is so much they do agree upon, this however can never be applied to the things of God. With matters spiritual, particularly the life and death issue of the Gospel, God’s Word on the matter is as simple as this, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). It is not our willingness to agree to disagree and walk together, regardless of our beliefs about Christ, that unite us with God. What shows we are united with God—walking together with Him—is the fact that we AGREE WITH HIM about Who HE says Christ is and what HE says Christ has done. This shows we are true children of God, when we believe His Word and no other’s. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, THEY are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14), the Spirit of God being the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 Jn. 5:6). In other words, those who believe the Truth are the true and only sons of God. Here is true fellowship. Here is true grounds for brotherhood and sonship within God’s family. What God says about His Son identifies and distinguishes His Son from all others. It also identifies and distinguishes Who the true God is. What God says is what matters, for what God says is True. What man believes, however sincerely, does not mean it is true, even if there are millions who believe it. Sincerity is certainly an evidence of conviction but not necessarily one based on Truth. It is vital for all to realise that GODLY SINCERITY IS ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY GOD’S TRUTH. A true believer is sincere but he has the dual foundation of sincerity AND Truth. Joshua 24:14 says: "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in SINCERITY and in TRUTH: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord" (see also 1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor.1:12; 2:17). It does a man no good at all if he sincerely believes that 2 + 2 = 5. It doesn’t help him in any way if he is the most upright and model citizen around. If what the man believes is wrong, then no amount of accompanying sincerity and life of good works is going to make him right. If he believes a false gospel he is lost, and DOUBLY so if he believes it with sincerity. Sincerity, a genuineness of belief, if it is without correct doctrine, will condemn a man and is evidence that such sincerity is towards a counterfeit christ. Sincerity and TRUTH is what comes from God. God must be worshipped in spirit AND in TRUTH. Christ said: "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the TRUE worshippers shall worship the Father in SPIRIT and in TRUTH; for the Father SEEKETH SUCH to worship Him" (Jn. 4:23). The only ones whom God seeks are they who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and according to Ezekiel 34:11,12, those true worshippers are referred to as His sheep, His people. The only ones who will hear His voice and who will be given eternal life are His sheep (see Jn.10:27,28). SINCERITY WITHOUT TRUTH ALWAYS LEADS TO FALSE GODS AND FALSE RELIGIONS. In the matter of doctrine, God’s Gospel no less, it is as serious as this: "...what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?..." (2 Cor. 6:14-16).
Doctrine is a word that is dreaded by many. It is something which the majority of church-going folk tend to steer away from, and in most cases is considered something that is to be avoided at all costs lest there be division among the ranks. The last thing most of them want is to have to face their doctrinal beliefs head-on, have them challenged by the Word of God and to explain what they believe and why. Join in any conversation over a cup of tea after any church service and the last thing you will hear being discussed is doctrine. No one wants their Sunday lunch upset by an argument over—of all things—doctrine, ‘after all, we are all Christians’. This author knows of one so-called pastor, who though aware of the fact that some members of his congregation held to several extreme teachings of the Faith movement, he dared not say one word against their beliefs for fear it would cause division and he would eventually lose his job. And this is the kind of man people are listening to and trusting in to tell them the truth! It is so ironic that just as those in the secular world who avoid such topics as religion and politics, even professing christians have become conditioned to light and frivolous conversation, to only talk of the weather or sport or silly trivial things and never that which has to do with doctrine. Oh, they talk about God with their closer friends in their little cliques, but with those they meet with only once a week, doctrine is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Far be it from any of these people to discuss that morning’s sermon and test what was preached with open Bibles. For the most part people are comfortable in their ‘churches’. They feel unthreatened in the familiar surroundings and by the friendly people they know who seem to be doing quite well and, to their minds, could not possibly be anything but Christian. No one makes them feel uncomfortable or does anything unsavory like question the doctrines they believe. Everyone feels warm and fuzzy in this safe environment where just about everything and everyone is accepted at face value, and where doctrine is never an issue. Doctrine is hated because it is considered to be that which divides Christians. It is perceived to be that which causes strife and arguments, preventing unity among the brethren. ‘Doctrine divides’, they say. ‘We need unity. We need to lay doctrine, and all it’s divisive qualities, aside and concentrate on our mutual love for God.’ A popular catch-cry among such thinkers is, ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe, but who you believe’. But does not what you believe identify who you believe in? Isn’t doctrine, which shows what we believe, the key to revealing who we believe in?
How important then is doctrine? Far more important and consequential than what religious leaders would prefer us to believe. One so-called pastor informed this author that though he believes I correctly and accurately teach God’s Gospel, he does not believe that all are lost who do not believe this Gospel. He claims that, though all those who hold to the Arminian doctrines do have a false profession, he does not believe they are all lost! How can anyone be saved whilst holding to false doctrine about Who God is and what He has done? How could a false profession of God have brought, or eventually lead one to, the True God? How can belief in false doctrines—which constitutes a false profession and which identifies a false god—save anyone? Jesus commanded His people to "...preach THE Gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). Jesus commanded that HIS Gospel be preached, for only belief in HIS Gospel would save. He did not command that any gospel be preached, but His alone. Therefore if Christ’s people must only preach His Gospel it is of a surety that it is only belief in His Gospel that will save. Belief in any other, constituting a false profession, will only damn a person to Hell. If one who holds to a false profession is just as saved as the person who has a true profession, holding to the true Gospel, what does it matter which gospel is preached, true or false, for belief in either one will save a person!
