Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:16-19)
The Power Of The Do
Since the age of twelve, Jesus astonished the teachers of the law with His clear understanding of scripture and reasoning. Often the Lord would go into the synagogues teaching from the Law and the Prophets the fulfillment of the word in His own life. The temple was another place He would frequent. What astonished the Jews was His lack of formal training yet deeper knowledge of the Law beyond the learning of the scholars. They could not see how a carpenter from Nazareth could be so versed in scripture.
Jesus affirmed His teaching was not His own. All He spoke came from His Father and the doctrine was not His own. What Jesus suggests in this reply is the value of doctrine and the need of being doers of the law. Seeking the glory of God is not just an emotional response but also a desire to do the will of the Father. Knowing the doctrine of God is paramount to serving faithfully. The religious world emphasizes the power of grace apart from works declaring that salvation comes only from grace and not by works. They deny the need of doctrine as being to formalistic and seeking salvation by works. Jesus taught the need of doing the will of the Father in accordance with the doctrine of God.
Doctrine is just as vital to salvation as grace and mercy. One does not deny the other. Saying “Lord, Lord” does not save. Doing the will of the Father is what saves a man when he follows the doctrines and precepts of the law of God. If anyone wants to do the will of God, they will be familiar with the rule of the Father.
It is easy in our soft religious world to believe salvation comes by grace alone with no effort on the part of the individual to follow doctrine. Charged with being ‘law-keepers’, true disciples are ridiculed for practicing a doctrine of works. However, religious leaders advocate a system of religion that allows man to live as he wants and serve God in a merited favor system with no regard to doctrine. Jesus condemns the grace only disciples who practice a form of Christianity without doctrine. False teachers seek their own glory giving the people false hope of salvation in a system of grace only salvation. James would later show that faith apart from works is dead. He confirms the doctrine of God taught by Jesus Christ.
Jesus never denied the importance of grace, mercy and love. He was the embodiment of all three. He never denied the need for doctrine either. As the old saying goes, we should never throw out the baby with the bath water. Doctrine has always been a vital part of the relationship between man and God. From Adam in the garden to Noah building an ark and the nation of Israel in the Old Testament; doing the will of the Lord was necessary for salvation. The power of doctrine is the first two letters of the word: DO! So it is with salvation today in Christ. Our Lord is Savior showing us His grace, His mercy and His love – and showing us the need to DO the will of the Father to be saved. If you are not DOING then you are not following the DOCTRINE of God. Without the doctrine there can be no salvation.
It is impossible to overlook the emphasis on the transmission of authoritative doctrine which is everywhere found in the New Testament. (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 1950)