‘Doctrine’ – The Good News and the Bad News

Over the past several years, there seems to have a been a decline in the attention do what is commonly termed ‘doctrine’. The term ‘doctrine’ has taken on a negative connotation even in our evangelical churches, as if it’s merely the invention of ‘religious’  men and the product of their imaginations. Well, the Bible tells us that there is good doctrine and bad doctrine.

Indeed, Jesus Christ frowned on commandments of men presenting as doctrine commandments of men in conversation with Pharisee in His day.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” – Matt 15:9

Jesus does not condemn doctrine, but commandments of men taught as ‘doctrine’. It is said of the early church that they:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (doctrine) and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” –Acts 2:42

‘Teaching’ in that passage comes from the same Greek word as ‘doctrine’ and ‘teaching’ in the following verses:

Eph 4:14  …so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

1Ti 4:6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

1Ti 6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,

2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Tit 2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Tit 2:7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,

Tit 2:10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Clearly, there is “good sound” doctrine and “different” doctrine. Sound doctrine refers to the apostles’ teaching that originated in Christ. “Different” doctrines then are “commandments” or “teachings”.of men, not grounded in Jesus’ or the Apostles’ teaching.

Jesus is now at the right hand of God and the Apostles are all dead. How do we know if our ‘doctrine’ is good and sound? Is it rooted and grounded in the plain reading of the text of the Bible, inspired by God and laid down before us by the Apostles Jesus taught? Does the teaching (doctrine) seem to be ‘drawn from’ passages of scripture, either explicitly or inescapably implied, or does the ‘doctrine’ taught seem to be a questionable conclusion based on a ‘therefore’ based on passages/portions of scripture taken out of their original context?

Do we always get it right? No, but we really ought to receive gladly what is clear in scripture and discard what is ‘man made’ and not supported clearly by Scripture.

2 responses to “‘Doctrine’ – The Good News and the Bad News

  1. But how do you explain this so people understand it? It’s very straight foreward to me. By that, I mean it’s crystal clear. And yet, there’s this idea of continuing revelation and a living doctrine that changes whenever the spiritual head of the church sees fit.

    Scripture means nothing to these folks. I’ve shown those verses and the ones on tradition to people and it doesn’t phase them at all. They just question the authority of the Bible and then lean back on their traditions and doctrine of the church.

    When we have come to the point where our doctrine comes first, then scripture is just a side note only used to back the doctrine we have created…it’s very difficult to take God’s word seriously. We start relying on ourselves and whatever church we go to for salvation


  2. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11

    That passage told me that is a truly noble thing to examine everything I am taught by people with the written word. It should be no insult to the preacher/teacher that we do so, unless we are being fed spiritual junk food.

    I think the other necessary ingredient was a genuine Spirit driven hunger for what “is written”. The hunger to drink from the pages of scripture came first.

    Kit, I think we need to pray for a revived hunger for the Word in God’s people. We can’t make that happen, but God can. I know what you mean about folks just falling back on the teachings of men. I see it all the time too. Sometimes I want to literally scream READ THE BOOK!!!!


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