Can the reader begin to see the significance of believing the doctrine which makes up God’s Gospel and not the false doctrines which form false gospels? Many contend that, ‘We’re only human and subject to error. We are all wrong in some area of doctrine but we are all sincere in our love for God, so let us put doctrine aside and allow our simple love for, and child-like faith in, God, and His love for us, unite us and cause us to be as one'. This all sounds so nice and fluffy and is so readily accepted as the ‘christian’ thing to do, that it pleases God so much to see people casting aside their differences—even doctrinal differences over who Christ is and what He has done—respecting each other’s point of view—no matter if that view dishonors Almighty God—endeavouring to live in an ignorance laced ecumenical bliss. One man even went so far as to say, ‘Nobody knows the Gospel anyway’! I wonder what he does in answer to Jesus’ command for His people to preach the Gospel? ‘Nobody knows the Gospel’, he says, yet he calls the evening services at his church ‘the gospel service’! If the Gospel is such a mystery that none can know it, God’s people would never have been commanded to preach the Gospel of Christ. For one cannot preach that which one does not know. Fellowship between Charismatics and Baptists and whoever, is all o.k. according to such people because the bottom line is, ‘We all believe in God and Jesus’. Even mainstream conservative Calvinist groups are joining with Arminians and other such overt dealers in doctrinal deception such as Roman Catholicism and the Charismatic movement. The question that needs addressing is, ‘Where does the doctrinal line begin and the ‘unity at all costs’ attitude end that divides believers in the true God from those who follow false gods? In other words, ‘How wrong does one have to be to be lost, and how right does one have to be to be saved?’ The immediate answer that comes to mind is Jesus’ own words: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16). Believe the Gospel and you are saved, believe it not and you are lost (see 2 Thess. 2:12). This is God’s Standard by which saved and lost are judged so all that needs to be done is to find out what the Gospel is and what it is to believe the Gospel of God. It must be pointed out that this is no mere test of one’s intellect, but rather a matter of whether or not it is the true God Who has been revealed to a person. More about that later.
The Gospel is the dividing line between saved and lost. What God has declared about Who His Son is and what His Son has done is the Truth. It is the dividing line between saved and lost. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT CONCUR WITH WHAT GOD SAYS IS SIMPLY NOT SAVED, FOR THEY BELIEVE IN AND PROMOTE SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT GOD HAS SAID! If the reader does not believe what God has said about His Son then it is another christ whom they have placed their trust in. The reader might say to this, ‘What you say God says is just your opinion’. But my friend, such a thing can also be said of what you say God has said and with such an attitude or approach, we would be left with nothing but what we both consider to be just an opinion. But this is not the state God wants His people to be in, for He has given us His truth. A person truly born again has been brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous Light. This light is said to be "...the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ..." (2 Cor. 4:4 cf. Jn. 1:4). As light and darkness are distinct, so too, there is contrast between God’s Gospel and all false gospels. The true Christian is no longer blind but can see. He is no longer ignorant of Who God is because God has revealed Himself to that person and opened their understanding. The apostle John, speaking to believers, said, "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN US AN UNDERSTANDING, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM that is true..." (1 Jn. 5:20; cf. Lk. 24:45; Jn. 17:3). Speaking to believers, Peter said, "But ye are a chosen generation...that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light" (1 Pet. 2:9); "Ye are all the children of Light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thess. 5:5); "For God Who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). It is what God’s Word says God says, that a saved person believes. The true believer believes what GOD has said. The false believer believes what THEY believe God has said, hence their belief in false doctrines. Scripture is not just the best interpreter of Scripture, it is the ONLY TRUE interpreter of Scripture! The Scriptures never conflict with the only Gospel that gives ALL the glory to God for salvation and leaves no room for man to boast. No gospel which is propped up by human emotion or experience, or some all-inclusive doctrinal nonsense, has, or will ever, save anyone. No person ever got to heaven because they believed that what they believed was God’s Word. You must believe what God believes, you must believe what God has declared. Only belief in what God has said, not what you believe God has said, will save you. For example, you can believe you are travelling to Sydney and have the right directions, however if the directions are wrong, you can believe all you like that you are on your way to Sydney, you’ll never get there! Your believing in false directions, however sincerely convinced you are that they are the right directions, will never get you to where you want to go. In the end when the Lord shall have His sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left, it will be the Gospel that stands between them, no one will be doing any doctrinal fence-sitting. No one will claim to be in any ‘undecided’ or ‘still working it out’ group. It will be revealed that one was either among the Gospel believing sheep of God, or with the Gospel-denying goats of the Devil. Either one believes the truth, or one denies the truth by whatever else it is they believe.
In this age of tolerance, populated by the weak-kneed and mealy-mouthed, unity and friendship has bypassed the need for truth, which is no longer a priority but often seen as a hindrance to sincere loving do-gooders who love to get together for the purposes of mutual back slapping. Many consider tolerance to be a sure sign of ‘maturity in the faith’. The attitude is, ‘Do not be so uncompromising in matters of doctrine as our stiff-necked fore-fathers were, but take a more open and tolerant approach towards those who have been taught, and who think, differently to us. This is true love and the way we should go’. In multicultural settings such thinking takes root quickly. Democracy and it’s ‘there are no absolutes’ axiom (except the absolute which says there are no absolutes!) has run rampant and swallowed up religion, leaving religious man nothing but a ‘love everybody’ attitude and a ‘don’t try and convert anyone’ policy. ‘Our business is not to convert but to love’, they say. Doctrine has fallen victim to an all embracing satanic love which cares nothing for the truth. ‘No one is right and no one is wrong, just follow your heart and love your god and we’ll all be in heaven before we know it.’ In reality there could be nothing deadlier, more subtle and more poisonous to our thinking, than such notions. A study of Scripture will reveal that this attitude of unity, based not on doctrine but on mutual acceptance and tolerance, is not a Godly thing for it leaves out the very thing that glorifies and exalts God: the only Doctrine that comes from Him and gives glory only to Him, the doctrine that excludes everyone who does not believe it from a place in heaven, other than at the Judgement Bar of God. The apostle Paul taught that those who perish do so "...because they received not the love of the Truth THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED" (2 Thess. 2:10), and "That they all might be DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT the Truth..." (2 Thess. 2:12). Those who want unity at the cost of doctrine may not realise it, but their unity is not without doctrine, it is without the doctrine of God. You cannot deny the doctrine of God without believing in some other doctrine. People are getting together over what they are agreed upon and that is a doctrinal unity, albeit a unity based on counterfeit doctrine. Unity/friendship without true doctrine sets aside and discards what God has said and replaces it with what man believes God has said or what He should be saying. God says that true love "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6). Man has perverted Christianity and fashioned his own image of it into something which is unrecognizable from the Christian Faith taught in God’s Holy Word.
