Message of the Week: Is doctrine important?
Feb. 24, 2007 - Do you cringe when you hear doctrines like “election” and “predestination” being taught from the pulpit? Do you consider the doctrine of “justification by faith” something that only theologians discuss?
I would venture a guess that many of you reading this article consider doctrine to be unimportant, boring or even divisive. If this is what you believe, then to use the words of our Lord, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.”
Did the apostle Paul consider doctrine to be unimportant? What sayeth the Scripture?
Paul wrote to Timothy: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1Tim. 4:13). He also told him, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine Å ” (2Tim. 3:16).
Paul even exhorted Timothy: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
What was so important about sound doctrine? “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” (2Tim 4:2-3)
Paul warned the Ephesian believers “Å 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” (Eph. 4:14).
If you are not grounded in sound doctrine, you are liable to fall in with any wind of false doctrine that may come along.
Should believers' fellowship with those who pervert sound doctrine?
Paul told the saints at Rome: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17)
Even the apostle John weighs in under inspiration by writing: “Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: For he that bids him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2Jn 1:9-11).
C.H. Spurgeon, the well- known Baptist preacher of the 19th century, wrote the following concerning doctrine: “It is doctrine ... or faithful teaching, which brings men to Christ. Let those who despise doctrine mind what they are doing, for the doctrine of the cross is only foolishness to them who perish Å If we do not preach the great doctrine of the atoning sacrifice, if we do not lift up Christ as suffering chastisement in man's place and stead, we have not put before them the basis on which their faith is to be built. Justification by faith and regeneration by the Spirit must be taught continually.”
The problem that many professing Christians have with doctrine is that by learning doctrine, or being aligned with doctrine, they are ultimately held responsible for that doctrine. They don't want to acknowledge the necessary connection between doctrine and conduct.
For instance, can a believer live in sin or be dominated by the reigning power of sin?
The apostle Paul said it was impossible when he wrote in Romans 6:1: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin (or as the Greek has it ‘died to sin'), live any longer therein?”
If you were to study verses 2 to 5 you would see that having been identified with Christ's death and his resurrection, believers have died to the dominating power of sin. Sin is no longer the master. Although it is true that believers still commit acts of sin and act out of character at times, they no longer live in sin, nor are they under sin's power and control as they once were.
To understand this doctrinal truth is to understand that a saved individual cannot continue to live in sin. For one to say that he is a believer and yet unable to break away from the dominating power of sin is to say that he is not truly saved.
Can you see the necessary connection between doctrine and conduct? Do you understand how important doctrine is? What are you hearing from the pulpit these days?
Michael A. Carling is pastor of the Free Grace Baptist Church, 1558 Starr Drive, Yuba City. The Message of the Week is an overview of the topic a faith leader is speaking on at this week's services. To include your faith group in our Message of the Week column, contact Faith & Family coordinator Larry Badger at 741-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org