Thoughts from The Bible

Confused By Doctrine

by Sarah Wootten Corinth Missionary Baptist Church

We’ve been looking at the topic of the confused man – someone who believes they have a right relationship with God, and yet are dead in their sins. The Bible is clear that someone can be confused by his actions and wrongly believe that his good deeds save him. Or a person can be confused by his knowledge and lack true faith in Jesus. This week, we’ll end our discussion of the confused man with an examination of a person who is confused by wrong doctrine.

What do I mean when I say someone can be confused by wrong doctrine? I have in mind a person who believes a message that looks like Christianity, but because of their skewing or neglecting major teachings of the gospel, this person is not saved. Not every disagreement about Biblical doctrine falls into this category, but there are things people must believe if they are going to adhere to biblical Christianity. For example, if I disagree with you over the roles of deacons and elders in a local church, no one is calling either of our salvation into question. But if someone says that Jesus isn’t God, then we have a problem (see John 10:30 and 2 Peter 1:1). 

Let’s look at that wrong doctrine first. If someone claims to be a Christian, but believes that Jesus was only a good person and not God, does it really matter? Absolutely. All of humanity has been born into sin (Romans 5:12). Therefore, we are all disqualified to be the Savior that God promised. My guilt cannot take away your guilt. We are just guilty together. But Jesus, being God, is perfectly righteous and without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since He bears no guilt, He could take the guilt of others upon Himself and bear their punishment of sin (Isaiah 53). He is qualified, whereas the rest of us aren’t. A sinful man could never be the promised Savior. God alone saves. If you believe that Jesus is just a good man who bore the sins of the world, then your trust for salvation is not in God, but in a weak, sinful man. 

As another example, let’s look at a mainstream thought that attempts to combine Christianity and universalism – the belief that everyone will ultimately be saved. This idea ignores the Bible’s teachings about God’s wrath toward sinners and cherry picks verses to prove its point. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him,” (ESV). A person might say, “See! God didn’t come into the world to condemn it, but to save the whole world!” However, the next three verses discuss God’s judgment toward the unbelieving and wicked. Clearly, Jesus didn’t have a universal idea in mind when He spoke those words. If you believe that Hindus, atheists, and unrepentant sinners all go to heaven, then you deny the gospel of Christ. The Bible is clear that salvation is only through Jesus (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12).

A countless number of false doctrines exist that we could discuss. This article only scratches the surface. It is not my intention to make a list of core doctrines true Christians must believe to be saved. Instead, I want to help you think. Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Do you believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is? Or are you confusing yourself by believing only those things that sound good to you? Read the Word, and ask the Lord to guide you in understanding His glorious gospel. 

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