A few posts back, I wrote about ordinances and how they harm the church, the new man. I think it is fitting for me to now talk about doctrine, which always goes hand and hand with ordinances.
Ordinances originate (usually) from doctrines. Doctrines are a set of beliefs and interpretations of the Bible. In the eyes of most Christians, doctrines are wonderful and ought to be studied, formulated, and preached from the pulpit. In fact, most serious Christians believe that growth and maturity in the christian life is a matter of learning the Bible and its doctrines fully.
The unfortunate result of this mindset is division of the Body and numbing of the function of the one new man through the many members.
The Purpose of the Bible
As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.
1 Peter 2:2
The Bible is suppose to be food to the believers. The words on the page were never intended to function as a textbook that we study and extrapolate doctrine. The words were intended to function as a means of extracting the Spirit from the pages:
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
The means by which we extract the Spirit from the Word is by prayer:
Receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints
The Word was meant to lead us to Christ (Jn. 5:39-40), who is the bread of life (6:35). Paul came ministering not doctrines or teachings, but food and milk to the believers (1 Cor. 3; Heb. 5). Oh how far we have gone astray!
That we may be no longer little children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching in the sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a system of error
The winds of teaching are what prevent the oneness of the believers and the growth of the new man (v. 13). Satan rarely attacks the church openly in an obvious way. Rather, he uses the Bible itself to distract, occupy, and ultimately divide the members of the Body.
Anything the distracts from the central line of the Bible, Christ and the Church, is a wind of teaching that comes from the enemy. As much as it kills me to say it, we must be incredibly liberal. Liberal when it comes to varying beliefs and doctrines.
Abstain from things that have been sacrificed to idols
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing
1 Corinthians 8:4a
How do you reconcile these passages? I enjoy contradictions and paradoxes in the Bible. They are not something to trouble the believer, but should intrigue and excite the seeking spirit within. Paul was liberal with regard to doctrine! To one he could forbid the fellowship with things sacrificed to idols. To another he could encourage the free participation in all things.
To the Corinthians, Paul could encourage the abstaining from marriage for the needs of the Church (1 Cor. 7). To Timothy, he could encourage marriage and rebuke those who forbid it (1 Tim. 3:2; 4:3). Another seeming inconsistency! Paul was liberal in regard to doctrines.
Ground to Exclude
I wrote to you in my letter not to mingle with fornicators, but not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and rapacious, or idolaters, since then you would have to go out of the world.
1 Corinthians 5:9-10
A man that is factious, after the first and second admonition, reject.
For many deceiver are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2 John 7
We have ground to exclude on very few bases biblically. There are really only four things we cannot tolerate in the Body of Christ: idolatry, fornication, division, and the denial of the deity and incarnation of Christ. Everything else we must be liberal concerning.
If some want to practice foot-washings, we shouldn’t say that it isn’t biblical or divide concerning it. In fact, there is ground to believe believers should wash each others’ feet (Jn. 13). If some sisters in the Lord are lead to wear head-coverings during church meetings, we mustn’t resist such or insist. There is ground biblically for head coverings (1 Cor. 11).
Doctrines are often used by the enemy to distract, occupy, and divide believers. We must take the Word of God as food and Spirit, not as dead letter (2 Cor. 3:6). We have no ground to insist or resist fellowship with others on the basis of our doctrinal preferences.
Recently I was reading 1 Peter 2 and came across verse 24: “Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by who bruise you were healed.” Just a couple years ago, I would have read this verse in a very dead letter, doctrinal study viewpoint. I would have begun to dissect the verse and figure out what exactly it means for the sins to be borne by Christ IN HIS BODY. I would have been contributing to the formulation of doctrines on the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ .
I almost fell into this old habit as I read this verse, but then the Lord lead me to turn to my spirit and begin praying over and enjoying the rich and wonderful Spirit in this verse. The Lord bore our sins in HIs body on the cross! He did this that we might live to righteousness! This righteousness is possible because not only were our sins borne, but we were actually healed! Praise the Lord for His wonderful death! May we all be saved from the winds of teaching and doctrine of the enemy to the living Person of Christ in the Word of God.