JUST A DOCTRINAL THING? (part 3)
Can you imagine the God of the universe doing anything in vain? Can you name me one thing that God has ever done that ended up being done in vain because of man’s will? Who exactly is Sovereign here? Can you conceive of God doing anything, the success of which depended on a man’s decision? Please show me one precedent from Scripture if you can. But before you embark on such a fruitless exercise, allow me to show you what the Scriptures say about the Sovereign God: "But our God is in the heavens, HE HATH DONE WHATSOEVER HE HATH PLEASED" (Psa. 115:3). In light of this single Scripture alone, one would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that, though God has done whatsoever He has pleased, not all that He pleases—wills to be done—is done or comes to pass. There is no hint in this verse of God’s will being dependant or conditioned upon anyone or anything in order for it to come to pass. "For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. WHATSOEVER THE LORD PLEASED, THAT DID HE in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psa. 135:5,6). Whatsoever God wants to do, He does! God does whatever He wants to do or He would not be God. "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and HE DOETH ACCORDING TO HIS WILL (not in response to man’s will) in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" (Dan. 4:35). God does, He acts, according to His will, so how can He do anything or desire anything that is not of His will and in accord with His will, and in turn His will not come to pass? God does whatsoever He wants and whatsoever He wants He does. What happens is His will and His will is what happens. Otherwise, He would be one whose will did not always take place and therefore it could not be said that He does whatsoever He wills and consequently that He is God. There is no room for impotence in a Sovereign God. He has a will, a plan, for everything He has created and everything He has created acts in accordance with His Sovereign Will (see Psa. 119:91). Listen to God Himself speak in Isaiah 46:9,10: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and 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." Every desire of God is fulfilled, always, for He is God and He does whatsoever He wants. In a sense God’s every desire, everything He wills, is His command, something He orders Himself to do and He fulfills all that He wills, for He is God! There is purpose behind everything God wills and does and those purposes are always fulfilled and are never in vain. GOD WILLS WHAT HE DOES AND HE DOES WHAT HE WILLS. The very fact that He is God ensures that ALL He wills SHALL come to pass. No desire of God’s, nothing He wills, has ever or will ever, be left unfulfilled. Everything, right down to the last minute detail, will occur as He willed it for He has willed it. No leaf shall fall from a tree unless it is God’s will. Referring to sparrows, the Lord Jesus says, "...and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (Matt. 10:29). "God, your Father guides and directs its fall. It falls only with His permission, and where He chooses." There is not even a hair on our heads which is not numbered by God (Matt. 10:30). The doctrine of universal atonement simply does not fit in with a Sovereign God whose will is always done. Because God is Sovereign, it stands to biblical reason that if God willed that none at all should perish, then His Son’s death would have been for all and so all would be saved. Seeing that it is obvious that not all are saved, for not all have believed, it is clear that those whom God is not willing should perish are the ones Christ died for and these are those He has desired to save and not appoint to wrath. All those who do/will believe are those who have been appointed to eternal life by God: "...as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). God does not wait for a person to make a decision to accept Him and then ordain them to eternal life, but He has first ordained them and in time, His time, they will believe His Gospel.
Another reason for the doctrine of universal atonement not identifying the True Christ is that Scripture says that Christ became a curse for those for whom He died and that He has charged/will charge His Righteousness to those ones He became a curse for: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13); "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Remember, to say He died is the equivalent of saying He became a curse for. In light of this, one must surely be able to see that it is an utter absurdity to believe, or even entertain for one moment, the lie that Christ’s death was for all, for in saying this one is implying that though Christ was made a curse for all, this act was not enough to secure the salvation of anyone. What would have been the purpose, and what would it have accomplished, if Christ had been made a curse for those who would remain cursed for all eternity? According to the above Scriptures, Jesus became a curse for all those for whom He died, that they might be made the Righteousness of God in Him. There was a purpose in Him becoming a curse for them. HE JUSTIFIES ALL THOSE HE BECAME A CURSE FOR, WHOSE SINS ALONE HE BORE ON THE CROSS.
