Summary: Could it be that wolves have been in the doctrine henhouse of our churches and we haven't realized it? Could it be that even the strongest Bible believers miss the key doctrines? What doctrines should we hold to?
Wolves in the Doctrine Henhouse
Could it be that wolves have been in the doctrine henhouse of our churches and we haven't realized it? Could it be that even the strongest Bible believers miss the key doctrines? What doctrines should we hold to?
Jude, the brother of Jesus, addressed this when he said, "I found it necessary to write and encourage you to struggle for the trust that was once turned over to the sacred people. You see, certain people sneaked in. They were written about a long time ago with this same judgment: they are godless people. They turn our God's kind generosity into wild behavior, and reject the only boss, God, and our master, Messiah Jesus. (Jude 3b-4 - http://www.bibleang.com)
There is a certain body of information that God expects people to hold to. This body of information is what Jesus taught during His life. At the end of His life He turned it over to His apostles and disciples.
This information was turned over once. The information at that time is the information people should hold to.
This information is not the entirety of what the Bible teaches. It is not what tradition has handed down. It is not what teachers and preachers teach today. It is what Jesus taught. It is nothing more and nothing less.
Not only should Christians know this information, they should struggle for it. When people say something else, they should point them back to the words of Jesus. When they find themselves heading off in a different direction, they should pull themselves back.
Yet the sad reality is that Christ's teachings were set off to the side a long time ago. Christians know His teachings. They have read them. But they are just childhood stories to them. They are not important. They do not understand them. They do not practice them. Their churches do not have them in their doctrinal statements. And they definitely do not struggle for them.
It is All About Trust
Jude calls this body of information, the trust (the faith). What Jesus taught has to do with trust: what to trust, how to trust, how trust works, etc.
The reason for this is that the spiritual world is invisible. We cannot see it. God is in the spiritual world and we cannot see Him. We cannot see the Spirit. We cannot see angels. We cannot see the kingdom of God. We cannot see what Jesus is doing for us. Jesus told us about these things. We must trust what He said and live as if it were true because it is. This is trust.
Godless People Sneaked In
But there is a problem. Wolves have been in the henhouse. Godless people sneaked in. They said they were Christians. They said they were teaching God's Word, but they were godless. God was not god of their lives. Self was the god they listened to. So when they came up with a new doctrine or idea, they did not compare it to God's body of information, the trust. They did not struggle with it to see if their new idea agreed with God. They just slapped tape over God's mouth and hung their idea on it.
For almost two thousand years this has gone on, godless people have sneaked in and changed the trust. They have done so in every area of Christianity: in contemporary churches, in traditional churches, in children's classrooms, in adult classrooms, in the denominations, in the non-denominations, in colleges, and in books.
The body of information that Christians trust today is not the teachings of Jesus because godless people have given them new teachings to trust.
Prayer - Tradition vs. Jesus
Consider the area of prayer.
Jesus taught that when a person prays, he should find a private place and pray to God in private. He should not "pray standing in the synagogue" (Mark 6:5-6). Yet every church I know does the "pray standing in the synagogue" thing. That is how they do prayer. When a prayer is said in church, someone stands up and prays out loud as others listen. This is a direct violation of what Jesus taught.
How did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed in private places by himself (Matthew 14:23; 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 11:1). He did this often. He did not pray in public or lead people in prayer. When the crowds gathered to hear Him teach, He did not begin or end with prayer. He just taught. Prayer was not a public thing to Jesus. It was private.
But two thousand years of tradition has changed the way prayer is practiced. In the Middle Ages prayers were read by the priests in Latin. No one understood what was being said but they were called prayers so they had to be beneficial. Today priests still read off prayers for their parishioners. How can people think that a prayer read out loud from a prayer book can replace the private conversation Christians are supposed to have with God? Yet, churches copy priests by having someone pray for everyone. For some Christians it is the only prayer they experience. But it is prayer that Jesus forbids.