How it strengthens our faith and rejoices our hearts to read the testimonies of the Holy Spirit-inspired writers of Scripture who found the Bible sufficient for their every need! And how sad it is to find today Christian leaders teaching that the Bible is deficient for modern man and needs to be supplemented by humanistic myths. For your encouragement in the faith consider again what the writers of the Old and New Testaments had to say about the sufficiency and perfection of God's Holy Word. Therein He has given to us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness," making us "partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Pt 1:3-4).
Psalm 1 makes it clear that those who obey, delight in and meditate upon God's Word day and night will be like healthy trees growing beside a river. Their Holy Spirit-empowered lives will produce fruit for God in abundance and perfection—without any help from the philosophies of men. In Psalm 19 David exults, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart....More to be desired are they than gold ...sweeter also than honey...and in keeping of them there is great reward" (vv 7-11). Psalm 119 declares, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word....O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies...I have more understanding than all my teachers...I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. ...Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...." (vv 9,97-100,105). Examples could be multiplied of those who found God's Word not only sufficient but "the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jer:15:16). How much more should we!
Like the Old Testament saints and the early church, we too should find our joy in obeying God's Word—and believe that it provides all the counsel we need. Yet Moody Monthly, March 1989 (p 23), declares that it "is imperative" for those coming out of cults "to get professional [i.e., psychological] counseling...it could be harmful to survivors to expect them to rely totally on prayer and Bible study." Dwight L. Moody, who taught that we should "rely totally on prayer and Bible study," would denounce such a statement were he alive today! It suggests that not only Moody, but Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Spurgeon, and all of the Christian leaders down through history (including the apostles and prophets themselves) suffered from a lack of the modern psychological insight now provided daily over Moody radio by "Christian psychiatrists" Minirth and Meier. To thus declare that the Old and New Testament writers were deficient in their understanding and lives, and in what they passed on to us in God's Word, because they lacked the additional "truth" that would be revealed centuries later to Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, et al. is blasphemous heresy which we must oppose!
The sufficiency and importance of biblical truth and doctrine is presented powerfully in John's brief second epistle. John mentions truth five times in the first four verses. He then warns about deceivers who pose as Christians but who deny the doctrine of Christ. Showing how essential sound doctrine is, he declares that anyone who "abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (v 9). He then commands separation from such persons. How important, then, is the current battle being waged for sound doctrine!
Weep as you read Kenneth Copeland in his December 1988 Believer's Voice of Victory: "the unity of the faith...won't be based upon doctrine. You see, doctrine doesn't unify. It divides....It doesn't matter what your doctrine is....We'll be unified by the Spirit of God...[when] we'll drop our silly list of doctrinal demands and come together in the unity of faith." To Copeland and the others in the positive-confession movement, "faith" is a "positive force" for producing miracles that has nothing to do with the truth and the doctrine of Christ which John says is essential. According to Kenneth Hagin in Having Faith In Your Faith, even non-Christians can "develop God's laws of faith" and get miracles. This is religious science and the rankest of heresy, yet it is regularly taught and defended on the two largest Christian TV networks: TBN and CBN.
Most of the epistles were written to correct doctrinal error. Why bother, if "it doesn't matter what your doctrine is"? In fact, doctrinal purity is essential not only for salvation but also for living the Christian life. Paul wrote to Timothy, "Thou has fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions...." (2 Tim:3:10-11). Doctrine was the very foundation of Paul's life. And so it must be of ours. Yet Norman Vincent Peale presents a "gospel" which he says can be embraced by "Catholics, Jews, Protestants, people who have no religion, and...[those] hostile to religion." What is Peale's gospel? "Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities!"1 Robert Schuller proclaims the same humanism, yet like his mentor Peale, he is acclaimed as an evangelical leader.
The Pope promotes a similar ecumenism. He recently declared that the efforts of "Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists [etc.] ...were unleashing profound spiritual energies in the world and bringing about a 'new climate' of peace.2 The "Virgin Mary" who allegedly appears at Medjugorje, Yugoslavia agrees. She speaks much of "conversion," but like Mother Teresa she does not mean conversion to Christ. Her message can be "accepted by Catholic, Protestant, Moslem or Jew.3 "Mary" declares, "Everyone worships God in his own way with peace in our hearts."4 What happened to the false gods?
Such universalism is condemned by John's statement that "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not "in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 Jn 9). Why? Because Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me" (Jn:14:6). This statement is foundational to the "doctrine of Christ" that John says separates true Christians from the rest of the world. In defense of that doctrine, millions have died as martyrs of the faith.
