Teach No Other Doctrine
First Timothy 1:1-7
INTRO: Good morning. I recently read a statement that I found intriguing, the author said conservation is as important as creation. I think what the author was saying, in using that terminology, was that what good is it if something is created and then not maintained?
If something, marvelous as it might be, only lasts for a little while and then it's not around anymore, it has had limited usefulness. My work life consisted in a large part of maintenance. On the farm, in the military and at various companies. I saw, and I’m sure you have too, that unless something is properly maintained, conserved, it’s usefulness will change.
I then thought about this aspect in connection with congregations of God's people—churches. Have you ever known a congregation that was at one time really vibrant and thriving for God, but maybe it’s not around anymore? Others that might be around in terms of being there, but are not faithful to the Lord?
It's a joyful message that's preached and it's a joyful occasion when the gospel is believed and individuals become Christians. A church begins in a particular locality, but it's appropriate to ask whether or not things are in place to make sure that congregation is still there down the road, and will it still be faithful to the Lord? Was it maintained? I think we can all recall Revelation chapters 2 and 3 to see that maintenance is indeed needed and the Lord calls for it.
What are the provisions that God has given us to make sure that that takes place or at least to work towards that end? Can what has been created be sustained? With that in mind let’s explore a bit this morning.
I. We found in Acts chapter 18 that when the Apostle Paul first visited the city of Ephesus, around AD 52 as scholars tell us, he had Priscilla and Aquila with him. There Paul reasoned with the Jews and they asked him to stay a longer time but he could not. It says in the text that he was only able to stay there for a very short time because he was on his way back to Jerusalem. He left Priscilla and Aquila there to preach and to teach the Gospel. Acts 18:21 - “but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.'' And he sailed from Ephesus.”
A. In Acts 19:1 we find Paul had returned to Ephesus and as we read we find he remained with that church for several years. It says he was teaching publicly and from house to house in Acts 20:20. If we look at all the places Paul established churches and all the places where the apostle spent time preaching the Gospel, we might conclude that he invested more time with the congregation at Ephesus than any other church recorded in the New Testament.
B. Then, after traveling through Macedonia and Achaia on his way back to Jerusalem, at the end of his third journey, Paul makes special arrangements to meet with the elders of the Ephesian church at the city of Malitas. He knew that this was the last opportunity he would have to encourage this church that he'd spent so much time with.
1. In Acts 20:22-31 it records what he said to the elders there. “22. "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23. "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24. "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25. "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26. "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27. "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28. "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29. "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31. "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Paul was concerned, and he had a lot to be concerned about.
2. We see in this text that the Holy Spirit has revealed to Paul that there would be tough days ahead going to Jerusalem. But Paul was going to Jerusalem to do the Lord's will. He says not only here, but in other places that danger doesn't bother him. His concern was not for his physical suffering, his concern was for the church, and as recorded in these words in Acts chapter 20, particularly this church.
3. Notice what he's concerned about. Paul may not have expressed all he was concerned about here, but it behooves us to look at what he does mention to these elders. He's concerned for this church, and he told the elders that wolves were coming that would not spare the flock and that some would come from their own number.
C. Possibly ten years after his first visit to Ephesus, the apostle writes the first of two personal letters to a young man named Timothy, who at this point has grown to be Paul's own protégé in the faith.
D. When Paul writes to Timothy in these letters, Timothy is at Ephesus. He's the one who was there teaching and preaching at this church. Paul instructed Timothy to remain there, stay at Ephesus. Why was it so important to Paul for Timothy to remain there?
II. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:1-4 – “1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2. To Timothy, my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4. nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.”
A. The apostle Paul was still concerned about the church of Ephesus. In Acts 20:27 Paul declared, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”
1. Yet, even after the church had received the whole counsel of God, the apostle writes to Timothy and says, stay there, because I'm still concerned about this church. Was he concerned about persecution? Was he concerned about the suffering of the Christians?
2. No. The danger that threatened the church was doctrinal. It had to do with what was being taught in the church itself. Some of the teaching that was being done, what people were hearing, wasn’t truly what God wanted them to hear.
3. Paul understood that the danger still remained that men would come in, even those who were the leaders of the church, and present perverse things, and draw disciples away. Timothy is to charge (the word charge here means command) those who teach, to teach no other doctrine..
B. Teach no other doctrine. The word doctrine is didachē and in the original language means a teaching, or that which is taught. Let’s look at this aspect of teaching no other doctrine. From the context of this passage, what are the implications of this command, this charge, and how do we relate it to our relationship with God today in the Church?
