It is surprising, to a lesser extent, that the church today espouses so many different beliefs that Christians latch onto not knowing what the word of God has to say about it. As a matter of fact, mention doctrine and holiness and the defense goes up about everyone should be unified and loving as if they were mutually exclusive to one another. The word has become anathema.
Doctrine in the simplest definition is instruction. It is the bedrock of the Christian faith let alone any faith for that matter. Without the doctrine of scripture, there is no love because wouldn’t know how the Lord wants us to love (which is quite different to what many in the church purport it to be…but I digress). Yet, because of doctrine, we understand how He wants His people to love which is a far cry from what we conceive. Not only does it lay out how to love but how to live.
Doctrine, in short, has preeminence over everything. That is to say, the word of the Living God takes precedence over everything. I pound this into people’s heads because it is here where if you get it wrong, you will land up not where you thought you were going.
This is illustrated in a personal experience me and my wife had earlier this year. We had visited some brothers and sisters in the Lord we’ve known for over a decade and love dearly. We were meeting to hash out some things in terms of our home churches gathering together. That meeting went on for hours. We began to see that we had widely different stances on what the scriptures said about many things. Towards the end, my brother summed it up in a most succinct yet profound observation. He said, “I can’t argue with you David because you keep using scripture. Who can argue with that?”
Of course, I wholeheartedly agree. Yet, they still persist in what they believe. See the problem?
A.W. Tozer had this to say about doctrine:
Great saints have always been dogmatic….It would be impossible to over emphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the life of a Christian. Right thinking about spiritual matters is imperative if we would have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, so sound character does not grow out of unsound teaching.
The signs for our home church state our motto: Teaching independence in dependence on God. We teach the word of God. We exposit (give a detailed explanation) what the doctrine of the Lord says so that those who hear may understand and live out that doctrine. Here is what we have gotten away from to a very large extent. We want the music to be loud and exciting, the preaching to be charismatic, and the activities to be many. Yet all the while, the word of God becomes a footnote by which all of these are loosely tied. There is no longing to hear the word of God like in Nehemiah 8, but a certain biblical ineptness that gets passed down and more diluted from generation to generation.
The Lord said that we don’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Beloved, let the word of God be the driving force in our lives that consumes us more and more daily, so that we can say with Job in total sincerity of heart:
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12)