Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
Sermon #4 — 2nd John Series
Title: “THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST.”
Text: 2nd John 9
Subject: The Doctrine of Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening — June 17, 2014
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and David Burge
Our text tonight will be 2nd John 9 — 2nd John verse 9.
(2 John 1:9) Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
“THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST” — That is my subject — “THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST” If you have never before paid any attention to this preacher, you will be wise to hear me now. If you miss the doctrine of Christ, you are going to miss heaven. If your heart and soul are blind to the doctrine of Christ, you will perish in your sins.
This religious world has been shot a curve. Satan is a crafty foe. He has succeeded, for the most part, in taking men’s hearts and minds off of the doctrine of Christ. Satan does not mind if you become very religious and very moral. He has just one concern. He wants to keep you from Christ. And by-in-large he has kept this religious generation from the knowledge of Christ. When was the last time you read a sermon in the newspaper which explained the doctrine of Christ? When did you last hear one of those hotshot television or radio evangelists declare the doctrine of Christ? The reason why they do not preach it is clear: religious people do not want to hear about Christ in all the fulness of his redemptive and saving power and glory.
What do good, church going folks want to hear?
And religious hucksters are happy to accommodate man’s religious curiosity and get rich off of man’s religious superstition.
I came here 34 years ago to be your pastor. I came because I was strongly impressed of God that it was his will for me to do so. And I came with one earnest desire; I want you to know Christ. Morning and evening I pour out my heart to God, pleading that he will pour out his Spirit upon you who hear my voice, and bring you to know Christ. This is the great burden of my soul.
There are many who think that the preacher has nothing to do but open the Bible, take the first text that meets his eye, and write out a sermon in two or three hours. That is not the case. I have to watch for your souls as one that must give account. I must seek a message from God that will meet your needs. As I do, I say to myself, —— “What will most awaken those who hear me? What will most arouse your soul? — What will stir your hearts? — What will make my hearers see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the value of their souls, the reality of eternity, the mercy of God, and the glory of Christ? — What will move you Godward?”
This is my concern for you. I am not too interested in bringing men to know our doctrine of the church. I am not terribly interested in identifying the significance of the toes on Daniel’s image. I am not greatly concerned about indoctrinating you into this or that system of theology. I am not engaged in the work of the ministry in order to win friends and cause you to think highly of me. But I do have a great burden upon my heart. — I want you to know and abide in the doctrine of Christ.
Christ is All
I have sometimes been told that I have a lopsided ministry. People sometimes tell me that I preach too much about Christ. They say, “Fortner’s gone to seed on election, predestination, and sovereignty.” I say, it is high time somebody did!
I have been strongly encouraged for more than 45 years to preach more about the church (Church History, Church Polity, Church Discipline, Church History, Church Confessions), or the millennium, or practical duties. Well-meaning friends have tried to persuade me to enter into theological controversies, to involve myself with denominational issues, and to engage in other causes. I would do nothing to belittle those things or those areas of instruction. They may be very proper in their place. But they cannot put away sin. They cannot give you a new heart. They cannot save your soul. Christ alone can. Christ is the mainspring of all duty, and the singular subject of all Scripture. We read in the Bible that Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Bishop of our souls, the Foundation of our Hope, the Head of the church, the King of Glory, the Bread of Heaven, the Water of Life, the Rock of our salvation, the Chief Corner-Stone, the Door, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the one Mediator between God and men, the Prince of Peace, the Shepherd of Israel, the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the World, and the Ark of Refuge. Indeed, “Christ is all and all.”
If you know the doctrine of Christ, you have the sum and substance of true religion. Oh, may it please God the Holy Spirit to write upon your hearts “THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST,” and cause you to know it vital necessity.
Proposition: Every person who is truly born-again is effectually taught of God; and all who are taught of God know and abide in “THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST.”
Divisions: As we look at this subject, I want three things for you.
