Most churches have doctrinal statements, written creeds filled with absolutes. Such documents pose a problem for people who view absolute statements with suspicion. Modern culture downplays the importance of doctrine or rejects it as divisive and insensitive, but does that mean that churches should adapt their theology or jettison creeds altogether? Does it make a difference what the church teaches?
Biblically, yes, what the church teaches does matter because sound doctrine is crucially important. Perhaps we should define sound. In this article, we’ll take it to mean “solidly orthodox, conforming to biblical truth.” Sound doctrine is the teaching that is in the Bible.
Paul tells Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Titus’s teaching had to correspond with God’s Word. The apostles were the pitch pipe through which God sounded the note to harmonize His church.
So, the main reason sound doctrine is important is that Spirit of God directed us to teach it. There are other secondary reasons such as the fact that our faith is centered on a specific message. The Bible defines this message explicitly: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … He was buried … [and] He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. This is the clear-cut news we are to share. Paul says it is “of first importance.” Change the message and the basis of faith crumbles. Jesus warned us to build our lives on the immovable rock of His teaching, not on the shifting sands of man’s philosophy Matthew 7:24-27.
Another reason sound doctrine is important is that the gospel is a sacred trust. We dare not tamper with God’s communiqué. We are the couriers of the message, not its editors. Jude was insistent that the church defend sound doctrine: “Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3; see also Philippians 1:27). To “contend” means to strenuously fight for something and to hold nothing back in the struggle. We should neither add to nor subtract from God’s Word (Revelation 22:18-19). We receive what has been entrusted to us and uphold it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).
Also, sound doctrine is important because what we believe has an impact on what we do. There is a direct correlation between belief and behavior. Maya Angelou put it this way: “When you know better, you do better.” A belief that one is invincible can easily lead to foolhardy behavior. In the same way, a man who rejects the idea of God and judgment will make very different choices than a man who fears God. 1Timothy 1:9-10 lists sins like rebellion, murder, lying, and slave trading and concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.” In other words, bad behavior is out of sync with true belief. Sound doctrine curbs corrupt conduct.
Sound doctrine is also important because we must be able to distinguish Truth from falsehood. “Many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Jesus said there are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:25; Acts 20:29). The best way to spot a counterfeit is to be familiar with the real thing; to identify the lie, we must know the truth.
Sound doctrine is important because of its end. Sound doctrine leads to life. “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). On the other hand, unsound doctrine leads to ruin. Jesus spoke of the “great crash” awaiting the one who builds his house on the sand (Matthew 7:27). Jude wrote of false teachers whose condemnation was sealed. Their crime? Teaching unsound doctrine, specifically, changing “the grace of our God into a license for immorality” and rejecting Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4 NIV). Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) brings down an anathema: “let him be eternally condemned!” (see Galatians 1:6-9 NIV).
Practical implications of Christianity
“And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Acts 11:26 NKJV
As Christians, we need to ask ourselves why were the Apostles of old called Christians in Antioch? Their lives mirrored the life of Christ, and they lived the message they preached. Remember we said that the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is not a mere history, but the practical pattern which Christ want His Church to be at all time. Most today’s preachers are doublefaced, double life, and speaking with both sides of their lips. Most are mere actors, saying one thing during sermon, and living in another way after the spotlight has gone out. Legendary Charlton Heston appeared in over 100 Hollywood films, biblical characters inclusive. He was Moses in one film, he was Ben-Hur in another, Michelangelo in another, and only God knows how he lived his private life. Such is the type of ways most confessors live, little wonder when we are seen on the pulpit, or on social media, people are not sure the script we are acting on. Our Lord Jesus says “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), the fruits here is the consistent life that we bring forth through the sound doctrine we have received, with the help of the Holy Spirit if we yield. He further said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
John 14:23-24 NKJV This simply means our obedience shall proof our loyalty to Him.
The Book of Hebrews reveals to us more of Jesus Christ’s humanity, which must be our practical implications. Hebrews reveals that because Jesus Christ is God, we worship Him, we adore Him, we pray to Him. Because He also came as a man, and know that He died for our sins, could that be all? Have we asked ourselves in what way does it have a practical implications in our lives. He was tempted in all way like us, yet without sin. If you say it has no practical implications, then the humanity of Christ is a dead doctrine to you. A dead doctrine is like a dead muscles, it may be there in your body, but you don’t make use of it. When you don’t use your body muscles for a long time, it dies. This is the reason why those who had been bedridden in the hospital for a long time when they get up, may have to learn how to walk again because their body muscles must have become weakened or dead in some cases.
So also any doctrine in the scripture even if you say you believe it, but if it has no practical application/implications in your daily life, it is almost like the body muscles which you are not putting into useage, and after sometime you loose it altogether. And because most Christians have not sought for the practical application of the Truth of Jesus Christ becoming a Man in their daily life, they have lost it altogether.
Finally, sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers to live right. A pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9). True Believers must naturally “long for the pure spiritual milk” because they want to grow (1 Peter 2:2). Sound doctrine is that “pure milk,” wholesome, unadulterated, and vital.
May the Lord give us the courage to live as we ought to, through His undiluted Word in Jesus’ Name.