Have you ever heard the words, “Keep your old Baptist doctrine; just give me Jesus”? Maybe it was, “I want a church which tells me how to enjoy life, not which dictates what to believe.” “I am looking for a church which uplifts my heart, not one that involves thinking.” Some more pious people might say, “The purpose of church is to instill the values of right and wrong.”
Some of these things are good, and God’s churches are key to blessing hearts and improving society. But it needs to be understood that not every church is one of God’s churches. Furthermore – a peace-filled heart, a peace-filled society, the blessing of God, His church and even Bible doctrine, cannot be separated. True Christianity can’t compartmentalized: this belongs to the area of morality, this is church stuff: this is doctrine – the realm of the theologian, and this over here is life – my daily life. Like it or not, Bible doctrine – literally, the instruction of God – permeates and infiltrates everything spiritual. Idaho’s largest religious assembly calls itself “Real Life;” – is that because it wants to leave the impression that its focus is not Biblical doctrine?
When people say, “Give me Jesus” what do they mean? Why don’t they say, “Give me the Lord Jesus Christ – the eternal Son of God” ? Is it because those words move from real life into Bible doctrine, and they don’t want to go there? About whose “Jesus” should we talk? The Mormons have a Jesus who is the brother of Lucifer – and that Jesus is not the Christ of the Bible. The Mormons have a Christ who was a man who attained God-hood. Many modern Protestants have a Christ who was the illegitimate son of German mercenary soldier – that’s where Jesus’ blond hair and blue eyes originate. Ridiculous. Many have a Christ who nothing more than wimp forever tied to his mother’s apron strings. The Jews long for a Messiah, who has not yet come and when comes he will not be the son of Mary. The Messiah of the Bible is not the Messiah of the average Jew, unless that Jew has been born again. When we speak of Jesus it needs to be understood that we are talking about the Christ of the Bible. And that leads us into some necessary instruction about who He is. By definition, that instruction or teaching involves the word “doctrine” – a Bible word in itself.
Christ, the Son of God, said, “Beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees.” But how can anyone beware of something, if they don’t know what it is? The Apostles were charged with filling Jerusalem with their “doctrine” – their teaching and preaching. But today, not only is it illegal to stand on the street corner and preach Biblical doctrine, it is contrary to the constitution of some churches. Paul often encouraged “sound doctrine” – ie. healthy, scriptural, correct Bible instruction. But many Christians refuse to hear anything that even sounds like doctrine. “You may speak of Jesus, but don’t use words like ‘incarnation,’ ‘divine triunity’ and ‘vicarious sacrifice.’” Paul couldn’t praise many churches today the way he praised the church in Rome – “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you.
That verse taken from Romans 6 reminds us that whenever we open God’s word, no matter what verse we read, not far away, there is another dealing with obedience and Christian living. The very things some people want from a modern church – Jesus and how to live in this world …. The thing some want from church cannot be separated from the doctrines they don’t want to hear. For example, the verses of our text speak about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour. And hidden within them are a bumper crop of important doctrines. And then those doctrines immediately lead us right back into the Christian life and godly moral values. Together they help defeat four diabolical doctrines which I would like to bring to your attention today. And here we come back to the word “doctrine.” But “doctrine” is not only found in a Biblical, godly context, but there is sinful, wicked, Satanic doctrine as well. “Doctrine” can be the means to keep us on the straight and narrow way, but there is other doctrine which leads people down the broad road which leads to destruction. “Doctrine” is the window through which we can see the heart of God, but false doctrine can be a pane of glass which distorts and presents a false Christ. “Doctrine” is the path to a smoothly running society, but do we live in a comfortable society? Why not? Biblical doctrine is the antidote to evil doctrine – some of which are addressed in these verses.
One such evil doctrine is that God can be easily satisfied.
Through the years of religious evolution, mankind has imagined many of its deities to progress and improve. The god of 21st century, no matter what form people say he has, is generally better than he used to be. Some old-time heathen were told that they had to burn their children to death to satisfy their deity. Some heathen peoples fed human sacrifices to their volcano gods. Others forced their children to starve rather than feed them meat of an old cow. Some primitive gods demand flagellation – whippings, self-torture and starvation. Some primitive-thinking people believe that walking miles without shoes or on knees, pleases God. But we, progressive and civilized people, no longer venerate such vulgar and bloody gods. Granted, there are still people who worship in these ways, but it is questionable if they are civilized.
