Let us recall that quote from Oprah from Part 1

Oprah : ” I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we called God . I took God out of the box because I grew up in a baptist church and there were rules, belief systems and doctrines and I happen to be sitting in church in my late 20s and I was going to this church where you have to get there 8 o clock in the morning where you couldn’t get a seat and a very charismatic minister and everybody was just into the sermon and this great minister was preaching about how Great God was and how omniscient and omnipresent and God is everything and then he said “And The Lord Thy God Is a Jealous God and I was caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said Jealous. and something struck me, I was like about 27-28, I was thinking God is awe, God omnipresent and God is . and God is also jealous? .. God is jealous of me? and something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things and so thats when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.”

What are rules, belief systems and doctrines in Church?

In that interview, Oprah claimed that she came from the baptist church and there were many rules, belief systems and doctrines in the church. Personally I am not sure what she meant by “belief system” but I am well aware of rules and doctrines within the church. Therefore I will define “belief system” as a set of rules + doctrines combined together.

Regarding rules

As a Christian myself i know that there are Christianity had many rules. One of such rules I know are the 10 commandments, which i see many churches who emphasised so much on the love of God and made it sound like God will forgive you even if you worship another God, commit adultery, or covert your neighbours wife.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, why did God give Christian rules? Lets ask ourselves, do we confine babies within the walls of the baby cot to prevent to baby from getting hurt or to restrict their freedom? Rules in Christianity were set by God because God is a just God. Alot of times it is meant to teach the believers what is right and wrong and to instruct us to lead a righteous life (Rom 7:7). It teaches us good values such as not to harm our bodies through drugs and smoking.

Yes, indeed we are free do do what we please, but lets take a moment and ponder over these extracts of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – Paul (1 Cor 6:12)
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” – Paul (1 Cor 6:19)
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” – Paul (1 Cor 3: 16-17)

There are some who claimed that after the sacrifice of Jesus is made, there is no need to observe the commandments of God, and anyone who advocate the keeping of the 10 commandments are “returning to the law” and teaching “justification by works” let us read again what Jesus said about keeping the commandments

“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 5:19-20)

So ask yourself, if rules are there to teach things that are helpful, and beneficial, why then do we call that a bad rule? Do we need to go through other gems of wisdom to gather new rules for ourselves in our life? So whats the difference between drawing rules from the church or drawing rules from your gems of wisdom from world religious traditions, mythology and practises compared to following Gods law in the bible?

Regarding Doctrines of Salvation

To me, the doctrines are salvation teaches man the most important thing in life. It deals with difficult questions such as “What must I do to be saved?”. “How can I have my sins forgiven and be reconciled with God?”. These are important issues that cannot be ignored.

As all of us are familiar with the gospel story, all man had sin, and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and all man has to die once and to face judgement (Heb 9:37). So the doctrines of salvation highlight Gods requirements for man to be saved. Yes, the grace is given freely, but even if it is given freely, it is not given to you like “an offer that you cannot refuse”. In the modern era, many Christians who expound on the love of God and tend to present Gods love as a very loop-sided kind of love . They teach that God is willing to forgive all wrongs that you have done, irregardless of how you sin. Gods grace is so bountiful that he can still forgive everything. Which often leads to many Christians thinking that they can go about sinning and indulging in the flesh without any fear as the all loving God will forgive everything they have done.

Yet there are many verses that we do not consider many other verses in the bible

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” – Paul ( Rom 6:1-2)

“For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 10:26)

“If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” – John (1 John 5:16-17)

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” – Paul (1 Cor 6:9-11)

Can you imagine what will happen if we stopped talking about the doctrines of salvation? A Sinner will not be able to be reconciled with God, their sins will not be forgiven and he will not be able to face the impending judgement, and he will have lost his heavenly inheritance and will have followed Christ in vain. Yet there are many Christians who called people who believe in the doctrines as “Doctrinally Obsessed” and is also a handiwork of the demon. The less critical ones will complain that the doctrine of salvation is rigid, and they love quoting exceptions to disprove it. (EG of classic exceptions are : The thief on the cross”, ” A person too sick to be baptised” “Guys who had no legs”)

They will tend to ask “why are the doctrines of salvation so rigid?” There are churches who claimed you must be baptised for remission of sins, take the holy communion and some even expound on foot-washing. Why cant we just believe in God and thats it? Actually this questions could be answered with the following real life example

There is a boy who was swimming in the ocean, he suffered from cramp and is about to sink into the water. He called out for help, and someone threw a life buoy into the sea. Yet the boy did not want to hold on to the life buoy, because he feels, that it is not necessary to do so in order to be saved from drowning. The doctrines of Salvation is Gods solution to a problem that cannot be solved by man. God gave specific instructions and commanded his believers to do so in order to have their sins forgiven.

With regards to justification by faith or by works. In the past, there is really no distinction between following God’s instruction and having faith in God. If you believe the words of Jesus and the apostles that you would need to be baptised for the remission of sin (, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:38) you will just proceed to do it with no question asked. Your actions proves that you fully believe in the words of God.

The doctrines of salvation are the basis of Salvation through Christ, and it is build upon the teaching of the apostles and the old testament prophets. Christians dutifully recorded them onto the scriptures so as to point people the right way of salvation. It requires both faith and obedience in order for it to have a full effect. And the ultimate effect of doctrines is for the remission of sins, and achieve salvation.

In fact the early apostles are very worried that the doctrines will one day be twisted, they defended the doctrines at all cost, lets look at some of their comments about it.

“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.” – Elder John (AKA Apostle Full of Love) (2 John 9-11)

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” – Paul (Gal 1:6-9)

However, Christian should move beyond these elementary instructions and go deeper into the scriptures in their journey of faith, besides understanding and following the instructions, Christians must strive to improve their faith at all times. Just like what the Author of Hebrews said.

“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 judgement. And this we will do if God permits.” (Heb 6: 1-3)

Here the Author Of Hebrews is not saying they are not important, but rather Christians needs to go beyond these elementary principles and go deeper into understanding of God.

Doctrines are an essential part of Salvation, let us look on it lightly, let us learn to be obedient to it and work our our salvation with fear and trembling.

A Word Of Caution

As we have talked about rules and doctrines, I would like to give the readers a word of Caution, the rules and doctrines that I talked about refers mainly to instruction left by Jesus and are based on the scriptures. As we know, there is a great deception in the end times and there are many false prophets and false teachers, who wanted to pervert the gospel of Christ by going beyond the scriptures. Out of their good will, they made for themselves many man-made rules which make people feel pious but are not according to the words of God. Just as its written in our new testament.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – Paul (2 Tim 3:1-7)

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” – Paul (Col 2:20-23)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. ” -Jesus (Matt 24:23-25)

In order to understand the doctrines and the rules that are important, one should always use the scriptures as reference. Let us learn from the Bereans to search the scripture daily to examine if the scriptures taught is in accordance to Gods word.

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”- Luke (Acts 17:11)

Finally I would like to conclude with this instruction from Paul to Timothy.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” -Paul (2 Tim 3:16)