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Articles


 

Sound Doctrine

 

Today, in many churches one can hear the cry regarding doctrine, "Doctrine Divides!"  The attitude behind this cry is based upon the premise that all that matters is love. Doctrine is not important.  After all the scriptures tell us that "God is love." In fact, Jesus told us "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

This premise would be true if a few verses from the scriptures were wrestled, isolated by themselves, and the rest of the Word of God totally ignored. However, to know the mind of God on a particular Biblical issue, His full written revelation the Holy Bible must be consulted and rightly divided.

What this article shall attempt to accomplish is to ascertain the mind of God on the topic of doctrine and then proceed to discuss the importance of sound doctrine.

As our beginning point, I turn to the Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary to the define the words "sound doctrine".  First, the noun doctrine is defined "In a general science, whatever is taught.  Hence, a principle or position in any science; whatever is laid down as true by an instructor or master.  The doctrines of the gospel are the principles or truth taught by Christ and his apostles."  The adjective sound is defined as "Right, correct; well founded; free from error."  Therefore, sound doctrine could simply be defined as correct teaching.

Now that sound doctrine has been defined where does one begin in scriptures to discover the mind of God on this topic.  How much importance and emphasis does God place on sound doctrine.  To begin we must be obedient to God's command and rightly divide His word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

 

Within the cannon of scriptures there exists sixty-six individual books from Genesis to Revelation.  However, before we begin our study we must ask ourselves the question, "In relation to the scriptures, what period of time or age are we currently in?"  The answer according to rightly dividing the word of God would be the church age or age of grace.  The age where God is calling out a bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  A bride consisting of both Jews and Gentiles in one body called the church.  An age where God's most predominate attribute being displayed is grace.  An age, where men and women from the Day of Pentecost until the rapture are saved by grace through faith in the blood atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

Once we have determined what age that we are currently in then the next logical step would be in relation to the scriptures where would I looked to ascertain the mind of God on the issue of doctrine.

 

As a child of God during the church age, I would want to focus my search in the scriptures that were written by the Apostle to the Gentiles.  This Apostle is identified in Romans 15:16 and Galatians 2:7-8 as Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus and persecutor of the church.  According to Ephesians Chapter 3:1-7, the Lord revealed to directly Paul, the mystery of the church.  The mystery of church revealed to Paul was that the church consisted of Jew and Gentile in one body saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

We defined earlier sound doctrine as correct teaching.  Therefore, as a preacher and teacher of the word of God, I would in particular want to examine and study the epistles of the Apostle Paul written specifically and addressed to preachers and teachers of the word of God.  The epistles Paul wrote to preachers and teachers are the Pastoral Epistles which consists of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. So, it is to these epistles that we turn our attention to undercover the mind of God on the topic of doctrine.  The word "doctrine" appears sixteen times in the Pastoral Epistles which would tells us that doctrine is very important to God and especially in connection with the man of God teaching and preaching the word of God.

 

The two epistles of Timothy and the epistle of Titus are very specific and provide in great detail how the man of God is to preach and teach doctrine to his flock.  In 1 Timothy 1:3, Timothy is instructed to charge those in Ephesus to teach no other doctrine than they had learn from Paul.  Paul tells Timothy that the purpose of sound doctrine is to be able detect and expose those who are living contrary to the word of God.

 

In 1 Timothy 4: 6, we are told that a characteristic of a good minister of Jesus Christ is to be "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine..." Paul instructs Timothy in that same chapter in verse 13 until he comes one of the things that Timothy is to give attendance to is "doctrine".  Paul closes Chapter 4 of 1 Timothy by telling Timothy if he wants to save himself and his flock from falling into sin that he must "Take heed unto thyself, and unto doctrine;"

 

1 Timothy 5:17, informs us that the preacher who labors in the word and doctrine is due double honor.  So, the man of God is to labor work hard to discover the mind of God on the various Bible doctrines.

