THIS I BELIEVE…ABOUT DOCTRINE
Start new study series tonight. Going to start digging a little deeper into what we believe as Christians & as Southern Baptists. What’s our doctrine? How important is doctrine? Why do we need to study doctrine?
Going to pull from several different sources as we walk through different subjects.
- The Baptist Faith & Message
- Foundations – Tom Holladay & Kay Warren
- What Every Christian Ought to Know – Adrian Rogers
- Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know – Wayne Grudem
- Some systematic theology books by Grudem, Millard Erickson, Charles Swindoll,, & Charles Ryrie
…just to name a few.
Used to do annual doctrine studies in churches that would focus on individual doctrines within the Southern Baptist denomination. Used to do January Bible Studies that would focus on one book of the Bible for a week or a month. Used to have Training Union, Church Training, then Discipleship Training that focused on discipleship, doctrine, & theology.
But now, we’ve gotten so busy & sophisticated that we don’t do these anymore. Parents more concerned about their kids making the ball team or the cheerleading squad than their kids learning who the Holy Spirit is. Parents more concerned about their teenagers making straight A’s than their teens growing in their understanding of the importance of the Church. Adults are more concerned with making more money than they are about knowing why our Bible is the only true Word of God.
And now, we are reaping what we’ve sown (Gal. 6:7). We see it in our homes & families. We see it in the decline of the importance of the marriage relationship. We see it in our schools & communities. We see it in the cities & in the country. We see it in every level of government. We see it in our media & entertainment. We see it in our churches & denominations (Episcopal Church voted to stop using masculine references to God in their upcoming updated Book of Common Prayer).
Our beliefs inform our behavior. Love what the late RC Sproul said: “Without right doctrine, right living is impossible. We have not really understood Scripture if we are not changed as a result of our study.”
So, let’s think about what DOCTRINE is:
“Doctrine” is not an inherently Christian term. Basic definition from dictionary.com: “a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government: a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject.”
For instance, the Monroe Doctrine was a policy of the US government back in the 1800’s that opposed European colonialism in the Americas.
But, for our purposes, we will consider what Christian doctrine is. W.T. Conner, prof at SWBTS in early 1900’s gave this definition: “Christian doctrine is the line of study that undertakes to set out the teachings of the Christian religion. It is the organized exposition of the main doctrines of Christianity. It is the setting out in more or less complete & systematic form of the ideas necessary to an understanding of the Christian religion.”
Disciple’s Study Bible: “Doctrine – 1) Carefully formulated statements of teachings on a certain theme 2) Statements of an individual’s or groups beliefs about the Christian Gospel based on the teachings of the Bible. Doctrines are beliefs about God, humanity, creation, & the meaning & destiny of life stated in a formal way. Doctrines, while having individual meaning, are best understood in their relationships to one another & to the whole. For example, what Christians believe about God influences their belief related to humanity, which is informed by their belief in creation, & so on.”
As Christ-followers, we should WANT to know what we believe & why. Not just so we can win the arguments with our coworkers at the office, or with our liberal uncle at the family reunion. It’s not about US winning. It’s so more than that. DOCTRINE gives us these 3 things:
Safety – What you DON’T know can hurt you.
- If you don’t know that a gun is loaded, then when you’re cleaning it, it can go off & hurt or kill someone.
- If you don’t know that a bridge is out as you’re going down a road, then the consequences can be disastrous.
- If you don’t know that your child is playing in the driveway, then when you’re backing out of the garage, the results can be horrendous.
Adrian Rogers – Was bodysurfing in Hawaii when young man. Grew up doing this in Fla. Waves were more awesome than he’d ever seen in Fla. Paddled out to where they were the biggest. But instead of riding the wave in to the beach, the wave rode him & picked him up like a ragdoll & slammed him to the floor of the ocean. Couldn’t move for a moment. Got back to beach & THEN saw sign: NO BODYSURFING – Serious spinal injury may result.”
When we don’t know what you believe & why, you will get body-slammed by the world system.
- Moral relativism
- JW’s & Mormons at your door
- College profs are going to target your kids & grandkids
- Entertainment industry infiltrating our minds & indoctrinating our kids:
- Notice how many Super Bowl commercials had references to homosexuality, or that all religions are the same – (Catholic priest, Jewish rabbi, Muslim imam going to football game together – “We are all on the same team.”)
Stability – Our doctrine is our foundation for the living out of our everyday Christian life. What we believe & hold to as the foundation of our faith will affect every area of our lives. If our doctrine is sound, our foundation will be stable. If our doctrine is unsound, our foundation will be unstable.
- How we relate to our spouses
- How we raise our kids
- How we conduct our businesses
- How we spend our $
- How we act when we are out with friends
- How we decide what kind of things to watch on TV, movies to go to, music to listen to, books to read, websites to visit
- How we interact with fellow believers in the church – serving, worshiping, giving, fellowshipping, supporting, encouraging
- Our views on marriage, abortion, capital punishment, homosexuality, etc.
