How Do You Avoid Doctrinal Problems?
My apprehension is if no one is shepherding, no one is looking at what they are talking about, there may be some doctrines happen and down the line they may be teaching wrong doctrines as they split up into smaller groups. That’s my fear.
That’s a very fair apprehension for the “home church movement.” But it hasn’t happened in twenty years of living out what we’re talking about now. You may find this difficult to believe, but I assure you that after nearly a quarter of a century and a pretty firm understanding of how Jesus lived with the twelve, the answer to your question about doctrines is not solved by “agreement” on various doctrines. Remember that the Scriptures say very clearly regarding Jesus’ Life that “the Life became the Light of men.” It was the Life of Jesus that cleared the path for understanding, not the other way around. The Life became the Light of men. The pillar and foundation of Truth is not unanimous intellectual agreement. The pillar and foundation of Truth, according to God through the apostle Paul, is the Ekklesia, the Life Together daily of the Body of Christ. The Life of God lived out together yields understanding of Truth in the trenches of dealing with the fallen flesh of man. The Life still becomes the Light of men. Surely 30,000 denominations later we can ascertain if we are honest, that common assent to a set of doctrinal dogmas while most of the “congregation” is in love with the world and deep in sin, does nothing to please God, touch the world, or change lives into the image of Jesus. We need deep relationships that are committed to helping each other turn our faces toward Jesus and away from the world and its delusions and lusts.
One reason we need these kinds of relationships is because God says that He wants us to have these kinds of relationships. He said, “Admonish one another daily so that none are hardened and deceived by sin.” (Heb. 3) He didn’t say, “Admonish one another daily, unless you think your needs are all met, like the Laodiceans, and you don’t need anything else. Then you can do whatever you want.” It’s actually a command from God that every single person admonish one another daily. And God put a threat at the end of that verse: if you won’t be in each others’ lives and be a kingdom of Priests, where you’re involved in my life, I’m involved in yours, and every single person is involved in each others’ lives, then you’ll be hardened and deceived by sin. To be hard means you don’t care anymore, and to be deceived means to think you’re okay when you’re not. That’s what happens if we don’t obey the command.
There is a command, “Do not steal.” What if a person said, “But I want to steal. I think the Lord is leading me to steal.” You’d say, “That’s wrong! There’s a command about that. I know what God thinks about that. You can’t fool me. Don’t say the Lord led you to steal and that’s just your gift, to steal, and you can do it if you want. Don’t say, ‘Don’t interfere with me. Don’t talk to me about my stealing.’”
God has commandments that govern a lot of our activity. You really ought not steal. “Those of you who steal, steal no more” (Ephesians 4:28). “No coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:4). God has a command about foul language and nastiness coming out of our mouths. We know that if someone talks in a vulgar way, with coarse jesting and foul language, it is unacceptable. Even if they say, “Oh, no, it’s okay with God if I do that. You mind your own business. ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ ‘Get the log out of your own eye.’ I can talk that way if I want to.”
You say, “No! You cannot talk that way, because God said there should be no foul language coming out of a man’s mouth. I’m willing to help you stop. I’m not going to hate you or reject you. I’m willing to help you, but you have to line up your mind, your mouth, and your eyes with what God said.” That’s what Christians do.
If you are a follower of Jesus, and Jesus is living inside of you, you cannot continue to sin. I John 3 says if you have the Spirit, you will not continue to live in sin. “Everyone that has this hope purifies himself just as He is pure.” If the Spirit of God lives inside of you, you’re not going to desire sin and refuse to deal with it. You might be caught and trapped in sin, but inside of your heart, if Jesus lives inside of you, the deposit that guarantees your inheritance is the Spirit, and that Spirit cries “Abba.” It doesn’t cry, “Sin, sin, sin.” That’s how you’ll know the difference between Believers and unbelievers. The difference isn’t in their behavior. The Believers, because Jesus lives inside of them, want Life, and want and crave the Word of God like newborn babies crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word. They want to hear the Truth. They love the Light. They want their deeds to be exposed. They want to be set free, and so they can help each other.
A Christian isn’t a person who doesn’t sin. A Christian is a person who never wants to sin, and wants help to overcome sin because the Jesus in them cries out for Holiness. He is a Holy Spirit. If you say to a person who is stealing, “Stop stealing. That’s not God’s way!” And they say, “I don’t care what you think. I’m going to steal. It’s okay with God, so mind your own business.” I wonder whether or not that person is a Christian, because that’s not the Spirit of God speaking. If, however, someone says, “Yeah, but I’m so afraid. I want to give things to my family, and I don’t have a job. All I know how to do is steal, and I’m sorry about it. It violates my conscience, but I’m doing it to help my family.” You say, “Hey, we can find other solutions. We can find a way to not sin and still meet the needs of your family. We can work together on this and find a solution.”
So one person steals, and yet he really is a Christian because he can hear the Word of God and loves the Light. He wants his deeds to be exposed. The Jesus in him wants his conscience to be clear. Another person says, “Stay away from me. I don’t care what you think. Forget the commands of God. They’re not important to me, and I am too a Christian.” I question whether that person is a Christian, because the Bible says that everyone who knows Jesus must walk as He walked. The sign is clear. The mark of God is clear. “Everyone that names the name of the Lord must depart from iniquity.” You can’t continue to live in sin according to 1John 3, and have the Spirit in you. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but that does mean you long for Jesus to be fulfilled. So because of the command, “Do not steal,” we’re going to have to work on that if someone steals. This command to admonish one another daily is a command! The exact same God who said, “Do not steal,” said, “You, you, and you, admonish one another daily.” God chose the word “daily.”
There is a glorious answer to the question of how we get our doctrine right and work together. The answer couldn’t be more beautiful. The majority of bad doctrine is birthed in the perverted sinful nature of religious men trying to find a hiding place for their unrepented of, sinful lives and their avoidance of walking in the way of the cross in their personal lives. The solution for 95% of doctrinal disunity is for us to help each other become more like Jesus in our personal lives, our families, and our jobs. God opens our eyes miraculously regarding doctrinal issues when together we learn to live in holiness, humility, self-sacrifice, worship, and obedience together, daily. Not only do the Scriptures and the Life of Jesus bear this out, but a quarter of a century later and there are no “splits” with people from many backgrounds. We too can thank God for this Truth. Hallelujah.