As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.


Learn how to preach powerful Gospel messages that really mean something instead of empty-headed fluff. Learn how to grab an audience's attention and leave them with something to remember. Learn how to prepare a gourmet spiritual meal that provides not only excitement, but good nourishment for the soul.

This is a 52 lesson Preaching Manual free to view online. It is designed for lay and professional preachers and theology students. It is arranged for use over an entire year, but is adaptable to various time frames and levels of competence and skill.

Just click on the title to this blog or here.

Sense & Nonsense about Heresy


There are two opposite extreme views of doctrine today. On the naïve extreme are those who teach that doctrine is irrelevant, impractical or divisive, and yet that teaching is itself doctrine. On the other extreme is denominationalism, those who overly emphasize non-essential doctrines or distinctives and brand those who disagree with their narrow views as heretics.

What the Bible Says

The Bible says that doctrine is important. People were astonished at Christ's doctrine (Matthew 7:8). He taught people to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:12). Jesus' parables were doctrine (Mark 4:2). He taught people how to discern that his doctrine was right (John 7:17). The early church continued in the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42). Those who taught contrary doctrines were avoided (Romans 16:17).

Paul warned the Ephesians not be be carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) and told Timothy to warn people not to teach any other doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3). He wrote to Timothy to give attention in his preaching to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13) and that preachers who labor in doctrine are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). The Bible is profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16). We are warned that some will not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Titus was told to teach what is consistent with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ do not have God and we ought not receive their teachings into our homes (2 John 1:9-10).


Some people quote Matthew 7:1-5 to claim that we should not judge, implying that we also ought not judge the doctrines of others. Yet the word judge in English carries both a positive and a negative meaning. These verses in Matthew are about a judgmental, critical spirit, not about righteous judgment, discerning between right and wrong. Verse 15 of the same chapter says to beware of false prophets. How can we beware unless we can judge rightly or distinguish between false and true prophets?


Is doctrine important for salvation? Not everyone who calls Jesus Lord will be saved (Matthew 7:21). Some call him Lord, but do not do as he says to do (Luke 6:46). Even Christians can be led astray by those who use the name Jesus but actually preach another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Zeal without knowledge is dangerous (Romans 10:2), yet it important to know that Jesus will not cast out those who come to him (John 6:37).

Heresy vs. Orthodoxy

The word heresy conjures up visions of torture racks and persecution, but heresy is a real problem in the Church and has been for 2,000 years. Every church has a battle with heresy. What are the biggest heresies today? What exactly is heresy is also a matter of dispute. Like ancient heresies, many modern heresies can be summed up by the fact that they distract us from Christ, the central Person of Christianity. Some Christians think that there must be something they need more than Jesus Christ. They seek spiritual gimmicks, gurus and wiz-bang formulas. People are only too happy to make merchandise of them in the Christian market place.

The word orthodoxy simply means right teaching. Teaching which has been agreed upon since the early Church and which has stood the test of Christian history can generally be thought of as orthodox. This normally includes churches which believe in the teachings of the Bible, the Trinity and the Nicene Creed. However, we need to be cautious, because even some preachers which claim to believe these things have aberrant teachings. How can we discern what is right in individual cases? Several principles will help us in general:

• Whatever blatantly contradicts the Bible is heresy.
• Whatever is contrary to the Gospel is heresy.
• Whatever contradicts the Creeds is heresy.
• Whatever contradicts what the Church has historically regarded as essential is heresy.

If we look at the essential teachings of the Church, we can categorize heresies along the same lines. There are heresies about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Angels, human kind, sin, the Bible, salvation, the Church, and the future. A look at the heresy troubling the Colossian church can help us with some further principles.


A very popular variety of heresy today denies the value of a good education in Scripture, rational thinking and learning to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It relies overly on dubious ideas that people pull out of thin air and for which they blame the Holy Spirit. This is a variety of existentialism which stresses an individual's unique experiences and is very negligent to check the authenticity of those experiences against the rock solid teachings of Scripture and 2,000 years of Christ's leadership of the Church.

Filled with Knowledge

Let's look at Colossians 1:9-12. We hear a lot about being "filled with the Holy Spirit" today, but not much about being filled with love and grace. All of those things are needed, but Paul also prayed that the Colossians would be filled with knowledge. In some modern circles knowledge is despised, yet everything must be in balance. We need proper knowledge to discern between what is good Christian teaching and what is rubbish or heresy. There is also a lot said today about spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12) yet the gift that tops the list is wisdom and that is neglected. Perhaps if we had more wisdom, we might be able to use other spiritual gifts better.

We are also admonished to live a life worthy of the Lord. Let's ask ourselves if our lives are worthy. Let's not judge others wrongly, just ourselves. Are we living a life worthy of the Lord, or are we just frittering it away on useless pursuits? Paul also encourages us to joyfully give thanks to the Father. Do we? Are our prayers just "gimmee" prayers or do we also remember to give God thanks in everything? I remember a person several years ago started writing a list of all the things they were thankful for and soon they had written a whole book. I believe it was published.

