Once upon a time, there was a car mechanic who knew nothing about cars. Actually there wasn’t, because if someone like that were to exist, they would never be able to do their jobs effectively. Things might look right on the car, but as soon as the literal rubber meets the road, whoever is driving this car will know something is wrong. This is like the believer who tries to live a faithful life without knowing doctrine. There would be no foundation to build on. There is this notion that I have come across that says the finer points of doctrine are for pastors and scholars to worry about. This notion is fundamentally flawed because doctrine is imperative for all believers, not just reserved for the clergy.
What Doctrine Is Worth
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”
This is a beautiful passage for this subject. At the very beginning, God claims that He is the author of all Scripture. Immediately after that, He begins this stacking effect of qualities that the Bible has. The first one is teaching and that’s where I’m going to focus. But, if you look at all of them you can see this progression from thought to action. You need teaching so that you can apply it to reproof, and correction and this brings about training in righteousness. The Hebrew word translated teaching in this verse is used twenty-one times in the Bible, and in most cases is translated to the word doctrine. God lays out this example of how to use His Word. and at the beginning of the model, He makes the point that doctrine is where you start. Every believer needs doctrine if they ever hope to use the other qualities that Scripture has.
When They Didn’t Know
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.”
The direct use of the passage is vital, but not what I want to discuss here. However, it is important to understand my point. Paul knew and practised the principles he wrote about to Timothy. In this passage, Paul was speaking to the Thessalonian church about a false doctrine that had sprung up regarding believers who had passed away. Paul sets out to clear this up by teaching about God’s plan for those believers that have passed, that they will be the first to meet Christ during the rapture. You see, Paul wanted to address this issue of worry that the church had because of their fears. Paul was smart enough to address the root of the issue by teaching them the correct doctrine, not by telling them they were bad Christians for worrying. Paul used doctrine to teach both the need they had for hope and what they needed to get that hope.
When They Did Know
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
This passage follows directly after the passage above. This time, however, Paul is considering something that they already know and then building from there. Paul discusses that because they know the rapture could come at any time, they should be serving Christ at every opportunity. He even speaks about the trap people fall into when they don’t believe this truth. He says they act as though they’re asleep and that the rapture will take them by surprise. Paul is using that model of “because doctrine, we can practice.” In the span of two chapters, Paul uses two different points of doctrine to discuss two different behaviours in this church. He teaches, he corrects, and he encourages all on the foundation that we call doctrine. How can we neglect something that is so clearly vital to Paul’s ministry, and more importantly God’s Word? The answer is that we cannot. It is clearly the responsibility of every believer to understand the doctrine of their faith.
Clearly, we cannot reject the importance that God puts on the details concerning His Word. We should be striving to understand what the Bible teaches and teaching that to others in turn. I can think of no better way to help someone deal with doubts over their salvation besides teaching them what the Bible says about their salvation and how it works. I did not feel confident in my own salvation until I understood the details like the virgin birth, the complete death of Christ, and why those details were important. I had made the decision to trust Christ years before I learned those things, yet I would have found it so much easier to practice my faith had I comprehended them earlier. It is time to stop saying that doctrine is for the people who work for the church and start preaching that doctrine is the foundation of our church.