THE IMPORTANCE OF APOSTOLIC DOCTRINE

Dr. L. Campbell Evans - © 1992

"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Ephesians 2:20-22

Jesus Christ, being the Chief Apostle and the Chief Cornerstone, along with His apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the doctrine of the church that seemed to almost become extinct through the dark ages and many generations due to religious mindsets. What started as a mighty blaze that could be seen and experience around the various regions began to diminish to a flickering flame. But the fire of His Word would not burn out and the eternal candle of truth continued to burn in the hearts of men and women down through the generations to bring renewal and restoration through the centuries.  Today, the Spirit of God is breathing afresh to ignite the hearts of the people of God with revelation and understanding concerning the foundational principles of the church of the living God to set into motion the building of His holy temple as a spiritual habitation.

There is an awakening taking place in this generation that is facilitating the restoration of apostolic doctrine for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Few there seem to be in our generation that understand and have the ability to perceive what God is doing in this hour.

Matthew 15:8-9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Over the centuries, the church has been easily influenced by corrupt doctrines that have come through the commandments of men. With each succeeding generation, new formulations of doctrines begin to surface which are newly formulated as a result of changing times, social and economic cultures and environments. It is rather amazing that even still today, the church finds herself giving way to the same doctrinal errors those before us, especially since Jesus Himself stated, "So Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself" (John 7:16-17). The source of ALL SOUND DOCTRINE is only to be found and can only be established through none other than God Himself! And all leadership has the awesome responsibility to insure the establishment of sound biblical doctrine to the body of Christ.

"Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;" Ephesians 3:5

The mysteries of God and the stewardship of the doctrines to be set forth in the church were put into the hands of the apostles and prophets. Although apostolic doctrine was firmly in place in the early church, it has steadily diminished down through the generations in relationship to its acknowledgement, acceptance, and authority to the church today. Few there be that actually realize its strength and its' vitality to the stability and spiritual growth of the church. Since the institution of state-wide religion, the church has been struggling through the centuries to return to the foundations which were laid at the very core of her beginnings. Many modern-day theologians seem to agree that what was necessary for the early church is not what is needed for the church today citing the fact that times are not the same and the social culture has changed. These attitudes once again are in stark contrast of the teachings of the Lord Jesus and others.

Acts 2: 40-44, "And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation! So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching (doctrine) and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common..."

As we can clearly see according to scripture, the Word of God was never taken lightly.  Quite the contrary, in fact the converts were DEVOTED and gave of themselves fully to the apostolic teachings creating an environment for powerful moves of the Holy Spirit.

The doctrines (teachings) which were being established were the same every where and did not change with the whims of men. Paul state in his letter to the Corinthians that Timothy would remind them of his ways and what he was teaching in every church. That his teachings never changed as he went from place to place in the furtherance of the gospel. It was this consistency, this scarlet thread if you will, that lent validity to the doctrines of Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:17 says, "For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church."

This is where the apostles in the Bible and the apostles in the early century church differed from the apostles of today. We aren't all teaching the same thing in every church! Many of today's apostles are focused on their positions and acceptance in the mainstream church rather than demanding the reformation that the Lord is requiring of His church today. The apostles of the early church were not swept away with the idea of being apostles! Today, character issues of ministries are not being dealt with which is a far departure from earlier times, and sound doctrine is being forsaken through the guise of 'religious' traditions which replace the desire of God with mans. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life are still precipitating destructive patterns and religious ideology.

Galatians 1:6-12 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul was very adamant about the teachings of Christ and gave stern warning concerning the problem of false doctrine. And, he rebuked Peter because he had allowed this false doctrine to come in. But Peter had a true heart and an amazing quality, HUMILITY. He would maintain the purity of the gospel even in the face of embarrassment. Galatians 2:11-16 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

It seems that almost all who come in the guise of apostleship say they know the ways of Christ and yet they do not agree in their doctrines, nor do they walk together! This is a direct contradiction to scripture and the heart of God. Today, it seems that we find a different denomination on every street corner and ALL OF THEM ARE RIGHT! The doctrines of today have created a mindset of secularity, exclusivity, and self righteousness as a result of having departed from true apostolic doctrine..

"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Apostolic doctrine will maintain stability and endurance in the hearts of the believers as it is imparted through the five fold ministry. It is within this impartation of truth in love that the body of Christ begins to grow and mature in the faith, no longer children who can easily be swayed by the doctrines of men! False doctrines cannot stand the test of time and cannot empower the believer to withstand the testings and trials that are before them. The equipping of the saints can only be accomplished through the scriptures which are the word of God.

" And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Ephesians 4:11-15)

Note the following exhortations from the Apostle Paul

I Timothy 4: 17 says, "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience...."

Romans 16:17-18 says, "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting."

Matthew 24:3-5 says, "As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will mislead many."

Timothy II 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

We now find ourselves in a time of reformation as God moves upon the hearts of His people. This move of the Spirit cannot be held back by men or false doctrines any longer. Truth shall prevail and the garment of righteousness and praise shall clothes the people of God once again. The restoration of apostolic doctrine is vital to this reformation and restoration of the church concerning her purpose and design as set forth by the will of God. Sound doctrine (truth) will dispel worldly fables that are so prevalent in the body of Christ and bring to an end the divisiveness and carnality that strips her of her power and credibility.

Now see I Timothy 6: 3-5, "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."

In closing let me say that now is the time that we, the people of God must embrace sound biblical doctrine in order to facilitate the divine order of God in our midst. A new priesthood is arising out of the ashes of complacency and ignorance with a voice as of a trumpet calling the people of God to attention. The walls and cauldrons of Babylon are being crushed as truth releases her voice and is opening our 'ears to hear what the Spirit sayeth." Let us not harden our hearts as the children of Israel did and thereby could not possess their inheritance even though THE WORKS WERE FINISHED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Hebrews 4).