As defined by the modern world dictionaries is this;
“a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group”.
You talk to Christians and to most people, even Pastors and men in the faith and they will confirm this is what “doctrine” is. That definition is not biblical! Why?
Important Points in Understanding the Bible (or a Word in the Bible)
- In studying God’s Word; definitions for words are not found in Modern Day Dictionaries but the Bible itself. If the Bible defines something you know it’s going to be spot on; because it’s as God defined it! That’s a reliable source.
- The Bible defines itself best – take the word you looking for and run the references in a concordance, then group the words according to definition or how they are defined in context. The bible is it’s own dictionary and interpreter (it is the Word of God right!)
- Dangerous mistake: Taking a word and applying it all the way through scripture. For example; the word “justified” (just as if I’ve never sinned). I don’t like that definition and I don’t enjoy hearing it; why, cause it gives the impression, that every time you come across it, that will be its definition. What happens when you hit passages like James 2:24 “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” – this is exactly how we ended up with Armenians, Methodists and notable cults.
- Another Deadly Mistake is to assume you know the definition of a word, when you have not taken the time to study it out, and allow the word of God to define it.
- English definitions change through time. The word “gay” once considered to mean happy or jovial, now refers to homosexuals
- More often than not; the Bible will have multiple definitions for a Word given context and situation, and those definitions will be found throughout scripture; never just off themselves.
So then what is Doctrine?
Doctrine – The Bible’s Definition:
Firstly there is 51 references to the word “doctrine”. Doctrine is used 6 times in the OT, and 45 times in the NT. Clearly in our age, “doctrine” has become far more important, given the lack of prophets, signs, wonders, dreams and God speaking directly to man; because we were given and left with, the Word of God (infallible, accurate, and from God Himself).
There are multiple definitions to the word “Doctrine” in the Bible, given their context, history and situation and they are below.
- A Principle (4 references):
- Proverbs 4:2: For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. (Book of truth and wisdom; Solomon giving wisdom as a Father)
- Examples: Good doctrine would be following a form of dating that is God-honoring; being mindful of the music one listens. These are good principals learnt through experience or from application of scripture.
- It’s Truth (9 references):
- Job 11:4: For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.
- I Timothy 1:3: As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
- Examples: Doctrine here is seen as truth that it should not be deviated from. It is pure and right.
- It’s False Truth (5 references):
- There is no such thing as false truth; but my point here is, that to the believer of the instruction given is truth, but it is false. Why? Because it’s from a corrupt source and not from God!
- Jeremiah 10:8: But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities [the doctrine of the heathen]
- Revelation of John 2:14: But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
- Examples: Doctrine here, is teaching that comes from a source other than God. Listening to men, rather than God is “false truth”. Too often we condescend upon the heathen or other men and women; who engage in lies and deceit; yet I have seen so-called men of God, while doing “right” ruin a church. This is false truth! Right is not right alone, right is right, when it meets the desire of God, it meets the timing of God!
- Teaching (31 references):
- Ephesians 4:14: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
- I Timothy 1:10: For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
- Hebrews 6:1: Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
- Examples: There are many teachings around us, and huge differences even among Baptists. We have those that hold to dispensations, and those hold to law and grace; men teach differently because their personality apply focus to certain character traits of God, or some men teach differently just because of their flesh. But in all these 31 references and the 3 we just looked at, Doctrine, is simply “teaching”.
Looking at this in overview – the weight or the number of references that lie in the definition of our last point (31 references); thus the definition for “Doctrine” is simply “teaching”. BUT What is clear an evident, that “doctrine” is neutral, and can be both “good” and “bad” (based on it’s source); hence the Bible makes reference to “sound doctrine”.
Let’s look at all the references (4 references):
I Timothy 1:10: For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
- It is the Pauline Epistles, which form the foundation of our doctrine; or shall I say our teaching from scripture. Scripture teaches much, and sometimes they conflict; but in reality they don’t as the audience is different, the dispensation is different and there is doctrine that is instruction and doctrine that is for learning.
- Our Doctrine comes from the Pauline Epistles; and that is our foundation for defining truth and God’s teaching for us in this dispensation. I’m not a Hyper-dispensationalist but that is how God defined our approach.
II Timothy 4:3: 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;
- A great picture of our time; the mega-churches of time or those that proclaim TRUTH with compromise; either in the Word of God (using other versions); or simply making the church more worldly.
- Men will go where their “lusts” can be met, thus they hope from church to church; they not looking for a place where they can feel comfortable amidst the people; their looking for a place to be comfortable
Titus 1:9: 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.
- The wonderful thing about “sound doctrine” is that its truth has it’s foundation in the Word of God. And if we hold “fast” to the faithful, the outcome, the benefit is that we are able to “exhort” (build up, encourage) and convince the gainsayers (turn the direction of those that speak for their own self-gain).
- So a question then? Perhaps, you sitting here this morning and believe you are well grounded in “sound doctrine”; then surely there is evidence in your life; of being able both to exhort and convince the gainsayers!
- The COST of TRUTH is that it needs to BE TOLD; it must be SHARED!
Titus 2:1: But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
- I must admit this confused me a little; how can Titus speak/teach something that becomes sound doctrine. Sound doctrine by itself is from God, and He is the source, thus making it eternal. Can man (in this case, Titus), speak a new revelation (from God) that becomes “sound doctrine”. No, we know that this is not true in light of the Pauline Epistles. It was at that moment I realized; I was seeing “sound doctrine” as one WORD.
- So I took the word “sound” and searched it through scripture; and found 86 results. In the majority of it’s usage, it’s about something that is audible – what you hear, and own others, a clearer view into this verse.
- Turn with me to II Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.* (Sound there means, unbroken, un-decayed).
- II Timothy 1:13: Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (again, un-decayed, unbroken)
- Titus 1:13: This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; (rebuke them, so their faith may be unbroken)
- So sound means – “unbroken, un-decayed”.
- Now let’s read on in the passage for context; Read Titus 2 vs. 2-5; 7-8; 10; 15.
- The point being made here by Paul, is that Titus needs to teach these things, so that the doctrine, the truth, the teaching of Paul (of Christ), will remain unbroken, un-decayed; for what is doctrine, if they do not produce “works”. Paul is emphasizing that doctrine is seen as sound when it produces the right result!
So to summarize; “Doctrine” is a neutral word in the bible used to indicate an instruction from a source. And the source’s can be; self, the devil or God. It’s simply “teaching”.
Sound Doctrine is off God. He is the source; and it’s found in scripture, it’s an eternal truth, which cannot be changed or altered. Sound doctrine is an instruction from God