Most people of our generation believe in a god who is easy to please or placate. If we go church on Easter, God will look other way for the rest of the year. Make the sign of the cross across our breast every now and then, and He will be delighted. Drop a few silver coins in the missionary offering or poor box and God will get off our back. If we throw the dog a bone he won’t growl at us. Some silly people even think that uttering few religious-sounding words is sufficient. “Jesus, would you please come into my heart and cleanse me from my sin.” “I believe that Jesus died on the cross to take away my sin.” Do such words truly satisfy a truly holy God? A man can say that he hath faith, can that faith save him? Such ideas make up a warped theology – the doctrines of devils (I Timothy 4:1). These things are doctrines of half-truths, devised by enemy men’s souls to deceive the untaught. Yes, “Jesus died on the cross to take away my sin,” but, again, about which “Jesus” are we speaking? Do you understand or care how that death accomplish that cleansing? You say that you believe, but HOW do you believe it? Is it just a matter of facts, or is it a matter of life and eternal death which consumes your heart? A little boy was asked to define “false doctrine.” He replied, “It’s when the doctor gives you the wrong medicine.” He thought the question was “define false doctoring” – but he had the right idea. False doctrine offers a poison instead of medicine to meet needs of the soul. It is false doctrine to think the God of the Bible easily forgets or overlooks man’s wickedness.
Our God may not be the brute of Amazonians or of South Sea Islanders, but He is not easy to satisfy, The God of the Word says things like: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in Heaven is perfect.” He says, “For whosoever shall keep whole law, and yet offend one point, he is guilty of all.” Many Americans are proud of their military academy at West Point. West Point has an honor code: “A cadet does not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate anyone who does.” The violation of that code even on day before graduation, means immediate dismissal. Can the code of Almighty God be any less ridged? “As the soul of the father, even the soul of the son, the soul that sinneth it shall die.” “Seek peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God.” “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them” – Deuteronomy 27:26.
No sir, God will not be easily satisfied. There isn’t any thing within the bounds of human strength or accomplishment that will appease Him. It takes the ministry of Christ to propitiate Jehovah – (a Biblical, doctrinal word which means “to satisfy”). And it was not merely the COMING of Christ that did it. Too many have been deceived into thinking, if they honor the birth of God’s Son, Jehovah is quieted. Our text shows us that it was the oblation – the sacrifice – of Christ that does it. God’s wrath for sin is too hot for anything less. If you pour water on some very hot fires, that water explodes into vapor, blinding the pourer. And if you pour gasoline on same fire, the explosion will be even worse. No sacrifice out of ourselves that we might try to make for our sins can appease Jehovah.
A second doctrine attacked in these verses is that Christ died as an example or martyr.
Many people think that Jesus lived and died to show us how to live and die. They say that if we give of what we possess – our time, our talents, our very lives… If we spend ourselves like the candle in order to brighten our world…. If we sacrifice our bodies like the burly offensive guard to protect the quarterback… If we throw ourselves on the enemy grenade to save innocent women and children… … then the Lord will be so pleased with us that He will be forced accept us into Heaven. They say that it is Jesus who has given us the great example of that kind life. Sometimes they even misquote a Bible verse or two to hold up their argument. “For even here unto were ye called: because Christ also suffered, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” Christ has never given anyone an example of how to be delivered from sin, because He had no sin. His example is to people who have been given spiritual life that they might live on earth as He did, bringing glory to the Heavenly Father.
No, Christ did not die as an example TO us, but as the offering FOR us. He died for our benefit; for our improvement; for our salvation. He died in our place, wearing our sinners’ rags before the holy God. The story is told about a family where the parents had recently received Christ, but the two girls hadn’t. It was Thanksgiving and a feast had been prepared. As girls were awaiting the great meal, they went out to play and one of them got into something forbidden. When Dad discovered it, he sent them both to their room until the guilty girl confessed. But the girls made a pact and neither admitted to the worng or accused the other. Dad said that there would be no Thanksgiving diner until things were made right. Mother was as heart-broken as the girls and begged Dad to postpone the punishment. Finally he thought a solution and a lesson. The girls were invited to the table, but Dad was not there. Mother explained. “Since neither of you confessed, Dad decided to take your punishment, so that you could eat.” Christ Jesus, God’s son, came into world to bear our punishment, not just to set an example, but to actually feel the pain that we deserve. Both girls soon came to trust Christ as their redeemer.
