“For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.” Pro. 4:2
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” I Tim. 4:13
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:” Tit. 2:1
The word doctrine has a simple meaning: It means instruction; and for the Christian, the instruction or doctrine is the word of God.
There was a young man who worked for me over 20 years ago. This man was raised in a Christian home. One day as we were talking, the word “doctrine” came up. He then said to me, “doctrine is of man.” I took a moment to reassure him that doctrine, true doctrine comes from the Bible. I could tell that he developed distaste for doctrine. One reason could be that he may have had men’s doctrine, mixed with biblical doctrine, forced upon him. It could also be because of another issue that I would like to address. That issue? Many hear Christians preaching written doctrine which lacks the power to reveal, what I will call, Living Doctrine; the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, you can know Bible doctrine very well. You may have it memorized, itemized and categorized so well that you can debate with any high profile theologian, and yet, still end up in hell. How sobering to think that while you are reading this there are multitudes of souls in hell that had all their T’s crossed and their I’s dotted when it came to biblical doctrine.
Another reason that young man who worked with me could have been frustrated with doctrine is because some Christians are so staunch about the doctrine they believe, that they become a very mean spirited people. Unless you see it the way they do and agree with all the doctrines as they have them laid out, they will be very impatient with you and even write you off as a heretic. They lack such grace and patience toward other believers and criticize them for making the tiniest little doctrinal mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I think bible doctrine is of the utmost importance, but knowing doctrine, without knowing the living Christ, is as vain as anything else in this world. In fact, it could be more deceptive than just being out in the world, stumbling around in darkness. If you are in darkness there is a hope that you recognize your need for Jesus, the light of the world. However, if a person is not saved, but they have a good handle on bible doctrine, it could deceive them into thinking they are saved and blind them to their need of a Savior. My mentor used to say, “It was easier to get a man saved in a bar then it is to get him saved in a dead church.” At least in the bar a man can know he is lost. If an unsaved person is all puffed up in their knowledge of the bible, they are in a very dangerous position. The Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. No doubt, there are many people who think they are saved because they know bible doctrine so well. Some know it better than some Christians do. However, if you are born again, if you know Christ, then you know doctrine. The author of it is living in you. Knowing doctrine however, does not mean that you know Christ. Just like if you love God you will love man, but loving man does not necessarily mean that you love God. If a person comes to know Christ, they may not yet know their bible too well, and may not be able to write specific doctrines down on paper or barely speak about them, but they will know doctrine simply because it is implanted in their heart.
Some years ago, a young man in our church, led one of his buddies that he went to high school with, to the Lord. His name is Joey. One day, Joey was invited to a bible study by another brother in our church. He went, but the brother who invited him did not show up. So Joey was there by himself amongst several men he didn’t know. Well, these men were advocates of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. During the study, Joey was hearing things that didn’t sound quite right in the Spirit. He felt the Holy Spirit just told him to remain quiet since he was surrounded by men that had more experience with their bibles then he did. After he left the study and talked to a few brothers from our church, they explained to him about the doctrine they were teaching. How was it that Joey being so new in the word and only in the beginning stages of learning bible doctrine, was sensing what they were telling him was wrong? How was he able to identify false doctrine even though he had not yet known how to rightly divide the word? It was by the Spirit of God, who leads us into all truth. He had the author of all bible doctrine living in him. It was because he knew Christ. The Spirit of God that was in him, revealed that a lie was being presented to him. Thus he rejected what the man had to say. In his spirit, he knew what true doctrine was and what was false. He knew Christ, therefore he knew doctrine.
Our generation of ministers has done a huge disservice to millions of people by somehow letting them think that if they know the bible, if they know doctrine, if they know how to somewhat talk and act like a Christian, then they are therefore saved. People who are really saved have a testimony, they have had a revelation, they are known by their fruit.
For example, take a look at the Apostle Paul. He knew the written word (Old Testament) as well as anyone. Concerning righteousness which is in the law, he said he was perfect. Yet, he was making himself an enemy of God by hunting down God’s children. After Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he received a revelation of Christ. He knew who Christ was at that moment and all that doctrine he had in his mind now took on a different light. It was revealed to him that Jesus is the living embodiment of doctrine. That happened in an instant, all because he came to know Christ. He went on to write about half of the New Testament books. We know that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but he also could write those epistles because he had doctrine in his heart which came out in the letters he wrote.
In conclusion; saint of God, if you really want to know biblical doctrine well, seek the Lord Jesus Christ. Study Him, and you will think right when it comes to true biblical doctrine. Immediately upon hearing it, you will know what doctrine is true and what doctrine is false.