And so, in accord with Biblical reason, those for whom He did not die remain cursed. If those who remain cursed are also among those for whom He died, then He could not have become a curse for all for whom He died. If He did die for those who remain cursed, then there must be two facets to His death! One took away the sin of His people and the other was specifically for the purpose of NOT taking away the sin of those the Father did not give Him! This is all rather preposterous, for becoming a curse upon the Tree for those whom He was sent to save, is what His dying was all about. Why did Christ die? It was not merely because of sin, but because of sin charged to Him. Not His own sin for He was without sin, nor of the sins of every individual ever born, but with the sins of all those He became a curse for. Whom did He become a curse for? Those whom He justified by bearing their sins, of course! (Isa. 53:6,11). His death was not for those who will not believe, for they are called goats and remain cursed and suffer eternal punishment in the everlasting fire of Hell (Matt. 25:32-34,41). Christ said to some that the reason they did not believe was that they were not His sheep "...ye believe not, BECAUSE ye are not of My sheep..." (Matt. 10:26). It stands to biblical reason then that those who are His sheep WILL believe—an obvious benefit they receive through Christ’s death for their sins: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (Jn. 10:11). Christ’s death was not only for the sins of His people, but it was to ensure that those for whom He died would all believe on Him. Christ became a curse for His sheep. How shall we recognize them? Before the end comes they shall all believe! (Matt. 10:27,28 cf. Jn. 18:37). One cannot have an airy-fairy death just sitting there gathering moss waiting for someone to accept it and receive the benefits of it, and at the same time believe in the Atoning, Sacrificial and Substitutionary Death of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of those whom the Father has given Him. Christ’s death—His work of atonement—was the means by which those whom God called to salvation would receive eternal life: "And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, THAT BY MEANS OF DEATH...THEY WHICH ARE CALLED might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15; cf. Col. 1:20-22). Without a belief in THAT specific death there can be no salvation. The Scripture says, "...without shedding of blood there is no remission (of sins)" (Heb. 9:22), therefore it stands to biblical reason that where there is the shedding of blood, in a sacrifice which God has ordered, the effect or result is the remission (pardon, deliverance, liberty, forgiveness) of sins (see Heb. 10:14,18-20). Anyone not believing the fact that when Christ’s blood was shed, there was definite remission for definite sins of a definite people, is not believing in the True Savior. Clearly, remission of sins was dependant on blood being shed in a sacrificial death and not on a person’s acceptance which was simply the result or fruit of such a sacrifice. Consequently, it was by means of Christ’s death and not by anyone’s acceptance of it, that the sins of those for whom He died were remitted. This remission of sin cancelled out any further penalty and punishment from being exacted because of the sin remitted. In other words, sins that have been remitted have no further punishment due unto them! The remission of sin, in the first place, came about by the blood Christ shed in Holy Sacrifice. The Bible knows nothing of an ineffectual sacrificial death, directed and ordered by God, for sin. When a sacrifice for sin was ordered by the Lord, it was for a specific people—His people. The Bible knows nothing of a sacrifice made for an indeterminate number of people and only successful upon their acceptance of it. As we have shown, the Old Testament sacrifice was made for the people of God and in the New Testament, sacrifice was made for the people of God, and that sacrifice was as effective as God wanted it to be, which was absolutely effective, for the very purpose of God in establishing it was to take away the sins of those for whom it was performed. And as we have seen, when blood is shed in such a sacrifice there IS remission of sins. Nowhere in the Scriptures will you find a sacrifice ordered by God to be performed for the benefit of His people which failed to achieve the purpose for which He ordered it in the first place. He directed the Old Testament high priest, and He sent His Son, to make sacrifice for His people and those sacrifices were wholly effective, for where God has directed that blood be shed in a sacrifice, there IS ALWAYS remission of sins! "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?" (Heb. 9:13,14).