The word ‘doctrine’ is mentioned 51 times in the Bible: 6 times in the Old Testament and 45 times in the New Testament. The word ‘doctrines’ appears 5 times, all in the New Testament. The word ‘doctrine’ in the Old Testament can mean: ‘Something received, ie., mentally; instruction. Chastisement, reproof, warning; chastening, check, correction, discipline, rebuke. Something heard, an announcement, report, tidings'. In The New Testament the word doctrine can mean: ‘Instruction (the act or the matter), learning, teaching, something said, communication, preaching, reason'. So we see from a brief study of the meaning of the word ‘doctrine’, that the Christian has nothing to fear from it, no reason to stand aloof from it and absolutely no reason to despise it. It is a word and a thing that God loves. In fact, "The law (doctrine) of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul..." (Psa. 19:7 cf. 2 Tim. 3:15). God’s doctrine, His Word, His teachings, His Gospel, are all synonymous and anyone who claims to be a Christian who does not love God’s Word, His teachings, His doctrine and His glorious Gospel and does not live and judge by it, is currently in a lost state. God has chosen to communicate His Gospel message by means of preaching, the preaching of doctrine, by which He defines and distinguishes His Message from all others: "But hath in due times manifested His Word through preaching..." (Titus 1:3); "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). Doctrine, which is simply teaching, is a wonderful thing, if it is God’s doctrine. The doctrine of Jesus Christ the Lord is given to men in order that they might know the True Christ, the True God and what He has said and what He wants His people to know, learn and love with all their hearts. It is by Christ’s doctrine that a Christian lives and breathes and he will never abandon it and follow another’s doctrines (see Jn. 10:2-5). God sent His prophets to speak His words, not their own words, their own ideas about Him, and in these last days has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1,2 cf. Jn. 3:34). Doctrine DOES divide; it does separate. It divides God’s children from the children of wrath; it separates God’s sheep from the cursed goats and it differentiates between God’s wheat and the Devil’s tares. It distinguishes the true Christ from the false christs. Ironically, the very thing that is frowned upon in many circles and looked on as secondary to one’s love for God, is the very thing that identifies the God/god we worship. Our love for a higher being is not that which identifies him or distinguishes him from all others. It is by revealed doctrine alone that one can know God, for it is God’s doctrine which declares Who He is and what He has done. It is through doctrine, HIS doctrine, that God reveals Himself. God’s whole salvation plan, His Good News, His Gospel is made up of several doctrines. God has only one Gospel and no other can save: "...I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for IT is the power of God unto salvation..." (Rom. 1:16). If one believes in something other than God’s Gospel then one cannot be saved, for one would be believing in something other than God’s Good News, His Word. How can anything except God’s Gospel possibly be called ‘Good News’?
Writing to the brethren, the apostle John stated: "We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us. HEREBY KNOW WE THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND THE SPIRIT OF ERROR" (1 Jn. 4:6). "We can distinguish those who embrace the truth from those who do not. Whatever pretensions they might set up for piety, it was clear (in John’s day) that if they did not embrace the doctrines taught by the true apostles of God, they could not be regarded as his friends; that is, as true Christians. It may be added that the same test is applicable now. They who do not receive the plain doctrines laid down in the Word of God, whatever pretensions they may make to piety, or whatever zeal they may evince in the cause which they have espoused, can have no well-founded claims to the name Christian. One of the clearest evidences of true piety is a readiness to receive all that God has taught." Only those who listen to and believe the Gospel of God, with its defining doctrine, may rightly lay claim to the name ‘Christian’. Those who reject it, whether knowingly or unknowingly through belief in false doctrines about God and how He saves, are lost and qualify only as false christians. The Truth is what matters. And the truth is what God says it is, not what a man thinks or believes it to be.