Truth is the issue, and it both unites and divides. It unites those committed to it, and at the same time divides them from all others who oppose sound doctrine. It is bad enough to propose "unity" between fundamentalism and modernism, Protestantism and Catholicism. The ecumenism of "Christian psychology," however, that attempts to unite theology with psychology, the evangelical faith with the teachings of godless humanists, is far worse!
No evangelical would interpret "I am the way" to mean that Christ is only one of many ways to God; or "I am the life" to mean that the life He is and offers needs supplementing from other sources. To do so would be a complete denial of the doctrine of Christ. Nor can His statement, "I am the truth," be interpreted to mean that He is only part of the truth. Yet this is the pernicious effect of "Christian psychology's" specious slogan, "All truth is God's truth." No longer Christ and His Word alone, but now Freud, et al. are also legitimate sources of "God's truth." There is no reason, then, why Mary Baker Eddy, Buddha, the Hindu Vedas, etc. may not also be accepted as sources of "God's truth." This heresy is so persistent that I make no apology for dealing with it again.
The "all truth is God's truth" myth is a basic denial of the doctrine of Christ which declares that Christ is the truth. "God's truth" is "as the truth is in Jesus" (Eph:4:21). Christ the Living Word is revealed in the written Word: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Jn:17:17). Christ did not say, "If ye continue in my word...ye shall know part of the truth and you shall be made partially free. There is more truth yet to be revealed through godless humanists that will liberate future generations more completely than I can now free you through my Word and my Spirit alone." Yet that is the teaching of "Christian psychology." In Can You Trust Psychology (p 97) Gary Collins writes, "The Bible speaks to human needs....But God in his goodness also has allowed us [Freud, Jung, et al.] to discover psychological truths about human behavior and counseling that are never mentioned in Scripture but are consistent with the written Word of God and helpful to people facing the problems of modern living." Here is another example of what we mentioned last month: the subtle redefinition whereby biblical no longer means derived from God's Word, but derived elsewhere, then declared to be consistent with Scripture.
Those who proclaim that "all truth is God's truth" confuse the truth with mere facts of nature. That the latter are not included in the former is quite clear from what Jesus said: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come...whom the world cannot receive...he will guide you into all truth" (Jn:14:17; 16:13). Since all truth is revealed only by the Spirit of God "whom the world cannot receive," and since "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor:2:14), if science were part of "God's truth," then all scientific discoveries would have to be made only by Christians. Yet non-Christians make great scientists. So even if psychology were a science, which it is not, it would still not be part of "God's truth," which is revealed by God only to His own.
God's truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit in His Word sets us free from sin and leads us into victorious living. It has nothing to do with science, but involves the moral and spiritual part of man. As soon as science pretends to deal with spiritual truth it has overstepped its bounds. Physics, chemistry, medicine, etc. make no such pretense, but "Christian psychology" does, which is why it is so fallacious and dangerous.
The doctrine of Christ forms the basis for a victorious life of "love, joy, peace, [etc.]" through the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal:5:22-23). What is that doctrine? That Christ is God himself become man to die for our sins. Resurrected and ascended on high, He comes by His Spirit to live in those who open their hearts to Him. Christ likened Himself to a vine that pours its life through us, the branches, to produce fruit in us for the Father. This dynamic union is no mere mystical experience, but is itself based upon doctrine, i.e., what we believe and understand of "the truth as it is in Jesus." John's declaration that we must abide in the doctrine of Christ elaborates upon Christ's statement, "Abide in me" (Jn:15:4). As with Paul, so for us today: the lives we live must spring from the doctrine of Christ and be consistent with it.
So essential is sound doctrine that the Holy Spirit through John commands that those who "bring not this doctrine" are not to be received into our houses nor are we to "bid [them] God speed" (2 Jn 10). This does not mean that we may not invite Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, etc. who knock on our doors to come into our homes for a discussion. However, we must do so only to evangelize them, making it clear that we oppose their false teachings. This must be our consistent stance toward all who deny the doctrine of Christ, even though they pass for Christian leaders in today's church.
Can't we "just love people" and "accept them" for who they are? In fact it is because we love them that we point out their error and seek to correct them. Our Lord said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev:3:19). Love is not a mushy acceptance of false teachers. John writes, "This is love, that we walk after his commandments" (2 Jn 6), and that involves standing firm for the doctrine of Christ. The whole purpose of Christ's coming was not to "accept us as we were" but to rescue us from what we were and to change us into what He wanted us to become. If Christ is truly dwelling in us, then we will want to do the same for those to whom we "[speak] the truth in love" (Eph:4:15). TBC