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Christianity is much more than getting your doctrine right.

But it is not less.

You can have right doctrine and not be a Christian. You can know all sorts of true things about Jesus and not be saved. The Devil is not unaware of who Jesus really is. The first beings in the Gospels to recognize the true identify of Christ are the demons. You can know true things and not be a Christian.

But you cannot be a Christian without knowing true things.

Some doctrines are absolutely essential. You can know some truths and still be lost, but there are some truths, without which, you will not be found. What we believe about Jesus is one of those truths.

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25)

If you are interested in abiding with Jesus and abiding with the Father, you will care about the truth abiding in you. We will not know God unless we know the truth. Which is another way of saying: You do not get to heaven without theology. The promise of 1 John is that if the truth abides in you, you abide in God and you will receive what is promised to you: namely, eternal life.

So if you care about eternity–if you care about your friends, your children, your parents who do not know Jesus–you will care to tell them and to plead with them about Christ. Because if they do not know the Son–no matter how “spiritual” they are and non matter how nice they are and no matter how many positive things they say about God, all the good things they say about God or how nice they are–they do not know the Father.

Let us not send people into the world with merely a vague notion that Jesus saves without teaching them particulars about the Jesus who does save. Jesus is a Savior for every kind of person, but not every kind of Jesus saves.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know this man, this God-Man, this Son, this Savior, this King, this Christ? Will you get to know this Jesus and never budge from him—the one we find in the word, the one abiding in you by the Holy Spirit, the one you received when you became a Christian? It is not an exaggeration to say that heaven hangs in the balance. Your eternal happiness depends upon it.

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56 thoughts on “Doctrine Matters: Eternal Life Depends Upon It”

  1. Eric says:

    [Jhn 3:8 NASB] 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    So theology is the study of the the ways of the Spirit. (God is Spirit). Theology is the same as the study of wind. If you are gonna study wind, plan on not being able to figure out the direction beforehand. Plan on only being able to know that there is wind and that it certainly has a direction. Why are men studying the path of God. Aren’t they trying to get on course. Somehow they are always behind and can’t predict the course. A thorough theology, will leave you with 0 understanding of what way you should go next and 0 idea of what is right and wrong. How to live will be a mystery, assuming that His word is true and He is indeed like wind.

    Therefore, we must be born again, in a different way than we were the first time. We need to be like wind from birth. If we are already like wind then figuring out the path of wind is a non-issue. We need a new nature from birth.

    Jesus says whoever believes in Him will be saved.

    So you can have theology if you like, but the outcome of theology is this “I have no clue how to save myself, I must believe in Jesus the Son of God.”

  2. A. Amos Love says:

    Doug Espie

    Thank you for your extensive reply and I can agree with most of it.
    See the comments @ November 24, 2015 at 10:50 am
    My questions were about “Which Truth,” and “Which Doctrine.”

    Now I love theology, – “the study” of the nature of God and religious belief.
    And I’m still searching to find “the Truth,” of many different “Doctrines.”
    I’ve changed, added to, subtracted from, my “beliefs,” “Doctrines,” over the years.

    Found out many “Doctrines” I was taught, and believed to be “the Truth,”
    Turned out to be, “Doctrines of Men,” “Commandments of men,” Traditions of men…
    “Doctrines” and “Traditions, NOT in the Bible, NOT “The Truth.”
    That “Make Void,” “Nullify,” “Cancel,” The Word of God. Mark 7:13

    And I anticipate there are some other “Doctrines” and “Truth”
    I will reevaluate in the future.

    Since, at one time, I believed error in “Doctrine.” And had NOT “the Truth.”
    But was still “Trusting in Jesus,” for salvation and eternal life…
    I can NOT go along with these statements…

    1 – We will NOT know God unless we know the truth.

    I knew God. Knew God had redeemed me.
    Even when I did NOT know much of “the Truth.”

    2 – You do not get to heaven without theology.”

    And I knew I had eternal life because I had Jesus.
    Even when most of my “theology” was “Traditions of men,” and a little screwy-louie. ;-)

    This is why I wrote…

    This… errr… stuff… sounds like what Jesus was referring to…
    When He taught, warned, the multitudes and His Disciples…
    About the “heavy burdens” that the religious leaders “lay on men’s shoulders.”

    Mat 23:4 KJV
    For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,
    and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves
    will not move them with one of their fingers.

  3. John Anderson says:

    Interesting post, Kevin. Almost you convince even me. But how do you explain Jesus saying in Matthew 25 that there will be many who served Him unknowingly? Or the thief on the cross who knew only that Jesus suffered unjustly and had a future kingdom? It seems that these two examples show that while doctrine is important, it is not vital. Paul himself explained what exactly the gospel is in I Corinthians 15, that Messiah was killed for our sins, buried and raised again. Certainly that is enough isn’t it? Adam and Eve didn’t even know that much, but they believed what God had revealed up to that point of Himself and His plan of redemption. Likewise, we learn in Hebrews of the many who by faith believed what God had so far revealed, and that their faith brought them to God, despite the fact that they did not know nor understand the entirity of the gospel.

  4. Doug Espie says:

    I was interested in reading your thoughts John Anderson(even though they weren’t directed at me..they were genuinely illuminating). Thank you as well for your reply Amos. I won’t be able to reply to your “Which doctrines?” question as it is a huge topic. As a followup I would suggest Googling “CARM Doctrine Grid” Amos…you may find it useful as a followup resource on the question of essential doctrine. I hope so at least.

    So moving on I think the reason the comment thread on this post has become so long is because we are using the same words with different definitions.

    Could we all agree…at the very least….that on a foundational level Doctrine simply means any and all statements about God?

    Could we agree for example that “Jesus is a bannana” or “I trust Jesus as my Lord and Saviour etc are doctrinal statements?

  5. WatchAndPray says:

    Is it by faith or by doctrine that men and women are saved? Is it not by the Spirit?

    The formulation of Ephesians 2:8-9 is that salvation comes “by grace through faith”. Faith is a means but not an immediate cause. In other formulations, we are born again by the Spirit that must regenerate.

    Some may want to quibble but consider Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 and John the Baptist in Luke 1:14. These great prophets were filled, “saved”, commissioned and anointed as prophets while still in the womb. No doctrinal memorization on their part was required.

    God can save without the means of memorizing doctrine.

    Jeremiah 1:5 (KJV)
    Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

    Luke 1:14 (KJV)
    For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

  6. WatchAndPray says:

    Luke 1:15 (KJV)

    For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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