Teaching Part 3 - Relationship Above Doctrine

Summary:  Many churches are burdened by theology, especially when speculation becomes an idol that replaces a relationship with God.  And they miss the next move of God when it doesn’t fit neatly in the pattern they know.

Jesus Rejected Over Doctrine

The classic example is the rejection of Jesus as Messiah.  The facts were plain:  At the time prophesied by Daniel, Jesus showed up healing everyone, casting out demons, and raising the dead.  Matthew 11:1-6.  But He didn’t meet their expectation of conquering the world.  Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 1:6.  And they hadn’t seen Elijah.  Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:10-13 [Note: Elijah is free to work on earth without being visibly seen].   Make no mistake.  Their doctrine was based on scripture.  But it was also based on human speculation, and it became an idol they placed above knowing God.  Mark 7:6-13; Matthew 16:5-12An idol glorifies itself.   And so the leaders were willing to crucify a man who was healing everyone, rather than reexamine their beliefs.

Relationship Above Doctrine

People who have a relationship with God know His works.  The Wise Men, Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus from the time he was born.  Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:22-38.  They didn’t become hateful over doctrine.  They expected the Messiah, asked God about Him, and knew who he was immediately.  Jesus later said, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”  John 7:17. God’s correction of King David shows that relationship with God trumps even religious law.  2 Samuel 11-12.  Mosaic law required David to die for adultery and murder.  Deut. 22:22; Exodus 21:14.  But David repented and sought God, and God spared his life.  Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:13-14.  There were still severe consequences, but David was forgiven and eventually named a king in eternity.  Ezekiel 37:24-25; Jeremiah 30:9.

Making Doctrine an Idol Leads to Sin

Many churches rejected the Pentecostal movement because they believed God’s works had ceased and because of racism (when God poured out his Spirit in 1906 at the request of William J. Seymour, a black man who embraced interracial worship).  Over a century later, there are still churches who preach against spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues.  (an incredibly dangerous thing:  Matthew 12:31-32; 1 John 3:15). Similar to Jesus’ time, people are tempted to replace the Lord with doctrine, rules and traditionMatthew 15:9; 1 Timothy 4:1-2.  And they reject God when he moves outside the box they have drawn. Today, churches have developed doctrines by human reasoning, which cannot comprehend the things of God1 Corinthians 2:14.  Hooks to gain followers have become idols that replace scriptures about repentance, bearing fruit and abiding in God.  2 Timothy 4:3-4.  The result is false doctrine.  For example, many people falsely believe (1) they can have Jesus and stay in sin, 1 John 1:6; Ezekiel 18:24, or (2) they can walk along blindly with nothing bad ever happening to them.  Psalm 34:19; Acts 14:22; Proverbs 22:3.   Further, there’s no goal beyond saying the magic words, and then living life however you think best.  Proverbs 14:12; Philippians 2:21; Matthew 13:23. Churches have reaped what they’ve sown.  Galatians 6:7.  We now have a generation of people calling themselves Christians who do not walk with Christ and who live by moral relativism.  Some of the most dishonest persons I’ve known, boasted openly of being Christians saved by grace.  And I wonder how pastors can fearlessly teach doctrines that lead to slandering the name of Christ.  Exodus 20:7; Proverbs 9:10.  How can they love their doctrine more than Jesus?  Why do they call God a liar by denying His Word?  This is what idols do.  Even if a pastor teaches against sin, if he also teaches a doctrine that excuses sin, a lot of people will falsely believe they are OK.  Jeremiah 5:11-12Jesus taught it’s better to cut off your hand than to be in sin and go to Hell.  Matthew 5:27-30If a doctrine leads to sin, we must let it go.  Mark 9:42-48.

Staying in the Fresh Flow of God

I look at doctrine the way an engineer looks at science:  I’m looking for practical application.  I can’t do much with an idea unless it’s proven and useful.  Similarly, I want to know what’s useful in building a relationship with God.  Matthew 6:33. If we’re going to stay in the fresh flow of God, we must do so in humility, realizing we don’t know everything.  Proverbs 22:4; Isaiah 55:3-9; 1 Corinthians 13:12.  And we must watch for what God is doing.  Micah 7:7.  There are incredible prophecies in the Bible yet to be fulfilled.  John 14:12-14; James 5:7.  There are also consequences coming, which we’ll all go through.  We need to stay in the fresh flow of God.  We can’t afford to stop somewhere and then regress into idolatry.


Next, Fatherhood in the Church




Originally From Blog Post of November 2013