A Transcript Of The Video Study
In our previous studies, I have shown you a few examples of the way Arminians have diagramed their framework of doctrine. We looked at the Romans Road, the Gospel Bridge and the Dispensational Timeframe. I have also shown you some examples of the way Calvinists have diagramed their framework of doctrine. We looked at Perkins and Bunyan’s theological charts. But I wonder, have you ever diagramed your framework of teachings?
Thus far, you have been able to follow this series of studies from the sideline, as it were. I have applied very little pressure for you to become a participant in these teachings. But all of that changes from this study forward. We are not now concerned with what the Arminians believe about the masterplan of God for the ages, and how they go about diagramming their framework of teachings. Neither are we now concerned with what the Calvinists believe about the plan of God for the ages, and how they go about diagramming their framework of teachings. The spotlight is now turned upon ourselves. What do I believe about God’s masterplan for the ages and how have I diagramed my framework of teachings? What do you believe about God’s plan for the ages and how do you diagram your framework of teachings? What do you believe and why do you believe it?
Of course, every one of us understands the truth according to some type of system or framework of teachings. Now, our understanding of the truth may not be formally sketched out on a piece of paper, as we have seen with the Arminian and Calvinist diagrams, but we nevertheless form some type of mental image of the way in which the teachings of God’s Word fit together. And so, the big question, and that which should be of the greatest concern to us in this series of studies—what is it that you believe and why do you believe it? Have you ever sketched out on a piece of paper your framework of teachings?
You know, there are two ways you may approach this series of studies. First, you may come at these studies as a spectator; Second, you may follow these teachings as a participant. I’d like to say a few things about these different approaches.
First, coming at these studies as a spectator.
It is possible to follow these teachings by sitting on the sideline. That is, you don’t actually enter the field and get personally involved in the game—you’re happy to take a seat just off the field and watch others play the game. In other words, you may be more interested to follow these studies as a form of entertainment, than as a substantive resource for your edification.
Now, this yearning for entertainment can express itself in a number of different ways. For instance, you could be entertained through a sort of morbid curiosity of what I might say. You just like to scratch the itch in your ear for something new. I have sometimes referred to this type of people as dabblers—they like to dabble in the teaching ministries of a wide range of preachers, not because they are driven by a desire to sharpen their own views of the gospel, but, as the Apostle Paul phrased it, “after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, turning away their ears from the truth, and following after fables.” (2 Tim 4:3,4) And so they dabble in a dozen teaching ministries, entertained by them all, but committed to none.
Another way you may entertain yourself is to come at this series of studies with a critical spirit on what I say. You are quite settled in your understanding of the truth and do not for one minute believe there is much I can say that will be of any real help to your soul. The main reason you follow my teachings is because you enjoy rolling your eyes and smirking at what I say. The Apostle Paul also spoke about this type of people. He told Titus to “hold fast the faithful word as he had been taught, that he might be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For,” said Paul, “there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, whose mouths must be stopped, teaching things they ought not.” Paul told Titus these people who opposed his teachings turn others from the truth by promoting their own doctrines based on Jewish fables and commandments of men. (Tit 1:9-14) You see, if this is the reason you follow my teachings, that you might find occasion to ridicule and mock my understanding of the gospel, then of what substantial value does that add to your life or the lives of others? You’re just wasting your time, my friend. If you are settled in your understanding of the truth, having a closed and unreceptive spirit towards the teachings of anyone who may contradict the way you see things, then you are better off flocking together with birds of the same feather. Find people who share your convictions, and rather than wasting your time mocking those whom you disagree, invest your time wisely by building up those in your circle with whom you do agree.
And so, I wonder, are you coming at this series of studies with a desire to be entertained? Is it a morbid curiosity or a critical spirit which draws you to these teachings? Only you can answer these questions.
