Road 101: Session 4: Doctrine
Topic: Gospel Passage: 1 Timothy 6:3–6:6
Christopher Rich –February 5, 2017
Wk #4 Doctrine |1 Timothy 6:3-6
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our Road 101 sermon series covering who we are, why we exist, what we do, and why we do it. This is a time to reinforce for those who have been a part of our church and integrate for those who are new so we can be unified as a family on mission together. Today we will look at at key doctrines we believe the scripture teaches and how theology leads us to greater faith and flourishing. Gospel Truth should form us as a Gospel Community, pursuing Gospel Living.
What is Theology? Theology is the study of God and all He has revealed. All of us believe something about God. A systematic or structured approach to Theology is any study that seeks to answer the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today about any given topic?” (Grudem). Answers relative to each topic are called DOCTRINES Whatever doctrines we hold to, biblical or not, forms our worldview. Our worldview answers questions such as: What do you believe about God? What is His overall purpose in the universe? What is the purpose of human existence? Are humans born essentially good or essentially evil? What do you believe about the Bible? What do you believe about salvation? What do you believe is the way a Christian should live?
We are all theologians! Each of us has some basic theology and a system of doctrines. The question is not if you’re a theologian, but what type of theologian you are. What informs what you believe about God? Is your experience? Have had these things happen in my life so thus these things must be true. Is it your education/intellect? I’ve studied these philosophies and other great thinkers and I agree with them. Is it your emotions? I feel certain things about the world and God and my feelings are king so if I don’t like the way something makes me feel it must be wrong. When our theology is ruled by any combinations of these then when we hear something new, different, or contradictory we run them through these lens and we become the judge of what is true right and good about God, the world, etc. If we don’t agree, don’t experience, or simply don’t like the way something makes us feel, then it must be wrong, evil, etc. This set us up as the ultimate individual authority of truth, doctrine, and practice which is both convenient and destructive. We need to have our theology informed and reformed by some authority outside of ourselves to clearly process our experiences, enlighten our intellect, and ground our emotions that pull us in different directions. As Christians our worldview and theology is processed through the Bible, God’s word to His people. Some of our theology is good, some is bad. So we test our “personal doctrines” to see whether what we believe is actually biblical. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Why talk about theology? While Damascus Road Church is affiliated with various networks each with clear theological guardrails, we feel it important to identify what Damascus Road believes and teaches theologically. We do not expect everyone to fully understand or believe every aspect of Damascus Road’s Theology to be a member; but do expect you to be willing to not be divisive concerning the teaching. Because theological belief is not a requirement for membership, our goal not to convince you of a particular theology nor tell you why we believe what we do, but to just try to identify and explain our beliefs. There are numerous topics, doctrines, and ideas which faithful, bible-believing, historic orthodox Christians have disagreements about. We have no interested in dividing with or distancing ourselves from other churches, Christians, or traditions, however it is necessary for us to distinguish what our church, and the networks we’re affiliated, believes the bible teaches and how it informs how we live. As a church we want to have a God-centered Theology. This may sound simple but it’s not because of sin, we buck against this. We have to move the target from our story and glory to God’s story and His Glory. Sound teaching is necessary to help us constantly recalibrate as we are prone to wander from the truth of the gospel.
1 Tim 6:3-6 | 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,
Good Theology leads to great humility. Humility needs to define our pursuit of God’s truth. Any study of God’s word, of theology, that doesn’t lead to great humility before God and others has completely missed the point! It should ALWAYS lead us to greater reverence before God and greater patience and kindness to others, particularly to our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you have spent more time arguing or debating doctrine with Christians then sharing the gospel with unbelievers you have completely missed the boat. Let us be a people defined by humility. Being defined by humility doesn’t mean we neglect sound theology by avoiding doctrinal discussions and pursuits some how believing “doctrines divide, and no creed by Christ” is a path to greater peace and joy. We believe there are key “close handed issues” we will not budge on, but many “open handed” issues we can disagree on without being disagreeable, dividing our membership, or distracting the mission. But we don’t nitpick with theological snobbery, but we exhort and desire theological clarity and strive where possible for theological accuracy. Because we believe sound and good doctrine leads to greater, purer worship of God and joy in life with Him and His people. We are not looking for the minimum amount of doctrine we should believe to be considered a Christian and have salvation, but the maximum amount of knowledge and communion with God and His people to understand Him, His creation, His people for us to reflect His glory in our lives and enjoy the life He’s given us.
