Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
This statement by Jesus in the seventh chapter of the Gospel account of John goes to the heart of Christian ministry.
It also goes to the heart of Christian experience and Christian reality.
Today we see people go to university, do good things, and then go on to be selected by men in an ecclesiastical organisation for the ministry of Christ.
Such is the mindset of the religious organisation that they advertise – or at least did so in my day – at universities for graduates to apply to become ministers.
Yet in this passage we read of Jesus having no formal education and coming from no important family or special place. His sole qualification for the job of Christ was to be sent by God and seek God’s glory.
From God, for God, to God.
Totally God centred. God motivated, God ordained, God equipped, God concerned, God oriented, God first and self second.
Now it is certainly possible for educated people to be sent by God and to be God’s ministers.
But they have to be brought to understand first and foremost that the qualifications defined here by God are paramount, and that man’s ideas of qualification must be subservient, not paramount.
They must come to a God centred perspective and a God centred concern. And that perspective and concern must determine all else; all else must give way before God’s way. And God will use them to his glory.
But there are far too many who never even realise this. Or if they do, don’t implement it.
Often they become the apparatchniks of ecclesiastical systems. They strive for position and place – something Jesus deliberately rejected, as we see in the account in John chapter 7 where Jesus keeps his intention to go up to Jerusalem to the Feast a secret from his family.
Self aggrandisement is anathema to Christ; God’s glory and God’s teaching is all that truly matters.
But many of us will have seen or met those titled as ministers of the church whose concern is quite otherwise.
And they inevitably end up teaching heresy.
Orthodox Christian doctrine exists – despite the protestations of the academicians of theology. And Jesus gives us a fairly direct indication here.
It is the teaching of God.
And who can identify it, and know it to be true ? Jesus tells us.
Those who do his will.
That is, those who listen to what Jesus Christ taught – and we have it recorded for us in the Bible – and obey it. It is they who will know what the teaching is; and they will know because they have the experience of living it out.
You see the doctrine is not a matter of theological or philosophical debate; but a matter of actual experience.
Because God is – contrary to the philosophical, materialistic and man centred mindset of today’s world – an objective reality.
Yes he is there. And he expects to be taken seriously.
He expects the teaching he entrusted to the Son, Jesus Christ – which we have recorded in the New Testament of the Bible – to be obeyed.
Yes, it is the doctrine – the teaching – and not the emotion inspired utterances of so called latter day prophets in charismatic circles which God expects us to obey, that is to live by and do.
And Jesus tells us that that is how we know it is true.
And it is !
The true minister of Christ will always seek the Father’s glory, and will always point to Christ and his teaching as the only way to come to God. That is what Jesus himself says later in this Gospel account of John [chapter 14].
Which means that the way to God is via Christ, and no other.
Via no ecclesiastical organisation [although God may deign to use such]; via no human methodology or system of thinking; via no form of religion or mystical speculation or utterance.
It is solely via the teaching Christ gave us and recorded by John and others in the New Testament of the Bible.
Any one who says or claims otherwise, yet professes to speak from God, is false. Jesus makes that plain here in this text.
And we should be wary.
So the answer is this.
Take a Bible and read what Jesus taught and the example he set.
In short it amounts to this simple phrase, also recorded in the Gospel accounts:
Love God, and love others.