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Home The Light Articles from 2005 A Look At Doctrine

A Look At Doctrine

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A Look At Doctrine

by G. Steve Watts

Some time back a man suggested to me about the church he was a part of that they wanted to be able to get along with everyone religiously and the way they were accomplishing this was, in his own words: "We never teach doctrine." I wondered at such a statement in light of the Bible's position on doctrine. The great doctrines of the Bible have always and will continue to bless people with the smiles of God when learned, obeyed, and shared. There are so many wonderful doctrines in the New Testament and without teaching them, our congregations would be spiritually anemic. There is the doctrine of the virgin birth, the sinlessness of Christ, the grace of God, plan of salvation, Lord's Supper, power of prayer, confession, repentance, baptism, the Godhead, judgment, etc.

Doctrine Defined

What does the Bible mean when it speaks of "doctrine"? Doctrine is defined: "learning, instruction, what is received." The instructions, learning, and teachings of the New Testament are the doctrine of Christ. It can be assuredly said the Old and New Testaments contain the doctrine of God.

Doctrine In the Long Ago

The doctrine of God is not a new thing. God taught his people his doctrine, and they were expected to learn it and obey it. "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass" (Deu.32:l-2). Like water from God is the nourishment for the grass and herbs, the doctrine of God strengthens and grows the Christian in his or her life for God for I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law" (Pro. 4:2).

An adherence to the 10 commandments was an adherence to doctrine. The first commandment was God's doctrine of His position in the hearts of His people. There was the doctrine concerning adultery, the Sabbath, stealing, etc. All of the ten were precisely God's doctrine to His people and was the first written law to the human race. One must have the doctrine (learning, instruction, and teaching) to fulfill their obligations to God.

Doctrine Is To Be Known

Knowing the will of Christ is also referred to as "knowing doctrine." Knowing the will of God is tied to doctrine: " Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me" (John 7:16-17). If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Plenty of the Lord's teachings while among men were cor-recting them for their violations of God's doctrine.

In fact the teaching of the gospel of Christ is the doctrine of Christ. The word doctrine can correctly be placed where the words truth, scripture, word, and will of Christ are used. Notice this point of proof. In Paul's message to Timothy we have such portrayed for us. 2Ti 4:2-4-"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doc-trine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." The teaching and preaching of the Word by Timothy and Paul was referred to as "sound doctrine." Their exhortation was with "sound doctrine."

Doctrine Is a Choice

The refusal to accept and abide in the sound doctrine taught to them was also equated with "turning from the truth." "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, he is


proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth.. .from such withdraw thyself (I Timothy 6:3-5). The doctrine from divinity is sound and will save the soul of man, while the teachings of man or doctrines of man leaves one without the truth and thus in the devil's bondage. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9).

Apostolic Teachings Equals Apostles Doctrine

The early church had no New Testament in written form in its inception and depended on the apostles to share God's will with them. This sharing of the message from God was called —"the apostles doctrine." "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Luke identifies the teachings of the men of God as doctrine and the world also identified it as such. "Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (Acts 5:28).

Obeying Doctrine

The Holy Spirit also is very clear about the work of the doctrine of Christ. He moved Paul's pen to make us thusly aware of the obedience to doctrine, identifying it as the mold of changing us from the image of the world into the image of a Christian. One's obedience to the gospel is called obeying doctrine— "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you" (Rom. 6:17). The apostles delivered the doctrine of Christ. In Romans 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." The gospel is be lieved and obeyed, likewise the doctrine is obeyed. Notice a comparison: The Christian is changed by the doctrine of Christ and is also changed by obeying the Word, thus the Word and doctrine carry the same life changing message.

Limited To One

The great apostle Paul taught doctrine and also limited the faithful to that one doctrine as taught in the New Testament: "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3).

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). When one looks to Jesus as the author and finisher of their saving faith, they are looking to his doctrine. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). As we are reading or being taught the doctrine of Christ, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are contemplating his glory. We see what he wants the saved, his wife, to be and have. We see his greatness and mercy and desire it. He offers much no one else can offer. This desire changes us from being satisfied with the present position to spur us onward to a new life and hope. We are changed. To look to Jesus as a transforming power on man. Man sees his own missing the mark and needs the Lord's help in a better aim and goal. If we gaze upon him, we will become like him for his image is the portrait of success, betterment, and salvation. As Moses unveiled before the Lord shone with the glory of the Lord, so we shall reflect the glory of Christ, and show forth his likeness. The result is growing from one stage of glory to a higher one thru the doctrine of Christ. In Col. 3:10: "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."


Clearly we can see the preaching of the apostles' doctrine was the preaching of the gospel of Christ which brings strong alteration to the person who learns and obeys the doctrine of Jesus Christ. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4-6-). "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." (Acts 2:42).

The early church continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine. This limited them to what doctrine they were faithful to. It set divine boundaries on their lives and their worship. Alteration of the doctrines of the testaments has always been and will continue to be the battleground for the souls of the saved and faithful. The devil seeks to uproot the steadfastness of the saved by changing the doctrines of the testaments of God. Knowing that the devil and the world would have its own doctrines, God stoutly warned against any acceptance of such. In our next article Lord willing, we will look at some of these warnings. "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:13). Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

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