There is a great awakening happening in the Christian world. God is planting a hunger in some for the “greater works” that He promised His followers would do. These brothers and sisters long for that same spiritual walk that the early apostles had. But many are not following the steps laid out by those very early apostles, which serve as our example.
In other words, if we want the same spiritual experiences in our lives that they had, then we must follow the same steps that those apostles took. We must know the same things, study the same things, speak the same words, and do the same things that they did.
Scripturally speaking, what did those early apostles study, speak about, know and do? “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2: 42). The foremost paramount thing that they did was that they stayed in the apostles doctrine. They stuck exclusively with the teachings of the Apostle Christ. And then they had fellowship. If you don’t have the “apostles doctrine” you don’t have real fellowship because it is going to be the Word. And then there was “breaking of bread.” Yes, earthly bread, but more importantly, they shared these teachings, which is the bread of life, with each other. And then they continued to pray, for their communication to God was a sweet savor to His nostrils, for it was in accordance with His true teachings.
But what is the doctrine of the early apostles?
What were the teachings that the early apostles continued steadfastly in? How are we to know who the true teachers of God are?
Teachers of God will expound His way, while false prophets and false teachers will veer off into doctrines that seem like they are relevant to God’s plan, but they don’t line up with the doctrines that the apostles taught. The true teachers are gifts to mankind from God (Ephesians 4: 11). They are precious and very few in number. If we seek, we will find one, and we will hold them dear.
But how can we tell the true from the false? The true teachers will have a grasp of the apostles’ doctrine, which is the doctrine of Christ. They will realize that “whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 John 1: 9). So it is extremely important to abide in Christ’s teachings. But what is that doctrine?
The apostle Paul knew and followed it and reveals it to us in Hebrews 6: 1-2. He is urging his readers to grow up into Christ and stop playing around with other teachings that do not yield the fruit of becoming like Christ. “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine 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, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgement.”
There it is laid out for all of us to see. In order to go on to perfection, which is the completed spiritual growth of “Christ in you,” we need to stop laying again the foundation of repentance of sin, faith toward God, the baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. These are the teachings that the early apostles continued in. And these are the teachings that we all in our latter rain era must know and do thoroughly.
These teachings are what the early apostles talked about. Take the teaching about baptisms. That’s plural. Many talk of their immersion in the Holy Spirit but have no idea about the “baptism into His death” (Romans 6: 3). It is this baptism that opens up the other baptisms. This is where the old self, your old Adamic nature dies with Christ on the cross in revelation, where you can truly walk in a newness of life as a “new creature” where all things are become new! Why don’t we Christians talk about that? Especially those who teach His word? The early apostles did! [Read all of Romans 6]
And the doctrine of “the resurrection of the dead” comes into focus for us and in us, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this that our old man is crucified with Him” (Rom. 6: 5-6). Here “faith toward God” and believing in the resurrection of Christ, lead to us believing that we too can live a life free from sin and sinning. Here we see three of the apostles doctrines in action. But these are the elementary principles, the foundation of the house of God, which is us His body. And very few talk about these teachings. Is it because no one is teaching them?
This is the “breaking of bread,” the sharing of the word and promises of God that the early apostles fellowshipped in. If your fellowship is not discussing and sharing these teachings aforementioned, then something is missing. And that something is the doctrine of Christ.
For not many are teaching Romans 6, and if it is read at all, it is not believed. But the true teachers sent from God will teach it and believe it and will be solid in it, as a foundation built upon the rock.
They will know how to explain in detail how one repents, how faith works in us receiving a new heart. In short, they will have true knowledge of the “principles of the doctrine of Christ” (Hebrews 6: 1-2).
Yet they will also know that one must leave those first principles in order to “go on unto perfection.” The Spirit that is within them will “lead us into all truth.” They will know that it is Christ in them who actually is the real Teacher.
Many fellowships talk about wanting the same power as the early church in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. They see the miracles and wonders performed and long for that same divine power to hold sway on the earth today. They want, however, to circumvent the procedure used in those enlightened days right after Christ’s resurrection. They want to accept Christ, be baptized, and then they want to set the world on fire with God’s power. They think that visions and dreams replace the rock solid foundation of the apostles doctrine and teachings.
Before the miracles come from God, pre-requisites must be done. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:42-43). Here you see the progression of things: the doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, prayers, fear of God, and then came the wonders and signs.
“We Don’t Want Doctrine–Just Jesus”
It was the apostles’ doctrine that the early converts stayed in. They did those teachings. For “doctrine” is translated from the Greek word didaskalia, which means “teaching; that which is taught.” Beware of those who will say, “We don’t want doctrine, we just want Jesus/Yahshua!” If they could only realize that the Savior Himself was referred to as a “Didaskalos,” meaning “Teacher, Master.” The same root word! People who say, “We don’t want doctrine” are really saying they do not want the real Christ and what He taught.
The true teachers of God will teach true repentance from sin in one’s life and how faith works to give us a new heart and new spirit that pleases God in not sinning against Him. And this is just the first principles “of the doctrine of Christ” (Hebrews 6: 1-2).
This is not a new thing that I write about. Read it for yourself in Martin Luther’s writings*; in the sermons of John Wesley ( http://wesley.nnu.edu/john_wesley/sermons/040.htm ), founder of the Methodist Church; from Andrew Murray, 19th Century Scottish Missionary and author ( http://www.victoryoversin.com/murray/like/lc24.htm ); or in my books which you can find at the top of this page. Just click “Ebook…”).
So, turn away from anyone who doesn’t teach the apostles’ doctrine, that says that you cannot be a righteous son or daughter of God. Don’t believe them. They will try to drag you down into the same spiritual slop that they are stuck in. Find yourself a true teacher and study out the apostles’ doctrine, for those are the teachings of Christ. Kenneth Wayne Hancock
* “Sermon on Three-fold Righteousness” at http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/3formsrt.html