Watchfulness in respect of the doctrine

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If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him … (2 John :10)

Have you ever noticed how often Scripture warns against false teachers and false doctrine? If all the parts of Scripture that deal with these matters were put together, you would have a very thick book indeed. False doctrine is a matter that concerns the Lord very much.

As an aside, would you be able to find a Bible text that says something like: ‘Don’t be too fussy about doctrine … show some tolerance’?

The apostle John does not come across as a fanatic but rather a friendly person. However, as soon as there’s false doctrine around, he turns emotional and abrupt. He is aware that false doctrine is linked to the antichrist. He warns the churches against permitting false teachers to speak in their meetings. That is the meaning of the words: … do not receive him into your house nor greet him. Yes, indeed, the apostle continues: … for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Even so, many do admit false prophets into their pulpits, are happy to receive their ‘blessings’, and allow them to officiate at the celebration of holy Supper. In this manner they share in their evil deeds.

You don’t want that, do you?

Therefore, thank the Lord when your pulpit is protected against false doctrine. Or, if that is not (or no longer) the case, refuse immediately to accept any responsibility for that situation. To be sure, taking that position will lead to a break; but not every break is forbidden by the Lord. Indeed, He commands us to break with false doctrine. As soon as the church refuses to do so it begins to become false, meaning that it is no longer the legitimate church. When that happens, the believers have the duty to separate themselves from that church.

What a blessing it would be for our nation if all God’s chosen children stuck to these rules of God’s Word. Calvin writes: “Accordingly, as the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so does discipline serve as its sinews … Therefore, all who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration – whether they do this deliberately or out of ignorance – are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church” (Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 12.1).

It must be possible for those who err in doctrine to be branded as godless people, especially if they are church ministers.

 

Rev R Hoogsteen,Watchfulness in respect of the doctrine” in Joh. Francke (ed.) Your Only Comfort: A Bible Daybook, Pro Ecclesia Printers, Armadale, Western Australia, 2017, p. 217. Slightly edited for the website.