Over the past 3 days I’ve had 3 discussions about the role of doctrine in the church — especially it’s place in the preaching of the church. The gist of each was whether there was too much emphasis on doctrine and not enough on practical living. These were not contentious talks, just a bit disconcerting because they reflected the idea that doctrine and practice are distinct and separated from each other. We seem to have lost the “doctrine” of doctrine in the church. Paul told Timothy to “… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, “…. (2 Ti. 2:2-3; NASB). When writing to Titus about the work to be done in the church in Crete he bluntly says, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
This doctrine is to have a very practical result … men and women will live well ordered lives. What we believe shapes how we live … our doctrine shapes our practice … so how can we teach practice (i.e., practical things) without first making clear our doctrine? Yes, we often need to demonstrate how to live out truth. Sometimes we need to illustrate how something is applied. There is the responsibility to teach clearly enough so that an audience can understand what is required in their lives. Yet it is vital that we have sound (healthy) doctrine at the core of our ministry.
That’s why I was pleased with Pyromaniac’s returning guest today. John MacArthur nailed this topic as one would expect from one of the foremost Bible teachers of our day. Teaching sound doctrine is not a ministry fad. It is the core of the ministry. It is not something that can be taken for granted. Here we are in the 21st century America with the ability to hear 100’s of preachers, books galore, online resources, and more – yet it appears the few Christians – even leaders – can wrestle through basic biblical understandings for action.