Is doctrine that important? (part 1)

22 January 2002

"And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine"-Mark 11:18 When we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, is doctrine important? Apparently it was to Jesus. He taught doctrine. It was from His life and teaching that the apostles learned doctrine and taught it to the infant church. When Jesus came, the doctrine of God's people had become so shifted, so vague, that those professing godliness were "astonished at His doctrine". They were so astonished, that He was an offense to them and they were willing to kill Jesus to keep their doctrine. I have always loved the illustration that Charles H. Spurgeon gave as an encouragement for people to know what they believed and be able to explain it scripturally. It goes something like this: "I asked a man what he believed and he said, 'I believe what the church believes'. I then asked him what his church believed and he said, 'They believe what I believe'. I then asked him what he and his church believed and he said, 'We both believe the same thing'. Fuzzy ideas, found somewhere in the bible given from a mouth but unfound by scripture will never comfort a troubled soul. Is this something we should be concerned about? Is doctrine that important? Are we expected as Christians to be able to explain what we believe? Are there doctrines that we should feel strongly about, even become dogmatic and passionate about? People are dogmatic and passionate about many things that contradict scripture. Surely, Christians today should be dogmatic about things that we can prove to be basic bible doctrines and point our finger to the verse where it can be found. I know that it is said that we should not talk about politics and religion. Jesus talked about both and I am glad He did! It is true, we are living in a day in which people are less concerned about doctrine than in a former time. Some even choose a church by the sign in the front yard, by the entertainment it provides, by the size of the church, by the physical appearance, by the musical attractions, by what is provided for children or by what the church can do for them rather than what they can do for the Lord. Truth is somewhere below all of this. Historically speaking, and even biblically speaking, doctrine has always been the most important facet of the church. Historically, an accurate doctrine has been the desire of the church and the comfort of God's people. Ministers have always been identified and ordained by the gift that God has given them to understand and proclaim the great doctrines of scripture. Today, men graduate from seminaries who openly deny the deity of Jesus Christ. A desire for clarity and accuracy of doctrine has caused some of the greatest uproars in the church since Christ. The first great controversy in the church is found in Acts 15 and it was over doctrine. Thus, the apostles deemed doctrine to be worthy of controversy in an environment in which peace was necessary for prosperity. The reason was because they knew that doctrine separated the church from the world. Leave off doctrine, and the church becomes like the world. It is doctrine that allows our beliefs to become bonded to something that God has said. It is doctrine that transforms vague ideas found somewhere in the bible into firm facts. When doctrine is respected, it should produce holiness, it should promote a change in a persons life. It is doctrine that gives a face to the church, the face of Jesus Christ. Over the next few weeks, I hope to use some ink to teach some basic bible doctrines, doctrines taught by Jesus and the apostles, and share with our readers the importance of these cardinal truths given by One Shepherd. Get out your bibles!