Perhaps we are lazy or have become accustomed to bite-sized everything, from social media to a YouTube-style news cycle. Whatever the reason, Christian doctrine is sadly neglected.
We seem to know very little about our God, our Saviour, and the gospel. We sing songs about people’s experiences, aspirations, emotions and are stirred by the lyrics and music. We read books about issues, evangelism, holiness, relationships and try to do better.
This is a mistake. A big mistake.
Let’s rewind a bit.
Consider this - we all have a worldview, opinions, instincts, reactions, call it what you like. They come from what we have learned and experienced in life.
It is part of who we are and where we have come from: our history, our story, our education.
We don’t act out of uniform animalistic instinct. We think, speak, and act based on the way we’ve thought about and interpreted what we’re experiencing. That is why different people, experiencing the same things, respond in different ways or have different recollections. A variance in understanding will always lead to a variation in response.
Hold that thought and let it sink in for a few minutes.
Now let’s get back to Christian doctrine.
God designed us to think, and He inspired the writers of the Bible to write His truths. His revealed truth shapes our thoughts, forms our character, and changes our actions. It was not given for the select academic few. All Christians should have access to these writings and learn the doctrines; they are living, and God-given tools of salvation, transformation, identity, and guidance for everyone and not the few.
Doctrine is a word that can have a negative effect upon people. If you are struggling with insomnia, you might think that this word is the answer. The English word comes from the Latin word doctrina and can be defined as, ‘teaching or instruction’.
Therefore, Christian doctrine is teaching which God has given in the Bible for us to learn. Explanation One of two significant purposes of Christian doctrine is to explain the events of redemptive history as recorded in the Bible.
We wouldn’t be able to fully understand the implications of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the calling of Abraham, the birth and life of the Lord Jesus, the cross, the empty tomb, the ascension, and so forth if it weren’t for the doctrines in the Bible. By learning them we understand what God wants us to learn about the facts of history and His prophetic purpose, rather than learning from the ideas of the philosophers and sages of this world.
We are not saved merely by knowing doctrine. We don’t worship doctrine. However, we understand that learning God’s answers to ‘why, what, when, where, and how’ is important for every Christian.
The doctrines God has revealed have a greater purpose than to give you a big theological brain, and they’re meant to provide more for you than just an identity among Christians as you position yourself with one doctrine or another. They were never meant to be used to define us as Calvinist, Old or Young Earth, Baptist, Brethren, or any number of such titles.
Doctrine is meant to be a means to an end, and the end is a transformed life.
We may not be experts in botany or even in pulling up weeds or plants in the garden. However, there is a vivid word picture in Isaiah chapter 55 verses 10 to 13 that helps us understand what the doctrines of the Bible were intended to do. Isaiah equates the truths in the Bible to rain or snow that falls and waters the earth.
Read what Isaiah writes:
‘For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off’.
The strange thing about these verses is that the Lord is saying that He will send rain and it will fall upon a thorn bush. Instead of producing a bigger thorn bush, a myrtle tree grows. It is the equivalent of saying rain will fall on a gorse bush and in its place an apple tree will grow.
What is this bizarre metaphor telling us about what God intends the doctrines of the Bible to produce?
The main point is that plants that are being watered don’t become bigger plants; they are replaced by different plants. They are transformed into something different and better.
The conclusion that the Lord is bringing us to is that the doctrines of the Bible are not just designed to increase information, but rather produce radical, organic transformation. We won’t become better versions of ourselves, but entirely transformed and better people.
When we learn the doctrines contained in scripture, they’ll transform our identity, reshape our relationships, and redirect our finances. We won’t think about our past and our future in the same way we once did, and we’ll look at the present with a changed perspective.
Doctrine is God’s ecosystem of personal transformation for us as His children. They’re not a suffocating dogma, they impart freedom and stimulate spiritual growth.
Shall we learn some doctrine about the Lord Jesus? I hope that you want to, as I am going to write the next three doctrinal articles about Him.
Morphe (Philippians 2) - May 2022 Logos (John 1) - August 2022 Protokos (Colossians 1) - November 2022