It’s late and I really should be in bed right now; but, I sit here with my cat staring at me, trying to put into words all that is on my heart. I have such a burden for the body of Christ; but, there are times when I find myself becoming argumentative, trying to prove a point about this or that. I’m reminded that Paul told Timothy that the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome. I struggle with that.
I see those who are ministering within the traditional church trying to hold on to traditions that God is quite obviously shaking to the very core.
I see those who have been hurt and rejected by the traditional church; so, they leave, resolving to “do church” the right way, only they have not allowed the Lord to truly heal them, or reveal to them the desire for power, recognition, and control that lurks within them and they end up becoming the very thing they so adamantly opposed.
I see those who have such a desire to be deep and spiritual that they have rejected the sound teaching that Paul said we must pay close attention to.
I see those who believe that Jesus has called the church to take over the world and right all wrongs.
I see the dispensationalists, amillennialists, post-millennialists, pre-millennialists, preterists, pre-tribbers, mid-tribbers, and post-tribbers.
I could go on and on describing the differences one finds within the body of Christ; but, do you know something we all have in common…? Give up? I’ll tell you: doctrine.
Each camp holds to certain doctrines or teachings. Even the ones who insist you don’t have to worry about doctrine cling to and assert doctrine in the mere act of claiming you don’t need doctrine.
Many within the church today flinch at the word doctrine and because of various reasons (a subject for another time) reject the truth about the importance of doctrine. We have come to view doctrine as a nasty word that stifles the true moving of God’s Spirit when in all actuality doctrine is designed to promote intimacy with Jesus, ensure salvation, and enable one to listen to the very heart of God.
The Greek words διδαχή (didache) and διδασκαλία (didaskalia) are the primary words translated doctrine in our New Testament. It simply means that which is taught, or a teaching concerning something. Didache or didaskalia is used many times in the New Testament. (Many translators opted to translate these Greek words into our English word “teaching” and that’s perfectly acceptable.) Here are a few scriptures (KJV) that talk about doctrine:
Matt. 7:28 “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine”
Matt. 22:33 “And when the multitude heard [this], they were astonished at his doctrine.”
Mark 1:22 “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.”
Mark 1:27 “And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What thing is this? What new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.’”
Rom. 16:17 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
I Cor. 14:26 “Ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”
I Tim. 4:16 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
I Tim. 6:3 “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…”
Titus 2:1 “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.”
Titus 2:7 “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [shewing] uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity…”
There are more, but I think the examples cited suffice to show that doctrine is important and not intended to be negative; but, positive, life changing and life giving.
I so desire that we in the body of Christ be able to discern true, sound biblical doctrine; and the way we do it is to come to the Bible humbly asking the Spirit of God to teach us. We need to ask the Lord to remove the presuppositions each one of us bring to the table, and allow Him to teach us the truth. Also, whereas we each do have a personal relationship with Christ, God has set things up so that the life we have in Christ is fully expressed as we live in community with each other. The Holy Spirit will minister to us through our brothers and sisters (Col.3:16), and there is a “checks and balances” system in place. I don’t know everything. I get it wrong sometimes. I need the body of Christ and the body of Christ must adhere to the sound doctrine found in the Bible.
Doctrine was never intended to be some legalistic set of traditions that we have to follow or we’re kicked out of the body of Christ. Instead, doctrine is that which reveals to us the heart of God, creating intimacy with Jesus as His Spirit reveals to us the life we have in Him. The doctrine of godliness is not a goad to be kicked against, but rather that which is to be sought after and embraced.
Remember, true doctrine always glorifies Jesus, promotes intimacy with Him, calls for holiness in life, and reveals the need for Christ to those who are without Him.