But you know, there is another type of spectator, sitting on the sideline of these teachings, who isn’t following this series because they want to be entertained. Rather, they have a deep desire for the edification of their souls. As Peter framed it, “they have tasted the Lord is gracious, and as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that they might grow thereby.” (1 Pet 2:2,3) However, as a spectator, they are attempting to feed their souls off field, from the sideline, at a distance. They are like the little boy at home, who refuses to eat dinner at the table with the family, and only now and again will reach up and grab a little food from the plate. Sure, you can be sustained that way, but your non-involvement at the table will prevent you from enjoying a full meal. The type of person I am describing is the one who comes at this series of studies with a desire to grow in grace, but refuses to sit at the table, and get personally involved in the teachings. As far as they are concerned, they don’t believe it is their job to develop a personal framework of teachings and to illustrate it with a diagram. “Oh,” they say, “I leave that type of stuff to the experts. Who am I to involve myself in matters which exceed my field of expertise? Of course, I want to understand the framework of truth and I find the diagrams of various theologians quite helpful. But they are the theologians; they are the experts! It is above my ‘pay grade’ to produce my own diagram of teachings.” My dear friend, I certainly appreciate your modesty, but I do not believe you are doing yourself much good by diminishing your ability to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Expert? What is an ‘expert’? I believe every regenerate sinner should be on the path to becoming an expert in Bible Doctrine. It doesn’t matter if you are a full time preacher overseeing a church, or a full time street cleaner. If you are a believer, then you are a full time Christian, and therefore you should be growing in your knowledge of the truth and sharpening your understanding of Bible Doctrine. At some point, others will think of you as an expert in the field of theology, because in time, you will mature in the faith, and, like King David, you will “have more understanding that all your teachers and understand more than the elders.” (Ps 119:97-104) And that applies to men and women. I once heard a pastor blast female theologians, claiming they do not have the capacity to handle such matters. How demeaning to our sisters in Christ! I hope you realize, my dear friends, gender is no barrier to your growth in grace. So long as you have been born again, you have the capacity to grow in maturity and nurture sharper views of grace, which in my estimate, will eventually make you an expert in Bible Doctrine. There have been many Christian women, some recorded in the Bible and others who have lived in more recent times, who understood more of God’s Word and apprehended high views of sovereign grace, than the majority of pastors who fill the pulpit around the world today.
Well, I have taken much more time on this first point than anticipated. I must come to the second way you may approach this series of studies.
Second, you can approach these teachings as a participant.
Get off the sideline, get onto the field and be a part of the teaching process. How do you do this? Well, you must take stock of what it is you currently believe and why you believe it. You must write out on a piece of paper your understanding of God’s Word. And, once you get the information on paper, you must then arrange and organize that information into a system or framework of teachings. And then, once you organize your teachings into some type of framework, you must attempt to illustrate or diagram those teachings, as you have seen done by the Arminian and Calvinist charts. This is what it means to take stock of what you believe and why you believe it. And, that is the starting point on how you become a participant in this series of studies. When you come onto the field to participate in the learning process, you bring with you your playbook of teachings. You start with your understanding of God’s plan for the ages. And, as I present to you, study by study, what it is I believe about Bible Doctrine, you will compare my teachings with your own diagram and understanding of the framework of truth. And, you will be looking to do one of three things—add, subtract and rework. Your job as a participant will be to add information to your framework of teachings; or, subtract erroneous information from your framework of teachings; or, rework the order and framework of your system of teachings.
Do you see? My job is not to tell you what to believe or why you must believe it. As a teacher, my job is to challenge your beliefs and prompt you to examine why you believe them. Now, it may be that you will agree with my teachings and conclusions, in which case you can adjust your framework of doctrine. But it may also be that you will disagree with my teachings and conclusions, in which case you will develop your framework of doctrine to reflect the way you understand the truth.
In this way, once I have finished this series of studies, you should be walking away with your own framework of doctrine, something that you can truly call your own, which will be a reflection of your personal understanding and convictions of the truth. My dear friends, it is only in this way that you will truly benefit from my teachings. You must become a participant in the learning process. You must take stock of what you believe and why you believe it, and then seek to develop your own understanding of the truth.
Well, I have exceeded my time. But I do pray you will take to heart the things I’ve said. Will you be a spectator or a participant in this series of studies? I pray and hope you will become a participant. Until we meet again next week, I would like to wish upon you every blessing in the Lord.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.