<<categorized truth>>

Sometimes known as systematic theology this is instruction or teaching given eg. the doctrine of the Holy Spirit or the doctrine of sanctification. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [so it is God’s viewpoint or mind] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. It is what should be taught and followed as doctrine, not what originates in our thoughts or is the tradition of men (Mt 15:2-9, 16:12; Act 17:19-21; Col 2:8,22; 2 Tim 3:15). Don’t nullify or set aside God’s Word for the sake of your tradition, but correctly interpret the Scriptures. There are serious consequences for distorting the truth (Deut 4:1,2, 12:32; Mt 15:6; 2 Tim 2:15). The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (Jn 16:12,13). Paul said, “What you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put into practice” (Phil 4:9; 2 Tim 3:14). He practiced what he taught! By consistent and deliberate obedience to Scripture blessing will come (Josh 1:8). It is the practical outworking in our life that counts, not the mental assent (Rom 2:13; Jas 1:21-25).

Jesus said, “The teaching is not my own, it comes from God” (Jn 7:16). The crowds were amazed because He taught as one who had authority – confirmed by His miraculous powers – as opposed to the religious leaders’ teaching (Mt 7:28,29; Mk 1:27). The early church believers were established in the faith by the Apostles teaching which they confirmed as being consistent with Christ’s teaching

  Doctrine is only of value                               if lived out

and the Scriptures (Act 2:42, 6:2,4, 17:11; Eph 3:5).  Paul said, “What I preach doesn’t come from man but what I received from God by revelation I passed onto you” (1 Cor 11:23; Gal 1:11,12). He in turn instructed Timothy to remind others of, and reinforce good doctrine, which is based on Scripture (1 Tim 4:6,11,13,16; 2 Tim 4:3,4). We should not blindly and unquestionably accept all the teaching that we receive because many false teachers communicate things contrary to Scripture and so we must check out if it is the truth, which will always stand up to scrutiny (Act 17:11). There will be variances of belief in small areas where the teaching of Scripture is not specific, but in essentials there must be unity of belief, in non-essential matters the liberty of different opinions without judgment, and in all things love.

Heresy is holding a very different viewpoint, particularly in a major area of belief, to what is clearly indicated in Scripture. Heresy deceives people into believing Satan’s lies and often leads them into cults.  The elders have a responsibility to see that heresy does not enter the church.

A doctrinal statement is a condensed outline of the core beliefs held, such as the Apostles Creed.

Doctrine Tests

Those who diligently study the Bible will become established in sound doctrine knowing the truth, and not led astray by tradition, false concepts, myths or human reasoning (Mt 7:24-27; Eph 4:14; 1 Tim 6:3; Tit 1:9; Heb 13:9; 2 Pet 1:12). Doctrine is given by God to produce God-like attributes in us, so our lifestyle comes into alignment with Christ’s teaching (Rom 6:17; Tit 2:1-10).

It is our solemn responsibility to examine all teaching to determine if it is consistent with the Bible's direct instructions or principles (1 Thes 5:21; 1 Jn 4:1). Here are some factors to consider:

1/. Sound doctrine originates with God; false doctrine originates from human reasoning or evil spirits. Jesus and Paul said what they taught was what God instructed them to teach for true doctrine begins with God who is true (Jn 7:16; Gal 1:11,12; Tit 1:2). In contrast false doctrine has been fabricated and inspired by Satan, the father of lies (Jn 8:44; Col 2:22; 1 Tim 4:1). Whatever does not come from God will ultimately fail.

2/. Sound doctrine is grounded in the authority contained within the Bible whereas false doctrine relies on sources outside the Bible. The Bible is God's inerrant, infallible, sufficient, complete and authoritative revelation of Himself to humanity. Sound doctrines originate in the mind of God and recorded in His authoritative self-revelation, the Bible. There is a clear and necessary correlation between the origin and authority, between God and His Word. The early believers were commended for their careful assessment and accepted Paul's teaching as not from men but as the Word of God (Act 17:11; 1 Thes 2:13).

3/. Sound doctrine is consistent throughout the whole of Scripture, while false doctrine is inconsistent with some parts of Scripture. The writers of the NT warned against "diverse and strange teachings" (1 Tim 1:3, 6:3; Heb 13:9). Doctrine must always be compared to the established and accepted body of truth, and verifiable by those thoroughly conversant with the whole of Scripture who can identify and refute what is false. As there is no contradiction in the infallible mind of God, there can be none in His revelation. 'Scripture interprets Scripture' is a wise motto to be guided by. What it teaches in one place, it cannot refute in another for true doctrine is consistent with the whole of Scripture, not treated in isolation. In contrast false doctrine is often based on a single verse or idea taken out of context to support the wrong viewpoint that can't be substantiated by or withstand the scrutiny of the whole Bible.  

4/. Sound doctrine is essential for robust and balanced spiritual growth whereas false doctrine leads to a lop-sided and weak belief system because it focuses on only certain parts of the Bible that supports its warped beliefs to the exclusion of others  Timothy had accumulated a thorough knowledge of God and His Word and so because He was spiritually healthy and strong was ably suited to instruct others (1 Tim 4:6). Timothy's constant nourishment in sound doctrine from the Word of God made him a "man of God" with "sincere faith" (1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 1:5).  Paul said he had not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful for all Scripture is useful and beneficial (Act 20:27; 2 Tim 3:16,17). On the other hand false doctrines make those who follow those beliefs, unbalanced, immature and ignorant of the full revealed revelation of God that He has made available; depending on the deficiency the adherents may not even be Christians at all.

5/. Sound doctrine has value for godly living whereas false doctrines are often embraced to justify unholy lifestyles that dishonour God. Truth is not isolated from reality but always has implications in life; it should influence our minds and be outworked in purposeful living, teaching us to live as God requires (Tit 2:1, 3:8).  It equips us to do those things that are good for our neighbour and bring glory to God.   Sound or healthy doctrine and teaching must be accepted and followed, while false doctrine must be rejected (2 Tim 1:13; Tit 1:9).

Some of the suspect doctrines that have emerged are the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the Word of Faith and Social Justice.

See also: apostle’s creed, Bible, controversial issues, creed, cults, false teachers, heresy, Kingdom now theology, New Apostolic Reformation, non-negotiable, Social Justice, teaching, tradition, truth, Word of Faith.




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