This coming Sunday, January 5, 2014, I plan on beginning a new series of studies on the doctrine of God. I have entitled this series of messages The God Who Is There after Francis Shaeffer’s masterful book of the same title. I’m really excited about this new sermon series because of what I believe the Holy Spirit will do in His church as we take time to think about and meditate more on our great God.
Now, I have been around enough Christians in general, and Baptists in particular, to know that whenever I throw out the “D” word some will grumble and groan and think to themselves:
“Oh, boy. Here we go again. This is going to be just another boring series of sermons about what we’re supposed to know and believe as Christians. What does this have to do with “real life?” What does this have to do with ministry? What does this have to do with me?”
I know that thought goes through many people’s minds whenever the preacher begins to deal with doctrine or try to get his congregation to think theologically. That’s why I want to share with you four facts regarding the necessity and vitally of the study of doctrine in the Christian’s life.
(This is for all of my “Nike” Christians out there who say, “Just Do It! It doesn’t matter what you believe. All that really matters is what you do.”)
Here is why I preach and teach doctrine as a pastor.
1. Doctrine is vital to defining the Christian faith.
As you read the bible (That’s taking for granted that you do actually read the Bible) you can’t get away from the fact that there is a doctrinal element to the Christian faith.
The Bible makes it clear-
There is such a thing as “sound doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:10)
There is also such as thing as a “false doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14)
And there is an easy way to tell which is which. (2 Timothy 3:10)
The Bible also makes it clear-
That the scriptures are profitable for doctrine. (2 Timothy 3:16)
That the early believers continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine. (Acts 2:42)
And that they filled Jerusalem with that doctrine. (Acts 5:28)
And the Bible makes it clear-
That Christian workers are supposed to give attention to doctrine. (1 Timothy 4:13, 16)
And that those who do are supposed to be given special honor. (1 Timothy 5:17)
So, you see, it’s very difficult — and really impossible — for a Christian to know what the Christian faith is if they don’t give some time and effort to dealing with doctrine and thinking theologically.
2. Doctrine is vital to the declaration of the Christian faith.
If you share “the faith” with somebody, at some level or some point you’ve got to communicate doctrine. It is not enough, as some suggest today, to just share “what happened to me.” There has to be the communication of the whole truth about who Jesus is and His redemption plan for mankind. (Acts 20:20, 27; Ephesians 4:14) And the truth is that you can’t communicate what you don’t know anymore than you can lead somewhere you’ve never been.
3. Doctrine is vital to the defense of the Christian faith.
I know that there are some who would say, “Well, I don’t believe that the gospel needs to be defended. It can take care of itself.” Well, I will admit that there is some truth in that statement. But, it is not completely true, because it doesn’t match up with what the Bible says.
Paul was set for the defense of the gospel. (Philippians 1:17)
As Christians we are exhorted to “contend” for the faith. (Philippians 1:27; Jude 3)
We’re supposed to “know how to answer every man” (Col. 4:6) and “be able to give an answer for the hope” that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15)
Here’s the thing:
You can’t defend “the faith” if you don’t know what “the faith” is.
4. Doctrine is vital to the delivery of the Christian faith.
In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul tells Timothy that it is vitally important for him to be faithful to the things that had been taught to him, and in turn teach them to others would be faithful to teach them to others also.
That’s what we’re supposed to do as believers. That’s what we’re supposed to do as a church. That’s what we’re supposed to do as parents. That’s what you’re supposed to do as grandparents. The faith that was delivered to us is to be passed on to the next generation, and we can’t do that if we don’t know what “the faith” is.
That’s why I plan on taking the first month of each year to preach and teach doctrine — the “essential elements” of the Christian faith. I believe that it is vital to our mission and our mandate. I believe that if we want others to know our great, gracious God, then we ought to take the time and make the effort to know Him and His Word better ourselves.
So, join me in January as we begin this amazing journey digging deep into the scriptures to see what the Bible would have us learn about The God Who Is There.