Why is the study of doctrine important?
Is there really a need for a believer to examine and study the major doctrines of the Christian faith? Is not this suited more to a theologian, apologist or a Bible teacher? Is it not a waste of time to get entangled with such intellectual efforts?
2 Timothy 3:15
“…and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The scripture addresses straight to the minister of the gospel and his duty to teach doctrine.
1 Timothy 4:13
“Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
Again, this verse emphasises the need for the minister to first know sound doctrine himself and then to admonish his congregation with the same.
DOCTRINE IS WISDOM FROM A FATHER
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain wisdom and insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.
DOCTRINE IS IMPORTANT TO CHRIST
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 whether I speak of myself.
DOCTRINE IS IMPORTANT TO GOD’S CHILDREN FOR SPIRITUAL STABILITY AND MATURITY
That we from now on 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 what of a layman?
2 Timothy 3:16
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
Surely, this passage speaks to all people of God. The Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to teach everyone. This is precisely what doctrine is: teaching or instruction in the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Doctrine is the preaching and teaching of the word of God. Let us not forget that it is the Word of God that brings saving faith in Christ.
“Consequently, faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”
What we believe and live by is determined by what we are taught and obey. This is why Paul warns Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:16
“Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”
Is there a threat in believing incorrect doctrine? What is the source of such erroneous teaching?
Paul the apostle gives us insight concerning these questions:
1 Timothy 4:1
“Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings…”
What was prevalent in the last days of the Old Covenant is still to a great extent, prevailing today. The verse above shows the likelihood of Christians voluntarily leaving the faith, and voluntarily giving heed to not only wrong teachings, but in reality, being influenced by seducing spirits.
This demonstrates the fact that bad doctrine actually brings one into contact with evil spiritual influences who then can obtain a foothold in one’s life and so further their destructive work in other areas. False doctrine can mislead and confuse immature Christians, destroy one’s faith, and destroy the credibility of Christianity.
Is all doctrine good?
No, the fact that the Bible makes mention of sound doctrine, lets us know there is doctrine that is false and erroneous.
1 Timothy 1:10
“…the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
2 Timothy 4:3
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…”
The Bible also speaks of strange doctrines.
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”
How is false doctrine spread?
- THROUGH FALSE APOSTLES
2 Corinthians 11:13
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”
- THROUGH FALSE PROPHETS AND TEACHERS
2 Peter 2:1
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
- THROUGH FALSE PASTORS
“My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds (pastors) have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.”
The importance of doctrine from the Word
- IT IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR SALVATION AND CONTINUING IN IT
1 Timothy 4:16
“Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.”
What Paul is actually saying here is, “If you do not give thought to your life or what doctrine says, you will lose yourself and anyone who hears what you say.”
- IT IS THE FOUNDATION TO LIVE A GODLY LIFE
1 Timothy 6:3
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.”
- IT RELEASES ONE FROM THE POWER OF SIN WHEN OBEYED FROM THE HEART
“But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
- IT MAKES US SERVANTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.”
- IT ENABLES ONE TO WITNESS TO OTHERS
“Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the disputers.”
- IT BRINGS ONE INTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE THINGS OF GOD
“And he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine.”
- IT EQUIPS THE SAINTS FOR SPIRITUAL SERVICE
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.”
- IT JUDGES THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS OF THE HEART
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”
Rightly divide the Word of truth
Unless we depend and be faithful to sound doctrine ourselves, we cannot grow in Christ or discern when doctrine is not sound. If we continue in the doctrine of Christ, is in union with both God the Father and Son.
2 John 1:9
“Whoever transgresses, and stays not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that stays in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son.”
2 Timothy 2:15
“Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Therefore, it is our duty as Christians to spread the gospel message—exactly as it is written.
The Key to Formation Of Christ
Sound, meaningful teaching is always related to the formation of Christ within our lives. While grace and love are plainly separate from knowledge, they can never grow in the a mind that is not soaked by God’s word.
2 Peter 3:18
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day.”
“But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head.”
The Word Transforms Us
The fruit of the Spirit can only increase in the life of an individual who is pursuing the leadership of the Spirit found in His revelation. There is a false story, usually continued in Christian circles today which emphasises that devotion to God’s word leads to legalism when, in fact, the opposite is true.
Paul informs us that the word of God transforms His people into the type of individuals He desires.
2 Timothy 3:15-17
“…and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
“Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”
We cannot be the people God wants us to be without renewing our minds with His doctrine.
As a teacher, I wish to do my best to provide teaching that exhorts, encourages, edifies, inspires, convicts, and even rebukes the Church. It is never my ambition to offend anyone, and yet we know that not everyone hunger for a wholesome, spiritual diet. We thank God who has given us godly elders who take the command of the Spirit sincerely.
“Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.”
Let us, as the people of God, faithfully uphold the truth and majesty of His doctrine.