There are thousands of religions in this world, all with their different gods which are defined by their different doctrines. For the most part, religious people are very sincere in their beliefs about their gods. However, it must be pointed out that sincerity does not mean security. Sincerity is not the key to heaven, but belief of the truth is the evidence one has the true God. Of God’s chosen people it is written, "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and BELIEF OF THE TRUTH whereunto He CALLED YOU BY OUR GOSPEL..." (2 Thess. 2:13, 14). And Christ prays to the Father for those He has given Him: "Sanctify them through THY TRUTH: THY WORD IS TRUTH" (Jn. 17:17). There is no sanctification—separation unto God—no setting apart, no distinction made, without the Spirit of God bringing the Truth of God, which is the Gospel of God. "This sanctification is God’s will for the believer (1 Thess. 4:3), and His purpose in calling him by the Gospel, v. 7...must be learned from God v. 4, as He teaches it by His Word..." Many take the doctrines of their god very seriously. Others take a more subjective approach, relying on their own personal experiences with their god, what he does for them, how he blesses them etc., to convince themselves that they have the true God. For most people this is what really persuades them that they have the true God. For others, simply the fact that they have believed a certain way for many years, or that what they believe was taught to them by their parents, is enough assurance for them to believe that they have the true God. Many say that the only way to know God is to experience Him. They say that one cannot experience God simply by learning and believing what He teaches and that doctrine is the dead letter. They accuse those who stress the necessity of doctrine as intellectuals who are out of touch with what God is doing today. Whatever ‘christian’ religious group you may be involved with, you may rest assured that they are teaching you doctrines, for each group teaches something about what God is like and how He saves. Each group refers to the Bible, when teaching what they believe, and if they can’t find it there will simply refer to their experiences for proof that what they are saying is true. So whichever group you belong to and however much you take a subjective approach to things spiritual, you are believing doctrines of some kind. Your experiences are compatible with your doctrines and vice versa. Those who say they hate doctrine fail to realise that every time they hear a sermonthey are hearing doctrine, whether good or bad. Everyone believes doctrine. Everyone who attends a church service or reads a book or listens to a taped message, is being fed some sort of doctrine. Even the man who says ‘don’t listen to doctrine’, is teaching doctrine when he says that! In many cases it is because of doctrine that people choose their particular denomination and are drawn to their particular god. What is taught about what the Bible says, is what attracts people to a particular group. Though the lives of many professing christians run on experience, it is because of certain doctrines that they arrived at their present state. They may first have had an experience, but it was what they were taught about that experience that led them to a particular group. They fail to realise that when they read their Bibles they read nothing but doctrine, the doctrine of God. In fact, the Bible could more properly be called ‘THE DOCTRINES (ie. the teachings) OF GOD’.
One thing which cannot be denied is the fact that the thing which identifies and separates one god from another is what is taught about that god. Two parties cannot have the same god, even if both parties are calling that god by the same name, if you have two conflicting doctrines about the same attribute. For instance, you have not the same god if you say he is absolutely sovereign and another person says he is not. One of you is right about this attribute, the other is wrong. You cannot both be right and you cannot both be wrong. Belief in one doctrine is to automatically disbelieve the other, it is a denial of the other. You have both just begun to identify your god by what your individual beliefs concerning the doctrine of sovereignty are. Not one of the gods of Hinduism can be confused with the True God of the Bible. This is realised by finding out what is taught about the Hindu gods and what the True God says. To begin with, the True God states: "...I am God, and THERE IS NONE ELSE; I am God, and THERE IS NONE LIKE ME" (Isa. 46:9). This really rules out any and every other perceived deity, for the only True Deity says that there is no other Deity but Him. Interestingly, God says that there are none LIKE Him. If there are none like God then what you say about God, what you believe about Him, is very important for if you are in error about what God is like you cannot possibly be describing the true God. Nothing distinguishes the true God from the false gods more appropriately than the doctrine which identifies Him: what He is like and what He is not like. He alone is God and therefore what He has said is the truth. The Lord, He is God, and there is none else. God goes on to describe Himself: "...there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Isa. 46:9-11). What is God doing here? He is defining, thereby identifying, Himself—Who He is—by telling you what He is like and what He is like by what He does. In doing this, He has distinguished Himself from all others, He has set Himself apart from all others and simultaneously ruled out Who He is not and what He is not like by what He does not do. How can anyone in their wildest imagination think that to not believe the above Scriptures about God is to still believe in the One Who spoke these words!
Say we have a Mormon and a so-called Jehovah’s Witness in the same room. Both declare their undying love for god. Our goal is to find out whether or not they are speaking about the same god. For all intents and purposes it appears that they are. To the uninformed bystander, how could they not be. One says, ‘I love god forever for he is so lovely and kind’. The other states that he loves god passionately and would even die for him. To an ignorant onlooker it would appear that these two men follow the same god, for they both speak so highly of him and love him so much, and they are both obviously referring to some higher being. This higher being is sincerely thought of as God by both, so how could they not be speaking about the same one? The love and sincerity expressed by these two men is not that which is being questioned. What we are asking is how can we be sure these two men are talking about the same god when they express their love for him and speak so highly of him. There is no other way to find this out apart from asking them to describe their god, to tell us who he is and what he is like by what he has done. In other words, to reveal to us the doctrines which identify their god. As they begin to identify, and thereby distinguish, their gods by the doctrines they believe, we begin to get a clear picture that they are in fact not talking about the same god but two entirely different gods. The Mormon says of his god, ‘He was once a man just like us and later became god’. The JW refutes/denies this by saying, ‘god was always god and never man’. Now there is no point in these two going off and agreeing to disagree about this one point of doctrine and saying that they believe in the same god based on the fact that they have many other things in common which they can agree over, for one is speaking heresy and the other truth. It is important to note here that these two men cannot actually be believing in the same god and that this is just a case of one of them needing a little correction concerning these doctrines, for what each man says about his god is an undeniable, fundamental and official teaching of the group he belongs to. Both teachings are a denial of the other, they cancel each other out. This is what the Mormon church and the JW organization say about their gods. This is how they describe their gods, how they identify them and how each group is identified, and most importantly, how they recognize a fellow Mormon or JW! You’ll never see a JW worshipping the god of the Mormons and vice versa. WHY? Because each one recognizes instantly by the doctrine of the other that he is not describing the same god, but another god which he does not believe in. And, friend, that is exactly what you are doing if you do not believe in the only God of the only Gospel that saves, and which is taught at the end of this book. If you deny the doctrines the Mormon man is telling you about his god, then he will see clearly that you are not a Mormon and do not follow his god. So too, if you deny the doctrine of the Gospel, you are denying the God of that Gospel and so it cannot be that He has visited you with salvation. For if He had, you would no doubt be sanctified by His Holy Spirit knowing, and believing in and loving the doctrine that comes from Him, instead of denying it and abiding in another. The point to all this is, that what a person believes shows whether or not it is the true God Who has revealed Himself to that person. This, as we have seen, may be clearly established by hearing the doctrines of a person. Our illustration shows clearly that the Mormon god has been revealed to one man and the JW god has been revealed to the other. How do you think all the different cults and religions got their start? It was because new doctrines about ‘new gods’, and perverted doctrines of the true God, were being made up or ‘mystically’ revealed. People were not saying they had the same god, but a different god and that their god was the true God. The proof of this was to be found in what they had to say about their gods, in their doctrines. Today we have the situation that people are saying they have the same god, the true God, even though their doctrines about their god contrast sharply! How wrong must one be in order to be lost and how right must one be in order to be saved, may be answered in the following way: Tell me what you believe and Scripture will show whether you are saved or not, by confirming or denying that it is the true God you are believing in! God has revealed Himself to His chosen ones and given them an understanding of Who He is and what He has done, through the doctrine He teaches, and He does not reveal Himself to the rest (see Matt. 13:10,11). God has revealed Himself in the Gospel. Those who believe it will be saved and those who do not believe what God has said will be eternally lost.
