88. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Doctrine
Paul writes in Titus 2v1: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.“
In a lot of churches today, the word ‘doctrine’ is unfashionable. Doctrine belongs to a time gone by, they say, and new experiences of God and miracles from God are the way forward for the church. Some churches teach only what they think people want to hear, tickling the ears instead of exposing them to biblical truth led by the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote about this in 2 Timothy 4:3 “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.” Is that not indicative of where some parts of the church, particularly in the west, are today? Teachers preferring to tickle the ears of their listeners, instead of stirring people into living transformed lives for Jesus Christ.
What is Doctrine?
The words translated as “doctrine” are found frequently in the letters written by Paul, chiefly in what are called the Pastoral Epistles: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Doctrine is the study of God, as revealed through the pages of the Bible. The more the Christian Disciple learns about the God they choose to follow, the more
- The Christian Disciple will be able to deal with the daily pressures of living in a society ever distancing and alienating itself from God;
- The Christian Disciple will continue learning and understanding the very nature of God and be able to both act and react, rightly in varying circumstances
- Will continue to develop the relationship between themselves and the God they serve
Who is Doctrine for?
Doctrine is for all Christian Disciples,
- regardless of the level of academic achievement (or none);
- regardless of the length of time they have been a Christian Disciple;
- regardless of their status in the church they attend, whether the Christian Disciple is a church leader or an ordinary church member who sits in the congregation.
So, for every Christian Disciple, doctrine matters. Doctrine matters because what you believe about God, ultimately affects how you will behave. If the Christian Disciple has solid, biblical doctrine being practised in their life, they will live a life of total obedience to Jesus Christ. For the Christian Disciple is to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5v6) and this can only come about through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. As the mind is renewed and transformed (Romans 12v1) with teaching about Jesus Christ, and the Christian Disciple puts into practice what the mind learns, the life of the Christian Disciple is transformed. Then people will ask questions. Questions regarding the reason why the Christian Disciple has been transformed. Questions asking about the reason for the hope the Christian Disciples hold onto. That way the Gospel and Good News of Jesus Christ is spread. That is one of the ultimate reasons why doctrine is important – it is also evangelism.
Learn and practice
The need to learn and practice true biblical Doctrine is ultimately important when faced with persecution for being a Christian Disciple. If the Christian Disciple’s faith is based on anything less than the belief in Jesus Christ as both God and Man, then ultimately that foundation will break, and there can be no hope. If the Christian Disciple is only seeking to have their ears tickled with what they want to hear, then enduring persecution for being a Christian Disciple is much harder than if that Christian Disciple has had a solid Doctrinal teaching about living the Christian life. With solid Doctrinal teaching, the Christian Disciple has hope, and an unending hope, enabling them to endure persecution.
True or false
Another reason, learning solid doctrine is important is so that the Christian Disciple will be able to discern true Apostolic & biblical teaching from the false teaching of heretics and those who want to lead Christian Disciples astray. Titus 1v9: “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.” Or as Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1v3 “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.” Or further on 1 Timothy 6v3-4: “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.”
Christian Discipleship is fulltime, for 24 hours of the day, every day. The Christian Disciple is to partake of righteousness as commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as other things as commanded and instructed in the Bible. The Christian Disciple, can engage in Active Daily Discipleship, through learning true Biblical doctrine. By learning biblical doctrine, the Christian Disciple will be enabled to start discerning true beliefs from false beliefs and ultimately engage biblical doctrine into living a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Experiences and miracles are important, but to base Christian Discipleship upon them and not on solid biblical doctrine, produces a rollercoaster effect and not the constant reliance on the indwelling Holy Spirit for direction, guidance and trust.
For more to think about please do read for yourself the book of Titus. It is 3 short chapters and won’t take very long. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. How does what I believe about God, change the way I live for God?
Q2. As I look back on my Christian life, can I notice discernable differences in how my life has changed as I put into practise my beliefs?
Q3. When engaging with others, do I seek to have my ears tickled with what I want to hear or do I seek to be exposed to apostolic truths about the God I profess to serve?
Finally, here are a couple of recommended books to help your study of Doctrine. Both of these are well written, easy to read, easy to understand and pack a punch.
- Knowing God by JI Packer
- Basic Christianity by JRW Stott
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