Good theology lead to maturity. We seek to be Christians growing in maturity as we move from mother’s milk to manly meat. Seeking to expanding our faith and equip our lives so a study of theology actually expands God’s Lordship in our lives. A study of theology opens our eyes to all of the little parts of our lives God is concerned with. Without studying theology, we may limit the “topics of doctrine to the essentials of Christianity. God has something to say about all aspects of our lives (e.g theology of parenting, theology of money, theology of work, etc.). Studying AND applying sound theology leads to greater confidence and joy in our lives. Conversely, bad theology gives us bad lens to see the world leading to greater frustration, less fruitfulness, and ungodliness as wrong belief lead to wrong living. Good theology grows our faith and delight in God. Time and time again, the Psalmist speaks about delighting in the Word of God. Jesus compared the Word of God to the bread on which men live. It brings ultimate satisfaction and contentment. Therefore, as our theological understanding of God grows, so should our joy.
How would we describe ourselves theologically? We start with a simple, if imperfect, analogy to help describe doctrinal and practical distinctions. There is a WORLD of theological thought, ideas and practice. Yet we do not dwell in nor identify with every part of the world. We exist and do life in a unique place.
1. We are first Christian (WE LOVE JESUS) This is the “United States” as a distinct country from nearby Canada, Mexico, and distant from China, Sudan, or Vanuatu. There are borders to this “country” you must have your allegiance to Jesus as THE savoir of God’s people. Believe He is THE son of God (not a son of God), He died for the sins of His people on the cross, truly resurrected from the dead, and will one day return to judge the world and usher in a new heavens and a new earth. Faith in Jesus work in your place is necessary for salvation. Apostle Creed.
2. We are second Evangelical (WE PREACH JESUS) This is different regions of the same country (we’re not Roman catholic, or eastern orthodox in our belief and practice, and We are Protestant in our theology. Meaning there is one mediator between men and God, priesthood of all believers (not pope/holy father/priest), the Bible not the church or church history is the final authority on doctrine and practice, active work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and the church. Necessity to preach the gospel to both non-believers and believers. We are people of the book, and the Gospel of God’s grace to sinners.
3. We are third Missional (WE LIVE LIKE JESUS) The Gospel that saves us is the gospel that shapes us. We are saved for a purpose live a new life on mission for our king. The Great Commission, given by Jesus, was not just a charge to evangelize the world; it was a command to learn what Jesus taught. Theology prepares us to teach and engage with others. As we feast on God ourselves, we are able to feed others whether they are our children, our friends, or the non-believing world. We are not only learners; we are ambassadors of the King. Sound doctrine, is a precious deposit that we are to guard and entrust to others.
4. We are fourth Reformed (JESUS GETS THE CREDIT FOR EVERYTHING) This is what it means to be “God-centered” in our theology. God Saves Sinners and is sovereign over all of life. What is Historic (Reformed) Theology? Christianity is divided into four main divisions today: 1) Eastern Orthodox 2) Roman Catholic 3) Protestant 4) “Christian” Cults. Damascus Road church is Protestant in our theology. Within the Protestant group there are primarily two theological schools of thought:
Dispensational theology: A system of Protestant Theology that began in the 1830’s with the writings of John Nelson Darby. Among the general doctrines of this system are the distinction between Israel and the church as two groups in God’s overall plan, the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, a future literal fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel, and the dividing of Biblical history into seven periods or “dispensations” of God’s way of relating to His people. (Overwhelming doctrine in America)
Historic (Reformed) theology. Reformed theology is Protestant theology, but as it was developed during the time of the Protestant Reformation, as opposed to Protestant theology developed in the last 200 years. Among the general doctrines of this system are the emphasis of God’s sovereignty in salvation and all of life, God having one people and one church (since the beginning) for which there is one plan, a variety of end times views including a-, pre-, and post- millennial, and the division of Biblical history according to the various covenants of God and His story (creation, fall, redemption, and consummation). Damascus Road Church is reformed in our theology.
