LEARNING GOD’S OWN DOCTRINE
What He Says, Not What Men Say
A Call Back to the Bible by
Gary Ray Branscome
“We speak very clearly, // for if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost” (2 Corinthians and 4:3).
One of Satan’s greatest lies, a lie that has kept millions from understanding the gospel, leads men to assume that the Bible is full of dark and mysterious statements that need to be explained by someone. Once that lie has been accepted Satan has the person who believes it in his snare.
In order to see the evil effects of that lie upon our society you only need to look around you. The cults are full of people who have bought into that lie, and as a result run madly after some false prophet who claims to have the correct explanation. The Church of Rome is full of people who rarely read their Bible because they have been told that they cannot understand it. And, there are others who just read their own ideas into the text, believe what they please, and never come to the knowledge of the truth because they have fallen for the lie that, “what the Bible says is all a matter of opinion.
In opposition to Satan’s lie, I want to testify to the fact that the entire body of doctrine, the doctrine God wants you to believe and teach, is set forth in statements that are so clear they need no explanation. Statements that can be understood by anyone who can read. These statements are not produced by theologians, they are the words of Scripture itself. All the theologian does is find them and arrange them according to topic, taking care not to place any meaning on the words other than the natural grammatical meaning of the words, the same meaning they would have in everyday conversation, the meaning given them by usage and context. Let me give just one example:
“Search the scriptures; for in them you think that you have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me”. John 5:39
“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God”. 1John
Since both of those passages tell us that the Bible was written to testify of Christ, a theologian might group them under the heading, “The Purpose of Scripture”. However, the point that I want to make is that those passages need no explanation. The words mean just what they say. Of course I realize that some people might reject what they say. Such people may even invent elaborate “interpretations” aimed at getting around what they say. However, that does not mean that the Bible is not clear! The Bible means just what it says. And, the doctrine that God wants you to get from those passages is what the words themselves say, not what some man claims that they say. [See 2Peter , Isaiah , Psalm 107:11.]
In keeping with that truth, there is one important distinction that every Christian needs to learn, and that is the distinction between what the Bible says, and what men claim that it says. That distinction may seem obvious, but Satan is continually trying to confuse the two. Consider this example:
In Exodus we read, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”. Those words are perfectly clear! Nevertheless, men who want to accommodate the Bible to their secular worldview have developed elaborate explanations aimed at getting around what the Bible says. However, their rebellion does not change what the Bible says, or make it any less clear. On the contrary, Christ has warned us that false prophets will arise and will deceive many (Matthew 24:11). We are even warned that some will come in “sheep’s clothing” and will appear as angels of light (Matthew , 2Corinthians -15). Therefore, forget all of the made-up explanations devised by men and teach what the words of Scripture actually say (2Corinthians ). God wants you to teach what He said, not what men say.
When I tell you that the Bible says, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” I am stating a fact, not an opinion. It is a fact that can be verified by anyone willing to look up the passage (Exodus ). It is also a fact that the Bible says that each of those days had an “evening” and a “morning” (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). And, God wants you to teach those facts, and all of the other facts that are clearly and explicitly stated in Scripture, not the opinions of men.
Satan’s Back Door Attack
The idea that the entire body of doctrine, everything that God wants us to believe and teach, is revealed in passages so clear that they need no explanation seems rather simple. However, Satan has come up with various ways of discrediting it, confusing the issues, and keeping people from learning the truth.
One of his ploys is to get those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity to loudly claim that it is not taught in Scripture. Nevertheless, that is just another one of his lies. While the word “trinity” is not found in Scripture, that word is just a name, a name men have given to a doctrine that is taught in Scripture. For example:
The Bible plainly tells us that, “There is one God; and there is none other but He” (Mark ). That statement is fact, not opinion. The Bible also tells us that:
The Father is God; “Jehovah, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; and we all are the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
The Son is God; “And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God” (John ).
And, the Holy Ghost is God; “But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost ... You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3-4).
There are many other passages that I could add, but, rightly understood, the doctrine of the Trinity is the perfect example of what I have been saying. Namely, that the doctrine that God wants us to teach is plainly stated in Scripture, “truth upon truth; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-10).
