Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Incorporating Doctrine

There are often two sides to a problem. And it is easy to avoid one danger, only to fall into the other. C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, explains one of Satan’s strategies as getting people to run as fast as possible from the error they are least likely to commit. The church at Ephesus had their act together externally, but they were just going through the motions and lacked real love for God and others (Revelation 2:1-7). The church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) was strong in love and service and good deeds. But they were tolerating false teaching and its attendant moral corruption. They had fallen hard into the opposite error.

There are many today who would advocate that we ignore questions of doctrine and just love one another. And in defense of this, they point out people who are rigid and self-righteous and fight over every detail of doctrine. And they run as fast possible from the error they are least likely to commit. But why should we worry about this doctrine stuff, anyway? 

First of all, God said to (Jude 3; Romans 16:17-20; Colossians 2:8). Now it must be noted here that the things we are admonished to contend for are the basic things, the nature of God and Christ and the nature of the gospel (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 1 John 4:1-6; Galatians 1:8,9). I am convinced that to divide over minor things is to fall into the error of the Corinthians, who were dividing over details (1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:18-23; 11:18,19). But being fully equipped to live as a Christian involves an understanding of God’s teaching (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2:15; Acts 20:27). It is one thing to admit we may not have all the details correct; it is another to not even try. 

Also, what you believe makes a difference in how you live. Would you hire an electrician who was honest and hard working but knew nothing about electricity? If we do not understand who God is, what His plan is, and how the world really works, with the best intentions in the world we will make serious errors. If you approach the world with the idea people are basically good, you will act differently than if you think they are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). This can even result in blatant moral  errors. The Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:14,15)were probably one of the Gnostic sects. These held that the physical world was evil and therefore anything you did with your body (sexual immorality, eating things sacrificed to idols) was all right.

But on the most basic level, if you eliminate doctrine, you eliminate grace. The fundamental Christian message is that God became a man (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:9-18) to save us from our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And we can be saved by Him through putting our faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). This is doctrine. And it is what Christianity is about.

No comments:

Post a Comment