The Secret is there is no Secret

Let's look at Colossians 2:2-12. What is the mystery of the universe? Have you watched a science fiction movie lately? Often times they will talk about the secrets of the universe, or the force, or some such thing. Yet we Christians know the mystery of the universe. It is Christ. All, not just some, but all of the hidden treasures of wisdom are hidden in him. Yet Christians get so easily bored with Christ and start to seek after other things, as if those things are going to give us something better. Perhaps it's like a 40 year old man having a mid-life crisis and seeking another woman, somehow thinking he is missing out on something. In reality, instead of adding something to his life, he is destroying something very precious.

So it is when Christians are deluded into thinking that there must be something better than Jesus Christ, that they are somehow missing out on something. Christians sometimes travel a long distance to hear visiting speakers, thinking that if they don't they will be missing out on something. Amos talks about people who roam from sea to sea, and run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but do not find it (Amos 8:12).

The answers are not far off in some distant place, but right in our own back yards. Paul warned the Colossians Christians against hollow and deceptive philosophies. He was not saying that all philosophy is wrong. Some people study philosophy in school and many parts of it are worth studying. However, there are philosophies which are hollow and deceptive. The Christian church is not immune to such ideas. Too often Christians fall prey to the trap of depending on human principles and materialistic values of this world rather than on Christ (verse 8). We need to be like the Bereans with our noses in our Bibles checking up whether or not what is preached are mere human principles or biblical ones.

Faith is Personal

Let's look at Colossians 2:16-23. Do not let anyone judge you. Your faith is between you and God, yet sometimes Christians are apt to judge one another over non-essentials. We do not have to let anyone pressure us into a particular pattern of belief other than our faith in Christ. If some want to speak in a tongue, that’s certainly not a sin, but let's not let them pressure us if we don't want to. If some want to abstain from alcohol, that's fine, but it is not a biblical requirement, and let's not let people judge us for our moderation. If someone wants to observe a particular day as a Sabbath in honor to God, that is wonderful. However, let's not let them pressure us into something that neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded for the Church.

There are so many rules and regulations which are of men, which Jesus did not require of the apostles and they did not require of the Church. The Jewish Christians of Colossae were trying to impose Old Testament rules mixed with perhaps Gnostic philosophies upon the other Christians in the church. Paul corrected this as a heresy, because those ideas were based upon a false premise: that Christ was not sufficient. Yet, Christ is sufficient.

Christianity is Christ

Paul reminded the Colossians that the reality is found in Christ. We are Christians and that means that what Christ preached is sufficient for us. Paul also warned about those whose unspiritual minds puff themselves up with idle notions. They have lost connection with the Head. If we too lose that connection with Christ, the Head of the Church, what good is our Christianity? It is no longer Christ-ianity, but something else.

Such human commands and teachings fool many Christians even today. It is heresy. Indeed many ideas seem like wisdom and worship, but are false humility and certainly not the core of Christianity. Christianity is about Christ. Some practices actually have more in common with non-Christian religions of Asia or Africa than biblical Christianity. Many of today's Christian fads are not about Christ, but something else, often about making money from naïve Christians.

Honesty Check

In order to claim that new wacky doctrines are authentic, badly educated people twist the Bible, contradict the Gospel, ignore the creeds and take no notice of how Christ has led the Church for 2,000 years. If an idea contradicts the Bible, it is garbage. If an opinion opposes the Gospel it is junk. If an otion contradicts the Creeds it is rubbish. If a vision contradicts the essentials of Christianity it too is heresy.

Cleaning out the Divisive Crap

Dividing the Christian church over a matter that Jesus did not think was important enough to command his disciples is crap. What did Jesus say about false teachings? Jesus warned against that form of religion that involved the commandments of men. The religious leaders of that day had fallen into this trap, as has every modern Christian church to one degree or other. We are all so easily tempted to make our church’s interpretations of scripture into dogma and canon law. Instead Jesus instructed his disciples to teach the things that he had commanded, saying that it was not his own doctrine, but his that had sent him.

Heresy is really any teaching that detracts from Christ and distracts us from what he taught. By that definition, heresy is everywhere and in every church to some degree or other. Are we satisfied with Christ, or do we believe that something else must fill the void in our lives? Are we fooled by some of the hawkers of cheap substitutes, who line their pockets with our money and do not give us what really satisfies? We don't need to travel the world looking for Christ. He is here. He invites us to meet him here in prayer and study of his word. All the fullness we will ever need is in him and in him alone.

How Correct is What We Believe?

What percentage of correctness would you attach to your understanding of God? Would you say you are maybe 25% right? Would you venture a 90%? Would you be shocked to hear that a very respected theologian once said that all churches are 80% wrong in doctrine? I was, when I first heard it, but over the years I have come to appreciate more and more what he meant. How often do you and I talk about what we believe?

The Bible says, Let God be true and every man a liar. So, if every man is a liar what does that say of us or great teachers like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Ratzinger or your favorite televangelist? When we follow the doctrines of mere men, we fall into the trap of being perhaps as much as 80% wrong or even more. When we follow Christ and his doctrine, then and only then do we have a chance of getting it right.