Seeing then that it is doctrine which identifies, and therefore distinguishes, the god a man worships from all others, one would be guilty of spiritual buffoonery to ever again hold doctrine to be only a minor thing, something which believers can disagree on and yet still walk in agreement about Who God is and what He has done. It is a fool who does not take doctrine seriously enough to see that WHAT A PERSON BELIEVES REVEALS WHO THAT PERSON BELIEVES IN. Of parallel importance is the fact that what a person does not believe shows who they do not believe in. During this author’s lost days, I was aware of some differences in what people believed about God, even among those who attended the same Baptist group I did. But in the absence of any true doctrinal discernment, there was never any question that they were not saved. Everyone, it was thought, was at varying stages of developing their theology, but whatever anyone believed it did not affect, in our minds, their salvation. How wrong and dangerous this way of thinking is. To not judge objectively by the doctrinal stand a person took, or didn’t take, and put it down to ‘theological development’, was the height of ignorance. It was like saying the person who believed 2 + 2 = 7 was just as correct as the person who said 2 + 2 = 4, but just had a little more learning to do. How ridiculous! The person who believes the answer is 7 negates every other answer by the one he has given. And as long as he believes this he denies, he does not believe, any number other than 7 to be the correct answer. Now, whilst believing 7 to be the answer, he may not be absolutely certain that it is correct, but that so far in his mathematical studies the answer he has arrived at is 7, yet he is open to further study, or teaching, on the matter. But it must be realised that even though the person is open to further study and teaching on the matter—which is commendable—this can never deny the fact that the answer he believes to be the right one is WRONG, and that whilst holding to it he is denying the true and correct answer! Whether he is totally ignorant of it or whether he is aware of it but does not believe it to be the right answer, he nullifies it by what he believes to be true. The person who holds to false doctrine in the matter of salvation may well be open to further study and teaching on the issue, but this does not mean that their teachableness is in any way a sign that they are saved, for the gospel they currently hold to is a false one. What we were doing in that Baptist Church and what millions today are doing is judging a person saved simply because they say they love God, are church goers, sing hymns with a passion and are such ‘lovely people’. ‘We like them, they fit in with our social expectations and standards’ etc, etc. ‘What they believe might be a little different to what I believe but after all, we are all subject to error and open to correction.’ As long as the veneer is there, then all is well. Seemingly, there doesn’t appear to be all that much interest in what a person believes and even less in self-examination. So many people judge themselves to be o.k.—saved—because they know their own hearts and how sincere they are ‘for God’. People say, ‘I know that I am a Christian’, but does God know it? Does He recognize you as His child despite the fact that you do not believe His Gospel, abide not in His doctrine? Simply because a person says they love God, or is convinced in themselves that they love God, is no evidence that they do, or even that they know the true God (see Matt.7:21-23). But people aren’t into details today, they’re not into specifics. As long as one fits into the general idea of what a Christian is perceived should believe and how they should act, then all is fine. Those who look more intently at things are considered to be fanatics and know-it-alls.
The Gospel of salvation is not something which is of any private interpretation. That is, Who God is and what God has done, in particular what God the Son has done in and by His death, is not something which is open to speculation. It is not something which two people can be in disagreement over and yet rightly believe that they hold to the same God. The Gospel is not of any private interpretation. For if each man went off believing what they believed God’s Word was saying, rather than what the Scriptures affirm, then it would no longer be God’s Word they were believing but their own. It would not be God’s saving Gospel that was believed in but merely a man’s idea of what the gospel is, which has never, and can never, save anyone. This is one of the greatest causes of confusion when it comes to the things of God: people reading His Word and coming away with a wrong interpretation of what God is saying, and subsequently believing and spreading lies about God. They think that, simply because they came to believe what they believe after reading the Bible, or hearing some ‘minister’ from a pulpit, what they believe is the very truth of God. How far would any minister get if he did not appear and sound sincere? However, it is important to realise that while a ‘minister’ may look and sound sincere, we are not to judge his words as true based merely on this evidence, after all, sincerity is used by fraudsters as the cornerstone of deception. Notions about God are not automatically true simply because a person believes them. One does not have the true God merely because one is sincere in whatever one believes about God. A sincere love for one’s fellow man is also no evidence that one believes in the true God. The Gospel, far from being simply a matter of opinion—just a doctrinal thing—that we can agree to disagree over, is in reality an issue of WHAT GOD HAS SAID. The Gospel reveals what God teaches about man and about His Son Whom He has sent. If it is not what GOD has said, then it is simply not GOD’S Gospel which you are believing in. The true Christian Faith is not determined by it’s popularity. Nor is a belief verified as the truth of God by the number of people who believe it. What God is like is not substantiated by one’s opinion, or one’s interpretation of what the Scriptures say about God. What the Christian Faith is, what the Truth of God is and what God is like, is ABSOLUTELY RULED AND DETERMINED by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. His word is final and it is by His word, His doctrine, that we judge whether or not a person is following the true God or one of the many counterfeits. It is by God’s doctrine that a man can rightly judge himself and others saved or lost.
