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;”2Timothy 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 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 Biblical Doctrine
DOCTRINE simply means;
“something taught, instruction or teachings, to teach the substance”
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.
“Exegesis” means, “to lead, guide or draw out”. In theology it refers to the analysis and interpretation of scripture.
Some Divisions of Theology
“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:
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