Throughout the pages of the Old Testament we see the high priest, who was a mere shadow of the true great High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who was to come, sent of God to perform sacrifice not for anyone else than God’s chosen people. The sacrifice was not performed for every person in every nation and dependant on their choice to accept it, but was made for everyone whom God chose it should be performed for. All that the high priest did was not merely what Christ would do, but all that Christ would do was foreshadowed, mirrored if you will, in and by the works of the high priest. If one is saying that Christ died for everyone ever born one is saying that not everyone for whom Christ laid down His precious life will be saved. By this, one would be saying that for some, at least, Christ’s shed blood availed nothing! This would be like saying that all those for whom the Old Testament high priest made sacrifice did not profit from what was directed by God to be done on their behalf and for their benefit. Interestingly we have never once heard anyone say such a thing about the Old Testament high priest, but millions do say this when it comes to Christ’s sacrifice! Just like no one complains about God having chosen one nation, Israel, in the Old Testament to bless and deal with in love, yet millions hate the doctrine of election calling it unfair and Christ’s death being exclusively for the elect of God as unjust. Can you not see that those who teach you that Christ died for all are saying that it is not Christ’s death which makes the difference between saved and lost but a person’s free will decision to accept what Christ has done. THAT IT IS NOT GOD’S CHOICE BUT MAN’S CHOICE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE! According to arminian doctrine, it is man who is sovereign and not God. They have taken the ultimate decision of who will be saved out of God’s hands and conditioned it ultimately on man’s will, his decision for or against Christ. Scripture says that "...Salvation is OF the Lord" (Jon. 2:9), it is God’s to give, not man’s to choose. Salvation is from God and it is His to give to whomsoever He wills to be merciful to: "For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. SO THEN it (salvation) is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but OF GOD THAT SHEWETH MERCY" (Rom. 9:15,16). Of the utmost importance is the fact that what Christ has done is something which cannot be separated from the doctrine which tells us who Christ actually died for. Who you believe Christ died for will reveal the Christ/christ you believe in and what you believe about His death—what God has declared or what man says.
The cross, Christ’s blood, the atonement, redemption, Christ’s death, all speak of the same thing. This is the central most important teaching of the entire Gospel and if one is wrong about the central, pivotal and most crucial of all Gospel teachings, it does not take a genius to figure out that one is wrong about the rest of the Gospel message. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). The ripple effect changes when a different stone is cast into the water. It comes back to ramifications. This is not rocket science but plain and simple Bible teaching. If Christ died for all then man must not have died spiritually after the Fall. He must not be dead to God and dead in sin but able to understand and seek God out and find Him of his own free will etc. He must also be able to do good and recommend himself to God. This stands in stark contrast to God’s Word in Romans 3:10-18. What Christ has done lies at the very heart of the Gospel. It is the foundation stone upon which all other doctrines rest and rely, and if you have been taught incorrectly about what Christ has done on the cross, you cannot come to a proper biblical conclusion regarding who He has died for. Your entire belief system is not founded on the Rock of Truth but on the sands of error. You have been taught a false christ who cannot save.
How can two people be speaking of the same Christ when one says that He died for all and the other says He died for some? This is sheer folly for if He has died for some then what He has done cannot be said about His mythical death for all and vice versa. Has Christ done both? Has He died for some and at the same time died for all so that whichever doctrine one believes, one can still be saved? Or did He die twice, once for the elect and then a second time for all? Or are these two teachings so diametrically and eternally opposed as to show they come from two vastly different sources: one from God and the other from Satan? The reason for so much blindness over this issue and the reason for such a key Gospel doctrine being treated so poorly, at least when it comes to a person’s salvation, and denied the preeminence it rightly deserves, is ignorance of what Christ’s death actually means. To say that He died for all is to immediately display an ignorance of, and therefore unbelief in, what He did in and by His atoning death. To talk of Christ dying for someone is to say that He has done something on their behalf. As we have seen, when we turn to the Old Testament to learn about His sacrificial death, we see that the sacrifice which God directed the high priest to make, which was a type of what Christ would do, was a substitutionary sacrifice. The success of this sacrifice did not depend on the acceptance by those for whom it was made, but was wholly