Doctrine of Christ

Sermon for Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Doctrine of Christ

Text: John 6

The word doctrine and teaching mean same when it refers to the content of what you believe or teach.  When I say “teaching” I am referring to the content of what is taught and the act of teaching it.

Usually, only one Greek word is behind both English words in our English Bibles.

Titus 2:

[1] You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.

I have known people who reject the need to be concerned about doctrine.  They do not like doctrinal preaching.  They say, “Just love Jesus”, but Jesus said “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Consider these examples: “Preach Christ, but not doctrine.  Preach Christ, but leave others alone.  Christ, yes.  The church, no.”

The doctrine of Christ could be the teaching about the person of Christ or what Christ taught, which would be his teaching.  However, it is not a question of one or the other.  Belief in both are important.

We noted something similar in last Sunday’s lesson.  People want to ignore everything in the Bible except the Ten Commandments, yet they do not keep the Sabbath!

The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 is not a summary of the Bible or a list of all we have to do.  The Sabbath requirement does not even apply to us today.  And yet, people will ask “Does your church keep the Ten Commandments?” as if this is all one has to do.

Note that things like the church, God’s plan of salvation, and Lord’s Supper observance are not found in the Ten Commandments.

I have heard preachers argue we need to preach from the gospels rather the more doctrinal Acts and the rest of the New Testament.

There is a danger when we try to reduce the gospel to just a few things.  Instead, we must do as Paul did and consider “the whole will of God” (Acts 20:27).

The gospels alone do not represent the “whole will of God.”  And yet, even the gospels provide with many more obligations to obey God than those who limit themselves only to the gospels.  For example, we are told in the gospels to live our lives in keeping with the truth of God’s word:

John 3:

[21] But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

This truth about how to live comes from God’s word.  We can see this in our text in John 6.  Jesus uses the literal bread he feed in the feeding of the five thousand in verses 1-4 to talk about himself and his word as the “bread of life.”

John 6:

[51] I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

[52] Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus is speaking figuratively about himself but notice the disciples reaction.

[60] On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?”

[61] Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?  [62] Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!  [63] The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.  [64] Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

[66] From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

[67] “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Jesus teaches about his message and his person; that is, who he is.  He comes from heaven and his message gives life.

Now let us examine some doctrine found in the gospels:

1) Jesus and the incarnation:

In John 6, Jesus was leading the apostles and his other disciples to a greater understanding of who he was.  His word is the bread of life.

[63] The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

Compare Hebrews 4:12-13.

John 6:

[33] “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  [34] “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

[35] Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

[41] At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

[42] They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Jesus and the incarnation:

Some also think that even about the person of Christ is not important.  A speaker at a Christian university told his audience that “God will not ask of us doctrinal questions, such as Jesus’ virgin birth, but he will ask, ‘When I was hungry, did you feed me?  When I was in prison, did you visit me?’ ”  So, what is the speaker saying?  Is he saying that our beliefs about the virgin birth are not as important as our beliefs about ministry?  Or, is he saying that God will allow us to reject the doctrine of the virgin birth as long as we do ministry?  The Bible says that Mary was “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18) and “The virgin will be with child” (v. 23).

The doctrine of the virgin birth is fundamental to faith in the incarnation of Christ.  To doubt or deny that Jesus was born of a virgin is to doubt or deny what God says, and to believe that ministry trumps this important doctrine is to believe in salvation by works.

When it comes to the doctrine of Christ, we should have faith in who Jesus is as well as what he taught.

2) Jesus and baptism:

Some preachers try to help people see Jesus but they only reveal a part of the picture.  They present Jesus as healing the sick, but they do not show Jesus being baptized of John or baptizing others.

Notice, however, that John 4:1 that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John did.  Thus, baptism was a very prominent part of the ministry of Jesus.

John 4:

[1] Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—

[2] although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

Note that Jesus commissioned the apostles to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations and baptize them.

Matthew 28:

[18] Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

[19] “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

[20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

One cannot preach Christ or cause people to see Jesus without seeing him being baptized, baptizing others, and commanding his apostles to baptize others.

Some religious leaders try to show Jesus feeding the poor and helping the needy, but never show Jesus attending worship services at the synagogue.


3) Jesus and church attendance:

Jesus promised the apostles he would build his church (Matthew 16:18).

Luke 4:

[16] He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.

The point is this:  Jesus regularly attended worship services and he commanded his disciples to worship God regularly.

To preach Jesus without showing him regularly attending worship services and commanding his followers to do so as well is to fail to preach the whole counsel of God.

Hebrews 10:

[24] And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

[25] not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

4) Jesus and doctrine:

John 7:16   Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own.  It comes from the one who sent me.”

Whether it is the doctrine about the person of Christ or the teaching of Christ, it is imperative that all believe and accept it.

2 John 1:

[9] Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

[10] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

[11] Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

Acts 20:27  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

To show Jesus to the world, we must inform them fully of what he did, but we must also known his doctrine.

All doctrine in the Bible comes from God and is revealed by the Holy Spirit and is essential to know and obey.  Notice what Paul commanded Timothy to do concerning the importance of doctrine:

1 Timothy 4:

[13] Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

[15] Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

[16] Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Acts 2:42  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…

J B Myers

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