What Is Doctrine? Many people think doctrine is merely something preachers study in seminary and talk about with other preachers. But doctrine is something that is important for everyone in every walk of life.
The word “doctrine” has it roots in the word “doctor”. Originally a doctor referred to a “teacher” or “a learned man”. Thus, one can readily see the connection in these words when he realizes that “doctrine” just refers to “that which is taught”.
The Bible talks about “the doctrine of Christ” and “the apostle’s doctrine”. God’s word clearly states that it contains all that is necessary for salvation, and that if anyone adds to or takes from God’s word, or teaches other doctrines – they are accursed by Him. (See Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9)
It may be surprising to some to realize that they cannot find most of their church’s doctrines in the Bible. If a church has a creed book (under whatever term it may be called), that church is following something in addition to God’s word. The apostle John wrote, “Whoever goes beyond and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.” (IIJohn 9) If the creed book teaches the same thing the Bible teaches – why do you need the creed book???
So as to offend no one, let’s say there is a church called, “The Back-Woods Mountain Church”. Now this church is like most other churches. It has its own creed which it follows. Those who would preach for this church must hold to the doctrines of that church, etc.. If you ask what the members are, they will proudly say, “I am a Back-Woodser”. If you ask what doctrine they believe and follow, they say, “I believe and follow the “Back Wood’s” doctrine.
Now, you can easily see something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Instead of just calling themselves “Christians” (after Christ who died for them), they wear a man-made name. And instead of following Christ’s doctrine, these people are following the doctrines of the men who wrote the creed for the “Back Woods Mountain Church”. Thus, the members are not following Christ, they are following other men. And finally, instead of working toward the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23, they have participated in the division process which is so common in the religious world today. This same form of carnality was so clearly condemned in the New Testament. (See ICorinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-4 and Romans 8:6-7)
Many people attend church services regularly who have very little knowledge about what their church really teaches. Can you read, in God’s word, the name by which you identify yourself religiously? Is it in the Bible at all? Is it the same name by which the early disciples were known (Acts 11:26)? Is it a name which glorifies Christ (IPet.3:16)? Is it the name which is clearly identified with the doctrine of Christ (Acts 26:24-29)? Or is it a name that identifies you with some man other than Christ, or with some philosophy? If it is the latter, where would you go in the Bible to justify using such a name? (Consider ICorinthians 1:10-13)
Can you read, in God’s word, the various teachings (doctrines) in which you believe? Or must you turn to a page in a creed book written by men, or appeal to the teachings of some man or preacher in order to defend why you believe what you believe?
These questions are not meant to be mean-spirited, malicious or judgmental. They are meant to cause us to think about the seriousness of what Jesus taught.
For example, in Matthew 15:7-9, Jesus said, “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Jesus equates the religious teachings of men with hypocrisy, because God has already given us all truth (IITim.3:16-17; Jude 3). If we truly love and respect the Lord, we will want to do ONLY what He has told us to do.
Our willingness or unwillingness to “abide in the doctrine of Christ”, addresses our love for the Lord. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do the things which I say.” (Luke 6:46) One may cry “legalism” and various other “catch-terms”, but it does not change what Jesus taught. Yes, He taught that we must love Him supremely. And He taught that how we handle His words is an accurate indicator of our love for Him. Let’s not forget that it was Jesus who said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
So, what person among you is going to say that, “It doesn’t really matter what we believe; we just need to love the Lord. And, therefore, doctrine really isn’t important.” Let us all remember that on the day of judgment, when we stand before God, we will not be judged by the opinions, beliefs, doctrines and creeds of men – no matter what title they wear. We will be judged by the words, the teachings, the doctrine of Christ as revealed in the New Testament.
Used by Permission – Wayne Chamberlain