by: Gary L. Hutchens
Does doctrine matter? Many people would say that doctrine does not matter. Really? The word doctrine simply means teaching. Does teaching matter? Consider what the scriptures say.
As He was ready to ascend back to Heaven, following His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus told the apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;” (Matt. 28:19-20). By what process did Jesus tell the apostles to “make disciples of all the nations”?
Mark records this instruction from Jesus as follows: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). Preaching is a form of teaching. So, Jesus instructed the apostles to “make disciples of all the nations” by teaching the gospel to them. Pertaining to those who would become disciples as they believed and were baptized, the apostles were to continue “teaching them to observe all things” that Jesus had “commanded” them. Teaching is not just important, it is all important!
The biblical formula for the development of faith is through hearing the word of God. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). One of the most basic ways to hear the word of God is through simple teaching. In teaching God’s word a teacher teaches God’s doctrine.
The apostle Paul stated that God’s plan is that we employ the same teaching method instructed by Jesus, namely preaching, “to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). Paul equated preaching with teaching. God designated the methodology of preaching/teaching to be used to lead sinful mankind to salvation.
Some probably try to make a distinction between teaching the gospel and teaching doctrine. What does the word doctrine mean? Teaching. What did Jesus instruct to be taught in order to “make disciples of all the nations”? First the gospel and then “all things that I have commanded you;” (Matt. 28:19-20). In his first letter to Timothy, Paul equates “sound doctrine” with “the glorious gospel” (1 Tim. 1:10-11). From that text the conclusion is obvious- without doctrine there is no gospel. The gospel is the very essence of God’s doctrine communicated to humanity through the scriptures.
One of the most pointed texts emphasizing the importance of getting doctrine right is found in John’s second letter: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 1:9). There is no way to separate the doctrine of Christ from the doctrines taught by Christ (Matt. 28:19-20).
Does doctrine matter? Only if you want to go to Heaven…
Gary L. Hutchens