“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever”
(Hebrews 13:8).

The doctrine of Christ has not changed.

Since Jesus and His word do not change, neither does His doctrine.

“Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9).

This warning assumes that one can distinguish between the doctrine of Christ and a doctrine that is foreign to it.

How can we make this distinction?

First, our attitude must be right. “Jesus answered them and said, 'My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority'” (John 7:16, 17). We must really want to do God's will. Only then can we recognize the doctrine that comes from God. We must carefully follow “the good doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6).

If we do not want to do God's will, we will allow ourselves to be deceived by some false doctrine. People who do not love the truth are able to believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Paul warned: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). When people want to follow “their own desires” they seek out false teachers who tell them what they want to hear.

It is a matter of the heart. As Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). Our lives, our service, our worship are subservient to a pattern of doctrine that we willingly obey.

Second, we must know the Scriptures to distinguish between false doctrine and the doctrine of Christ. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Third, we must avoid false teachers. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11). Everything that is “contrary to sound doctrine” is wrong (1 Timothy 1:10).

Forth, we must be active members of the body of Christ.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-15).

To avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, we must be in fellowship with the apostles and prophets of our Lord, who together with Christ form the foundation of the church, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).

The Apostle John explains: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Peter writes: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:1, 2). Through the written word we have fellowship with the apostles and thereby with the Father and the Son. We must continue “steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine” (Acts 2:42).

Evangelists, elders and teachers help us grow to maturity in Christ so we will not be tossed to and fro by strange doctrine.

Evangelists must charge others to “teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). They must “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). They must show an example of integrity in doctrine (Titus 2:7).

An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Being active in a faithful congregation helps us avoid being blown about by false doctrines.

False doctrine is evil. Paul wrote: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Shall we remain in the doctrine of Christ, or listen to doctrines of demons?

Our worship is worthless if we proclaim the doctrines of men rather than the doctrine of Christ. The following is said of those who reject God's word in favor of traditions: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8, 9).

Through the ages, two kinds of doctrinal errors have been prevalent. Some think it is not necessary to carefully follow the word of God; others, who claim to follow the word, add their own regulations. In the time of Christ Sadducees rejected God's word, and Pharisees added their own regulations. Jesus warns us about these two errors: “'How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? - but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:11, 12).

The faith is unchanged.

Since the doctrine remains the same, the faith also does not change. The faith is the doctrine of Christ believed. There is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5).

We must “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23). Jude exhorts us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

We must “keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). We must “be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). We must “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13). We must be “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). We must be “established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). We may not “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1) or “stray from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10, 21).

Paul instructs us: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The gospel is unchanged.

The gospel is the doctrine of Christ proclaimed. Since the doctrine does not change, the gospel also may not be changed.

Paul wrote to the Galatians: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).

When proclaiming the gospel we must tell people who Jesus is, that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. “This Jesus God has raised up” (Acts 2:32). “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). “He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).

This proclamation of the gospel also includes telling people what they must do to be saved. Jesus commands His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). Peter commanded the hearers on Pentecost: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul wrote: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10).

“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:8, 9). His doctrine is unchanged. The faith is unchanged. The gospel is unchanged. If you obey from the heart that same gospel, you too can be saved by the blood of the changeless Christ and have eternal life.

If you believe in Christ, repent of your sins, confess Christ, and are baptized in His name for the forgiveness of sins, you can be a Christian just like the Christians in the New Testament.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

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Published in The Old Paths Archive