1st — I want you to understand the doctrine of Christ. I cannot make you believe the doctrine of Christ; but it is my task as a preacher to make you understand it. If we would understand the doctrine of Christ, we must search the Scriptures. Our Lord himself said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Much importance must be placed on the doctrine of Christ for this reason: — Before you and I can enjoy the saving union of faith with Christ, we must have a biblical knowledge of him. Faith in Christ is not a leap in the dark. It is walking in the light. If we walk by faith we must walk in the light of the doctrine of Christ. Knowledge of the doctrine of Christ is the foundation of faith. Apart from the doctrine of Christ there is no saving knowledge. This is the purpose of gospel preaching. — We desire to make known to immortal souls the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me raise and briefly answer five questions from the Word of God. These questions may appear trite and simple to some; but they go to the very heart of this thing called Christianity.
Who Is He? — Men everywhere talk about Jesus Christ. They write songs about him. They make movies about him. But who is Jesus Christ of Nazareth? For the answer to that question, we must look to the pages of Divine Inspiration. Who is Christ? I will tell you who he is. — Jesus Christ is himself the eternal God.
Our Savior, during his earthly ministry, made this assertion repeatedly and clearly. He challenged the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, saying, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, the son of David. He saith unto them, how then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Matthew 22:42-44). —— (Compare John 5:17-18 and 10:30-33).
I know that I press this issue constantly and forcefully. But I do so with good reason. Many attempt either to diminish or flatly deny the deity of Christ. We cannot tolerate any doctrine which undermines this blessed truth. If Jesus Christ is not God the eternal Son, then we have no Savior.
1. The Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments proclaim that Christ is God.
We hold it to be an essential point of gospel truth that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the blessed Trinity, equal in power, wisdom, glory, and being with the Father, as the Book of God everywhere declares (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:3; Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 3:16, 6:14-16).
I want to be as charitable as possible. But in all charity, I must say that any man who denies the perfect divinity of Christ does not know Christ.
2. While he was here in the flesh, our Lord Jesus claimed to be God.
3. More than that, the works of creation and providence are ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ. Who but God could create the vast universe? Who but the Almighty God could uphold all things by the word of his power?
Let all men, if they dare, deny the Godhead of our Savior. We need no argument to prove our faith. We know by our experience that our Savior is himself the Mighty God.
Who is Christ? I will tell you who he is – Jesus Christ is the perfect Man. — “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). — “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
I do not pretend to understand the mystery of the incarnation and of Christ’s assumption of our nature. But this I know, Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is as much God as though he were not man, and as much man as though he were not God. He is the God-man, our Mediator. Only one who is both God and man can be our Redeemer!
Why did Christ come to the earth? — There is no question about it, the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world with a specific purpose in mind. He had a mission to carry out. He had a work to perform. What was it?
But why did the Son of God come here to accomplish these things? Why was he born at Bethlehem to die at Calvary?
This is my next question — What has Christ done? — Listen now to what I am saying. If we are in error here, we have missed the gospel. Did the Son of God make it possible by his life and death for all men to be saved, reconciled, justified, redeemed, pardoned, and accepted; or did he rather save, reconcile, justify, redeem, and pardon his people by virtue of his all-sufficient sacrifice?
I am here to tell you that the Son of God did not fail in his work. He has effectually finished that work which was committed into his hands. He has accomplished the Father’s will. He has fulfilled everything required to secure the eternal salvation and glory of God’s elect. He has obtained eternal redemption for us (John 17:4; 19:30; Hebrews 9:12).
This next question is also crucial to our understanding of the gospel. — Where is Christ now? — I will tell you where he is. He is exalted unto the right hand of the Majesty on High (Hebrews 10:10-14).
Hebrews 10:9-14 (9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
There is a man in glory, even the God-man, our Savior. He sits in heaven as the High Priest of Zion.
It is this knowledge, that Jesus Christ is Lord, that pricked the hearts of men on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-38). And it is this that God demands you to acknowledge — Jesus Christ is Lord!
There is one more question which I want to answer. — What will the Lord Jesus Christ yet do?
A Man there is, a real Man,
With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran,
In hands, and feet, and side.
