As each child of God sails across the ocean of this present life he is met by angry waves and all kinds of contrary winds which seek to bring his ship off course to eventual shipwreck on the shoals and reefs. In order to remain on course this ship must have a very strong helm, that mechanism comprising the rudder and the wheel that is used to steer the ship. The apostle Paul uses this figure to describe the church here on the earth. We read in Ephesians 4:14, 15: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” We then, who are the church of Jesus Christ, are kept on course by the Word of God which He has revealed unto us. Jesus Christ as helmsman steers the church to its destination; the eternal haven of rest.
By the time you read this article many of you will have begun another year of schooling, whether that be in high school or in some other institution of higher learning. Others will have settled into the routine of a daily job, whether at home or elsewhere. Whatever you do and wherever you go you will run into contrary winds and angry waves which the apostle properly terms as false doctrine. This is true of the church in history and this is true of that same church today. There is not one doctrine, not one truth, as it is in Jesus Christ, that has not been denied or attacked. These winds of false doctrine are not merely a fair breeze of trade winds, but winds that are whole gales developing into hurricane proportions. This all in accordance with the signs of the times as the cup of iniquity is filling very rapidly and the antichristian power is getting stronger and stronger.
Lest you young people feel that it really is not as bad as all that, let us look at the situation today. For those of you who are in high schools and institutions of higher learning that are not under the control of your parents or church, there are many winds. Take for example the many subtle ways in which one is taught that the heavens and the earth were not created by God the Father Almighty. Notice how science has elevated reason above faith in all phases of life. The Bible is no longer regarded as the infallible Word of God, God-breathed. No, the Bible is full of mistakes and we have to find the truth as if we were looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The Bible then becomes the word of man, each one making it say what he wants it to say, so that everyone is a law unto himself and does that which is right is his own eyes. The Bible has no more authority than a novel. This leads to all kinds of ideas as to how we may live. Suddenly one may engage in theatergoing, dancing, etc.; because there is sonic redeeming social value present which we can enjoy and cultivate, thus fulfilling our cultural mandate. The lie is presented as if it were the truth. These false doctrines sooner or later affect not only those in schools but also those who are in the home or at work. We all get the message to do our own thing. This message comes loud and clear through the means of the newspaper, the TV, the radio, and all the other media at the disposal of the world. Overnight we have rights to do anything we please. In direct conflict with the Word of God we are taught that we have a right to murder by taking the life of the yet unborn. We have a right to rebel against one .in authority by striking against our employer for higher wages, by refusing to pay income tax, by rioting in the schools, etc. The marriage bond is- no longer held to be inviolable and holy; one can change marriage partners as easily as one changes a pair of socks or sports a new hairdo. We are told that we must fraternize with the world because God loves all men and bestows his favor even on the unrighteous. No longer must we think of sin as sin against a righteous and holy God, but as something that is not acceptable to society. As soon as everybody, or at least the majority, favor something, then it is good no matter whether it agrees with the divine standard of God’s Word or not.
Young people, these winds are not blowing by accident, but come to us “by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” By the sleight of men one gambles with the truth. One does not proclaim and profess the truth out of a motive of love for Christ, but for filthy lucre. Instead of the sheep being fed, they are fleeced. Beware of such false prophets for they are not seeking your welfare, but their own carnal ambitions. By cunning craftiness the truth is twisted in such a way that you no longer can recognize it from the lie. One who speaks the truth can do so clearly, unambiguously, so that you do not have any questions as to the truth. Only when you exercise cunning craftiness with the truth do you have to camouflage it. And the purpose of all this, do not forget, is to deceive you. Gambling with the truth they seek their own selfish end, using cunning craftiness as their method in order that you may be led to believe that the lie is the truth. Against this the Word of God warns us: “Be not tossed by every wind of doctrine.”
As you perhaps noticed in the text quoted from Eph. 4:14, 15, the apostle not only uses the figure of the ship crossing the sea, but also that of a child. What Paul says here, “Be no more children,” is not contradictory to what Christ taught when He said that we must become as little children. Christ was referring to our proper attitude toward the kingdom, that we must be humble and docile. Paul is referring to our stand over against false doctrine. Be strong, not as little children that are easily led astray. Over against all false doctrine as taught on radio, TV, in books, and in many other ways, we must loudly proclaim the antithesis and respond with a resounding “NO.”
As children of God you and I must grow up into Christ. If we are tossed about by every wind of doctrine, we lose Christ, and without Christ we have nothing. Think of it, all that we have or shall have of the blessings of salvation is in Christ. Our righteousness, knowledge of God, wisdom, holiness, yea, our eternal life is in Christ our head from Whom flows the fulness of grace and salvation into all His people. It is to this end that we are firm with a view to the truth, that we grow up into Christ. As a little tree strikes its roots into the soil, so do we strike our roots into Jesus Christ. If no roots, then no contact with Christ. However, if God in His grace has given us roots so that we are able to strike into Christ, then we seek all our food, all our nourishment, from Christ .alone. So doing we strike our roots deeper and deeper into Christ.
It follows, then, that we must not have false doctrine. Simply put, there is no other Christ than the Christ of the Scriptures. As soon as you depart from the truth of the Scriptures and follow false teachers, you lose Christ and strike your roots into the wrong soil, sucking in poison instead of Christ. And as you grow up into Him, so you will also grow out of Him, that is, become conformable to His image, loving the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. When the truth is involved, there can be no compromise. Do not be fooled by the pleasant, ego-inflating idea that Scripture must change to keep pace with our modern society. Any change from the Christ of the Scriptures will mean that we no longer grow up into Him.
As the apostle plainly states, we must do this in all things. In other words, our sphere of life is in Christ Jesus, just as the fish’s sphere of life is the water. As soon as we go outside of our sphere we lose the very means of our existence, just as the fish that leaves the water must certainly die. Our whole life, both as to the inward aspect and as to the outward aspect, as that inward life comes to manifestation in our daily walk, must be such that we grow spiritually into and out of Christ. Over against the emphasis on man’s inherent ability to save himself through his piety, religion, works, or goodness, we must always confess that our hope, love, righteousness, and faith are all out of our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. This firm inward commitment will reveal itself in all that we do. This is revealed when one attends church faithfully, attends and participates in discussion in Young People’s Society, and diligently prepares for catechism and confession of faith. At the home this commitment is revealed in an attitude of obedience toward one’s parents, for their authority is the authority of Christ. In the field of labor one soon finds out that one cannot go along with all that one is encouraged to do—the office parties where the liquor flows freely and the joking and laughter is all at the expense of someone else, God’s commandments, and the holiness in one’s life. In addition, there is stealing from the employer that is taken for granted and even considered a right or a fringe benefit. Or how about the padding of expense accounts and the like? No, we cannot do these things even though we are encouraged to do so.
Soon fellow employees will see this example of Christian living and hate you for it. Eventually you may even lose your job because of the pressure by the employees or because your name will be slandered before the employer. But do not be discouraged, for the sufferings of this present time are not to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. As Moses we learn to forsake the pleasures and treasures of Egypt and to have respect unto the recompense of the reward which is ours in Christ Jesus.
We can do this by always speaking the truth in love. Not just truth as in dealing honestly with one another in business, but the truth as it is in Christ. And not the love of man which embraces false doctrine but the love of God. Then our ship will remain on its course, for Jesus Christ will be at the helm, and the Word of God will be the strong rudder. In this way we will safely arrive at our eternal destination, the eternal haven of rest where we shall live in blessed fellowship with the Lord our God.