The Doctrines of Men

The word “doctrines” in our title means “teaching.” In other words, some people attribute certain teachings to the New Testament that aren’t there. This isn’t a new problem. Jesus told the Pharisees that they worshiped God in vain because they taught the “commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). They weren’t teaching God’s will but said it was God’s will. The same occurs today. Let’s take a moment and examine what we are taught by men (1 John 4:1, 6). Perhaps we’re being taught doctrines that aren’t found in the New Testament.

First, salvation by faith “only”. While many verses teach that faith is necessary for salvation (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 11:6), there isn’t a single passage in that says salvation is by faith (or anything else) “alone”. If you’re not sure, look up what saves you in a concordance or other reference book, and you’ll discover that the only time in the English Bible where the phrase “faith only” is found, James said we aren’t saved by it (James 2:18-24).

Second, instrumental music in worship. Would it surprise you to learn that the use of mechanical instruments in worship is relatively new? Though instruments have existed for millennia, when the Lord’s New Testament came into effect, there was an emphasis placed on singing praises to God without the instrument (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:15; James 5:13). God knew how to tell us to use instruments if He wanted them, but He left them out of the New Testament. In modern times, men like John Calvin, Adam Clarke, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and others wrote commentaries and other works stating that God didn’t permit mechanical instruments in worship. If these men could understand simple passages, why can’t we? Why do men insist on teaching a doctrine not found in the New Testament?

Third, baptism is unnecessary. I suppose the one subject that upsets the most people is the subject of baptism. We’re told by so many that baptism is unnecessary or that it’s for saved people. This isn’t taught in the New Testament, though. In fact, the opposite is taught. In Mark 16:16, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”. This doctrine is repeated no less than fifteen times in the New Testament (Acts 2, 8-9, 10-11, 16, 18-19; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:12-13; Hebrews 10:22). Peter told the Jews who believed in Christ to “repent and be baptized … for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:36, 38). Peter would later write a letter saying that “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). These passages can’t be denied! After reading them, how can anyone say that baptism isn’t essential and be honest?

Fourth, extra-biblical revelation. Some think that God speaks to them and reveals truth outside of the Scripture. This isn’t true. When we read passages like Jude 3, we learn that God’s Word was “once for all delivered to the saints”. God has delivered His Word to men, and it isn’t going to be “re-delivered”. Hebrews 1:2 says that in these “last days”, God has spoken to us through His Son, not personally. Christ’s words are recorded in the New Testament. His inspired Word “thoroughly” furnishes us “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Peter affirms that God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Since these passages are true, what’s left for God to tell us?

Fifth, the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Related to the above is the idea that the Holy Spirit mystically inhabits saved people. This is based on a misunderstanding of passages like 1 Corinthians 3:16. Please understand that the same New Testament that speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Christians is the same one that says God (1 John 4:12) and Christ (Galatians 2:20) both dwell in saints. In truth, all of these passages speak of a relationship enjoyed between God and Christians. If we look carefully, the Bible says that the saved dwell in God (1 John 4:15). How can a man get “inside” of God? We know this physically can’t happen, but it speaks of our relationship (James 4:7-8). This is what’s under consideration in these passages — not a personal indwelling.

Sixth, God is too loving to punish us. Many have adopted the doctrine that since God is love (1 John 4:8), He’s too loving to send people to Hell. A simple reading of the New Testament makes it clear that there are some who’ll be lost eternally (Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Romans 11:22). The love of God is not in question. But God’s justice also plays a role. God loves us and wants us in Heaven with Him (2 Peter 3:9), but God’s justice says we will answer for our sins. Therefore, if we don’t repent and aren’t baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), we’ll be lost eternally (Luke 13:3, 5). Men being lost in Hell one day isn’t due to a lack of love on God’s part, but it’s due to sin on our part (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

These are only a few examples of the doctrines of men that aren’t found in the New Testament. We’ve got to reject the doctrines of men and only accept the doctrine of Christ. How is this done? We accept the doctrine (teaching) of Christ when we listen to His word (Romans 10:17), believe it (Hebrews 11:6), and obey it (Hebrews 5:9; Revelation 22:14). Let’s not accept what men say simply because they said it. Examine all things that are said and hold fast to the truth of God’s Word (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:11).

Adapted from Jarrod M. Jacobs

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