What is Mature Doctrine?

If you ask me what brand of toilet paper Calvin thought that Luther claimed that Augustine imagined that Jesus preferred, so that you can debate this or that fellow on your social media group, I will probably not answer you, forever. This might be a small exaggeration, but many sophisticated “Christians” remain on this level of discussion. Rather, I am more eager to answer those who ask about how to be a doer of the word of God, about the goodness of God as applied to their suffering, about operating in the powers of the Spirit, about receiving and ministering healing, or about ministering the many promises of God to those who are in pain and confusion. As Paul said, “However, we do speak a message of wisdom among the mature…what God has prepared for those who love him…that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:6, 9, 12). What is mature doctrine? It is not what we do for God, but what God does for us (1 John 4:10).

Jesus said that a person cannot be his disciple unless he first counts the cost, and then renounces everyone and everything to follow him (Luke 14:26-33). This is not the pinnacle of spiritual maturity, but it is the beginning. This is what spiritual infants do. We repent of our transgressions and reorient our lives on Jesus Christ. We become God-centered. We maintain this condition as we continue, but as we walk with God and mature in spirit, we come to the realization that God is not in fact served by human hands, as if he needs anyone (Acts 17:25). Even our service comes from him (2 Corinthians 3:5-6, Colossians 1:29). Although the gospel demands total commitment, since the beginning it is not about what we do for God, but what God does for us, in all areas of our lives, by Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-32). We truly come to know him as the Father that Jesus talked about, the one who is greater than all (John 10:29), the one who supplies everything (Psalm 103:2-5, Matthew 7:32-33, Philippians 4:19).

Therefore, spiritual maturity must entail learning more about the benefits that God has given us in Christ, and then receiving and experiencing them (1 Corinthians 2:12). For this reason, Paul prayed that Christians would receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know God, to know the gospel hope and inheritance, and to know the super-surpassing power that God has put to work in us, which is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:15-22). He prayed that Christians would be strengthened with power in their spirits, to have power to grasp all the dimensions of the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Do your favorite preachers and theologians teach you this? They command you to serve the gospel. Good! But what gospel? Do they also teach you how to receive healing miracles and material supplies from God? Do they teach you how to receive things from God by faith? Jesus taught these things as gospel, intertwined with the doctrines of faith, the atonement, and the Fatherhood of God (Matthew 6:32-33, 7:7-11, 8:16-17, Mark 9:23, 11:23-24, Luke 8:50, 18:1-8, John 11:40, 15:7, 15:16, 16:26-27, and many more). If they do not teach these things, then they are not the spiritual giants you think they are. All of their refined scholarship offers you an illusion of knowledge and progress, but in fact keeps you at the starting line along with them. Your response says a lot about you. Do you put up with this, or do you want more (2 Corinthians 11:4)? It takes spiritual power to grasp the magnitude of divine love toward us. Learning more and more about God’s love for us in more categories is not for babies, but adults, because it takes spiritual strength and maturity to grasp it.

Self-righteous critics consider themselves mature in spirit, in character and knowledge, and they attack those who preach God’s benefits to the people, calling it a shallow and self-centered gospel. The truth is that they reverse the program of Christ, and this shows that they are only spiritual infants, unable to build upon the basics. There are certain blessings from God that they outright condemn, even though these things are explicitly promised in the gospel. The no-faith “Christians” teach a gospel that is flat, not a gospel that is full. If they teach the love of Christ at all, they can handle only one dimension of it. Why? It is not because they are mature, spiritual, and God-centered, but because they are weak. WEAK! It takes power in the inner man to grasp and accept the love of God, more and more and more, and in all its dimensions. Pay attention: in ALL its dimensions. The love of God is not restricted to what you call the spiritual and ethical dimensions, but all the dimensions of reality, and all the dimensions that he expressed through Jesus Christ.

If you are selective about the blessings of God, then you are spiritually feeble and immature. If you accept his forgiveness but reject his healing, then you are weak. If you embrace his discipline but refuse his prosperity, then you are a baby. You are not some epic apologist, some defender of the faith. You are just a crybaby. What’s the matter? Why are you upset? Is Uncle Cheung making you cry? Is he telling everybody the truth about you, and you don’t like it? What can you do, you stupid crybaby? Oh, is Uncle Cheung being too harsh again? Is he hurting your little feelings? Aww, you poor stupid baby. But I see through this excuse as well. You are trying to change the topic and put the burden on me without facing the truth yourself, but I will drag you by the neck right back to it. Grow up! Learn about the things that belong to you in Christ, if someone like you is indeed in Christ, and learn to receive these things from God by faith.

If you preach about suffering for the gospel but not about victory by the gospel, at times even producing demonstrable and miraculous effects in the world by the power of Christ, then you are a false shepherd (Acts 4:29-31, 5:19, 13:8-12, 16:25-26). Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” He did this not only in some spiritual or ethical sense, but in all dimensions and all realms (Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:8), so that everything in heaven, on earth, and under the earth must bow to his name (Philippians 2:9-11). Unless you preach faith and victory, grace and blessing, you are too weak to lead, and too stupid to teach. You are so spiritually lame that you cannot even see God as your Father, blessing and supplying you abundantly in all things, who is truly your all in all.