They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine
We read this about the first church of Christ: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
To really be Christians and churches of Christ, we too must continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine.
To continue steadfastly is to persevere, to remain constant, to carry on without wavering.
What is the apostles' doctrine? It is what the apostles taught by the authority of Christ through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in the New Testament.
Jesus said to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
To the twelve He said: "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). The apostles' doctrine is not something they invented themselves. It is in complete agreement with the determination of God.
Through divine guidance the apostles established doctrines and practices for the church, nothing other than what God had established in heaven.
Through divine inspiration the apostles also revoked certain things, such as the Old Covenant, things God had also revoked in heaven.
The apostles were ambassadors of Christ led by God's Spirit.
When Jesus gave the seventy-two prophetic power and sent them out to preach, He said: "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me" (Luke 10:16).
One trick of some false teachers is to claim that we must listen to the words of Jesus in the Gospels, but that we do not have to obey the teaching of the apostles in the later books.
But in the Gospels Jesus says we must listen to His apostles and that we reject Him if we reject their words.
Only a portion of the doctrine of Christ was made known during His ministry on earth. After His ascension He revealed many additional teachings to the apostles through the Holy Spirit. Shortly before His death He said: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (John 16:12,13). "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit revealed all truth to the apostles, He taught them all things, also things Jesus had not yet made known during his life on earth.
When people claim that the words of Jesus in the Gospels are authoritative but the words of the apostles are not, they are rejecting the words of Jesus in the Gospels because He says that we must obey the apostles or we reject both Him and the Father.
The church is built on the teaching of the apostles, which is nothing other than the teaching of Christ, made known through them and subsequently recorded in the New Testament. Together with Christ, the apostles and prophets form the foundation of the church: "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:19,20).
Also in the first century there were false teachers who rejected the authority of the apostles. Paul warned: "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Among the various admonitions in his letter, Paul had just said: "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak" (1 Corinthians 14:34). This is God's command through Paul. Someone who does not recognize such teachings of Paul, is not recognized.
We must avoid people who reject the authority of the apostles: "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17,18).
People who deviate from the doctrine of the apostles, cause division and apostasy. We must note them and avoid them, keep away from them. Even though they come with smooth words and flattering speech, they are not servants of Christ, they serve their own belly, their own base and ignoble desires. We are commanded to avoid them.
It is only through the apostles and their teaching that we can have fellowship with God and Christ. John wrote: "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).
The names of the twelve apostles are on the foundations of the wall of Zion (Revelation 21:14). We will not gain entrance to the heavenly city unless we continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive