Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
These words of St. Paul speak against taking for granted ‘all things.’ We are to hold fast to what is good. Especially is this so with reference to Christian doctrine, the very thing which is often seen today as divisive, intolerant, and unloving. But these pejorative terms in reality do not at all apply to Christian doctrine, for Christian doctrine is by nature “saving doctrine,” that which points to Jesus, and away from self.
A word about doctrine is in order here…Doctrine essentially means teaching. It can be the “teaching of man” (i.e. Matthew 15:9). We call this “false doctrine.” The teaching of God is not at all false, but true, even as it is contrary to our own nature, desire, and likeability. Whether we like the teaching or not doesn’t determine what is true from what is not. The determining factor, the litmus test, between what is true and what is in error is the Word of God, the Bible, which is Christ-centered (Christocentric), having Christ as its focus.
We are to “Test all things” and “hold fast what is good,” as St. Paul says, so that you remain Christian. There are many “things” that are not “good,” by which the devil would lead you away from Christ and faith and eternal life. But the Lord would have you remain in His faithfulness, trusting only Him, for only in God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ do you know that God holds on to you. Only according to the Word, the true doctrine, do you remain in the Lord, continue to be His disciples, and know the truth (John 8:31-32).
We have taken it upon ourselves in the Lord’s name to lecture on this Epistle of Paul to the Galatians once more. This is not because we want to teach something new or unknown, for by the grace of God Paul is now very well known to you. But it is because, as I often warn you, there is a clear and present danger that the devil may take away from us the pure doctrine of faith and may substitute for it the doctrines of works and of human traditions. It is very necessary, therefore, that this doctrine of faith be continually read and heard in public. No matter how well known it may be or how carefully learned, the devil, our adversary, who prowls around and seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), is not dead. Our flesh also goes on living. Besides, temptations of every sort attack and oppress us on every side. Therefore this doctrine can never be discussed and taught enough. If it is lost and perishes, the whole knowledge of truth, life, and salvation is lost and perishes at the same time. But if it flourishes, everything good flourishes—religion, true worship, the glory of God, and the right knowledge of all things and of all social conditions. To keep from doing nothing, we shall begin again where we broke off, according to the saying (Ecclus. 18:7): “When a man has finished, he is just beginning.” (Lecture on Galatians, p3)
Prayer: Lord God, keep me from complacency to Your Holy Word. Forgive me for taking Your grace for granted. Help me to heed Your Word and always to be ready to discern what is true and right from what is false and in error, that I hold fast to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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