Purpose of the session
To clearly define the nature and importance of Christian Doctrine.
The Importance of Sound Doctrine
Doctrine defines the boundaries of our lives. We will always live according to what we truly believe, even if what we believe is false. The scriptures are full of divine encouragements toward sound doctrine, and equally authoritative warnings against false teachings and their proponents.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” (2Tim 4:3 NKJV)
We are encouraged as Christians, and especially leaders, to have a clear grasp of what the Truth actually teaches.
Paul urges his disciple, Titus, “…to stimulate and promote the faith of God’s chosen ones and to lead them on to accurate discernment and recognition of and acquaintance with the Truth which belongs to and harmonizes with and tends to godliness,” (Titus 1:1 AMP). He continues:
“…he must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error].” (Titus 1:9 AMP)
Clearly, the early church considered ‘doctrine’ as a subject of great significance.
Definitions and Divisions of Doctrine
DOCTRINE simply means;
“something taught, instruction or teachings, to teach the
THEOLOGY means “the study of God, of religious doctrines and of matters pertaining to divinity.”
i. “Theos”, meaning God
ii. “Logos”, meaning “Word, or Discourse”.
Theology is the orderly arrangement of facts pertaining
to divinity in a logical manner.
REVELATION means “an uncovering, to uncover or unveil, to make known something hidden or secret”. In theology ‘revelation’ refers to God unveiling Himself to mankind, and communicating truth to man that he could not otherwise discover.
Some Divisions of Theology
“Exegesis” means, “to lead, guide or draw out”. In theology it refers to the analysis and interpretation of scripture.
“Dogma” is man’s statement of a truth set forth, as in a creed.
“Doctrine” is God’s revelation of truth found in scriptures.
We must be careful not to step over from Biblical and fundamental belief into dogmatic and blind following of church creeds and preferences. This is why personal study of the scriptures is so essential.
Traces the progress of Truth through the books of the Bible. It follows the great teachings through scripture, seeing how they are presented from Genesis to Revelation.
The orderly arrangement into topics of the doctrines concerning God, Man, Angels, Sin and Salvation.
We must understand the following equation:
Right Teaching = Right Thinking = Right Living
In the epistles we almost always find a doctrinal basis laid before an outline of Christian conduct is expounded. The book of Romans is an excellent example of this. Paul, and the other Apostles, understood that it is primarily what we believe that determines our character and conduct, not the other way around.
As a Christian, we must never seek to establish our ‘position’ with God, by our ‘performance’ of His commands. Rather, we stand in the spiritual position given by God through faith, and live our Christian lives from that understanding. Outward conduct proceeds from inward belief, in much the same way as the fruit on a tree ultimately proceeds from the original seed. Plant the right seed, and you’ll enjoy the right fruit. Because of this, the doctrine we hold is essential if we are to walk in victory, and represent Christ to the world.
An atheist once said, “There are no absolutes!” When asked if he believed this he replied, “Absolutely!” In an age of relativism (“whatever’s true for you”) sound faith in the absolute truth of God’s Word is essential. God never changes. His Word endures forever. In the shifting sands of time He remains the Rock upon which we build our lives.
“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 NKJV)
We must know:
WHO we are
WHAT we believe
WHY we believe it
Teachings (whether true or false) received, believed, obeyed and continually practiced determine:
CHARACTER – What we are
BEHAVIOUR – What we do
DESTINY – Where we go
Jesus Himself, our prime example, had a very strong and clearly defined doctrine. His hearers were constantly amazed at the authority and conviction His teaching carried. He Himself said, “My doctrine is not my My own, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16-17). We must understand that we cannot accept Christ and reject what He teaches. He and His Words are one.
Not only does the teaching we follow affect our life here on earth. Ultimately, it is our ‘doctrine’ that will determine our eternal destiny.
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16 NKJV)
The Purpose of Doctrine
The purpose of doctrinal and theological studies is to set in systematic order those things that are “most surely believed” (KJV) among believers, instructing the believer that he/she may know the certainty of those truths.
Man, by himself, does not know what to believe. God has therefore laid it down in His Word. We are dependent upon the Spirit of Revelation to illuminate to our minds what He inspired, being careful to be open to new insight as God shines new light upon old truths.
The Source of Doctrine
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1John 4:6 NKJV)
Ultimately all doctrine finds its source in two places: The Spirit of Truth or The Spirit of Error
The following diagram shows the progression of the two streams of doctrine.
The Spirit of Truth
Doctrine of God
Doctrine of Christ
Doctrine of the Apostles
Life and liberty
The Spirit of Error
Doctrine of Satan
Doctrine of demons
Doctrine of Man
Death and Bondage
The Bible also reveals three sources of doctrine proceeding from either the Spirit of Truth or the Spirit of Error.
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
The ideas above are the thoughts of men and find their source in human reason.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. …
The ideas above are the thoughts of God.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”” Matthew 16:13-23, NKJV.
The ideas above are the thoughts of satan.
From which source would you say the following thoughts come from? Look up the Scripture references and jot down what and why you think they arise from a particular source: man, God or satan.
1 Timothy 4:1-4
2 Peter 2;1-3
2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Symbols of Doctrine In Scripture
Among other things, doctrine is symbolised in scripture in three ways, as yeast, rain and wind. Consider the following scriptures and describe briefly what you think the Holy Spirit may mean by these pictures he paints of the nature and work of doctrine in our lives:
Doctrine is like leaven (yeast) (Matthew 16:5-12)
Doctrine is like the wind (Ephesians 4:14)
Characteristics of true doctrine...
From the following scriptures, write down at least five characteristics of true doctrine:
2 Timothy 3:14-17
2 John 9-11
1 John 1:1-7
1 John 4:15-16