FIRST THE KNOLEDGEPrint This Page.
We have said that Christianity does not emphasize doctrines. Rather, it emphasizes the person Christ. Even when some doctrines are mentioned, they are few in number, and when you go about expounding them, they always point back to a person. If you turn to the four Gospels you will be amazed to find that everything recorded is just a description of Jesus of Nazareth. There must first be the knowledge of who He is; doctrines come afterwards. We have ascertained the person of Jesus Christ. Now we want to take a look at the doctrines of our faith.You cannot find many doctrines in the four Gospels. Neither are there many doctrines in the Acts of the Apostles. One finds doctrines only after coming to Romans. This is exactly what we have said before, that you have to know who Jesus Christ is before you can understand what His doctrines are all about.Concerning doctrines, there is also a vast difference between those in Christianity and those in other religions. I would like to mention again that the fact that I am a Christian does not mean that you have to feel and see things as I do. I will not take such a presumptuous attitude. I will only present the facts again, showing the difference between Christianity and other religions. I will not decide what is good or bad. You are asked only to examine the facts. If you think that this is right, then believe in it. Otherwise, take your choice. Emotional words are unnecessary here. I will, therefore, make no plea or invitation.Observing all the religions that are before us, you will see that all of them emphasize doctrines, not a person. Whether Confucius or Lao-tze, who they are and what they teach are two different things. They are two separate entities. Their doctrines do not have much to do with their person. You can take the person away from the religion, and it will not make much difference. The person only preached the doctrines, but he became disassociated from that which he preached.This is not the case with our faith. When did Christian doctrines come into existence? It was after the death, resurrection, and departure from the world of the person Christ that the doctrines began. All doctrines came later. Moreover, all these doctrines are centered upon Christ. The doctrines and Christ are inseparable. First you have Him, then you have His doctrines.For example, there is a doctrine in Christianity that speaks of the union of God and man. It is a very important doctrine. If you open the Bible to see how this can be, you will see that the source of such a doctrine is the fact that God became a man—Jesus. He is God mingled with man.The Bible does not present a doctrine of God becoming one with man. Rather, it shows Jesus of Nazareth, who is a sample of God being one with man. Originally, God and man were separate; there was a wide gulf between them. There was no possibility of union. But the Nazarene came. He was God coming to be a man. He was the bridge between man and God, joining the two into one. This is not a doctrine that teaches people to be one with God. Here is the fact: henceforth, when a man is in Christ, he can be one with God.THE SOLUTIONAnother very important doctrine in the Bible concerns death. The Bible depicts man as being totally corrupted, without any possibility of being reformed. The only solution is death. A man is like a piece of worm-infested wood with no chance of being carved or shaped. The only destiny for him is the fire. Death is the solution. Only dead people will not be proud if you praise them a thousand times. Only dead people will not be angry if you rebuke them repeatedly. Only dead people will not be tempted by sin and will not sin. Death solves all problems concerning sin.But how can we die? How can such a death occur? A religion will exhort you to die. Be dead! If you are dead, sin will no longer have an object to work on! But how can one die? By committing suicide? By throwing oneself into the sea? Or as the old Chinese scholars have said, by considering everything that is past as dead yesterday? No! All these are methods of common religions. They are not the Christian teaching.EXPERIENCES BASED ON A PERSONThe doctrine of death is absolutely related to Christ. His person determines His doctrines. Jesus died. What does the Bible say about this? It says that the world died with Him (2 Cor. 5:14). His death was to sin; hence, the whole world is dead to sin. Originally, the whole world was in sin, being dead in it. Only Jesus was not affected by death. He did not die of sin; He died to sin (Rom. 6:10). If we are one with Him, we are also dead to sin by His death (v. 11). Sin will not have an object to work on. All the problems of sin in us will be solved.This is the doctrine of Christianity. It is a fact that is absolutely tied to the person Christ. It is not an exhortation for people to conduct a moral life and repent from their wrongs. These are not Christian doctrines at all. Since Christ has died, whoever is in Him is also dead, thoroughly dead, to sin. Sin has no more grip on us. If Christ had not died, there would not have been any doctrine. All experiences and doctrines