Bible with Cross ShadowWhen I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I was taught to trust and obey my parents completely. They were the source of all truth in my life. They were my guides. I was, with them, a child of man.

Then, I was born of God; becoming His child I learned to trust Him for truth and guidance. His Son became my authority – my King. I learned to obey Him and to love Him; even more than my parents.

My King commanded me to do things; things my parents never would have thought to put on their child. He gave me visions beyond my parents’ wildest imaginations. He loved me in a way they never could.

I could have chosen the limited thinking of my parents over that of my God and King. I could have wrapped myself in their understanding; as protection from the commands of God – from His ways and thoughts. I could have continued living as a child of man.

I suggest to you that many in the church – even followers of Jesus Christ – have not left the childish things and moved on to maturity in the wisdom and knowledge of God. Furthermore, I suggest to you that even well meaning leaders of the church have encouraged their followers to remain in their elementary teachings. This has been devastating to the Body of Christ.

It may be that this offends you. You may be thinking, “Who is he to judge?” Please, at least for a moment, trust that my heart is only for the freedom that comes by the truth of God. I may be wrong and the Holy Spirit still use what follows to make you free.

This article is not about the right and/or wrong of doctrine. It is about the limitation of the doctrines of man to contain the thoughts and ways of God; and the responsibility of church leaders to search out the mysteries of God, and to teach those in their spheres of influence to do the same.

The Doctrines of Man

I grew up in a well established denomination. As with all well established denominations, they had a collection of well established doctrines. I am sure that most of their doctrines were drawn directly from the Holy Bible. I can also tell you that at least some of their doctrines were the doctrines of man.

Again, I am not writing as a judge of doctrines (or denominations). What I am confident to write is that more attention has been given to the doctrines of man than to the mysteries of God. It seems to me that this puts both leaders and followers in a precarious place. In our well intended attempt to protect, we are exposing everyone to unnecessary peril.

The Peril of Not Progressing

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1-3

I don’t know about you, but in the first 25 years of my life in the church, I was not taught these elementary principles; much less, those that we are to “go on to”. 25 years of the doctrines of man, without covering all the elementary principles of Christ!! How is this possible?

Perhaps this is not true for you and your particular fellowship. Perhaps the first half of my Christian walk is the exception (though my experience tells me otherwise). However, if only for the sake of those that have not enjoyed an elementary level of discipleship, let me ask:

What have we missed that would have enriched our lives in Jesus Christ, and our work of ministry for His kingdom? Is this why the abundant life has been so allusive? What about the perilous position that we have been left in (according to the continuation of this passage)?

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrews 6:4-6

I am not sure how else to understand this: Our failure to “go on to perfection” – progressing in God’s truth beyond the elementary principles – leaves us in danger of falling away from the heavenly gift!! I think we all know what the heavenly gift is; so what more reason do we need to search deeper into the doctrine of Christ?

The Doctrine of Christ

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.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 2John 1:9-11

Notice there is a singular doctrine of Christ; not many doctrines. To abide there means to sojourn, tarry, not to depart (, Outline of Bible Usage). Abiding is neither a conditional nor a transitory state. The verb tense used here denotes continuous and progressive action. We are to continue and grow in our abiding in the doctrine of Christ. Those that fail at this “do not have God”. Wow!!

The doctrine of Christ is all that there is to know and understand about Him and His teaching. It is nothing less than the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; reserved for the children of God.

He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Matthew 13:11-12

We are to have more; even abundance. This abundance, found in the doctrine of Christ, includes the thoughts and ways of God.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Just how high are God’s thoughts and ways? They can only be measured by the vastness of the heavens. The farthest star from Earth is approximately 13 billion light years away!!

Consider that for a moment. God has reserved for our understanding, a vast universe of His ways and thoughts. More so, He has encouraged us to search them out; and commanded us to be faithful stewards of them.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.    
Proverbs 25:2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1Corinthians 4:1-2

A Useful Analogy

Consider the doctrines of man to be the house and grounds of a large estate; and the estate to be the vast mysteries of the doctrine of Christ. A good steward does not limit his understanding to the house and grounds of his Master’s property. He searches out what is good and profitable in it; and he leverages what he finds to the Master’s benefit. How can he harvest forests and fields if he does not know they exist?

Like His truth, the purpose for our stewardship is greater than ourselves.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:8-12

God’s eternal purpose is for His manifold wisdom to be made known by the church. That’s us!! In Christ Jesus our Lord, we have boldness and confident access, through faith in Him, to know the mysteries of God. Furthermore, we are to share them with all of creation!!

Some fear to leave the “safe” confines of the house and grounds; afraid they will wander out of bounds and get lost in heresy. This fear of error has a purpose: To make sure our hearts are pure, so that we can explore safely with the Master’s guidance. However, the Master would not have that fear limit our exploration and discovery. As Christian Leaders, we are called to be faithful stewards; and we are called to disciple others in the faithful stewardship of the mysteries of God.

Searching Safely

It is our responsibility – to ourselves, our families, and everyone in our spheres of influence – to avoid the deception of false doctrine (i.e., leaving the safety of the Master’s property). The Master has defined the “property lines” by His word. Men have done their best, by their doctrines, to define those boundaries. However this is an impossible task for mere mortals (based on Isaiah 55:8-9).

We must have a cautious respect of the doctrines of man, but not allow them to bind us from searching further. We can do this safely, trusting God to protect us from wandering off the property, if we follow a few simple principles:

  1. Our hearts are pure and rightly motivated. Those that find themselves “out of bounds” are usually motivated by self-aggrandizement and self-sufficiency. The prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 is a great protection against ungodly motivation.
  2. We recognize that we have been wrong before, and might be wrong again. Most of us would have fought over some “truth” that we once held, which over time turned out to be something less than we thought. The humble heart is the heart to which God reveals His mysteries.
  3. We look to the Holy Spirit and Christ Jesus to be our teachers; remembering that men are only vessels and instruments of the truth. Our ears must be tuned to the voice of God.
  4. Our hearts are bent toward unity – not dismissing someone even when we know they are wrong. One of my favorite teachers has a habit of saying, “It may not mean what I say it means, but it must mean something. You put meaning to it.” God is more interested in our relationships than in our defense of the truth. The truth can defend itself.

NOTE: I hope and pray that these things are true of me and every Foundation article. I would greatly appreciate you letting me know if you see or sense anything contrary to these points. You will be doing me a great personal service.


The truth about “our truth” is that it can be destructive to the Body of Christ. “Our truth” must be protected; for it belongs to us. “Our truth” – whether right or wrong – becomes the doctrines of man, surrounded by strong defenses. Those defenses make it hard for people to get in; and for people to get out. “Our truth” confines the Body of Christ to the house, when God is inviting us to search out an estate of unimaginable proportion.


As leaders in the church, we are called to lead others, beyond the doctrines of man; into the vast mysteries of God. This is a primary component of “making disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” No one can lead where they will not go themselves. Go, therefore, and explore!!


  1. Review the Scripture passages in this Foundation. What were the most challenging concepts about the truth of God? What do you think the Holy Spirit is trying to teach you in this regard? Share this with someone in your spheres of influence.
  2. For more on searching out the mysteries of God, see The Map Maker’s Map #2 – Searching Out the Matter.

Recommended Reading

The following are some of my favorite books on this subject. Most can be found at your local Christian book store, or at one of the many online distributors.

Abide in Christ; Andrew Murray

The Normal Christian Life; Watchman Nee

Humbly yours and forever His,