Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Q: “What ‘doctrine’ should a Christ-follower have, or believe (in your opinion) and what is it, specifically, a person ‘has to’ believe in order to have salvation?

A: Before I address the issue of salvation, I must address the issue of doctrine. I have struggled over doctrine because of how others use it. What so many people argue over is theology, not doctrine. Doctrine comes down to our responsibility towards God, not our belief system. The Word of God talks about the six principles points of the doctrine of Christ in Hebrews 6:1-2. The Sermon On the Mount is also doctrine. Jesus in this sermon is telling us that doctrine is not just a matter of what we do, but our heart attitude towards what is righteous and holy. As Matthew 7:28 stated at the end of His sermon: "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine."

   It is true that man adds his own rules or traditions to the doctrine of Jesus. These rules often confuse the real issues concerning life that the Word of God is trying to address. It is wise to refuse to blindly accept man's interpretation of spiritual matters and their many added traditions. After all, it is the Holy Spirit who is our real teacher, and who will lead us into all truth about spiritual matters, and not man (John 14:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13-14; 1 John 2:27), However, it is important for each of us to understand the doctrine of Jesus so that we can walk out the Christian life in the right spirit, with a proper disposition and attitude.

   As far as salvation is concerned, let me ask you a couple of questions. What does it mean for Jesus to be the Son of the Living God? Sadly, terms such as the Christ and the Son of the Living God remain vague or are a simple concept to most people. And, yet these terms are of the utmost importance when it comes to salvation. Do you realize that Jesus was crucified over the fact that He claimed to be the Son of God? The Jews understood the term and tried to stone Him because it was considered blasphemous to them (John 5:18). If it caused that much contention for the Jews, how important is it for us to understand it? The truth is if Jesus was not who He said He was, He could not save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). This is why Jesus asked Peter, who do you say I am (Matthew 16:13-16). There are many interpretations of Jesus being presented in the world. But, the Bible is clear that we must believe in the record or witness that God has given about His Son to ensure salvation (1 John 5:9-13). When you study the Gospel of John, you realize the record is not just about what Jesus did, but who He is and must be to us. Why is Jesus' miraculous conception important, as well as the fact that He was sinless? The importance of Jesus' conception is the mystery that Paul makes reference to in Scripture. He summarizes that mystery in this way: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (1 Tim. 3:16) As Isaiah stated in His prophecy concerning the virgin birth: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Immanuel means God with us (Matthew 1:23). He was without sin so He could be offered up as the Lamb of God, the only sacrifice that could suffice the judgment on all sin.

   Peter is clear, we must not be barren in the knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 1:8-9). We must not be content to simply be familiar with Jesus or what we know about Jesus like those of Nazareth. When He revealed to them that He was the Promised Messiah, they responded in unbelief towards Him, and He passed through their midst without touching their lives (Luke 4:18-31). Our concept and understanding of Jesus will, and must be, constantly challenged and enlarged so we can accept the full life that has been offered to us through His redemption. It is important that each of us realize that our power and authority comes from Jesus because of who He is. We must know the Jesus of the Bible to ensure that when we stand before Him, He will know us (Matthew 7:21-23; John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 2:10).

   I exhort you, as Scripture does, grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than believing man, you must choose to believe the witness of God found in His Word and confirmed by the Spirit. Do not accept people's opinions, but rather sit at the table of Jesus (His Word) and ask God to reveal Jesus in greater ways through His Spirit.