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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Witnesses Unto Me JUNE 22


And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. 2 Tim. 2:26, 25.

A person said to me some time ago, "I have accepted Christ as my Saviour. I feel no necessity for doctrine." But without Bible teachings or doctrines, religion becomes an affair of the feelings. Doctrine has been abused. Men play with doctrine as something that belongs to the intellect rather than with life. Then people are likely to adopt only what is convenient.

Our text begins with the advice "The servant of the Lord must not strive." Men do strive about doctrine and creedal statements. They get into controversy when others hold religious opinions different from their own. The tendency then is to alienate people. So people come to believe that the best thing to do is to stress Jesus and de-emphasize doctrine. Intellectual knowledge becomes separated from knowing Jesus. Disagreement prevails in the first case; unity in the second.

We are to proclaim the faith in the spirit of Christ, without harshness, contention, or strife. Any separation between Jesus and doctrine leaves much to be desired. It is easy to lose sight of the uniqueness of the faith we hold. We must not shift our message and responsibility from doctrine to Christ. What gives our message its great importance is the whole truth as part of our response to Christ.

This does not mean that Christians will find everything sweetness and light. A man's foes can be those of his own household. But this should be none of our making. We are to have the spirit of love, not strife. This is how Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon witnessed to their faith. They stood firm for their unique beliefs in such a way and with such a quality of life, that kings and princes were won over to their side.

A Christian without Biblical doctrine is a rudderless man, tossed to and fro. He is not securely anchored. Love does not destroy doctrine or make it unnecessary. It puts life and meaning into it. Let this be so witnessed that men can agree that our specific doctrines have made us more like Christ in every way.

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