Surely no one is under the impression that two people are believing in the same Jesus when one says He was virgin born and the other says He was not, that He was conceived as the result of natural human relations. We immediately recognize by this that though the person who believes Christ was not virgin born is sincere in his belief and ‘loves God’ and is deeply devoted, and a committed church attendee, charitable etc., his belief, or faith, is not in the true Christ for the true Jesus WAS virgin born. It is not simply a case of the man believing in the true Jesus but needing some correction on the matter of His birth. He is believing in a false jesus and cannot be in a saved state whilst believing this lie. Otherwise it would not matter what anyone believed about God! Everyone would be saved regardless of what they believed and would only be lacking in some advanced teaching that would set things right. But can’t you see that God HAS set things right, He HAS made things clear by telling us His Gospel, and God’s Gospel is what a man ought to believe and what the saved man DOES believe!! The reason the virgin birth is so vital to a saving knowledge of Christ the Person is seen when the consequences of Him not being virgin born are made clear. The ramifications of what a person believes go very deep and are always present and real, even though a person may be ignorant of them. This is why belief in a particular doctrine either evidences a person’s salvation or disqualifies him from being a believer in the true God. The reason why the virgin birth is so important to a saving knowledge of Who Christ is, is this: if Jesus was born of the seed of man then He was born with the sin nature of man and could never have been the sinless, perfect Savior the Scriptures say He is. His death would have been the equivalent of any other man’s: meaningless and worthless, in terms of atoning for anyone’s sins. All doctrine, be it true or false, has its ramifications and consequential effects on other doctrines concerning Who God is and what He has done.
A person may believe some truths about the True God but it is what they do not believe which, unbeknownst to them, cancels out, or nullifies, their claim of believing in the true God. For example, a person cannot believe that God accepted Christ’s Sacrifice for sin if that person does not believe in the virgin birth, a doctrine which states the sinlessness of Christ. If Christ was not completely sin free, then God could never have accepted His sacrifice. They cannot be a Christian, even though they are convinced by their limited knowledge that they are. It is essential to a right knowledge of Christ as a Person and as the Saviour to believe what God has said about Him, that He was virgin born and therefore free of the sin nature found in every other man, thus proving Him to be the very Savior prophesied in Scripture. A man speaks volumes by the doctrine he believes and the doctrine he denies by that which he believes. The true teachings of God never contradict themselves but flow freely into and out of one another. What a person believes about election will affect what they believe about man’s spiritual state after the Fall and the sovereignty of God etc. And what a person believes concerning the death of Christ, who He died for, will affect what they believe Christ accomplished in that death. They will show what their doctrine is concerning Christ’s atoning death. This will in turn affect what they believe about God’s absolute sovereignty and invincible salvation plan for all whom He chose to save.
To be a true Christian, a true believer in God, one cannot simply assume such a thing, assuring oneself by saying ‘I love God’, and not know anything about that God. Many would argue, ‘But isn’t it enough to believe in God?’ Yes, my friend, but that is my very point: What is it to believe in God? One man asked the apostle Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16:30,31). But what did Paul and Silas mean by this? What is it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Surely it is not merely to believe that He existed and that ‘Jesus’ was His name. Paul and Silas did not leave their enquirer with this one statement, but immediately "...spake unto him THE WORD OF THE LORD..." (Acts 16:32). THEY TOLD HIM WHAT TO DO AND THEN THEY TOLD HIM WHAT TO BELIEVE! To be saved one must believe the truth as it is in Jesus. Remember, what they told him to believe was pivotal to that man’s salvation. What they taught, and what that man was to believe, about the Lord was no mere opinion of Paul’s or Silas, but was the very Gospel of God (see Acts 16:10). Whatever they taught that man was what he HAD to believe in order to be saved. That was what Paul and Silas answered in relation to the question ‘What must I do to be saved?’, and it is the answer they would still give to you today! If the man changed any part of what he’d been told to believe and decided to believe differently, adding to or taking away from, what Paul and Silas had told him, he could not rightly lay claim to being one who believed in the Jesus of Paul and Silas and therefore could not rightly claim to be a Christian! Surely one can see that to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ one must believe the truth about Him: that which identifies Him and Him alone as Savior, distinguishing Him from every false savior. Are we wrong? Is a man just required to believe there is a higher being and therefore belief in His existence is enough to show we know Him and are saved? If so, what of the demons who know there is one true God? "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (Jas. 2:19). Is that what believing in God amounts to? If so, then just about every person on earth is saved, including the devils, for most people believe in a higher being. Since this is patently not the case, to believe in God, the true God, requires far more than just a mere acknowledgement of His existence and that He created all things. The requirement is a knowledge of who He is and what He has done; of who His Son is and what He has done. And that knowledge can only come by God revealing Himself BY DOCTRINE THROUGH HIS GOSPEL.
