Is Doctrine Useful?

Randy Murray

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 3:16

The word “doctrine” has almost become a word forgotten in modern-day Christendom. So often the word conjures up thoughts of stacks of old books concerning forgotten languages and difficult concepts for the average church attender. Why is that?  

Heritage Church was spawned out of a Bible Study many years ago. A group of men wanted to dig deeper than what they were receiving on Sundays and Wednesdays and learn to study the Scriptures for themselves. This does indeed give us a unique “Heritage” as a local fellowship. To give men back their Bibles by giving them the basic tools to study and apply the doctrines of the Bible to their everyday existence has been at the core of our ministry since the beginning. It is an essential part of everything we do.

The word doctrine appears in the New Testament some 49 times with over half of those appearing in the epistles of Paul. The large majority of these are found in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus.  These are books written late in Paul’s life and they show urgency in his desire to leave instructions for these two young pastors as his time of departing neared. He constantly exhorts these men to stick to the doctrine he has taught them and hold it fast and he warns them of attacks on the church that will always begin with the teaching of false doctrine. His urging to Timothy is “teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3) stay away from things contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10); continue to be nourished up in good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6); Give attendance to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13); Take heed and continue in doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16); labor in doctrine (1 Tim 5:17); teach according to the doctrine of godliness (1 Tim 6:3); doctrine is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16); exhort with doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2); hold fast to what you have been taught by sound doctrine (Titus 1:9); speak things concerning sound doctrine (Titus 2:1); show incorruptness in your doctrine (Titus 2:7).  

Do you get the idea that Paul (the apostle to the Body of Christ) was somewhat concerned with folks learning and applying sound doctrine? So why is this so seldom seen in the church today? I believe there is so much “background noise” as to make it very difficult in this day to hold the attention of men (or women, young or old). As pastors try to be innovative by shortening messages and lightening the topic what we see more often from the pulpit is sermonettes that are nothing more than encouraging devotionals. Of course, as you will hear many pastors say “if this is all you’re getting each week you’re going to be anemic indeed.” Pulpit messages whether live or recorded, audio or video studies, even good books written by great authors on particular Bible topics are all great, but partaking of these isn’t Bible study, it’s you listening to the results of someone else’s Bible study.

At Heritage, our model is to engage attendees on Sundays in rapid delivery of a message that is both engaging and pertinent to the day. We want to hold the attention of the curious while stimulating the more experienced Bible student. We try to constantly reinforce the value of the scriptures in people’s lives and get them to think about the doctrines of the Bible as something relevant, real and powerful for living in what are perilous times. It remains however that Sunday services are not a Bible study. That’s up to the individual. You have to take THE BOOK up YOURSELF! Our church provides then a variety of ways to pursue this discipline in Biblical fashion (2 Timothy 2:2) through our community groups, 318 men’s groups, and Renew women’s ministry opportunities.

So as a Heritage Insider, a leader, and someone involved in the ministries of our Church, your/our challenge is to study… to rightly divide… to think about the things Scripture teaches… to apply these principles (doctrines) in our lives and watch God’s wisdom unfold in our very union with Christ our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). This stuff really works!!!!

So why do we not hear doctrine from the pulpits today? Because men don’t demand it.

In the words of Paul Magness “enjoy your blessing.”

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