dependant on God’s accepting it. CHRIST’S SACRIFICE WAS OFFERED TO GOD NOT MAN (Heb. 9:14). It was offered to God on the behalf of those whom God had ALREADY chosen and its effectiveness was not dependant on those who would choose to accept it. Writing to believers, Paul said "...Christ...hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice TO GOD for a sweet smelling savour" (Eph. 5:2; cf. Gen. 8:20,21). What then has Christ done? This is a vital question for to find the Scriptural answer is to learn who it is He has died for and which doctrine it is which emanates from God and which must be believed in if any are to be saved. Once this is done one will be able to see clearly that the christ who died for all could not possibly be the same one Who died for some, and that believing in this false christ—who is exposed by the doctrine of the true Christ—is to evidence a lost state. What needs to be established and made perfectly clear in our minds is that to believe in one is to not believe in the other, it is in fact a denial of the other. Just as oil and water will not mix, these two doctrines do not speak of the same Savior. They cannot and do not co-exist in the same Bible. God does not speak with a forked tongue only the Serpent does. To believe that Christ died for all is to deny that He died for some, and, to believe in the Christ that died for some, God’s own elect—the one’s chosen for salvation specifically by God evidenced in His giving them and only them to His Son for the purpose of salvation (see John 17)—is to reject the false christ who died for all but could not and has not saved all for whom he died. To believe one is to deny that the other is the Savior. Therefore it is a nonsense for the believers in universal atonement to call saved those who believe in Christ’s death for the elect, and likewise, for those who claim to believe in Christ’s death exclusively for the elect of God to refer to those who believe in universal atonement as brothers. The true believer and the Arminian cannot walk arm in arm, for they are walking in opposite directions. What is at issue here is not the sincerity of a person but WHAT the person is sincerely believing in! We do not seek to tear down the moral character of the one who believes the arminian christ, or to deny that they are decent, kind people but only to warn them that what they have been taught is not of God. The doctrine a person holds to identifies the god he follows and has trusted his eternal future to, and if it is false doctrine then he has a false god who cannot save.
It is argued that ‘People are at various stages of their faith. Some are quicker than others to learn and some may never learn clearly about certain doctrines concerning salvation but what matters is that we all believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ'. But that’s just the point! What is it to believe? Who is God and who is Jesus Christ? How can two people believe in the same god when in describing or identifying their god by what they say about him there is contradiction? One says His God sent Jesus to the earth to die for His chosen people so that their sins would be atoned for and they be eternally redeemed, and the other person says ‘No, God sent the Son to the earth to die for everyone and then whoever would choose him would be saved’. This is no minor contradiction which carries no serious consequences but is a contradiction of significant proportion, so immense in fact, it shows that two gods are being spoken about and not one. The teachings do not run parallel, but in opposite directions. If this is not so then we are to believe that the Roman Catholic person is saved simply because he calls his god jesus and believes many of the fundamentals, such as the virgin birth and physical death and resurrection of Christ? Are we to believe that the JW or the Mormon or the Seventh-Day Adventist is also saved simply because they too speak of a jesus and hold to some doctrines about Him which are Scripturally accurate? Of course not. How do we arrive at the conclusion that such people are not saved? Where is the line drawn which separates saved from lost? Is it not drawn between belief of the truth and unbelief? The Lord Jesus certainly thinks so: "He that believeth...shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16); "He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath NOT BELIEVED IN THE NAME of the ONLY begotten Son of God" (Jn. 3:18 cf. Jn. 20;31). "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God..." (1 Jn. 12,13 cf. Jn. 3:36). Simply because a person believes many things in line with God’s Word does not guarantee that they have the True God, but that which they do not have in common with His Truth shows which god they have. Such a statement is ‘too hard and unloving’ for many. Try seeing it in this context and you will find yourself with a different response: simply because a counterfeit note has 99 out of 100 points of detail accurate, does not qualify it as legal tender. Would YOU accept such a note? Would you exchange your perfectly good $50 note for one of these 99% perfect ones? Even if it was accepted in all good faith, yet in ignorance of the fact it was a fake, this could never make the note one which a bank would accept. Imagine the bank manager instructing the bank teller to accept the counterfeit note saying, ‘Its o.k., I know Mr. Brown, and he’s a sincere and lovely person'. What has his sincerity and loveliness