Doctrine. It’s a bad word among many. It conjures up images of dry, stuffy, arrogant intellectuals who don’t seem to have an ounce of compassion or love in their bodies. One might think of prideful ‘know-it-alls’ who show little signs of spirituality and don’t like to have fun.
I’m not saying those type of people don’t exist, but their existence doesn’t negate our need for doctrine. And, they don’t represent all who value doctrine.
Jesus, Paul, and the disciples gave us doctrine. When we read their sermons/teachings, we are studying doctrine. And, if we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, then we believe the words we read are inspired by the Holy Spirit. All of the Bible gives us words that have meaning. We are to understand what those words, sentences, and books mean and apply them in our life. That’s doctrine.
I would like to provide a biweekly series of articles on doctrine. However, I don’t want it to feel like a dry lecture. The reason I think that’s wrong is because it does an injustice to the Bible. The Bible isn’t a boring work with dead words, but rather it’s living and active.
Teach, Delight, Sway
In Teaching Christianity, Augustine argues that there are three objectives to good teaching: to teach (understanding), to delight, and to sway.
Teaching involves communicating the content. When teaching doctrine, we will examine what the Bible says and try to come to an understanding.
We don’t, however, just want to know facts. An inspired book talking about our wonderful God should lead us to delight. For the believer, as we learn about God together, it will stir our heart and affections. Then, as our mind has been taught and our heart stirred, our will is affected, which Augustine refers to as swaying. One cannot be properly swayed unless their mind and heart have been touched.
I’m praying for the Lord to communicate his word so that as we study this series together, the Holy Spirit does this in us. I have no confidence in my flesh, but I have tremendous confidence in the power of God!
Our guide during this study will be Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I have found Lloyd-Jones to be a helpful teacher who makes much of our great God. Each article will take a chapter at a time and examine the truths and apply it to our lives.
In the first chapter of his book, he discusses the need for doctrine: “We live in an age in which we do not hear very much about doctrines, and there are some people who are even foolish enough to say that they do not like them” (1).
He goes on to share several reasons why we study doctrine. There are many cults and false religions, and if we do not know the content of our faith, we’ll easily be led astray. There is also much confusion within the Church. Where there has not been proper teaching, confusion thrives.
However, the ultimate point in studying doctrine is that it leads us to worship the only true God. He states, “The doctrines of the Bible are not a subject to be studied; rather we should desire to know them in order that, having known them, we may not be ‘puffed up’ with knowledge, and excited about our information, but may draw nearer to God in worship, praise, and adoration, because we have seen, in a fuller way that we have never seen before, the glory of our wondrous God” (10).
As we go through this series on Great Doctrines, may we learn or be reminded what the Bible teaches (understanding), may it move our heart’s affection for God (delight), and may it propel us to obey our Lord (sway).
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).