Why Does it Make so Much Difference About Sound Doctrine?
The Lord's church has undergone a change over the past generation in far too many places regarding the necessity of sound doctrine. Members of the church of Christ used to be called "Bible-totin' Bible-quotin' Christians." Elders used to demand the truth be preached no matter who wanted to hear it. Thousands were rescued from the kingdom of Satan and were translated into the kingdom of the Dear Son (Col 1:13,14).
Today we have too many "preachers" who are too afraid they are going to "offend" some or "run some off" if they preach the truth in the manner they need to preach. They have decided they can lure the people in and lull them to sleep with watered-down sermonettes, rather than reprove, rebuke, and exhort as Paul commanded (2 Timothy 4:2).
Sound doctrine should still be demanded in every pulpit where the saints meet. Members of the church need to remember the words of Jesus... "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38).
Sound doctrine should be taught because of these three reasons. . .
I. The Savior Commands It. One may ask, "Where does the Savior command that sound doctrine be taught?" We must keep in mind when we read the New Testament we are reading the words of the Savior. Paul wrote: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37). The Lord sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the writers of the New Testament: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come,he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13). Peter explained how the words of the New Testament came to be: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:20-21). No man was given a thought and left to his discretion as to what exactly to write. All the writers were "carried along" or "borne along" by the Holy Spirit who was communicating the very words of Jesus. Jesus told the apostles: "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:14-15). The Father told the Son; the Son told the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit inspired the men to write heaven's words.
Now, understanding that principle, we turn our attention to what the New Testament (the words of the Savior) has to say about sound doctrine. Notice Paul wrote: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Paul was exhorting Timothy to remain faithful to the doctrine which had come from heaven (1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:2). The young preacher was warned by the aged apostle that there would be some who would turn from sound doctrine and turn unto fables. Paul equates sound doctrine with truth in this text, speaking of sound doctrine in one verse and the truth in another Paul also wrote: "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). The context of this verse concerns itself with the qualifications of an elder. A bishop is to be able to convict one, who would speak against or deny truth (gainsayer), by using sound doctrine. This command came from the Savior also. Again Paul wrote: "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). How can those among us today say doctrine is not important? Jesus said to speak that which is sound doctrine. Therefore, because we are commanded to speak sound doctrine, there is the danger of speaking that which is not sound! That which is not sound is to be avoided (Romans 16:17,18). The word "sound" means: "to have sound health, i.e., be well (in body); figuratively, to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine):--be in health, (be safe and) sound, (be) whole (-some) [Strong's]. Sound doctrine is that which is healthy to us spiritually. To teach doctrine which is not sound is to teach a corrupted doctrine and one which will kill, not save. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
II. Salvation Demands It. Not only does the Savior command sound doctrine, but our salvation demands sound doctrine. Jesus said: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We have already noticed sound doctrine is equal to truth,so it is sound doctrine which sets us free. We can also see this point when we notice Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The gospel is also equal to the truth as we notice in another place of Paul's writing: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The gospel is God's power to save and it is equal to doctrine. God's power to save could also be referred to as sound doctrine. Therefore, our salvation demands sound doctrine. What is amazing is how brethren say doctrine is not important and at the same time try to show someone how to be saved. Sound doctrine is essential to salvation because the gospel is essential to salvation. The gospel is essential to salvation because the truth is essential. Yet, there are brethren who say we do not have to agree on doctrine! Do we have to agree on truth? Do we have to agree on the gospel? All the terms are equal to each other!
III. Sanctification Mandates It. The Savior commands sound doctrine because it is by truth we are set free. Not only is it by truth we are set free, but it is by truth we remain free. We must continue in the gospel in order to go to heaven: "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which isunder heaven; whereof I, Paul, am made a minister" (Colossians 1:23). Speaking sound doctrine mandates we live a sanctified life. We are to live a life which is different from the world about us. Paul writes: "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:1-5). Sound doctrine involves being the proper examples in our homes, being the proper examples in our personal lives, and being the proper examples of what Christians should be. We must continue in this doctrine to be healthy, spiritually. Therefore, there is not a time we can speak any thing other than sound doctrine. So, why do we insist upon sound doctrine? Because the Savior commands it, our salvation demands it, and our sanctification mandates it!
We must have sound doctrine in order to please God and go to heaven. We must study to know sound doctrine and then we must be willing to die in order to preserve it. We can not fellowship those who do not uphold sound doctrine. We can not compromise in order to avoid persecutions. Sound doctrine is essential to our salvation and we must demand it and defend it at all costs.
What we need are more brethren who are not afraid of controversy and who see the need for standing in the gap and being heard for truth. We need more brethren who will demand sound doctrine. With this in mind, we close by noticing the words of a great soldier of the cross, Jerry Moffitt. On the inside cover of his book, Denominational Doctrines, brother Moffitt writes: Really, before one studies much on false doctrine one needs to be in agreement with himself regarding controversy.
As long as there is good and evil, truth and error, ministers of the gospel and wolves in sheep's clothing, there will be conflict, controversy, and opposition. God blames the conflict on the devil and his false teachers and false doctrine. Jesus, Paul, and the early church spent much time in necessary disputes. Since it promoted truth, it was and is a necessary form of evangelism, sharing the same purpose as preaching, i.e., eternal life. It is a form of soul winning and salvation. As much as we may find controversy distasteful and may love peace, we all must do our share in the battle. So love peace and unity, but love truth more.
by David B. Jones
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