1. The phrase, “teach no other doctrine” is a single compound word in the original language. It is a combination of (heteros) other and (didaskaleo) teach modified by the negative no, or do not. (mē Heterodidaskaleō). This implies that there is an initial, or original doctrine that can be differentiated from others.
2. When Paul says teach no other doctrine, he is implying that there is a first, original doctrine that's different than the ones people might teach. I’ll repeat that; There is an initial, original, doctrine that is able to be differentiated from the others, and that has to be kept in view.
3. For example if Nina gives me a list and says go to the grocery store and get only what's on that list, what would that imply? Would that imply the possibility that I could add something to it? Can I have a list of my own? How should I interpret that command? The command would make no sense if there wasn't an original document or in my example, an original list.
4. When Paul tells Timothy not to allow the teaching of any other doctrine, it implies the presence of an initial and objective doctrine. The original doctrine is objective, not subjective. He doesn't say, make up your own list or that the list will change.
5. He's saying you should teach no other doctrine because there is an original doctrine that's objective and that is intended to be continually retained. Paul is telling Timothy, the one who's going to continue on with that work, saying make sure nobody teaches anything other than what I originally gave. No other doctrine then, implies the aspect of the original doctrine.
C. Would it not also be implied that Timothy was not to allow other doctrines to come in alongside the original? What this command would indicate to Timothy is that God did not want him to abandon the original message, but he also didn't want him to bring something in alongside, and say we'll take both of these Gospels. The idea of no other gospel or no other teaching, involved the aspect here of a singular initial message, that was to be retained, unmodified, and retained by itself, taught alone, with no other doctrine alongside it. That is an important perspective that is denied on many levels today.
D. Paul goes on to partially identify some false doctrine Timothy is to reject in verse 4. “nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” In this verse we see there were those who were placing emphasis on stories (myths) and ancestral lineage (genealogies) as though these had a place in the gospel message.
1. It is difficult to know the specifics of their doctrines or how they were using it in Ephesus, but the message was clear… these additions had no place with the doctrine of Christ. That doctrine was to be received by faith – faith comes by hearing the words of God. (Romans 10:17)
2. However we interpret the genealogies and the myths that would characterize the other doctrine, what Paul makes clear here is that it is not the same thing, it is differentiated from, and it works against the Gospel that came by faith.
3. Any of these other things that could be brought in alongside, the stories and the myths and the fables, the emphasis on genealogies, all of these other things work against the gospel message that's been presented.
4. I believe that there are many things flowing from pulpits today which have no place alongside the doctrine of Christ. There are those who preach the prosperity gospel, and what it means to enjoy physical success in this world. There are political agendas, and human traditions which come from the teachings of men. These things come right from the same mouths that attempt to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and right alongside the message of Jesus on the cross.
5. We dare not be deceived. Those stories, myths, and traditions reflect agendas that have no place alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ. They may even have benefit to those presenting them. Those who put in other things and make them sound as though they're a part of the revelation, the original revelation of God… are teaching another doctrine.
E. The implication of Paul's command is that an objective, continually authoritative truth exists, that is to be retained from generation to generation. It also implies that Timothy understood what this initial doctrine was, and how to distinguish it from “another” doctrine. Paul tells Timothy to have the courage, and to make this distinction apparent to others (those who teach it, and those who might be influenced by it). What is this initial, objective, authoritative doctrine?
III. Later on in this letter Paul writes, 1 Timothy 6:3-5 – “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Paul goes on here to describe in greater detail, the character of this false teaching and this other doctrine and even some of the motivations that are involved in it.
A. It's not hard to recognize that what Paul is saying is that you must hold on to the words of Jesus Christ our Lord and to the teaching which is according to godliness. This is the doctrine to hold on to.
1. That doctrine, as contrasted to ones which should not be taught, is the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. That's the difference. There are the sound words of Jesus Christ and then, everything else, is a different doctrine. The word wholesome as used in the NKJ version, is a word that means sound or healthy.
3. That helps me understand what Paul means here when he says that Timothy was to hold on to the sound words of Jesus Christ. These words of Jesus would make the church healthy spiritually, and maintain it through the years. Jesus words are pure and uncorrupted from the things around and from the world itself.
B. When we think about the word doctrine and how many times it's used in the religious world today, and we look at what Paul says to Timothy about doctrine, how could we ever conclude, like some do, that doctrine is inconsequential to unity or salvation?
