The Foundation of Doctrine
Does “doctrine” bring negative thoughts to your mind? Do you think of it as dry, tasteless, and boring? Do you contend that we should be interested in life, in excitement, in praise–rather than in “dry” doctrine? If this is your thought, let’s see what God thinks of the subject of doctrine (or teaching)!
Our word “doctrine” is a translation of the Greek word didaskalia which means that which is taught (Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). In this lesson we are interested in the doctrine of God (Tit. 2:10), of Christ (II John 9) and of the Apostles (Acts 2:42).
Paul describes Christ as the exclusive foundation of Christianity (I Cor. 3:11). He has all authority both in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). He is the head over all things to the church which includes the doctrine or belief that is essential to her existence (Eph. 1:22). Jesus has been appointed the judge of humanity (John 5:27). His words, i.e., his teaching or doctrine, will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
When he was ready to return to his Father in heaven, Jesus commissioned his Apostles to go forth representing him to humanity (John 20:21). To ensure that the doctrine or teaching would be that which He wanted, Christ sent the Holy Spirit to guide them into all the truth (John 16:13). The Spirit inspired them, i.e., “he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said unto you” (John 14:26). Thus what the Apostles taught and wrote was the command of the Lord (I Cor. 14:37). Thus they too became a part of the one foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20).
By the hands of His inspired Apostles and inspired prophets such as Luke, Mark and James, Jesus had recorded for humanity, in written form, his will for all things pertaining to life and godliness. The author of Hebrews refers to that record as “a new covenant” (Heb. 9:15) and a testament or will (Heb. 9:16-17). Paul describes the teaching of Christ as “the pattern of sound words…which is in Christ”(II Tim. 1:13). That pattern we are to hold fast! When we read or hear the teaching of the inspired writers, set forth in the New Testament of Christ, we are hearing “what the Spirit saith to the churches” (Rev. 2:29).
Every Christian has a duty to the doctrine of Christ. We are to observe all things whatsoever he commanded (Matt. 28:20). We are to abide within the confines of the doctrine of Christ (II John 9). We are to preach the doctrine of Christ, which is styled “the gospel,” to all of humanity so they will have the opportunity to believe and act on it and be saved (Mark 16:15). We are to hold only those teachings that are “sound” or healthy (Tit. 2:1). This means they must be heavenly in origin, and pure in content, not contaminated with the ideas and opinions of men. We must restrain every impulse to add to or take away from the teaching, the doctrine of Christ (Rev. 22:18-19). Those who dare to issue their own doctrine under the name of Christ, he will reprove and expose as a liar (Prov. 30:6).
If we are to be true to our profession, to be Christians, nothing more nor less; if we are to succeed in restoring the ancient faith and practice of the church, we must be a people committed to the doctrine of Christ. We will preach His holy doctrine. We will not go beyond the doctrine of Christ (II John 9). We will love and uphold that teaching and defend it when enemies attempt to pervert it, deny it, or destroy it (Phil. 1:16). Without such commitment our profession is an empty, worthless boast.
John Waddey (Fortify Your Faith)
[Since doctrine is a word that has been abused so much in our day, we prefer to generally use the term teaching which is more general and communicates the meaning of the Greek much better. RH.]