got to do with it? What would you think of a person who showed so much ignorance as to say, ‘Well, if 99 out of 100 points of detail are accurate who really cares about the 100th’. Amazingly, people have this attitude when it comes to the life and death issue of Gospel doctrine, yet would never entertain such a viewpoint if presented with a counterfeit note. It is precisely that one little detail not consistent with the genuine article that the bank will centre in on and which will identify and condemn the note as counterfeit. YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT YOU HAD $50, BUT IN REALITY YOU HAD NOTHING!! So too, those who hold to false doctrines which espouse a false christ may have thought they had the Savior, but in reality they had NO ONE!! No matter how many truths a person may hold to concerning Jesus Christ, it is the error they believe which will distinguish their jesus as a false one and mark their gospel as one which cannot save. Remember the apostle Paul’s warning in which he clearly demonstrated that error when it came to the Gospel was more than a mere mistake. Paul called error another gospel. "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. 1:8). And governments tell us that if you try to use money which the government did not issue, no matter how closely it resembles the real thing, you are going to jail. Following up on his warning about false doctrine, Paul said, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). Paul the apostle taught that even if a man were to add a seemingly insignificant thing, such as the cutting of some flesh (circumcision), to what the Gospel says Christ has done, this would completely nullify the Works of Christ: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you NOTHING" (Gal.5:2). The Lord Jesus warned His disciples: "...Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6). He later explained that the leaven about which He spoke was in fact the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:12). In other words, Jesus warned of false teachings. Those who come in Christ’s name and who preach false doctrines concerning Christ and His Gospel, always have some truth mixed in with their lies. But when one mixes error with truth one always ends up with a lie. No matter how much good food is mixed in with poison, the substance will still be labelled POISONOUS!! What kind of fool would continue eating a meal after being warned that it contains poison! So too, one would be unfair to oneself if one was to ignore a warning that what one was believing was false doctrine. A little error added to a big truth makes the whole thing one big error, one big lie, (eg. 2 + 2 = 4 ). Again, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). A little false doctrine added to a whole lot of truth changes the whole thing into one deadly lie. The Word of God is the Standard, the only safe and sure Measure, by which we can always judge the false from the true. Just as in light there is no darkness, so too, in truth there is no lie. The true believer is not to judge according to appearance or reputation, either in a negative sense or even in a positive sense, for all is not always what it appears to be. But he must judge righteous judgement (Jn. 7:24); he must judge according to the Word of God—what GOD has said—not according to the traditions of men. Only the true Christian is said to "...have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16) and never more so than in the matter of salvation, for he has the Gospel of Christ.
Once again, the reason why, when it comes to the Person and Work of Christ Jesus, error is so deadly is that the error one is believing in exposes that ‘christ’ to be a counterfeit. It cannot tell of the true Christ but only a counterfeit. How many ministries are there in the world run by professing christians, who point out these exact same things when exposing cults such as Mormonism or JW’s? Yet when the same is said about religious institutions which are perceived to be Christian, such as the Methodist movement or other such groups which follow Arminianism’s false gospel, suddenly a line is drawn where we can no longer judge by God’s Truth about His Son, but must now judge by outward appearance/reputation, even though this opposes Jesus’ instruction to "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement" (Jn. 7:24). Suddenly these Arminian folk, unlike the Mormon or JW etc., who are said to be lost based on what they believe—especially what they say about Christ, in other words their doctrine—are judged to be Christian despite the doctrinal error they hold to which clearly identifies their christ as just as much a false savior as that of the Roman Catholic or Mormon, for it is not the one which God testifies to in His Word. Look up any book which sets out to specifically expose some group claiming to be Christian or at least holders of the true faith and you will see a book written which focuses upon the doctrines of that group, their teachings. ‘Christian’ ministries abound which do a good job exposing the usual suspects such as Romanism, Mormonism, JW’s, Seventh-Day Adventism and the Charismatic and Faith movements. But say one word against the doctrine of universal atonement and that all those who abide in such a lie are lost, and YOU will be the one who is condemned for judging such ‘lovely people’ who just have a few doctrines wrong and need a little correcting!! It is the stuff of madness.