IV. Does doctrine make any difference? There are different doctrines. Different churches have different doctrines, and people believe different doctrines. What difference does it make as long as we all believe in Jesus?
A. The Apostle Paul put a very high priority on the aspect of the doctrine, the words of Jesus Christ, for Timothy and for all those who would teach and lead even beyond the apostolic age.
1. He tells Timothy take what I delivered unto you and you commit it to other men who will be able to teach others also.
2. What has been presented originally continues to be presented, and that everything that what it teaches is sound, it is pure, it is healthy. More specifically, it is the words of Jesus Christ that are in view.
B. We understand how important it is for us to preserve ourselves and maintain our health. People can be very dedicated about a healthy diet. They avoid things they know are bad for them in the most part. They do not let their children eat things that are detrimental.
1. You think about what's going to happen on down the road if you put this or that in your food.
2. Today we are even more aware of clean hands aren’t we? In a restaurant I see people take out little bottles of hand sanitizer when they sit down.
3. We are aware of germs and we try to avoid them. Why? Because we want to be healthy so we keep our hands clean. We realize that we help to maintain our health through paying attention to what we eat, what we do and keeping ourselves clean.
C. That's exactly what Paul is telling Timothy. On the spiritual level, the health of the church, the ability of the church to sustain itself, is based upon the soundness of the word that is taught. That's what Paul's concerned about.
1. We might ask ourselves, how could Timothy know the sound words of Jesus? There is no evidence in the Scripture that Timothy was with Jesus, that he personally heard Jesus teach, or that he walked with Him as the disciples did.
2. Did Timothy know the words of Jesus intuitively? Was there a mystical thing that Jesus would reveal Himself to Timothy or speak the words to him personally?
3. No, we can’t assume any of that. In fact, what we see in the text is that the apostle Paul knew where Timothy's knowledge came from.
D. In the beginning of his second letter, Paul again commands Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13 “ Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” There's that word again, sound.
1. Paul is saying, you know what's right, you know what's pure, because I told it to you. Timothy had heard the words of Jesus from Paul the apostle. Paul tells Timothy these original words constitute a pattern to be followed. They are the guide book for what you will believe and what you are to teach.
2. This principle points out to us the authority of apostolic doctrine. The source of the true doctrine that God wants us to teach, one that's healthy for God's people, has to do with this aspect of the teachings of the apostles.
E. It's clear from Jesus own words that He intended to exercise His authority through the apostles. Jesus told His apostles that He had other things to reveal to them that He was not going to reveal at that time, because they were not ready for those things.
1. Though Jesus always taught the truth, He didn't always tell the apostles everything. Look at John 16:12-13 – Jesus says, “12. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come”.
2. Then in John 14:16-17 – “… I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
3. Think about the powerful implications in the words that Jesus spoke to the apostles. He told them, I'm not telling you everything, but the Holy Spirit is going to teach you all truth. You, on your own, will not be able to remember everything, but the Holy Spirit is going to give you the ability to remember everything that I've ever said.
4. If Jesus gave the apostles all truth, if He fulfilled His promise, and He put them in the remembrance of everything that Jesus had taught, then if I'm going to find out what Jesus said, the apostles become the premier witness of that, and certainly that's what takes place.
5. If Christ gives authority to the apostles, then the apostles must be the avenue through which the authority of Jesus is exercised in the first century.
6. In Acts 1:8 just before His ascension, Jesus told His apostles “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” The apostles recognize and express this delegated authority..
7. Paul, speaking as an apostle, said, 2 Corinthians 5:20 – “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God”. The word ambassador means the one who represents or speaks for another.
F. Jesus said earlier in Luke 10:16 – “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
1. 1 Thessalonians 2:3 – Paul writes, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
2. The apostles were speaking audibly, personally with individuals, but they're also writing it down in what the Bible refers to as Scripture. The apostles, under the authority of Christ, in their teaching and their writing, always recognized the absolute position of Christ as the head of the Church. It was His authority they were expressing and not their own.
3. In 2 Corinthians 4:5 – “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.”
4. What we recognize in terms of the history of the Book of Acts is that apostolic teaching emerged as the authority of the New Testament Church.
5. In Acts 2:42, a passage we're familiar with, the very beginning of the Church at Jerusalem. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” When the Church was going to determine what are they were going to do, how are they were going to worship God, and what does God want from them, they continued in the teachings of the apostles.