One man, a Presbyterian pastor no less, became extremely angry with this author several years ago, not so much over the Gospel I promote, but his anger centred on the ramification that none are saved before hearing and believing this Gospel and rejecting all others. The real reason for his outrage became obvious when he claimed that he was born again when he knelt down repentantly and ‘cried out to God for mercy’. This may be all that many, if not most, people need to be convinced that such a person is crying out to the true God and that they will subsequently be saved. But who was this man actually crying out to in the privacy of his own home? No doubt if there had been a Roman Catholic present and a Mormon and a Seventh-Day Adventist all three would have claimed that he was crying out to their god! What we need to find out is what, if anything, did this man know about the true God? What had he been taught about God? Did his knowledge of God come from one who knew the true God or from one who merely professed to be a christian? Had the man simply heard about the existence of God in his childhood and that our sins are offensive to Him? Did he just have some ideas of his own about what God was like and that God would accept him merely because he was sincere in his crying out to Him? What, if anything, did he know and believe about the atoning death of Christ? We shall never know, for this man did not give me the chance to ask him any of these questions and he certainly did not volunteer such information. He just grumbled his angry response and hung up! Some might say, ‘What if all the man knew about God and His Son was right, even if his knowledge was limited. Wouldn’t this qualify him as one who cried out to the true God?’ Well, frankly no. Firstly because of what was stated above, that a person may believe some truths about the True God but it is what they do not believe, which, unbeknownst to them, cancels out, or nullifies, their claim of believing in the true God. There is knowledge about God and then there is saving knowledge of God. All false gospels contain within them some truths, some facts about God, but none of them contain the whole truth, all the doctrines which rightly teach His Person and His Work. One can know about God as Creator and that His Son was sent to the earth to die on a cross, and even that God forgives sin. But if that is all one knows one cannot be said to have saving knowledge, for these things, in and of themselves, do not reveal the Righteousness of Christ; they do not reveal Who He is by what He has done. They do not reveal all that must be believed in, in order for one to be saved. Now, those things just mentioned about God are included in what one must believe in order to be saved, but on their own they are merely facts about God. They do not reveal His Character, what He is like, who He is and how He saves. One thing is certain, no man can come to God unless God has come to the man first and revealed Himself to him! God says, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11). If there are none that understand, how can they claim to believe? And if there are none that seek God, how can any claim to have found God and called out to Him? How can you be addressing the true God when you know next to nothing about Him? I know that despite a lack of true knowledge of God, everyone’s intention is to speak to the true God. But everyone has some idea of what God is like, some image in their minds of Him and it is precisely to that image that a man is speaking and which he believes to be the true God. So when you hear a man calling out to God do not automatically think that he is calling out to your god, or the true God, for you know nothing of what this man thinks about God and who he thinks God is. If you suppose this is simply my opinion based on my reasoning, then listen to what God’s Word declares, the first sentence of which I am sure even the Presbyterian pastor would agree with, but what would he say about the rest?: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. HOW THEN shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:13,14). What is being spoken about here which must be preached and believed is "...the Gospel of peace..." (v. 15). To call on the name of the Lord is to knowingly call on the Lord who came to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Calling out to anyone but the True God and the real Jesus is just a cry in the wilderness. To those who are under the impression that they ‘found God’, Jesus says: "No man CAN come to Me, unless the Father which hath sent Me draw him..." (Jn. 6:44) and the Father draws a person to His Son by the doctrine which testifies of His Son: "...Every man therefore that hath HEARD, AND HATH LEARNED of the Father, cometh unto Me" (Jn. 6:45). A man does not come to God by his seeking, but only by God’s drawing. Also, Christ shows in this next verse the utter impossibility of any man coming to Him, for they cannot know Him, unless He has first revealed Himself: "...no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him" (Lk. 10:22). Coming to God is a fallacy, a nonsense invented by the prideful, deceitful and wicked heart of man. IT IS GOD THAT COMES TO A MAN, reveals Himself and opens the man’s eyes, ears, heart and understanding to receive Him. It is God the Great Shepherd who seeks His sheep and not the other way round. In fact, the sheep do not even know they are lost until God finds them! It is true that God’s people love Him, BUT it is of greater significance that this is only because God loved them first: "We love Him, BECAUSE He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19). The plethora of false religions and false gods is testament to man’s futile and inadequate ‘search for God’.
Accuse me of being pedantic if you will, but I am simply not going to believe that you and I both know my friend John if all that you tell me about him—hair color, height, occupation etc., differs from the John I know. I would not doubt that you know a man named John, but from what you tell me about him—which will either identify him as the same person or by definition distinguish him—he is not the John I know, even though he has the same name and is male! So too, it would be the height of foolishness for anyone to believe a person is a Christian if what that person says about God does not match what God says about Himself. What of the many sports men and women who ‘thank God’ after winning an event. Many rock stars even ‘give praise to God’ on receiving an award. Are they all talking about the true God? Are they even talking about the same god? We cannot tell unless we hear of the doctrines they believe about their god. How foolish would a person be, after hearing some sportsman or musician or actor mention God, to automatically believe that the god they’re talking about is the same one they believe in, and that the person is a Christian! It is important to note that when you call someone a Christian you are saying that what they believe about God is what God has taught and revealed to them. You are saying that the one whom that person believes in and worships is the true God. But if they believe error about God you are saying that God has revealed Himself to them by teaching them lies about Himself. You are also saying that no god could be the True God other than the one that person believes in. When the JW talks about his ‘god’, the true Christian knows he is not talking about the true God for the JW denies that Jesus is God. It is not a case of the JW having the same God and being just as much saved as the true Christian, but one of the JW having a different god. This conclusion is reached by judging the man’s doctrine and not by the flawed method of how much the man might ‘look and act’ like a ‘christian’. The Lord Jesus said as much about the Pharisees, who were the most religious people of His day, and the scribes: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt. 23:27,28). The JW says he believes in Jesus but his jesus, he insists, is not God. Instantly we can recognize that though this ‘higher being’ which the JW worships does have a son named Jesus, they cannot be the true God and true Son. One cannot deny the essentials about God and rightly claim to be a true Christian believing in the true God.