Again, is salvation simply a matter of knowing some things, or, right knowledge about Jesus? My friend, when it comes to salvation, a lack of knowledge, which is the forerunner to belief in error, is of far greater consequence than mere oversight on one’s part. It shows that the god of whom you have knowledge, via the doctrine which has been taught you, is a false god. Error concerning true doctrine means one is holding to false doctrine. If one is incorrect then one is simply wrong about what one believes. Knowledge is not the primary issue here, but ‘who’ has been revealed. How else does God reveal Himself, Who He is and what He has done, than by the granting of knowledge? How can one comprehend God unless He has revealed Himself through His glorious Gospel? If God does not give a man understanding, recognition of what His Truth is, how can a man possibly believe it? And how can anyone be saved believing something about God which God has not declared? (see Lk. 24:45; Acts 16;14; Eph. 1:18; 1 Jn. 5:20). To be a mechanic one must have knowledge. Not just any knowledge, but a specific knowledge about mechanical things. To be an electrician one must have knowledge of electronics etc. A person may know some things about electronics, they may know what a wire is, what volts are but if they have no knowledge about how to correctly wire something the result will be ‘shocking’. Why would it be any different in the matter of salvation? How can anyone be saved, a Christian, without the saving knowledge God imparts about Himself and His Son to those He chooses? Salvation is inextricably linked to knowledge of the Truth in this next verse: "...God our Savior...will have all (all classes, distinctions) men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4 cf. Col. 1:6). To be saved is to be brought to the knowledge of the Truth. Godly repentance is also linked to the acknowledging of God’s truth, which is something He gives: "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth" (2 Tim. 2:25). Paul also speaks about those who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). Such people are said to "...resist the truth..." (2 Tim. 3:8). The knowledge spoken of in these verses, which is inseparably connected to salvation, is the knowledge of God’s Gospel. The issue is not ‘I know more than you’, or ‘I know better than you’, but has the true God revealed Himself to you? The only way to tell if He has is by what doctrine you believe about Him. God reveals Himself in His Word. False gods are revealed through false doctrines by those who do not know the true God. For if they did, this would be evidenced by their espousing right doctrine about the only God. The True God has never revealed Himself through false doctrine. No one has ever come to the true God by believing false doctrine. If such a thing were possible, then right doctrine would be optional and not essential to saving faith and the Scriptures would not place such a strong emphasis on believing right doctrine. Doctrine is so essential, so vital, and so central to the Christian life, that Paul warns in these next verses that any who come preaching any other doctrine apart from the doctrine which they had received from him, were to be avoided: "Now I beseech you, brethren, MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENCES CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH YE HAVE LEARNED; and AVOID THEM. For THEY THAT ARE SUCH SERVE NOT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, but their own belly; and BY GOOD WORDS AND FAIR SPEECHES DECEIVE the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16: 17,18). The promoters of, and believers in, false doctrine serve not the true Christ but follow a counterfeit. Notice here that it was not the apostle Paul who was causing division, or any other who brought SOUND doctrine, it was those who came with UNSOUND teachings who were causing the division and offences! Good doctrine is not the enemy of the Church; it is bad doctrine, false doctrine which is our enemy! Hear, and hear well, the following words which Almighty God inspired Paul to write: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the DOCTRINE which is according to godliness; he is proud, KNOWING NOTHING, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and DESTITUTE OF THE TRUTH, supposing that gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF" (1 Tim. 6:3-5; cf. Isa. 8:20; 1 Tim. 1:3). Notice here that it is those who bring false doctrine who are guilty of doting about questions and strifes of words, not the ones who taught true doctrine. True doctrine is not the problem. THE ONES WHO PREACH AND INSIST ON TRUE DOCTRINE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, but clearly it is the harbingers of false doctrine, those who are destitute of the truth, who are the problem. MAN’S ENEMY IS NOT THE TRUTH OF GOD, MAN’S ENEMY IS THE LIES THAT KEEP HIM FROM THE TRUE GOD!! The promoters of doctrines which are not of God, which do not reveal the true God, are the problem, and from them comes strifes and divisions and confusion. Those who teach sound doctrine are worthy of great honor: "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and DOCTRINE" (1 Tim. 5:17). Those who teach and abide in Christ’s doctrine should be listened to, for the Lord God has appointed such men to be teachers of His very Gospel, the only Gospel that saves. Praise God for the men He has appointed to the Church, His called out ones, to teach with clarity and simplicity the glorious Gospel of God wherein the Righteousness of Christ is revealed (Rom. 1:16,17). In this next passage Paul instructed Timothy that the law was not made for a righteous man but for sinful men, who include "...whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to SOUND DOCTRINE." What is the sound doctrine that is here spoken of? The very next verse tells us: "According to the glorious GOSPEL of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (1 Tim. 1: 10,11).