are based upon this person Jesus Christ.Another fact we have is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died and was resurrected. Hence, on our side, we are not only dead to sin, disassociated from it; we are regenerated and a new creation in the resurrection of Christ. All these are bound to the person Jesus Christ. No accomplishment is by us. Everything depends on Him.The Bible is not completely void of teachings. However, all the teachings rest on the person Christ Jesus. Only when He has a certain experience can there be a certain doctrine or teaching. Every single doctrine or teaching is bound to His personal experience. His incarnation is the basis of the union of God with man. His death is the basis of our dying to sin and self and the foundation of a life of holiness. His resurrection is the basis for receiving our new life. Everything we have obtained is based on what He has attained. The doctrines are absolutely based upon the person and bound to the person. This is genuine Christianity. This makes our faith different from all other religions.MAJOR RELIGIONS DEMAND TO BE HONESTOnce when Christ Jesus was about to leave the world, He spoke of a very amazing doctrine. Of course, this doctrine is again closely related to Him. He said, "I am the way and the reality and the life" (John 14:6). Perhaps you have heard others quote this passage. He said that He is the way. He is the way to overcome sin. He is the way to overcome the temptations of the world. He is His own teaching! All the ways to victory are Him.He also said that He is the reality. We have often heard people say that there is reality in So-and-so's words. Sometimes when someone puts forth a theory, we call it reality. In geometry, when we have proved that this equals that, we say that we found a truth. But the reality that Christ Jesus speaks of is Himself. He is the reality.Moreover, He is the life. He does not merely preach a doctrine and ask you to work it out yourself; He is the very life-power to perform what He preaches. Religion tells you to be honest and not to lie. Maybe someone has come and told you, "Exercise yourself not to lie. Every time you lie just bite your tongue once." I think that if we were able to recognize every lie we told, our tongue would be in two pieces before the day was over! Since our life is a human life, there is no possibility for us to not lie or sin. The life of man is absolutely impotent in this respect. Merely to give you some nice, lofty doctrines, while leaving it up to you to work them out, is not the way of Christ.The Bible says that He makes you able. That ability is of Christ. As long as you are in Him, He is your life. He can make you not lie, no matter what kind of a person you are!No other founder of a religion is great enough to uphold these three items: the way, the reality, and the life. All of man's experiences are included in these three things. Whenever you do something, you always have to decide whether or not it is worth doing. This consideration is a weighing of the reality. After the decision is made, you have to find a way. And after the way, you must have the power. Whenever you set out to accomplish something, you always have to pass through these three steps: the way, the reality, and the life.All three are inseparable. You are not given reality first, then the way, and then left to yourself to find the life. Every one of these three items is found in one person. When you have Him, every problem will be solved. This is Jesus. This is our faith. As long as there is a way to Him, everything will follow.TEACHING USSELES WHITHOUT HIMWhen we look at a few passages in the Bible, we easily discover that when the Bible mentions a doctrine, it always says that it is "in Christ." The words "in Christ" are constantly mentioned. Some passages say, "by Christ." But "by Christ" is not the best translation. It is better in those instances to translate them as "through Christ." God does not give things to us directly; they have to go "through Christ." In addition, there are phrases like "with Christ" and "together with Christ." They show the position Christ occupies in the Bible. Everything has to be through Him. Receiving Him is receiving His doctrines. Without Him it is useless to have any of His doctrines.NO RELATIONSHIP IN THEIR CREEDSThe above cannot apply to all other religions. You can be a devotee of other religions, abiding by their every creed, without having anything to do with the founders themselves.In arithmetic, there is a table called the multiplication table. You can find the product of any two numbers from one to nine from the table. Everything is arranged neatly. Do you know who formulated this table? I am afraid that millions who use this table never know who made it. But you can use this table without knowing the person who made it. All common religions are like this: you need not have anything to do with their founders, but you can apply their doctrines. The doctrines and those who preached them have no relationship with each other.In Kaifeng I met a foreign missionary. He had heard my preaching. I discovered that he was related to the doctrines