It is nearing Pentecost. Wouldn't it be nice this year to experience
the type of Pentecost that was experienced by the early church just
after Jesus' Resurrection?
Last week, In TRUE DOCTRINE, Part 1, we saw that it was the unity in the church, the same unity that Jesus mentioned FIVE times in His final prayer, that contributed to that early growth. We also saw how our own unity is often broken by doctrinal differences, and how these differences can discourage people from the gospel message. As we approach Pentecost this year, I would like to challenge each of you to stand with me in prayer that we would put aside our doctrinal differences and stand as one, so that in the words of Jesus' prayer: " . . . That the world may know that You have sent Me . . ." (John 17:23 NKJV)
But wait a minute! Isn't doctrine important?
The Bible mentions the word "Doctrine" 37 times. I'd say that if God addresses this topic this many times, then it is safe to say that it is important to Him!
Consider the following texts:
"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed." (1 Tim 4:6-7 NKJV)
"Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Tim 4:13-14 NKJV)
"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." (1 Tim 4:16 NKJV)
"Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Tim 5:17-18 NKJV)
"But you have carefully followed my doctrine …" (2 Tim 3:10 NKJV)
"…holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict." (Titus 1:9 NKJV)
The Word of God speaks for itself! I stand before you on the basis of God's Word: Doctrine IS important!
So if something is so important to God, then why is it that this same thing is causing a rift between Christians? Why is it keeping us from the unity Jesus prayed for? Why is it standing in the way of church growth?
But wait. Surely it isn't all that bad!
About 10 years ago, God called me out of the church I had been raised in. I was obedient to God's call, but I lost all my dear church friends. A few hung on for a while, but only to tell me that they were praying for me to see the truth and return to the church. Others sent email, gave phone calls, etc., to try to prove to me that I was wrong to leave. But in the end, I haven't heard from them in years.
About 5 years later, my family was attending a church that was in a town about 30 minutes away. We realized that as our boys were becoming involved with youth activities, we would either spend the next 6 years on the road, or we would have to find a local church home. A good friend knew we were searching for a new church home and lent me books and documents from her church. I looked at her books, but in the end, we decided to transfer our membership to a different church. I never heard from this friend again.
Isolated incidents specific to certain denominations? Unfortunately, no. I hear these types of stories all the time.
So why do these kinds of things happen?
Because of doctrinal differences.
But wait a minute. If doctrine is so important, but we can't agree about doctrine, then we're at a stalemate, aren't we? And all the while, the on-looking world sees nothing in us that would make them desire to accept the Good News of Jesus Christ.
It has been my observation that denominational differences are usually not a result of emphasizing non-Biblical teachings, but rather because of emphasis being put on one Biblical teaching over another, with each denomination emphasizing a different Biblical teaching. For example, some emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, others emphasize the doctrine of baptism, and still others emphasize community love, etc. All are important Biblical teachings. But when the Bible refers to doctrine, is this what it is referring to?
Friends, I am pleased to announce that God has not left us in the dark on this question. The Bible is, in fact, very clear about what constitutes true, correct doctrine and what is considered "contrary" to sound doctrine. Please join us next week for TRUE DOCTRINE, Part 3: Contrary to Sound Doctrine . . .
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.