Ever wonder why there are so many Protestant denominations? Adventism, Anglicanism, Baptism, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Pentecostalism. Catholicism and the Orthodox Church are also separated. What separates these churches? Doctrine.
Are we to preach doctrine? Does doctrine save? Can church doctrine fully express the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Let us examine a parable that Jesus taught:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52)
Notice that the parable suggests that the righteous will be identified at the end of the age. In the meantime, what do we preach? Are we to regurgitate old sermons? No. We would not do that. What about church doctrine that has been set in concrete? Immersion baptism or sprinkling? Spirit proceeds from the Father or from the Father and the Son? Once saved, always saved?
Jesus suggests that we should bring out something new whenever we preach his word. We are today’s scribes. Do we bring out fresh insights in our Gospel message? Yes, we want to be faithful to the Gospel. We do not want to preach heresy. But do we spend our time explaining that ours is the true church as opposed to another?
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. (1 Timothy 1:3-7)
Do we dare examine any church doctrine? Is Jesus present in the bread and wine when we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion? Read the Gospel of John. He tells us that he is present and that we must eat and drink him. Speculating how that works is a waste of time. What about the doctrine of “Once saved always saved”? If we read Hebrews we find out that is not true. We must read the Bible in context.
We could go on. Much of our doctrine is flawed. Christianity is not a formula. As ministers of the Gospel, let us submit our sermons and teachings to God and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will lead us into all truth.