Should A Christian
Be Concerned About Doctrine?
Pastor George C. Bruns
The cry in ecumenical circles today is "Doctrine divides, so let's set aside our differences and just fellowship with one another in the name of Jesus." To the unbeliever and the untrained believer this may sound good but is it correct? Does the Bible teach this concept, or does it teach something else? In order to answer this question we must go to the Scriptures.
Our risen Lord, Jesus Christ after paying for our sins on the cross and just a short time before He was to ascend to the Father commanded the Apostle Peter saying,
"Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-16) Not once did He command it, but He repeated it two more times. This was after all a part of The Great Commission, the marching orders of the Church (all born-again believers from Pentecost to the Rapture constitutes the Church).
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19, 20)
Jesus expected His disciples to teach new believers doctrine and that's exactly what they did.
The Christian church had its birthday at Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 2. After the Apostle Peter finished preaching the church's first official sermon (Acts 2:14-36) about three thousand people believed the gospel, were baptized and immediately, before fellowshipping began...
"...they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine...." (Acts 2:42a)
Not many days after this event Peter and John were both arrested by order of the Sanhedrin. The charge that was brought against them is recorded in Acts chapter 5.
"...Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." (Acts 5:28)
It was the teaching of doctrine that got the Apostles arrested. They didn't set aside what the Lord had commanded them in order to have fellowship with the Sadducees and Pharisees, rather they admonished them saying,
"We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29b)
The great Apostle Paul also believed that every believer should be taught doctrine. In his pastoral epistle 2nd Timothy he clearly tells the young pastor Timothy to teach doctrine,
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
The Epistle to the church at Rome is a monument of doctrinal truths containing teachings on such doctrines as Condemnation, Election, Justification, Redemption, Salvation, Sanctification, Separation, etc. Now to whom did Paul address this letter, to a pastor? No.
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called (to be) saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:7)
It was addressed to the general population of the Roman church, not just to her pastor or elders. The same goes for the churches at Corinth, Colosse, and Ephesus, see to whom these three tremendous epistles on doctrine were addressed.
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called (to be) saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" (1 Corinthians 1:2)
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:" (2 Corinthians 1:1)
"To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Colossians 1:2)
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 1:1)
Paul made it very clear several times that he expected the church leaders to teach the average man in the pew doctrine. Listen to the Apostle Paul's charge to the Ephesian elders in Acts,
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)
Paul believed that the teaching of doctrine to the saints was essential. (Born-again believers are called "saints" in the Bible). Again we read this in the Ephesian letter,
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Ephesians 4:11-15)
The correct teaching and understanding of doctrine was accounted so important by Paul that he commanded Timothy to let the Ephesians teach no other doctrine save the doctrine that he had taught them.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine," (1 Timothy 1:1-3)
Paul also commanded that those who taught a different doctrine were to be separated from.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17)
"A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;" (Titus 3:10)
I don't think there is any clearer teaching in all of Scripture. A born-again child of God is expected to learn doctrine. As Paul wrote to Timothy,
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)