The problem with many so-called Christian theologians and scholars and professors etc., is that despite so much disagreement through the centuries between men they consider to be Christian (because they led exemplary lives punctuated by good deeds, selflessness and modesty, went to church, spoke kindly about God, wrote the most marvellous hymns, taught people to do good and not evil etc.), they say these men were Christians, even those who believed in some heresies. They judge those who believed in false gospels and those who claimed that such men were saved regardless of their doctrine, as equally saved. They judge them, not by the doctrine of Christ, but according to appearance and reputation. They judge by man’s standard and not God’s. Such is the case today. Paul the apostle warned people not to judge according to reputation or appearance. This is evident in his warning to those in Galatia not to believe any other gospel if it differed from the Gospel he had already taught them, not even if he was the one teaching it, or even if it was an angel from heaven: "...but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:7,8). When one preaches or believes any other gospel than the one Paul preached, one has a perverted gospel which cannot save. The appearance and reputation of a person does not ensure that what is being spoken is the Truth. A testament to man’s deplorable and ever decaying state of spiritual blindness, is that he sees doctrine—the very thing that identifies a god as either false or the true and only God—as that which keeps man from reaching new heights of understanding, tolerance and love. This, to say the least, is such madness as to be beyond words. The highly respected Charles Haddon Spurgeon called himself a Calvinist and yet insisted that John Wesley, a man who detested the Calvinist doctrines and called the Calvinist god ‘my devil’, was just as saved as he was. Spurgeon even called Wesley’s Arminian doctrines another gospel, yet insisted Wesley was a saved man! Spurgeon taught that after a person becomes a christian, they can go down one of two roads: the Calvinist or the Arminian road, but that both are believing in the same God even though the doctrines identifying the Calvinist ‘god’ and the Arminian ‘god’ differ greatly and in many instances are diametrically opposed. Now how can Spurgeon have been preaching Paul’s Gospel? How could Spurgeon sound the same warning as Paul did in Galatians 1 when he believed that an Arminian who has been taught a gospel OTHER THAN the one Paul advocated and preached, was just as saved as one who believed Paul’s Gospel!! In light of all this, one can begin to see why so many do not take doctrinal differences seriously but base their own, and the salvation of others, purely on appearance or face value and one’s ‘love for God’. The reasoning of many is, ‘If the great leaders of the past couldn’t get to the bottom of all these doctrinal discrepancies and didn’t think right doctrine meant the difference between saved and lost anyway, why should we?’ How convenient it is for many to think like this and not have to bother about being accurate when it comes to doctrine. In most cases, there is hardly any thought about the matter. In fact, as with the secular world, there is hardly any thought attached to what one is believing. It’s just good enough for most that they ‘believe’. People are far too busy to argue about doctrine. But we ask not that they sit with us to argue over doctrine, but to hear the Gospel and then examine their own beliefs, in the light of this Gospel, and see whether or not they match with what God says (see Acts 17:11).
What is it to love God? What is it to truly believe and trust in Him? To begin with, one cannot be truly loving God if one does not believe God. And what of God the Son? Is it essential to know Who He is and what He has done through His death to truly believe in Him? Is it honoring to God to believe error about Him and His Son’s atoning work? Do you think it matters to God what you believe about Him—what you think about what He has said, what He is like and what you attribute to Him—when you talk to others about God? Remember, if you do not believe THE Gospel, you are denying that what God has said is the Truth, being convinced that what another has said is the truth. Does the reader think God receives glory when people speak lies about Him, which is precisely what they are doing when they espouse false doctrines? Is it merely a matter of opinion among equally saved people as to what exactly Christ accomplished in His death and indeed who that death was for? Isn’t what Christ did on the cross and who He did it for the very essence of rightly and savingly believing in Him? Is God’s Character—what He is like and what He has done by His great plan of salvation—something which must be revealed by God, for He it is Who is Truth and He reveals it/Himself to whomsoever He wills, or is it man’s prerogative to choose what he wants to believe, however erroneous it may be? The following pages will show conclusively that such issues are of vital importance, not only to a right understanding of the Savior and Who it is that one must believe in to be saved, but also that such matters are essential to salvation. One cannot have eternal life unless one is in possession of the correct and revealed knowledge about the Savior: Who He is, what He has done and who He has done it for. The Lord Himself says: "And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (Jn. 17:3 cf. Jer. 9:23,24). How could one possibly have eternal life, which the Lord only gives to those whom He has revealed Himself to, whilst in possession of false teachings which reveal only a false god and do not contribute in any way to knowing Him? There is no salvation without truth, for without truth there is only darkness and ignorance about God and the way He saves, and none have ever been saved through these means. By man’s false interpretation of Scripture Jesus says "...ye have taken away the KEY OF KNOWLEDGE..." (Lk. 11:52). "A key is made to open or lock a door. If there be any sin of peculiar magnitude, it is that of keeping the people in ignorance. And few men are so guilty as they who, by false instructions, prevent them from coming to a knowledge of the truth, and embracing it as it is in Jesus" (not as it is in a man’s mind—what he believes it to be).