V. In the Book of Acts as well as the Epistles we find that disputed matters in the Church of the New Testament were settled by apostolic teaching. There were some big problems like circumcision, eating meats sacrificed to idols and how Christians were to live in a pagan society. What we see is that all of those things were settled by apostolic teaching.
A. That's illustrated certainly in the letters of the Apostle Paul. Paul taught in Thessalonica, yet he found it necessary to write two letters to the Church there to correct a misunderstanding about the second coming. He was correcting things that had already been taught but not fully understood. He says, no, this is what God revealed to me. The apostolic doctrine by the Apostle Paul became what settled the matter.
B. Paul spent 18 months at Corinth, and the Church at Corinth had prophets among them, and yet they still had problems. Paul wrote two letters to them, and this apostolic doctrine was to settle these disputes and to bring people's mind to unity.
1. Paul tells them, I'm writing to you, so that you can do what God wants you to do. He tells them not to keep company with those that do evil.
2. This is how you deal with it and this is how it is resolved.
C. Apostolic doctrine, is the true message of the Holy Spirit and will be taught as the continuing standard of the Church. The truth of God was not a dynamic, ever evolving, subjective standard. We do not figure out for ourselves what we're going to do. People were not to meet and put their minds together and come to a consensus or some ecumenical council.
1. It wasn't the idea of a single man and what he thinks being right, but rather it was by the writings of the apostles in the first century that the Church was to be guided.
2. It is that objective standard for every generation of God's people. In the earliest writings of the Apostle Paul, the apostle warned against accepting another standard.
3. In Galatians 1:8-9 - “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Paul says, the validity of a teaching is not just whether or not I say it, or whether even an angel of God would say it, but whether or not it has already been said.
4. Even if I come to you and teach you something different than what was originally taught to you by me, I'm accursed for that. It's what was originally given. It was this original, initial, objective message, that was to be the standard for God's people for all time, and neither men nor angels could change that. What was taught in one Church by the apostles was to be taught in all the churches.
D. In 1 Corinthians 4:16 – “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” Paul says, for this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful Son in the Lord, who reminds you of my ways in Christ as I teach everywhere, in every church.
1. When Paul sent Timothy to Corinth, he told the brethren in Corinth, this is why I'm sending him, so he can tell you what I've taught you before, and he can bring you to remembrance of my ways in Christ. Paul taught that same message everywhere. There weren't different doctrines for different churches. There weren't different doctrines for different geographical locations or different age groups or different cultures. There was one truth.
2. Nothing has changed. There is the scripture. That's what there is. The reason it's that way is because God designed it to be that way. He designed that there be no other teaching, that there be no other doctrine than that which was originally given.
CONCLUSION: In one of the last books of the New Testament, there is a call for unity of practice and faith based on a single source of authority. In 2 John 8-11 – “8. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11. for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” From Galatians one to Second John nine, the message is consistent—teach no other doctrine.
There is one message. Doctrine really does matter. The doctrinal pattern for Christians was drawn for all time in the writings of the first century, and we strive to follow that pattern today. That's why we can, if we in all good conscience are able to do it, call ourselves a people that belong to Christ. We are the church of Christ, not because we belong to some ecclesiastical society, or because we find our validity in a propagation of a particular sect or denomination. We are a church that belongs to Christ because we teach the doctrine of Christ alone.
It is the words of Christ which we strive forever to follow, committed to no other doctrine than the doctrine of Christ contained in Scripture. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. That's where we must stand. That's where Paul told Timothy he must stand… If the church at Ephesus was to survive, Timothy was charged to make sure they taught no other doctrine. Now I speak of the health of the body, the Church, the body of Christ, but as Ephesians 5:30 says, “… we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” Therefore we are encouraged to commit ourselves to the doctrine of Christ for our own spiritual health as well.
Are you willing to submit to the doctrine of Christ alone? The teachings of Christ alone?
Shy away everything that you've heard or anything that you've been taught before, that might very well be based upon the traditions of men. Read what God has for you to do in the Scriptures themselves. That's my urging for you. Not that you believe what I say, because I say it. Not that you believe what's taught by this church, because it's taught by this church and it has the right name, but that you find what you do and what you practice in the pages of the Bible. If you're going to belong to Christ, listen to Jesus. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that does not believe will be condemned. That's doctrine, folks. That's the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Those are the sound, healthy words of Jesus, our Lord.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
Taken from a sermon by Rick Sparks
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