A third doctrine destroyed in these verses: is the idea that Christ’s sacrifice was presented to Satan.
Contrary to the Bible, some people think that Hell is Satan’s abode, just as Heaven belongs to the Lord. Then they think that bad people are property of Satan, while righteous people are God’s. They also understand that Hell was made for Satan and His angels. Oh, but that Hell is not a garden estate for Apollyon, the Devil. Rather it was created for his eternal punishment. Then these confused souls go on to believe that the Devil controls the sinner’s fate. Many Medieval pictures depict Satan grabbing souls and dragging wicked people off Hell. Again this is a misconception: It is the Lord who says, “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire.” Everlasting fire “prepared for the Devil and his angels.”
Furthermore, when the Saviour died on Calvary, when He gave himself an offering and sacrifice, the sweet odor that arose from that altar ascended into Heaven – it didn’t sink into Hell. It is Jehovah who hates your sin; the Devil is quite delighted with it. If Satan could do it over again, there would never been a Cross of Calvary. Not one person in Hell will be able to make excuse, “It’s Satan’s fault I’m here.” The guilt will be yours and yours alone. It is the Lord who has brought you to this place where the doctrine of the Word God is taught. You can see if you will, that Christ has loved us and hath given himself an offering. If you walk out of this room without Christ you are playing into Satan’s hands. But if you fall on our face before God, repenting of your sin and putting trust in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus the blessing of that offering will be presented before the throne of God in your name, and not to the Devil.
The Saviour did everything right to please God – His sacrifice fulfilled every demand of the law. It was the right lamb, at the right place and the right time – the fulness of time. It was offered by the right priest – Christ himself – with the right fire off God’s altar. And the pure red blood of the Saviour was properly presented before Jehovah’s throne.
No, it’s not the Devil you have to satisfy, but the Lord Himself.
The fourth false doctrine under attack here, is that Christ’s death need not change our lives.
There are many who sincerely want to make this world a better place to live, and if in the process they make a few dollars that is all the better. So they look for solutions to disease and other problems. They try to eliminate poverty and illiteracy. There are Republicans and Democrats alike who would like America to be like Eden. But it will never happen until men, women, boys and girls experience Ephesians 5:2 – “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” It is only after verse 2 that we can go back to verse 1 one and make some sense out of it. The Old Testament Jews followed God, but they failed in their following. They knew nothing about being followers of God “as dear children.” Without the love of Christ and His sacrifice to God for us, we are left under the demands of the Old Testament laws like hell-bent Jews. No man can walk in love, unless he has experienced the love of Christ. To preach a social gospel without the background of redemptive grace, is like comparing a glider and a jet fighter. The social, feel good, gospel will eventually come crashing to the ground. A hundred sermon’s from verse 1, would be a waste of breath without verse 2.
And everyone who has experienced verse 2, will want to comply with verse 1. It should be desire of every saint of God to leave the perfume of Christ in world wherever they go. To leave a big bank account at the translation of the saints will haunt many a soul at his judgment. To bequeath to the world a mountain of books on any subject but the Lord is an eternal waste. To make a name for oneself, but not to glorify the name which is above all names would in fact be a great dishonor to the Lord. The way to leave a mark for good on this planet is to point people to the cross. “Look at the love of Christ, see the sacrifice made for human sins. “Hear the Saviour’s cry, ‘Father forgive them.'” This is what our neighbor needs to see and hear.
But those neighbors will not recognize the Lord, if we live without following God as dear children. We cannot afford to PREACH the Word without LIVING the word just as loudly. We cannot effectively live the Word without verbally spelling out Who gives us the power do so.
That is, we cannot separate the doctrine from the life. Do they match in your life? Number one: Are you under the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you been born again by the grace of God? Number two: Do you show forth His grace in your life?