History of the Reformation In the 1st century, very soon after the completion of the Scriptural letters of the early church, other men such as Clement of Rome and Polycarp began to write about and defend the Christian faith. Over the next several hundred years, various battles were fought over the nature of Christ and the gospel which resulted in official councils that met to protect the early church from heresy including Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451). Unfortunately, over several hundred years, the Roman Catholic Church became corrupt in its teachings, most notably their doctrine of salvation by works. In the 16th century, controversy and an ensuing division began to form between the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the true teachings of Scripture. The formal rejection of corrupt Christian doctrine and the passionate return to historic sound doctrine was called the Protestant Reformation. German-born Martin Luther published the 95 Thesis (1517) as a protest against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. Some specific aspects of Reformed theology can also be found in the writings of the French-born pastor John Calvin (1510-1564). Reformed theology was the primary belief system of Protestants from the various denominations springing from the Reformation (Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Anabaptists) for the next several hundred years. Christian leaders such as George Whitfield, Jonathon Edwards, C.H. Spurgeon, and Charles Hodge all held this view. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) both evidence strong Reformed roots.
What does “Reformed Baptist” mean at our church? What we believe today is not new, it is very old. We believe that every generation must engage in theology study so as to understand how to apply gospel doctrine in their culture. At the same time, the core of what we believe as Protestants was fought for by our Christian brothers and sisters. We build on a foundation established by Jesus, given to his apostles, and protected through the church we value the rich heritage of historic orthodox writings, and frequently use them in our studies. We value church history and take it very seriously.
What are the basic teachings from the Reformation? Five SOLAS’s that characterize the theological heart of the Reformation. They represent a direct challenge to the corruption that crept into the Catholic Church and serve as a guide for testing our theology today:
“Sola Scriptura” | Scripture Alone 2 Tim 3:16-17 | 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. We believe that all of Scripture can be trusted. The truth that is conveyed is accurate with what was intended by the original writings. The copies we have were not tampered with to any extent as to change original meaning. The Scripture we have is not simply the opinions of men, but was given through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that Scripture is the sole standard by which we live. This means that we should not live a life that adds to Scripture in a self-righteous effort to be more “holy”, or takes away from scripture denying God takes sin seriously.
“Solus Christus” | Christ Alone Acts 4:12 | And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” We believe Christ is the central focus of Scripture in both the Old and the New Testaments. We believe Christ alone accomplished the work of redemption for mankind. This means He alone is to be trusted for salvation, and acts as our mediator.
“Sola Gratia” | Grace Alone If there is one big idea I want us to have and hold on to is a theme shown and said countless time in scripture summed up in a simple phrase found in Jonah 2:9 Salvation belongs to the Lord. We believe salvation is not simply an assent to intellectual facts, but the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that completely changes who we are through regeneration. We believe our choosing of salvation was a result of God’s supernatural grace working in us We believe that because our salvation is based on grace, we are eternally secure. Those who are truly believers, can never lose the salvation given to them by God. Phil 1:6 |And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
“Sola Fide” | Faith Alone Hebrews 11:6| And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. We believe that God made faith the means for us to obtain all the benefits of salvation including forgiveness of sins and rights as God’s children. Since faith is the only way of salvation, then all who had faith both in the Old and New Testament are part of God’s people.
“Soli Deo Gloria” | Glory of God Alone Eph 1:11-12 | 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. We believe God sovereignly controls all things for His purposes. God is part of or allows every single event to happen God does not exist to satisfy all the desires of humanity, but so humanity can give Him praise for who He is. Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief purpose of man? A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. We exist for God! And His glory. God is for us, but he doesn’t exist for us! God is about God and that is what we want. Why? Because He is perfect. Let’s not be fearful coming to difficult passages and ideas, but let’s try to see how they display God’s character and glory for our joy.
Good clear theology is important. However, theological labels can be both helpful and harmful. Different labels often possess negative connotations generated from bad experiences or misunderstandings. Labels are not nearly as useful as telling people what we actually believe the Bible teaches about God and His salvation. Know that first and foremost, we are Gospel believing Christians. We are Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursuing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. In our own lives and our greatest hope for all is we would simply Trust Jesus.
