In a recent conversation with a church member, I was surprised to hear him say, “I don’t really have a doctrine.” I think he doesn’t understand what the word doctrine means. Simply stated, doctrine is a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church. Due to abuses and misunderstanding, doctrine has gotten a bad rap. Some people equate doctrine with legalism, judgmentalism and dogmatism, so they avoid it altogether.
Technically, everyone has a doctrine, everybody holds beliefs. Some doctrines are right and others are wrong. Those of us in the Christian faith, and more specifically in the Church of God, hold to Biblically based theology, tenets and precepts.
Unfortunately, we currently find ourselves in a battle for Biblical doctrine. Increasingly, beliefs that have long been held by Christians are now under fire. Even the basics of Biblical teaching are being scrutinized and, too often, rejected.
This is a day when Believers must cling tightly to sound doctrine. With that is mind, consider the following:
We must know what we believe and why we believe it. If we don’t know Scriptures, our belief structure is weak. If we believe everything we are told or if we hold to doctrine only because we inherited it from our families, our faith is vulnerable.
Doctrine shouldn’t change with the times. Morality and ethics are constantly being redefined by a liberal culture. Some consider Biblical standards for living as irrelevant and outdated. But the Lord’s expectations for His people are irrevocable. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
Our doctrine has survived. Generations of spiritual elders handed down a doctrine that has withstood the tests of time. While we must develop our own convictions and beliefs, it is arrogant to assume that we know more than those who went before us or that we somehow have superior knowledge about spiritual things.
We are not saved by our doctrine. You can believe all the right things but keeping the “rules” does not equate to salvation. Watchman Nee said, “Christians should not be content merely with knowing mentally the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as given in the Bible; they also need to know Him experientially.” We need a personal relationship with God or our doctrine is merely a set of rules.
Compare everything with Scripture. If you encounter a new teaching or one that raises questions, study the Word. If a doctrine in any way contradicts the teaching of the Bible, it is a false doctrine and is to be avoided at all costs.
Pray for and utilize discernment. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. The Spirit-filled Believer is provided a “filter” when encountering false doctrine. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.“ (I John 4:1)
Be wary of “fresh revelation” or private interpretations of the Bible. Unscrupulous false teachers will create attractive and exciting “truths” that will fool naïve and gullible people. Don’t fall for it! The Spirit of antichrist is at work in the world, seeking to deceive and perpetuate a false gospel. Learn to spot the false prophets, lest we be fooled by then.
Guard your doctrine. Be stubborn about Biblical truth. Refuse to compromise on your convictions. There is no need to be harsh or abrasive about what you know to be true, but never allow your doctrine to drift.
Finally, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” I Timothy 4:16 Hold fast to sound doctrine, your salvation and the salvation of others depends on it.