of Christ but not to Christ Himself. He told one of my former classmates, who is also now my co-worker, how to practice the teachings of Christ and expound the theologies in the Bible. My co-worker asked him, "Can you touch people by these? Has anybody repented, forsaken his sins, and had his life changed by your preaching? Do you have such power?" He was dumbfounded by my co-worker's words.RELATIONSHIPThe source of our faith is Christ. If we have no relationship with Christ, we have no power. The doctrines of Christ are absolutely joined to Christ. The gem of the doctrines lies in Christ. It is useless to merely infer and discuss in an outward way.Let us now look at the book of Romans in the New Testament. I will not give many explanations. Rather, I will merely present the facts to you. We want to see what the Bible says.Romans 3:22, 24: "Even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ to all those who believe, for there is no distinction;...being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." These verses say that a man receives forgiveness of sins and justification before God by the redemption of Christ Jesus. They are based on a relationship with Christ. Without redemption, the sins of man cannot be forgiven.ALL IS RECIEVEDRomans 5:1: "Therefore having been justified out of faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ."Verse 2: "Through whom also we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast because of the hope of the glory of God."Verse 10: "For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled."Verse 11: "And not only so, but also boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."Everything that we have received, such as justification, reconciliation, standing in grace, salvation, joy in God, etc., is received through Jesus Christ. Simply by going through Him, we inherit all these.THE GIFTRomans 5:15: "But it is not that as the offense was, so also the gracious gift is; for if by the offense of the one the many died, much more the grace of God and the free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ have abounded to the many."Verse 17: "For if by the offense of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."Because of Jesus Christ, the grace and gift of God can be bestowed upon all men. We can also reign in life due to Him. Verse 21 says, "In order that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The receiving of eternal life is through Him. It does not depend on the good behavior of man.THE PERSONRomans 6:6: "Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves."Verse 17: "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you have obeyed from the heart the form of teaching into which you were delivered."This is a vital doctrine in our belief: that by faith, we are crucified with Christ, and the old man is annulled. I do not crucify myself. When Christ was crucified, I was crucified with Him. By this I am set free from sin, being no longer a slave to it. In this way I can reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. This is a big doctrine that hinges on the person Christ.LIBERATEDRomans 7:24-25: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin."Here is a man who was constantly defeated by his own fleshly lusts. When he was at the end of his hopes, crying for deliverance, he saw the way of salvation: liberation by the Lord Jesus Christ. The power of liberation is also in the Lord.Romans 8:1: "There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. "Condemnation" does not refer to any ordinary kind of condemnation. According to some recently discovered old manuscripts of the Bible found in Egypt, this word has two meanings. The first is a legal term; the second is a common daily expression. In the legal context it means condemnation as a verdict. But in its ordinary usage it means impotent, powerless, bound, etc. For this reason I will translate this portion as, "There is now then no impotence..." There is no more weakness and inability.Verse 2: "For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death." Here are two laws. Originally, we were all bound by the law of sin and of death. Now the law of the Spirit of life has freed us; we are no longer under the control of the law of sin and of death. The law of the Spirit of life is in Christ Jesus. Have you seen this? Once again, our relationship with Him sets us free.Verse 10: "But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness." Since Christ is in me, I can live.MORE THAN CONQUERORS IN HIMRomans 8:35, 37: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?...But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us." Although there is so much trouble outwardly, we are still more than conquerors. Strength is obtained by going through Him. Not that we are able in ourselves. It is all by Him and through Him.In the same manner, verses 38 and 39 say, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Why can nothing separate us from His love? It is not because of our virtues, but because this love is "in Christ Jesus our Lord"! Love is tied to the person Christ. When we are in Christ, we are in this inseparable love.