That is our imperfect commitment to He who is perfect. That said, here is a summary of what we believe using personal pronouns (adopted from www.desiringgod.org):
1. Total Depravity - I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion.
2. Unconditional Election - I believe that God chose me to be His child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)
3. Limited Atonement - I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a genuine offer of salvation to all people, and that He had an invincible design in His death to obtain His chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. Sufficient for all effective for some.
4. Irresistible Grace - When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life.
5. Perseverance of the Saints - I am eternally secure not principally because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work He began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death.
Ephesians 2: 1-10 | And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodyand the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Verses 1-3 | Spiritually Dead
What is our spiritual condition apart from the work of God? Imagine a shipwreck where we’re all in the water needing a rescue. What condition are we in to be rescued?
We believe scripture teaches we are spiritually….
Dead. The raft comes by, a call for rescue is given and we do not respond, a life ring is thrown out and it bounces of our cold floating corpse. This is who we are, because of sin we are unable to respond to respond positively, move effectively, or even recognize we are dead in the water. there is a doctrine in here called “Total Depravity”. Don’t miss understand, this does not mean we always to the worst or wicked thing possible. It does mean we are morally unable, on our own, to choose to love, trust, and follow God. Romans 3 is clear no seeks after God. This is because…. 1. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Spiritually we are dead because of our rebellion and sin. Yet while dead in sin, we are still actively walking in sin like spiritual zombies following the world that is opposed to God and following satan. Here we are, we’re dead in the water, but were still swimming but we’re not swimming towards shore, or a life raft, we are swimming along with the current of the river of the world that ultimately leads to a waterfall of destruction. We look at whatever fad or idea seems to be captivated with at any given time and we march in the same direction everyone else does. We drink deeply of every lie that says God doesn’t love you and there are no consequences for our sin. 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Because of our sin we do whatever we desire (Examples, of sexual sin, gluttony, drinking too much, pride, etc) regardless of what God's desire and will is for us. We disobey God because it is our deepest desire. We always do what we want Bottom line when we are spiritually dead, our deepest desires are always what is our own agenda in all thing. What does our flesh want, what am I passionate about, what impacts me the most? We are slaves to what we think and feel. While dead we are still fighting not for life or joy or goodness but for ourselves and ourselves alone. This is sin and God’s word is clear who we are at our core nature put us born under the just wrath of God, like everyone else. We need to be saved and changed. Dead don’t do anything to help themselves, because they cannot do anything to help themselves.
Verses 4-5 | Made Alive
BUT GOD!!! Not but you, seeing you were in a bad spot in life started looking for the best spiritual options. Not but you, weighing to difference between following the prince of the power of the air and the almighty high King of Heaven decided it would be best to be on the winning team. Not you looking at the course of the world from a sociological perspective and saying I don’t think this is the proper direction decided to jump out of the river leading to destruction. God finally says “whew I am so glad you finally came to a fuller understanding of your condition and made the right choice to turn from sin and follow me. I was worried you’d never come around and one of my people who I desired to spare from wrath would unfortunately fall into eternal torment.” NO! We are not capable of the radical miraculous transformation necessary to take a spiritually dead person and bringing new life. Especially when that person is us! Dead people cannot save themselves because they are dead. Humanity as a whole has been highly effective at taking life and turning it into death, but not the other way around. Only God can take death and turn it into life. This is where things get good!! God intervenes, we are not condemned, He has mercy meaning we don't get the punishment we deserve.
It is more than an irrational belief or radical blind faith, it is a knowing, resting, trust Jesus is God, Jesus does save. I trust Jesus. It is the answer to the countless personal calls we see throughout scripture where God continually says… “come to me”. To “coming to him” means you have to be leaving something else. This is why faith and repentance need to dance with one another because you cannot simply turn from sin without placing faith in Jesus; and you cannot say your faith is in Jesus without also turning from your sin. It’s both AND. In this sense, there is no biblical concept of trusting Jesus as your savior without also submitting your life to Him as Lord. Our problem is that we usually want Jesus to come in and simply have no issue with those parts of our lives impacted by sin, and yet God takes our sin very seriously.
In Him we have an inheritance, we have been given faith as a gift from God so we cannot boast we can only worship. Our worship is living as His workmanship, no longer following the course of the world but now walking in God’s good works that He has prepared for US to walk out as we Trust Jesus!