We find the phrase “sound doctrine” used several times in the New Testament (1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). The word doctrine simply means “teaching.” To qualify doctrine as being sound would identify it as being truthful, accurate, reliable, trustworthy. As applied to biblical teaching, sound doctrine would be teaching that accurately communicates God’s will by staying true to His word.
Effective faith is expressed through faithfulness. While salvation is by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8), Jesus conditioned our ultimate salvation, in part, upon our continued faithfulness (Rev. 2:10). Where does faith come from? Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). There’s the importance of sound doctrine! Without having a fairly accurate understanding of the teachings- doctrines- of Christianity, it is impossible to live a life of faithfulness.
It’s not a matter of just believing something. All people who claim to be religious have some basic belief system. But true faith must be based upon the true teachings of the gospel. Indeed, the gospel is actually identified in scripture as “the faith” (Col. 1:23).
Jesus said that at judgment there will be people who obviously believed in Him, having called Him “Lord,” who will nonetheless be condemned eternally because they did not do the will of God (Matt. 7:21-23). In another text Jesus put it succinctly: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). Our Lord does not want us to follow Him some way, He expects us to follow Him His way.
There are today many people who sincerely believe that they are following Jesus faithfully, but their understanding of the gospel is distorted, perverted, inaccurate. They are not following the true gospel, and the apostle Paul long ago pronounced them “accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9). The apostle John stated frankly that anyone who does not live “in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 Jn. 1:9).
Doctrine matters! The Revelation opens with this passage: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). Reading the teachings- doctrines- communicated in God’s word is not enough. Believing those teachings is still not enough. God’s blessing is upon the one who reads, believes and keeps- obeys, lives by- those teachings.
Our salvation is tied to our living by sound doctrine. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16). It makes a difference what we believe, what we teach and what we practice. Sound doctrine! Are you listening???
Gary L. Hutchens