Doctrine

 

Doctrine. What is doctrine? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it Biblical to have or not have doctrine? The term is used in different ways with people praising or perhaps denouncing doctrine. So just what is doctrine? Here is my definition.

*   Doctrine is a statement of belief either by an individual or by an organization.

 

To some extent doctrine defines each of us. To not have doctrine is to not have any beliefs. And everyone has beliefs. Here is a list of 16 doctrines from our church website. You can find it under the heading of, “Doctrinal Studies.” The list gives the subjects but you have to click on the subject to find the statement of belief and the supporting logic behind the belief.

1.      The Holy Bible

2.      God, the Father and the Son

3.      The Holy Spirit

4.      Fall of Humanity and Plan of Salvation

5.      Repentance and Baptism

6.      The Ten Commandants

7.      The Church

8.      Elders

9.      Prayer

10.  Sabbath

11.  Clean and Unclean Food

12.  Marriage and Divorce

13.  Remembrance of the Lord’s Supper

14.  Pagan Holidays

15.  Hell

16.  State of the Dead

 

If you were to click on the first item, “The Holy Bible” you would find this.

Doctrinal Statement: The Bible is the divinely inspired word of God.

Following the Doctrinal Statement, the statement of belief, you would find the scriptures and logic to support that statement.

 

This list of sixteen statements or doctrines defines to some extent who we are and what we think. It certainly doesn’t include everything we believe nor is it necessarily 100% accurate. It is however, an honest attempt to share with others what we think on the various subjects covered. Some of the statements are rather dogmatic and others are less so. The Bible is the inspired word of God. That is dogmatic; we are not very open to other ideas about the inspiration or lack of inspiration when it comes to the Bible.

 

The list of doctrines is not a threat to someone else’s ideas. Everyone has there own beliefs and are free to voice them in the proper forum. Perhaps someone believes we should not have the freedom to voice our beliefs, much of Islam would take that stand. Now let’s take a look at the subject through the perspective of the Bible.

 

Checking the Bible perspective is not necessarily as easy as one might think. Here is why. A search for the word doctrine brings up a large difference of occurrences depending on which translation you use. For example:

*   NIV has 7 occurrences in 7 verses. None of the verses is in the Old Testament.

*   RSV has 17 occurrences in 16 verses. Only one of the verses is in the Old Testament.

*   KJV has 56 occurrences in 57 verses. Only six of the verses are in the Old Testament.

For the sake of convenience I will look at the NIV occurrences only as it is representative of the others. In RSV for example in many places the word rendered doctrine is rendered teachings or rules in NIV. The same holds true for KJV. Interestingly all occurrences of Doctrine in NIV are also rendered Doctrine in KJV.

 

OK here are the seven instances from the NIV.

1.      (1 Tim 1:3 NIV)  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer…

We see here that there is such a thing called “False doctrine.” If there is false doctrine then there must also be doctrine that is not false. We need to study to show ourselves approved. (2 Tim 2:15 KJV)  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2.      (1 Tim 1:9-10 NIV)  We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, {10} for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine …

Here we have a partial list of things that are contrary to sound doctrine. The opposites of the things listed are sound doctrine. For example, not breaking the law, not being rebellious, not being ungodly or sinful, or unholy or irreligious or murderers or adulterers or perverts and it could go on and on.

3.      (1 Tim 4:16 NIV)  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Here we have an admonition to watch our life and doctrine closely and to persevere in them. Why? Because a good life and sound doctrine can save you and others as well!

4.      (1 Tim 6:3-5 NIV)  If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, {4} he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions {5} and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

We need to be careful and patient and avoid, “Unhealthy” interests. And those of us bold enough to teach need to be even more careful. (Rom 12:6-8 NIV)  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. {7} If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; {8} if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Couple the gift of teaching with this admonition: (James 3:1 NIV)  Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

 

 

 

5.      (2 Tim 4:3 NIV)  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

That time has come and in fact has been with us from the beginning. However, now more that ever before it seems to me, men are more interested in seeking teachers to tell them what they want to hear rather than what they ought to hear.

6.      (Titus 1:9 NIV)  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Here and in the next verse we see there is a mandate to teach doctrine! And what is that doctrine? It’s every word that proceeds from the mouth of God!! (Mat 4:4 RSV)  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

7.       (Titus 2:1 NIV)  You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

And so we reach the 7th and last mention of doctrine in the NIV Bible. We began with a warning about doctrine and we end with a command to teach doctrine.

 

So it is clear, at least to me, that doctrine is something we all have and in fact must have. Doctrine is what we believe and what we profess. And much of what we believe we have been commanded to profess. I will end here with this verse.

 

*   (Acts 22:13-15 NIV)  He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him. {14} "Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. {15} You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.