"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared, having a form of godliness, denying its power" (1 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Tim 3:5).
For many years people have jumped on the band wagons of "new ideas" as they follow various pied pipers. "For the time will come [is NOW HERE, ed.] when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers and turn their ears away from the truth" (2 Tim 4:3-4).
We live in a generation of "acceptance, positiveness, non-judgmentalism, self-esteem"; that requests "Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (Isa 30:10).
And furthermore, the "positive theology" has turned into overt rejection of God and His Word as "They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return. They do not speak aright, no man repented of his wickedness...a horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so" (Jer 8:5-6; 5:30-31), "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Rom 1:22).
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us?' Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; So what wisdom do they have?" (Jer 8:8-9). Last month we observed how Bible translations were developed to accommodate man's rebellion.
HOWEVER Titus is instructed, "Speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine...holding fast the faithful word...by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict" (Titus 2:1; 1:9).
Timothy is encouraged "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus...give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (2 Tim 1:13; 1 Tim 4:13-16).
Timothy is further warned against relying on worldly wisdom. "Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babbling and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith" (1 Tim 6:20).
WHAT exactly IS "DOCTRINE?" Is it some metaphysically difficult thing that only a seminary graduate can understand? Simply stated "Doctrine" means "That which is taught, teaching, precepts." Expanded slightly, it also incorporates the concept of a "body of understanding which forms a belief system."
WHERE DOES THE CHRISTIAN'S DOCTRINE COME FROM? "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psa 119:105,9,11).
But the rebellious ones pout, "The Bible is antiquated. We need new revelation. We need 'special insights' for TODAY's GENERATION. The kinds of problems we have in today's society just didn't exist back when the Bible was written. We need updated information. We need to incorporate psychology to help us understand the Bible." What they REALLY MEAN is, "We want someone to tell us that we are not really as sinful as the Bible says we are."
Thus, one can see the proliferation of books in the local "Bible" book store. They cover all subjects: Self-esteem, Self-hypnosis, How to "deal with" homosexual tendencies, Power of prayer, How to counsel all the 1001 variations of what the Bible calls "sin." Bibles, even, are offered for "special categories" of people. The teenager's Bible. The working woman's Bible. And the list goes on. So, how does a person know what books to read?
In one of the [good] books available, "Beyond Seduction," Dave Hunt writes, "Implicit in the call for a return to biblical Christianity is the belief that the Bible itself is our only and final authority in all spiritual matters" (p. 241).
"Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven" (Psa 119:89). The word "settled" carries the weight: "to stand, take one's stand, be stationed, be appointed, deputized." It is firm! Jesus said, "One jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matt 5:18). The Jesus Who made this claim is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8).
Paul urges Timothy to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Tim 1:3). The word "doctrine" in this verse means "deviation from the truth." Revelation 22 gives the curse about adding to or subtracting from God's word.
"BUT I NEED A COMMENTARY and footnotes to help me understand," some will say. Or, "That's what we have the pastor for." And how many pastors have I heard with the attitude of "Bringing it (the Bible) down to their (laity) level." As if they occupy a superior position.
JESUS PROMISED: "He, the Spirit of truth, will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).
Paul writes "I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor 11:3).
Here we see the declarations: 1) The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and 2) the Bible is simple to understand.
If a person finds the Bible difficult to understand, it is most likely because THAT PERSON IS NOT IN CHRIST. "The natural man does not receive (or 'understand') the things of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor 2:14). "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Rom 8:16).
What about "interpretations" of Scripture? One Bible School professor was known for his quote, "There is only ONE TRUE INTERPRETATION to any given passage of Scripture." Gullibly I accepted that, along with my peers. What does Scripture say to that notion? "Knowing this first, that NO prophecy of Scripture is of any PRIVATE INTERPRETATION" (2 Peter 1:20).
"Thus saith the Lord" must be our submission to God's Word. WHAT DOES IT SAY? Yes, there are "mysteries" that we do not yet fully understand. But when we are with Christ we "shall know just as we are known" (1 Cor 13:12). But things dealing with Sin; God's holiness; Jesus' substitutionary death, burial resurrection; our need to humble ourselves and repent; how to live a holy life before God; is all VERY CLEAR TO UNDERSTAND.
What does the Bible SAY? Read it. Meditate on it. It has ALL THE ANSWERS YOU NEED!
"Run to and fro through the streets..seek..if you can find a man...who seeks truth...though they say 'As the Lord lives,' surely they swear falsely. O LORD, are not your eyes on the truth?" (Jer 5:1-3).
(Scripture quotations are from the NKJV)