 

The Bible clearly states that in 1 Timothy 6:3 that if any man teach otherwise to the words of Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which is according to godliness then that individual is proud, knowing nothing. When someone teaches contrary to the doctrines found in the Bible then in essence that person is saying "I am right and God is wrong."  The sin of pride will eventually destroy an individual as evidence by the fall of Satan.

 

The Apostle Paul continues his emphasis on doctrine in his second epistle to Timothy.  Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine..."Timothy would be very familiar with the teachings of Paul because Timothy had been with Paul on many a missionary adventure and many an evangelistic tour.  Paul is making a contrast between his sound teaching with the aforementioned characteristics of the teachers of the last days which he describes in verse 1 - 9 of 2 Timothy 3.

 

Then in one of the key verses on the inspiration of scripture Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."  We want to notice that first on the list of what God's breathed words are profitable for is "doctrine".

 

Today, many churches are in direct disobedience to the word of God because everything but Bible doctrine is being taught within the confines of the church house.  Number one then the scriptures were inspired by God and given to man so doctrine could be preached and taught.  So, we could know the mind of God on such Bible topics as sin, salvation, judgment, heaven, hell, service, prayer, worship, etc.

 

Paul further instructs Timothy to use doctrine in his preaching to reprove, rebuke, and exhort his listeners (2 Timothy 4:2).  The last time the Apostle Paul uses the word doctrine in his instructions to the young preacher, Timothy is found in 2 Timothy 4:3.  Paul warns Timothy there is going to come a time when men will refuse to listen to sound doctrine or correct teaching.  Men would rather listen to preaching that tickles their ears or satisfies their flesh.  An example of this would be a listening to a steady diet of preaching and teaching on love without judgment or condemnation as a result of sin.

 

In the last of the Pastorial Epistles, Titus, Paul instructs another young preacher Titus.  Paul instructs Titus in Titus 1:9 to use sound doctrine to correct and put down the gainsayers or those who oppose the truth.  Titus Chapter 2 deals with how different age groups and classes of people should conduct themselves.  What is interesting is to notice how the Apostle Paul begins this chapter in verse by one by telling Titus to "...speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:" What this shows us is that doctrine is not some abstract truths in the Bible but a study in the scriptures on any matter to show the believer what is true and what is not true.  In this particular case in Titus Chapter Two it is on right and wrong conduct.

 

So, we have seen from our survey of the Pastorial Epistles the importance God places on doctrine.  As preachers and teachers of the word of God, we must take this issue of sound doctrine seriously because not only is it important to God but also the precious souls of men are at stake.

 

Sound doctrine is important because men and women by the millions are dying and going to hell because of false doctrine or incorrect teaching on Bible matters.  Many of these folks were sincere and believed with all their heart what their religion had taught them to be the truth.  Only, to find out as they suffer torment in a literal burning flame for all of eternity that what they believed was a lie.

 

Some of these false doctrines that are damning men's souls to hell are that water baptism is necessary to be born again and experience spiritual regeneration; an individual must partake of the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ to possess eternal life.  All religions except Bible Christianity teach the false doctrine that salvation is obtained by a person's good works.  As a result many people are counting on their good works to get them into heaven only to find themselves burning in a lake of fire.

 

What I find interesting is for someone to know the mind of God concerning salvation all they would have to do is turn to the Bible in Acts 15, where the early church fathers which included Peter, James, John, Paul, and Barnabas met at Jerusalem to discuss the issue of salvation and establish sound doctrine concerning salvation.  There had been dissension and false teaching among some of the Jews in which it was declared that in order for the Gentiles to be saved they had to submit to circumcision of the Jews.  Peter got up at this meeting and summarize and established sound doctrine concerning the issue of salvation when he said in Acts 15:11, "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they."  Simply put Peter concludes that Jew and Gentile alike are saved by grace through faith in the blood atonement of Jesus Christ with no works involved.

 

As preachers and teachers of the word of God, the next time someone gets up and says "Doctrine Divides" reply thus saith the scriptures it is suppose to divide as Romans 16:17 says, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

 

Yours In Christ,

 

Bro. Gino