Sound doctrine and teachings

 

In the Book of Isaiah we find a statement related to Isaiah’s time but broad enough to

Include a truth for all times. He says that the Lord will be the stability of your times since he is rich in salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Surely we need spiritual stability based on an authentic, adequate, and accurate understanding of biblical truth.

God is our sure foundation! He is the source of sound belief. 

If anything can describe our situation today it is that we are all feeling uneasy about our situation, both personally and as a society. Things seem to be crumbling around us. In fact, there is a TV show that I have heard about that wants to predict what the United States would be like after humans are gone. Everything crumbles and falls apart. We are discovering that nothing in this world is dependable, nothing is secure, nothing of this world lasts. We discover that God is the only sure foundation in our lives and we may be going through at the moment is meant to learn this lesson.

God is a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Our stability in God is grounded in our saving relationship with God. We are created anew and we have a new perspective and hope in our futures. We also need a lot of wisdom to know how to deal wisely with our situation. Wisdom is something we learn in tough times and this is one of the benefits of going through tough times. 

The Apostle Paul’s prayer in Colossians1:9-10 is profound in its belief and scope of God’s ability to do remarkable things in the church and in the hearts of individual believers:

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[ so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”

Growing in the knowledge of God happens in the way described earlier in the various types of learning. The Holy Spirit is the teacher who uses a variety of ways to teach us about God. We are not just passive recipients—we must be intentional in seeking to learn and this means that we  must study, meditate, consider at length, ponder, and incorporate the great truths about God revealed to us in his Word. We learn and incorporate precept upon precept, truth upon truth, building a grid or rubric by which we assess precepts and truth and where we place them in relation to each other so there is reason and understanding. Through this rubric, which defines the parameters and the words that we recognize as God’s truth and will, we live and act. It means we will act in righteousness and holiness, 

D. A. Carson writes: “Christian beliefs are not to be stacked in the warehouse of the mind; they are to be applied to the challenges of life and discipleship . Otherwise they are incapable of bringing comfort and stability, godliness and courage, humility and joy, holiness and faith (How Long, O Lord? 21).”

The Apostle Paul is excellent at spelling out what is expected and available to us as believers. In Ephesians 4: 17-18 he contrasts the old ways of thinking that are futile and the new way in Christ. He writes: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” The emphasis is on righteous living which flows out of a mind enlightened and enabled by following the way of Christ. Clear and rightful thinking brings about a righteous life.

The topic of sound doctrine is not left to last because it is unimportant. There is a progression of one aspect of our growth in the faith that leads to another, not leaving the previous one behind but incorporating the latter one into all the preceding. Paul explains this somewhat when he mentions lists of traits (like humility, kindness, patience, love, compassion, etc.) that should be acquired by Christians. We don’t stop being patient when we acquire love. We add it on. So, if we are under the tutelage of the church and gifted teachers, we begin our journey hearing sound doctrine and we grow in our knowledge ad understanding as we progress in the faith and continue on our journey to the depths of God. There comes a point when we desire to go much deeper in God’s truth and we may study doctrine or theology on a more formal level. It is not just for pastors or professional religious leaders. All persons, since we are priesthood of believers, need to schooled in the doctrines and thoroughly as each person is capable of learning. A part the work of church leaders is to help develop the love of learning in lay people. Those going into ministry on a full time basis usually acquire the love of learning and acquire a library of books and resources for study and preparation of sermons, teaching, lectures, and so forth.

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