The city in which I live has several roads leading into it from the towns in the country. One can in fact choose one of several alternative roads when entering the city. All of these alternative roads would lead into the city, some of which may be longer or shorter.
It is however a different matter when we look at the alternative ways to heaven. There are simply no alternative ways to heaven. There is only ONE way to eternal life. Jesus told us of this one and only way when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6.
1. Importance of Sound Doctrine
Why is sound doctrine so important? What has its importance to do with our salvation?
As mentioned in the introduction to this article, there is only one way to eternal life. Therefore it is very important to know the correct doctrines of the Bible. The Bible says of those who reject sound doctrine,
“Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
Believing and following the wrong or erroneous doctrines will lead to eternal death. On the other hand, believing and practising the true and sound doctrines will lead to eternal life.
Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.
2. Warning Against False Doctrines
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been described as the people of the Book (that is, the Bible). Seventh-day Adventists have traditionally thought of themselves as the people who possess and follow all the doctrines of the Bible.
However, even in the time of Sister White, erroneous doctrines were preached by some leaders of the church. People such as D.M. Canright and John H. Kellogg fostered erroneous doctrines which were contrary to the correct doctrines of the Church.
It is not that much different in the Church today. With our current church membership at more than ten million, there is bound to be some people or leaders in the church who expound erroneous and false doctrines.
The Bible has given warnings against false doctrines:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.
3. The Test of True and False
How may we determine the truthfulness of any doctrine?
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine.” 2 Timothy 3:16. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Titus 1:9.
The Bible is the test of all doctrine. Whatever does not harmonize with this, is not to be received. Besides that, God will lead into the truth any person who is willing to do His will. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17.
4. A Lesson From Church History
In the early days of the Christian church, Satan used persecution to destroy the newly established church. But persecution only served to strengthen the church and helped it to grow.
Realizing that, Satan changed his tactics.
“Satan therefore laid his plans to war more successfully against the government of God by planting his banner in the Christian church. If the followers could be deceived and led to displease God, then their strength, fortitude, and firmness would fail, and they would fall an easy prey.
“The great adversary now endeavoured to gain by artifice what he had failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its stead were substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperity and worldly honour. Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death and resurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.
“Now the church was in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire, and sword were blessings in comparison with this. Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise. Others were in favor of yielding or modifying some features of their faith and uniting with those who had accepted a part of Christianity, urging that this might be the means of their full conversion. That was a time of deep anguish to the faithful followers of Christ. Under a cloak of pretended Christianity, Satan was insinuating himself into the church, to corrupt their faith and turn their minds from the word of truth.
“Most of the Christians at last consented to lower their standard, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism. Although the worshippers of idols professed to be converted, and united with the church, they still clung to their idolatry, only changing the objects of their worship to images of Jesus, and even of Mary and the saints. The foul leaven of idolatry, thus brought into the church, continued its baleful work. Unsound doctrines, superstitious rites, and idolatrous ceremonies were incorporated into her faith and worship. As the followers of Christ united with idolaters, the Christian religion became corrupted, and the church lost her purity and power. There were some, however, who were not misled by these delusions. They still maintained their fidelity to the Author of truth and worshipped God alone.” – Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 42-43.
5. Two Classes of Christians in the Church
“There have ever been two classes among those who profess to be followers of Christ. While one class study the Saviour’s life and earnestly seek to correct their defects and conform to the Pattern, the other class shun the plain, practical truths which expose their errors. Even in her best estate the church was not composed wholly of the true, pure, and sincere. Our Saviour taught that those who willfully indulge in sin are not to be received into the church; yet He connected with Himself men who were faulty in character, and granted them the benefits of His teachings and example, that they might have an opportunity to see their errors and correct them. Among the twelve apostles was a traitor. Judas was accepted, not because of his defects of character, but notwithstanding them. He was connected with the disciples, that, through the instruction and example of Christ, he might learn what constitutes Christian character, and thus be led to see his errors, to repent, and, by the aid of divine grace, to purify his soul ‘in obeying the truth.’ But Judas did not walk in the light so graciously permitted to shine upon him. By indulgence in sin he invited the temptations of Satan. His evil traits of character became predominant. He yielded his mind to the control of the powers of darkness, he became angry when his faults were reproved, and thus he was led to commit the fearful crime of betraying his Master. So do all who cherish evil under a profession of godliness hate those who disturb their peace by condemning their course of sin. When a favorable opportunity is presented, they will, like Judas, betray those who for their good have sought to reprove them.