- How we react to storms that come into our lives.
- How we react to worldly, secular views that are promulgated everywhere through every means of media – print, TV, Internet.
- Joy Behar on “The View” last week in ridiculing VP Pence’s faith. Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m correct – hearing voices.”
- She has no idea what she is talking about, & has no idea what it means to have Jesus talk to you.
- 1 Cor. 2:14 (AMP) – But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned andappreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].
- But knowing what you believe & having the stability of sound doctrine in your life helps you combat the false doctrines, the false teachings, & the lunatics who are espousing all sorts of aberrant ideas, both inside the church & outside the church.
Tom Holladay: “Doctrine is the study of what God has to say. What God has to say is always the truth. The truth gives me the right perspective on myself & on the world around me. The right perspective results in decisions of faith & experiences of joy.” (Foundations, p. 10)
Jesus’ parable of building house on the sand – Matt. 7:24-27 & Luke 6:46-49. “Disciples who build their lives on the bedrock of Jesus & His message of the kingdom of heaven are truly wise, regardless of the shifting cultural or religious fashions” (ESV Study Bible note)
Doctrine gives stability to our lives & to our faith.
- James 1:6 – “faith” – a settled trust & confidence in God, based on His character & promises as revealed in Scripture.
- How are we going to have that settled trust & confidence in God? How are we going to know what His character & Scriptural promises are? Our doctrine teaches us those things.
- Ephesians 4:11-14
- “equip” – katartismos – adequacy, a preparation or training that fully qualifies
- Go to fire academy or police academy. Going to have classroom time to get the necessary info & teaching to equip you to handle the stuff that IS GOING TO HAPPEN out on the job.
- Same true in doctrine study.
Serenity – There is great peace of mind when you are firmly settled in your doctrine. You won’t be “like a wave of the sea that is driven & tossed by the wind…unstable in all your ways” (James 1:6, 8).
- Today – Kathie Lee Gifford interviewed by Megan Kelly about death of Billy Graham. Complete peace in Kathie’s life when it come to death b/c of her faith in Christ, her beliefs – DOCTRINE – that knowing Christ as personal Savior & Lord assures her & Billy Graham of a place in heaven. Don’t have to fear death when you have that assurance.
- Know Jesus/Know Peace. No Jesus/No Peace.
Our doctrines give us the serenity of a peaceful mind b/c they are based fully on the One who is the Prince of Peace. Studying doctrine means that we are studying Him, not just to fill our mind with facts & information. But to fill our minds with the Truth, & Truth is a Person, & His name is Jesus.
John 8:31 – Holding to our doctrines also brings the serenity & peace of mind of the freedom that only Christ can bring. Abiding in Jesus’ words & teachings means that we will continue to believe what He has said & will walk in them in obedience. The freedom that Jesus said they would have only comes to those who hold tightly to His teachings – DOCTRINE – & live accordingly. When we do that, we will find that our lives will be much freer from the enslavement of sin, which imparts great serenity to the child of God.
When we hold to sound doctrine, there will be a greater degree of peace & serenity, not only in our personal lives, but in our church, as well. Jim Elliff, brother of Bill Elliff, wrote article, “Why Do Some Pastors Deliberately Avoid Teaching Their Church Doctrine?” Talks about how some pastors avoid doctrine b/c it’s “narrow” & can impede the numerical growth of the church. “Where you will find one person who is attracted to sound doctrine, you will find a hundred who want to allow all sorts of beliefs to be tolerated. I’ve been in such churches where great heresies were listened to as it were perfectly permissible to hold such views as ‘your opinion.’ And I’m not talking about the guest’s view, but the member’s view.” That’s a breeding ground for all sorts of strife & upheaval within a church, & can & will lead to other churches being infected w/ false doctrine.
Elliff: “The apostles began churches w/ the intent to grow them as solidly as possible by means of a steady & meticulous interest in doctrine.” We must not attempt to grow a church w/ theological & doctrinal imprecision, especially if we are going to start new churches (Which I hope we will do).
Phil. 1:27 – “standing firm in ONE spirit…striving SIDE BY SIDE for the faith of the Gospel…”
2 Tim. 2:2
2 Tim. 4:3-4
2 John 10-11
Millard Erickson: “Theology is necessary b/c truth & experience are related. While some would deny or at least question this connection, in the long run the truth will affect our experience [hence, our serenity/peace]. A person who falls from the 10th story of a building may shout while passing each window on the way down, ‘I’m still doing fine,’ & may mean it, but eventually the facts of the matter will catch up w/ the person’s experience. We may continue to live on happily for hours or even days after a close loved one has, unknown to us, passed away, but again the truth will come w/ crushing effect on our experience. Since the meaning & truth of the Christian faith will eventually have ultimate bearing on our experience, we must come to grips w/ them.”