Yes, Doctrine Matters! May 7, 2024

Just as a pillar supports a building, so the right doctrine guards the church.

We have found a new church and it is wonderful! Everyone has a great time, and they don’t talk about doctrine.”

I cannot tell you how often in recent days I have heard something like this statement. Doctrine is not a dirty word. The word means “belief and teaching.” Why would you go to a church where they do not believe or teach anything? We are in a spiritual warfare and the souls of men are at stake. This is a time to know what we believe from Scripture and to share it with others.

In World War II there was a German military doctrine that required soldiers on the front lines to send updates and requests all the way up the chain of command to headquarters before making adjustments. By the time information was relayed and responded to, the situation on the ground had changed and the orders were useless. The military commanders for the U.S. forces instituted a new American doctrine that allowed commanders on the front lines to assess situations and make decisions quickly. Military strategists and students of war say that it was this vital doctrine that made the ultimate difference between defeat and victory.

There are many “doctrines” but it is the right doctrine that makes the difference. (Note: In Scripture when the plural is used it always is to reference false teaching – Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7; Colossians 2:22; 1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 13:9. There are many “doctrines” but only one true doctrine. God’s truth is one cohesive revelation.)

It is a mark of an apostate age that people have come to the place where they do not want to hear doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3-4). We now live in a time where many preachers and church members pride themselves on not discussing doctrine! Consider several reasons for this…

    • “Doctrine is divisive.” True. It divides truth from error. It divides God’s way from every false way. And it divides us from everything that does not line up with the Lord! Christ always divides light from darkness (Matthew 10:34-36). The “doctrine of Christ” is the distinguishing mark of true believers (2 John 9-10). Yes, doctrine matters!
    • “Doctrine is dispensable.” Many people think that doctrine falls in the category of nonessential. But doctrine is not the same as preference or opinion. Doctrine comes by divine revelation and is indispensable to those who want to know truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Doctrine comes from God and leads to everything He wants to bring into the life of a believer. It is impossible to be a strong, obedient Christian without Bible doctrine. Yes, doctrine matters!
    • “Doctrine is denominational.” In a world where “non-denom” thinking is pervasive, many people have equated doctrine with a particular denomination. This is crucial: right doctrine does not come from councils, creeds, or committees – it comes from the Word of God. A denomination may be right on a point or wrong on a point, but the Bible is always right! “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine…in doctrine shewing uncorruptness…adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:1, 7, 10). Yes, doctrine matters!
    • “Doctrine is dry.” No! The preacher may be as dry as dust and the teacher may be as stale as last year’s bread, but the Word of God is alive (1 Peter 1:23). Eternal truth is perennially fresh. Do not confuse the presentation with the substance. A messenger may be ill-prepared or unenthused, but the Scriptures are all sufficient and always powerful. The faithful minister is commanded, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Yes, doctrine matters!

If you can attend a church for any length of time and not hear what that church believes and teaches about God, the person, and work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, man, sin, the way of salvation, the church, and the end times, something is desperately wrong.

Apart from doctrine we have no distinctive. The church is called to do what no civic or charitable organization can do – hold up the truth of the gospel. Gospel truth rests on the “foundation” of Christ (God’s Living Word) and Scripture (God’s written Word) (Ephesians 5:20). But it is the church’s responsibility to hold it up. The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). A church that gives no light is useless in a dark world.

  • If a Bible “teacher” doesn’t teach doctrine, then he doesn’t teach like Jesus (Matthew 7:28; 22:33; Mark 1:22; 4:2; 12:38; Luke 4:32; John 7:16-17; 18:19).
  • If a Bible “preacher” doesn’t preach doctrine, then he doesn’t preach like Paul (1 Timothy 1:3; 4:6, 16; 5:17; 6:3, 5; 2 Timothy 3:10; Titus 1:9).
  • If a “church” doesn’t stand on doctrine, then they aren’t a New Testament church (Acts 2:42; 5:28; Romans 6:17; 16:17; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:1).

If we don’t teach doctrine in a day of confusion and hold up truth in a world of lies, who will?

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).

(For further study on different aspects of Bible doctrine, listen to Scott Pauley’s ETJ series on “What the Bible Says…”) For more devotional, theological, and practical studies and resources visit our searchable archive of articles. You may also want to watch Scott’s series, Search the Scriptures.

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