Another ploy that Satan uses is have people who are reading unscriptural assumptions and ideas into the text, claim that they are only teaching what the Bible says. There is one particular sect which claims that the Bible is it’s creed, when in fact it reads unscriptural assumptions into the text, draws unscriptural conclusions from those assumptions, and explains away what the Bible actually says whenever it does not agree with their ideas. Let me give just one example:
The Bible tells us that “all unrighteousness is sin,” and that includes the unrighteousness of a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (1John , Jeremiah 17:9). Nevertheless, the sect that I just mentioned denies that anything other than a willful act is sin, and will quote the words, “sin is the transgression of the law” to justify that belief (1John 3:4). However, it should be obvious that 1John 3:4 does not say anything about sin consisting only of willful acts. But, they do not teach what the passage actually says! The explanation they use to support their beliefs turns the passage around to say, “transgression of the law is sin”. They then assume a political definition of “transgression of the law” (as a willful act) when in truth God’s Law is much stricter than man’s law. That reasoning is then used to produce a conclusion that says what they want to hear.
Now, my reason for mentioning this is to illustrate the importance of teaching exactly what the Bible says, without any explanation. If you do that you will have God’s own doctrine. That doctrine (the doctrine plainly stated in Scripture, without any explanation) is the standard by which everything else in the Bible is to be interpreted. Any idea or interpretation that contradicts a clear statement of Scripture is to be rejected (Isaiah ). Furthermore, we should never attempt to create doctrines out of interpretations, or interpret the Bible to teach doctrines other than those given to us by God in the clear passages of Scripture. The words, “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation,” tell us that the Holy Spirit will never give anyone their own private interpretation of a passage (2Peter ). And, the words, “we have not written anything to you, other than what you read,” tell us that the only meaning God wants us to get from His Word is what the text actually says (2Corinthians 1:13).
The Clear Light of God’s Word
The following passages set forth the doctrine of the “Clarity of Scripture”. Psalm 119:105. Psalm 19:7, 2Timothy , 2Corinthians , , 4:3.
These set forth the doctrine of the “Purpose of Scripture”. John and , 1John , John and , Luke 24:25-27.
These set forth the doctrine of “Divorce”. Deuteronomy 24:1, Matthew and 19:7, Malachi , 1Corinthians .
Furthermore, all of the doctrines clearly stated in Scripture relate to Bible history. All that the Law says about our sin and need of a Savior relates to the Fall, for it reveals our fallen nature. All that the Bible says about Christ, the fact that He was without sin and the fact that He is both true man and true God, relates to the Virgin Birth. And, all that the Bible says about our salvation relates to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
Moreover, the doctrines that set forth the truth of our salvation are plainly revealed in Scripture. The doctrine of Universal Condemnation, Romans 3:10-20. The doctrine of the Proper Relationship of Law to Gospel, Romans 3:19-24. The doctrine of Justification by Faith, Romans 3:21-28. The doctrine of Imputed Righteousness, Romans 4:1-24. The doctrine of the Atonement, Romans 5:6-11. The doctrine of the Fall and Redemption, Romans 5:12-21.
God does not want us teaching our own opinions and interpretations. All interpretations are the word of man. He wants us to teach His Word not our word. And, doing exactly that is important to the salvation of souls. For example:
The verse, “You are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” is a clear statement of Scripture that means just what it says (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Likewise, the verse, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” is also a clear passage. However, together they tell us that God’s grace is His mercy (Titus 3:5).
The verse, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” then tells us that the “grace” which saves us consists of the “forgiveness of sins,” and that that forgiveness is available to us through His blood (Ephesians 1:7).
The words, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us of all sin,” then assure us that Christ has atoned for all of our sins (1John 1:7).
In that way, all of the doctrinal truths that are plainly stated in Scripture, “line upon line; here a little, and there a little,” agree together, giving us the doctrine that God wants taught (Isaiah 28:10).
It is totally dishonest for men to read their own opinions into the Bible, interpret it to agree with their own ideas, and then call their conclusions the Word of God. Those who do so are not only adding to God’s Word, they are lying in God’s name (Proverbs 30:6). The only doctrine that can honestly be called “God’s Doctrine,” is the doctrine that is actually written down, the actual words of the text without any explanation.