What is Doctrine?
Doctrine is considered an instruction or teaching that can be learned or developed through experience. Doctrine is associated with a person’s beliefs; the way they ‘see,’ perceive, or relate to the world around them. Each person has a countless number of doctrines on the issues, people, and situations they experience on a daily basis. The number of doctrines a person has is countless and continues to be shaped and expanded throughout a person’s lifetime.
Within Christianity, sound biblical doctrine is based on the biblical teachings, experiences, pastors, ministers, and interactions with fellow brothers and sisters in the local church community. Within the context of this message, doctrine will encompass God’s Word. God’s Word is the foundation of good sound doctrine:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
The Importance of Doctrine
The importance of sound doctrine is accuracy of the source from which it comes. If the source (pastor, minister, etc.) teaches doctrine in error, there is a probability that people will learn the same and live and teach it as truth. Countless numbers of people can be raised with an inaccurate perspective of God’s Word. As such, each person is responsible to ensure they understand and recognize true and false teachers and messages of God’s Word.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In correctly handing God’s Word, we must ensure our teachings is not slandered through our words or deeds. Unbelievers and believers alike need to see and hear sound doctrine (Matthew 5:14-16; 2 Corinthians 8:21; James 3:13; 1 Peter 2:12) that is established on the foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11) and has the ability to:
1. Save us and our hearers (Proverbs 14:25; Acts 17:16-34; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 3:10-17).
2. Encourage and convince those that contradict the Word (Titus 1:9).
3. Give us long and prosperous lives where we find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:1-4, Proverbs 13:13-14).
4. Present us to God (and others) as one who correctly handles His Word (2 Timothy 2:15-17).
5. Perfect the saints for the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:8-16).
6. To prepare future generations in the way of the Lord (Psalm 78:1-8; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:2).
The ‘Issue’ with Doctrine
One of the largest ‘issues’ with doctrine occur when believers do not to exercise sound biblical doctrine. These ‘issues’ can be attributed to those that:
1. Fulfill selfish/prideful motives and desires (Mark 12:38-40; Romans 1:21-32; Philippians 1:15-18; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Titus 1:10-11; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:17).
2. Are more fearful of man than of God (John 9:1-41).
3. Deceive (Jeremiah 9:4-6; Romans 1:28-32, Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15; Galatians 6:1-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, 16-17; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:12-13; 2 John 1:7).
4. Seek to control others (Genesis 28:1-31:55; Matthew 20:20-28; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 3 John 1:9-10).
5. Cause divisions, arguments, and strife amongst groups of believers. (Proverbs 6:12-15, 28:25; Acts 6:8-14, Acts 13:43-15:2; Romans 16:17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; 1 Timothy 6:3-5).
6. Teach based on the traditions of man (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8).
7. Have forms of godliness, but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
8. Allow those with false doctrines to continue before God’s people (Revelation 2:20-29).
It is man’s unwillingness to seek after, follow, and obey God and His Word that dilute the power to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). We have been given the responsibility to continue share the Good News and love of God with the world (Matthew 18:11-14; Luke 14:23; John 3:17, John 4:34-38; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). And as such, we must ensure our doctrine is sound into order that Christ may be revealed in our mortal bodies (2 Corinthians 4:1-12).
Our Responsibility to Doctrine
Sound doctrine should be at the forefront of the Christian life. Each believer has a responsibility to incorporate and live by sound doctrine. Our doctrine is used for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and without it, we find ourselves prey to Satan, the lust of our flesh, and those that are false and are not concerned with following the will of our Lord (John 7:16-18).
Our responsibility to sound doctrine first begins with learning sound doctrine, living sound doctrine, and finally teaching sound doctrine to others.
Learning Sound Doctrine
Reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God is important to our growth in the Lord. Reading, studying, and meditating can be accomplished in personal studies and corporate church settings. Reading assists believers in understanding the meaning, truth, and power of God’s Word. Studying God’s Word is more in-depth than reading, but it offers opportunities for greater clarity and understanding. Meditation allow believers to continually set their mind (thinking) on what they read and studied toward a transformation in godliness (Joshua 1:8; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17; Ephesians 4:22-25; Colossians 3:1-2; 1 Peter 1:13-15). Without a renewed mind in Christ, our thoughts (and actions) will eventually return to our old nature in the flesh (Proverbs 17:20, 22:17-21; Romans 13:13-14; Titus 1:15).
