The Need For Sound Doctrine – Part 3

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Rom. 11:21-22

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

“The Road Not Taken” is a poem written by one of the most enduring American poets, Robert Frost. You can take your time to read it again. In perspective, it is a very interesting poem.

In mainstream literature, however, this poem is one of the most controversial in its interpretation. But that fact is of little consequence to us here. We shall take this poem at face value, which ought to be the most enjoyable way of interpreting it.

I love the last stanza:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

I do not know the “road” that Frost took, nor the difference this decision made in his life. But I do know that, one day, I took a road less travelled and that has made all the difference in my life.

When I got saved in 1990, I soon moved to another town. There, I joined the first church I chanced upon. Although I did not know it at the time, this church happened to be the biggest Pentecostal church in town. I quickly settled in and, not long afterwards, I was elected as a deacon in that church.

I was young and naïve then and I did not know much the ways of the Lord. But throughout my stay in that church, my spirit was troubled. I was troubled because I was hearing things preached that had no connection whatsoever with the gospel that I heard when I first got saved. Although I was young and naïve, still my spirit rejected what I was hearing and observing in church.

Not that I was rebellious. As a matter of fact, I cheered along during the sermons and sort of believed that what was being preached was the truth. But that was because I did not know any better.

But, unknown to me, my spirit lay put, waiting for an opportunity…

That opportunity came in 1994. In that year, a man of God came to start a new work of God in town. Initially, I did not hear or know about him. But then, one day, he held a small outdoor meeting in town. In those days, I had an unparalleled love for the Lord. So, as I sat in my office and heard the sound of outdoor gospel music playing, I got excited.

‘Another open-air meeting!’ I said. ‘Praise the Lord!’

Exactly at 5 p.m., I dashed out of my office and headed in the direction of the meeting.

It was a very small meeting. There was nothing remarkable about it on the outside. But the preacher’s words had an unmistakable appeal to me. For the first time, I heard words that spoke to my heart! To this day, I still remember even the scripture he read from. As this man preached, somehow, in my spirit I ‘heard’ the very words that I heard on the day I got saved. And, deep inside me, my spirit was roused from its long slumber.

By the time the meeting ended, I had come to a decision. It was nearing dark, but I did not go home. Instead, I headed back to my church. My pastor and his family resided at the church compound, so I went straight there.

I found the pastor in his office. Now, I am not a good talker and it can take me quite a while to get around to expressing what I need to say. But, in the end, I managed to tell my pastor that I was leaving.

I used to travel a lot then, so he thought I was travelling again. He asked me, “Where are you travelling to, Zakaria?”

I told him I was not travelling. I told him that I had just heard words in an open-air crusade that sounded like the words that I first heard when I first got saved. I told him I had come to say goodbye to him and that I was going to look for that new pastor who had been preaching at the meeting.

I was young, guile-less, and I spoke straight from my heart. Actually, in my stupidity, I thought the pastor would get up and shake my hand! Only much later did it enter my thick skull that if the man had had a gun he would have shot me right there and then!

The next day, I set out to find the new pastor I had heard at the meeting. I caught up with him that same day – and I have been with him ever since. He is one of the biggest blessings in my life.

But I paid the ultimate price for making that move. The church I had just left was very big and I had many, many friends and acquaintances there. When the pastor announced that I had left, it was the case of “for whom the bell tolls”. In this case, the bell tolled for me! The backlash against me was immediate, severe and sustained. I lost everyone in that church. But that is the price you pay when you set out to seek God. You have to start out all alone.

Today, though, I have far more brethren in the Lord than I had in that church. And I am glad I have found the true foundation of the gospel, “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

Let’s recap that incident of Frost and the road less travelled in relation to Romans 11:21-22:

“21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”

It is interesting the many songs and catchphrases that we hear in Christendom extolling the goodness of God. The most popular goes: “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.”

The goodness of God has become the gospel. That looks fine and true.

But that could hardly be further from the truth. There is deception in the “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good” mantra. It is deliberately burying another truth of God’s nature. For in the same breathe that it says that God is good, the Bible also says that God is severe. God is severe because God is holy and righteous

So, then, how about we change that to: “God is good and severe all the time, and all the time God is good and severe”? That, certainly, is what any believer who aspires to spiritual maturity ought to hear.

When we are not endeavoring to enter God’s Kingdom by the “strait gate” (Mat. 7:13); when we are not taking the narrow way in our spiritual journey, we are not doing what God tells us to do: to “take heed”. God will judge, not just the false preachers who mislead God’s people, but He will also judge His people who accept to be misled. They have rejected God’s first call upon their lives, which is a call to deny themselves. Instead, they have followed the lusts of their flesh and accepted to sit under men who are not preaching sound doctrine.

But in the midst of this present darkness within the church, God is serious about sound doctrine. He knows that only sound doctrine will take the church to where He wants it to be in the Spirit, to true maturity. God therefore speaks to us through the Apostle Paul:

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

He also tells us that we should be ready to “… endure afflictions”.

[The Sekenke Escarpment is the most treacherous part of Tanzania’s Central Highway]

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2 thoughts on “The Need For Sound Doctrine – Part 3

  1. I read all three of your parts at one sitting. I was skeptical when I started because I teach Jesus not doctrine. But, your point that if we truly follow Jesus our “doctrine” will reflect the truth that is in Christ and the way of the cross is our example for living is “sound”. So I stand encouraged (well, I sat to read 🙂 ).
    Peace

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