God has never described Himself, or identified His Son, by issuing forth false doctrine, in other words, LIES about Himself or His Son. God does not work in this way, He is not like that. He does not save people through false doctrine and then gradually teach them the truth as one so-called pastor has suggested! He does not work with false preachers, using their false gospels, to get His people saved and then, once saved, corrects them and sets them straight about the lies they believe. God’s Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and He does not lead people into error. God saves by means of His truth and if one is born again one is born of THE Gospel and no other! Just as in the physical realm there is no birth without the man’s seed, so too, in the spiritual realm there is no birth without the Seed of the Gospel, which is God’s Word (1 Pet. 1:23-25). False doctrines are nothing but a lie and false christs are nothing but liars. God does not speak lies and no one has ever seen God and believed in the true God by following the lies of blind leaders. The true God and the true Christ are only revealed in the Gospel and without the truth no one can be holding to, and abiding in, the doctrine that saves. The Lord Jesus says, "...the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32 cf. v. 36). It is the Truth of Jesus Christ which makes a man free and without this Truth there is nothing but slavery to sin. 2 John 9 simply states that if one is abiding in false doctrine, one is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ and therefore such a person cannot, and does not, have God: "Whosoever transgresseth and ABIDETH NOT IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, HE hath both the Father and the Son" (cf. Lk. 10:16; 2 Thess. 2:12). What a profound and clear statement this is and one which should send shock waves through those who place little or no emphasis on right doctrine and who scoff at those who do. The word abideth in 2 John 9 means ‘to stay (in a given place, state or relation), continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand'. Again, knowledge of God’s doctrine is not a condition for salvation, it is an evidence that one has truly been taught of God and been born again (see Jn. 6:45). One is not saved after some tireless ascent to an intellectual awareness of the truth, but one is saved by means of the truth, by God: "Of His own will begat He us (gave birth to us as sons) with the Word of Truth..." (Jas. 1:18; cf. Jn. 1:13). No seed, no physical birth—no truth, no spiritual birth. 2 John 9 shows clearly that every true Christian is born again and does truly know and abide in the doctrine of Christ which is His Holy Gospel message. They know that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ’s obedience and death ALONE. Importantly, it also shows that everyone who does not know and abide in Christ’s doctrine IS NOT A CHRISTIAN! They might think they are, they might be familiar with Christian terminology and history etc., they might do all the things that people expect a Christian would do, but if they do not abide in the Doctrine of Christ they are none of His. Jesus does not, and never did, know them (see Matt. 7:23). What absolute and undeniable evidence this is against those who say that even whilst abiding in false doctrine one can be, or was, saved. How could anyone who makes such a statement—even one claiming to believe in the true Gospel—possibly be saved themselves when the Word of God says that NONE are saved whilst abiding in doctrines that are not of Christ? It proves that Christ’s doctrine can be known, indeed is known, by all who are His children, who have had their sins imputed to Him and His glorious Righteousness imputed to them. Those who oppose Christ’s doctrine, His Gospel, have not God, neither have they the Son and are in a lost state. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TRUE DOCTRINE, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TRUE CHRIST. To believe in God is to believe what God teaches. How can anyone truly say they believe God, when they do not abide in His doctrine? "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn. 3:36 cf. Eph. 2:3). If you do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, the wrath of God abideth on YOU! Everybody believes they’re saved before they’re saved, until they are truly saved. Once a person has had the Gospel revealed to them they realise, just like Paul the apostle in Philippians 3:8, that they had never been saved prior to hearing it, for they had never believed the Truth, they had never gloried in the EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as revealed in the only Gospel that saves. All those to whom Christ has revealed the Father abide in the truth, for they have all been BORN OF THAT TRUTH and Jesus says, "...Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice" (Jn. 18:37; cf. Jn. 10:27) and "He that is of God heareth God’s words..." (Jn. 8:47).