Additional scripture references: Joshua 1:8; Ezra 7:10; Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 104:34, Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:15, Psalm 119:23, Psalm 119:48, Psalm 119:54, Psalm 119:93, Psalm 119:97-100, Psalm 119:148; Proverbs 15:28; Luke 11:28; John 8:31-32; Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:1-8; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:15-17, 2 Timothy 3:15-17; James 1:22-25.
Corporate fellowship provides a venue for asking questions, learning, and developing and shaping a believer’s understanding of God’s Word (John 3:1-8; Acts 2:41-47). These venues may include church services, conferences, retreats, and meetings. These settings may include two or more believers reading, studying, and meditating together. Corporate fellowship allow believers to resolve unanswered issues, expound on biblical subjects, and expand their understanding of God’s Word.
Additional scripture references: Psalm 122:1; Luke 6:39-40; John 3:1-8; Acts 2:41-47, Acts 17:11; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 2:21, Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24-25.
Living Sound Doctrine
Living sound doctrine is the application of what is read, studied, and meditated upon.
Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
As the mind is renewed, it is be prepared for action (1 Peter 1:13-16). With each circumstance, situation, and decision believers encounter, they have an opportunity to grow in godliness (Psalms 25:9; Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 4:26, Proverbs 14:15, Proverbs 27:12). By living a life of godliness, believers are able to:
1. Know that Jesus Christ’s teaching comes from God (John 7:16-18).
2. Live and have eternal life (John 3:16-17; Romans 8:1-14; Galatians 6:8).
3. Be known as disciples of Jesus Christ (John 8:31, 13:33-34).
4. Win the respect of outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
5. Escape corruption in the world and participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
6. Be effective and productive in their knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8).
7. Know that they will be immoveable, not compromise, or show a lack of integrity (Ephesians 5:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; 2 John 1:10-11; Jude 1:22-23).
8. Walk the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25).
9. Never fall will receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11).
The decision to live by sound doctrine is not a one-time decision or event. Each situation we encounter encompasses a series of choices that must be made (in thought, word, motive, and deed) in order to continue along the path of righteousness.
Additional scripture references: Psalm 119:25-37, Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:111-112; Proverbs 16:20; Luke 11:28; John 8:31-32; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 1:22-25; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 1:13-15; Revelation 1:3
Teaching Sound Doctrine
Teaching sound doctrine combines the elements of learning and living sound doctrine. All three are needed in order to help believers live in godliness and fulfill their purpose on earth (Matthew 5:14-16, Matthew 28:18-20; John 4:34, John 17:4; Titus 2).
Teaching sound doctrine involves demonstration and instruction. Demonstration involves living sound doctrine in word and deed. Actions confirm and solidify the believer’s walk with God, glorify Him, and allow others to praise and seek Him (Matthew 5:14-16). Instruction is an extension of what is studied and learned. If believers attempt to instruct what is not first studied and lived, an imbalance may cause others to stumble (Malachi 2:1-9; 1 John 2:10-11). Without keeping sound doctrine themselves, believers risk being deceived or hypocritical (Proverbs 10:17; 1 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 2:8; James 1:22-25).
Additional scripture references: Psalm 78:1-8; Proverbs 30:5-6; Mark 6:34; Luke 6:39-40; John 3:1-8; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 4:6-16; Titus 2:1-10; Jude 1:20-23
Having sound doctrine should be an integral part of a believer’s life. Their devotion must lie firmly in Christ and not on worldly or religious tradition and false teachers and prophets that distort the Gospel for personal gain (John 7:16-18). Believers should use sound doctrine to save and encourage themselves and others (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 1:9); refute those who speak falsely; and make the Gospel of Jesus Christ attractive to those in their workplace, home, church, and abroad (Titus 2:9-10; Matthew 28:18-20).
Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/DouglasShelton