Doctrine of Christ
Jesus said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. 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: 16,17. Our Lord Jesus Christ took not upon Himself to put forth a doctrine of His own. Rather, as the servant of God, He faithfully delivered the words of the one who sent Him. Gal. 4:1.
Jesus told His disciples before He left, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." John 20:21. Therefore, we have diligently searched to find out The Doctrine of Christ. Now, with thankfulness in our hearts, we set forth that doctrine for your edification.
In Heb. 7:11,12,19, the Apostle Paul declared that it was the inability of the Levitical priesthood to bring about the perfection of God's people that made the coming of Jesus necessary. Thereby we better understand Paul's instance, in Heb. 6:1,2, that perfection is the goal. That is what Paul is referring to in Phil. 3:14, where he urges us on toward "the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
To say "The Doctrine of Christ" is to say that this doctrine is set forth for the perfection of God's Elect, "the Church which is His Body." (Eph. 1:22,23) The Doctrine of Christ is "the plummet," in Zechariah 4:10, giving us cause for rejoicing in that the standard of faith and uprightness for God's elect has been found.
Paul said, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." Heb. 6:1. As he continued in verse two, he named the six principles of the doctrine of Christ: 1) Repentance from dead works; 2) Faith Toward God; 3) Baptisms; 4) Laying On of Hands; 5) Resurrection of The Dead; 6) Eternal Judgment. Therefore, there are seven facets of the doctrine of Christ, Perfection being the seventh.
All believers in Jesus Christ can, and should, be edified by the truths herein set forth. However, in no way do we mean to imply that conformity to all of these things is necessary unto redemption for all who accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.
As a father giving instructions to his young son, the Apostle Paul gave a solemn admonition to a young bishop who was one of his own converts to the faith. He told him to, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." 1 Tim. 4:16. We know that adherence to some doctrine, as any other work, does not merit redemption nor forgiveness of sins for anyone. Rather, Paul is talking about maintaining our justification before God by obedience to his instructions.
In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul explained that this saving doctrine is to be found in both the Old and New Testaments. He said, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16.
Most, if not all, believers adhere to some doctrine; some of which is scriptural, and some of which is not. As Jesus said, they "do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Consequently, we sometimes set forth doctrine without knowing all of the scriptures on the subject. When we do so, we set for doctrine "the commandments of men." Of course, all doctrine which is set forth with understanding of the scriptures is good and edifying, whether it be doctrine concerning redemption, holy living or The Doctrine of Christ.
Not For Everyone
Why, then, take a select group of His teachings and make a special issue of them, and call them The Doctrine of Christ, as Paul did in Heb. 6:1-2? The Old Testament is shadow of the good things which were to come in the New Testament era. (Heb. 10:1) Under Moses, there was the law in general and with it "The Covenant, the ten commandments." (Exod. 34:28) Israel "took their vows" with God at Mount Sinai. They were unfaithful to that vow by their idolatry and God gave them a writing of divorcement. (Jer. 3) Then according to Paul's explanation in Romans chapter seven, more than four-hundred years later when Jesus died on the cross, Israel suffered the devastation of the prophecy "Ye shall know my breach of promise." (Num. 14:34) Jesus died on the cross that we "might be married unto another, even Christ." We who? All Christians? Nay, but some Christians must be the bridesmaids, and others must be the guests at the wedding.
It is obvious by Isaiah 35:8 that not all who believe in Jesus Christ are wise, and those who are not wise are not required to attain unto perfection. The mercy of God reaches out to all of us, and His forgiveness is great toward us all but there are rules by which we all must stand before God. Those rules are not the same for everyone. We know thereby that Heb. 6:1-2, was not written for all Christians, including "wayfaring men, though fools." For whom then was it written?
God told us, in Leviticus Chapter 22, that a freewill offering did not have to be perfect to be accepted, but that an offering for a vow had to be perfect if it were to be acceptable. It is that qualification which is, doubtless, applicable to those who present themselves for acceptance in the beloved. It is also apparent from Matt. 19:11 that all of the things which Jesus taught were not applicable to all believers. When Jesus' disciples seemed perplexed at a comment which he made about divorce and remarriage, He appeased them with these words of explanation. "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given."
In Eph. 5:27, Paul compared Christ and the Church to a man and his wife. As he did so, he said, "That (Jesus) might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Therefore, someone must "go on unto perfection." How shall this be achieved? By the Doctrine of Christ, when "unto her (is) granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." 1 Cor. 9:24. God has given us the means of obtaining that prize. It is contained in this unique document: "The Doctrine of Christ." The process of election is not yet complete. There are both individuals and groups in the race today. But they must strive by God's rules. They must find out "the mystery of his will," to know exactly what it is that God wants us to do and how he wants it done. Therefore, let us be as those "more noble" saints at Berea, who searched the scriptures to see whether those things were so. Acts 17:10,11.
"Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding." 2 Tim. 2:5-7.