“The apostles encountered those in the church who professed godliness while they were secretly cherishing iniquity. Ananias and Sapphira acted the part of deceivers, pretending to make an entire sacrifice for God, when they were covetously withholding a portion for themselves. The Spirit of truth revealed to the apostles the real character of these pretenders, and the judgments of God rid the church of this foul blot upon its purity. This signal evidence of the discerning Spirit of Christ in the church were a terror to hypocrites and evildoers. They could not long remain in connection with those who were, in habit and disposition, constant representatives of Christ; and as trials and persecution came upon His followers, those only who were willing to forsake all for the truth’s sake desired to become His disciples. Thus, as long as persecution continued, the church remained comparatively pure. But as it ceased, converts were added who were less sincere and devoted, and the way was open for Satan to obtain a foothold.
“But there is no union between the Prince of light and prince of darkness, and there can be no union between their followers. When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted from paganism, they entered upon a path which led further and further from the truth. Satan exulted that he had succeeded in deceiving so large a number of the followers of Christ. He then brought his power to bear more fully upon these, and inspired them to persecute those who remained true to God. None understood so well how to oppose the true Christian faith as did those who had once been its defenders; and these apostate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrines of Christ.” – Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 43-45.
6. Peace, or Sword?
The door of the church is open to receive those who truly believe in and accept the doctrines of the church. The church has good reason to rejoice when members are brought into the church to strengthen it and further the cause of truth.
That same door of the church remains open however, so that those who find themselves mistaken in accepting the doctrines of the church are able to leave the church through the same open church door. There can be no union between the believers of truth and the believers of erroneous doctrine.
“How, then, can the gospel be called a message of peace? When Isaiah foretold the birth of the Messiah, he ascribed to Him the title, ‘Prince of Peace.’ When angels announced to the shepherds that Christ was born, they sang above the plains of Bethlehem: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Luke 2:14. There is a seeming contradiction between these prophetic declarations and the words of Christ: ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ Matthew 10:34. But, rightly understood, the two are in perfect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is a system which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony, and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ’s bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns their sins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge upon them its just and holy claims. It is in this sense—because the exalted truths it brings occasion hatred and strife—that the gospel is called a sword.” – Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 46-47.
7. Persecution in the Last Days
“God permits the wicked to prosper and to reveal their enmity against Him, that when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquity all may see His justice and mercy in their utter destruction. The day of His vengeance hastens, when all who have transgressed His law and oppressed His people will meet the just recompense of their deeds; when every act of cruelty or injustice toward God’s faithful ones will be punished as though done to Christ Himself.
“There is another and more important question that should engage the attention of the churches of today. The apostle Paul declares that ‘all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ 2 Timothy 3:12. Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber? The only reason is that the church has conformed to the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of persecution will be revived, and fires of persecution will be rekindled.” – Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 48.
We have seen the importance of sound doctrine. There are two classes of Christians in God’s church; those who choose to accept and follow the true doctrines of the Bible and those who do not. These two classes will remain in the church until the real persecution of the last days when the mark of the beast will be enforced. Persecution will then cause a visible shaking in God’s church. God’s true and faithful believers will remain unshaken in their faith and courage in the truths of God’s word, whereas those who are now indifferent and careless in their spiritual life will not be able to stand in the great time of trouble. These are the ones who say that it is not possible to be perfect and to overcome sin through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth which God has given to His last day church.
May God help us to realize our spiritual needs and to wake up out of our spiritual sleepiness and to be zealous and courageous in preparing for the last day events as prophesied in the Bible and in proclaiming the last message of mercy to the world.
Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You so much for giving us Your word the Bible. Please help us to see the importance of the sound doctrines that are contained in Your word and also the counsels and instructions which You have given to Your last day church through Your last day prophet Mrs. Ellen G. White. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
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Questions for Thought:
1. Why is sound doctrine important?
2. Will believing and following erroneous or false doctrine lead to eternal death?
3. Which of the two classes of Christians in God’s church am I?