`Tis no wild fancy of our brains,
No metaphor we speak;
The same dear Man in heaven now reigns,
That suffered for our sake.
This wondrous Man of whom we tell,
Is true Almighty God;
He bought our souls from death and hell;
The price, His own heart's blood.
That human heart He still retains,
Though throned in highest bliss;
And feels each tempted member's pains;
For our affliction's His.
Come, then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is canceled by His death!
His blood can cleanse the blackest soul,
And wash our guilt away;
He will present us sound and whole
In that tremendous day.
Do you understand what I mean by the doctrine of Christ? Do you know who he is? Why he was born? What he has done? Where he is now? What he will yet perform?
2nd — The next thing is this: — I want you to experience the doctrine of Christ. This is the place where most people stop short. There is more to knowing Christ than knowing the doctrine of Christ. You must know Christ himself. If you only know the theoretical doctrine of Christ, the devil himself knows Christ as well as you do, better, for he believes and trembles.
May God give you an ear to hear what I am saying. — It is one thing to know about Christ. It is another thing to know Christ. It is one thing to think of Christ in your head, it is another thing to know Christ in your heart. It is one thing to know about the person, offices, and work of Christ as matters of doctrine. But it is quite another thing to know the living Christ as your living Redeemer. Only those who have an experiential, heart knowledge of Christ know Christ. — “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
Let me tell you what I know concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. I know something about the doctrine of Christ in an academic and intellectual way. I have spent my life studying it. But that knowledge would profit me nothing if I have not experienced it, so that I know Christ himself. I can say of Christ that which the queen of Sheba said about Solomon. — “It was a true report that I heard in my own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit, I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and thy prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom” (1 Kings 10:6).
Do you know the doctrine of Christ by experience? Have you felt the power of his Godhood? Have you trusted the righteousness of his manhood? Have you felt the cleansing efficacy of his shed blood? Have you trusted the merits of his sacrifice? Have you submitted to his authority of Lordship? Do you know him in the power of his resurrection?
To know Christ is to know that he is precious. —
“Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious” (1 Peter 2:7).
I hope I am not deceived when I say that I prefer Christ to all things.
To know Christ to know that he is your only hope of acceptance before God.
To know Christ is to know him worshipfully. —
Knowing Christ, we are constrained to worship, honor, adore, praise, and extol him (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (23) Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (24) But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
We want nothing so much as we want Christ to be glorified. Because he alone is worthy!
To know Christ is to know him lovingly. — To know him is to love him. It is true, we do not love Christ as we should. We do not love him as we desire to love him. We do not love him as we shall. But I know this, every man, woman, and child who knows Christ loves Christ!
To know Christ is to know him growingly. — The longer we know Christ, the more we want to know him.
Philippians 3:3-10 (3) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
To know Christ is to know him expectantly. — Christ alone is my hope and I have confidence in him.
All my expectation and all my desire is in Christ, my Savior.
Our Lord raised this question — “What think ye of Christ.” My heart and soul pour forth answers.
What is Christ to me?
Sweetest note of seraph’s song,
Sweetest name on mortal tongue,
Sweetest carol ever sung,
Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Do you know the doctrine of Christ? Do you know it experimentally? Do you know Christ?
3rd — I want you to abide in the doctrine of Christ. Many have known the doctrine of Christ theoretically, who did not abide in it; and they have perished in their sins.
Let me give you these few suggestions.
I will close by answering one last question, which I hope some of you are asking. How can I know the doctrine of Christ? How can I know the gospel of Christ? How can I know Christ? — He must be revealed to you and in you. — He is revealed by the preaching of the gospel. — He is revealed in his Word. — But there are some things that you can and must do.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!”
Come humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve;
Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,
And make this last resolve.
“I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins
Like mountains round me close;
I know his courts, I’ll enter in,
Whatever may oppose.
“Prostrate I’ll lie before his throne,
And there my guilt confess;
I’ll tell him I’m a wretch undone
Without his sovereign grace.”
I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepter pardon gives;
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives!
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know,
I must forever die.
But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (Delightful thought!) —
As sinner never died!