This page is dedicated to dealing with specific
issues of doctrine. In order to provide necessary
instruction in whole books of the Bible, I have recorded numerous free
Audio Bible Studies. These are presented in
chapter by chapter, line by line form, and are free for download or streaming.
An Important Statement On the Importance of Sound Doctrine
Why is doctrine important?
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
A number of people who write me are of the opinion that doctrine is not very important. Of course, the idea that doctrine is not very important, is itself a very significant doctrine. Doctrine is unavoidable, because it is the description of what we believe. Even if we think we base our faith solely on experiences, the idea of basing one's faith on experiences is also a doctrine. And it remains a doctrine whether we consciously call it one or not.
If doctrine is the description of what we believe, it follows that doctrine is critical to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. We know Christ by doctrine or by doctrines we derive from experiences as Christians. Doctrine is the means by which faith in Christ is communicated from one person to another. We may know Christ from experience, and speak of him so, but unless that experience yields some sort of doctrine which we can communicate to others, our experience is useless for the benefit of other people.
Doctrine has been fought over for all the history of Christianity (and all history in general) but in Christianity doctrine has a preeminent position, so given human nature, this is not surprising. Doctrine is important in Christianity because our salvation proceeds from God through faith. That means, to a large extent, that doctrine is what teaches us what our faith is, that is how doctrine saves us.
Many people lament the contentious reality of doctrine in the hands of human beings. And it is through this lament that I believe they come to despise the idea of having "correct" doctrine, and to despise anyone that attempts to make a doctrinal stand. But we are called to contend for the faith (Jude v3), and that means fighting for the truth, our faith which is communicated in doctrine. We cannot expect to have sound doctrine if we take a passive posture in the faith. We have to pursue the truth and be diligent to obtain it.
Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
We are not called to be contentious, but when it is time to contend for the faith we must be willing to fight for what we believe in. It may seem like a contradiction, and I suppose it is, because human experience is full of contradictions, nevertheless, it is what is expected of us.
Titus 2:7 In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Also, according to many people who write me, it is impossible to show "uncorruptness in doctrine." One of the most common things people say to me about doctrine generally follows this line, "No one can have perfect doctrine, everyone has a little false doctrine, you make mistakes too." While I will not argue with the last statement, the first two are the more important and based on false assumptions.
Part of the problem is that the doctrines that many people hold and attempt to communicate to others as matters of faith are actually matters of conscience which, right or wrong, constitute corruption of doctrine. If we stick to the simple truths of Christianity, it is not hard to get things right. But when we stray in to areas of knowledge which are neither clear nor critical to our faith, we begin to corrupt our doctrine.
When discussing this idea of "corruption" I want to explain the idea in the same terms that Christ and his Apostles did. Corruption in doctrine is also referred to as "leaven" which is the old word for, "yeast." What does yeast add to bread? It puffs it up, makes it look bigger, but adds nothing nourishing or substantive to it. Yeast does make the bread softer, more palatable, and appealing to humans though, and, boy, that is a perfect analogy. Most doctrinal corruptions make the simple doctrine of Christ more "interesting."
Matthew 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Corrupt doctrine is that which does not add to our faith in a way that is truly beneficial or edifying. That can be difficult to measure, since most people equate edification with "good feelings." That which truly edifies is leading you to salvation and towards conformity with Christ.
For example, it is very popular these days to argue about how old the earth is. There is certainly a true answer to the question. But whether the earth is a few thousand years old, or a few billion, such matters should not be part of our gospel and faith. And I get arguments from people all the time, "But if you count back the genealogies and count the days of creation, you come up with... it is the truth of GOD's WORD!"
That is all assuming that those genealogies and days were written to intentionally communicate an accurate age of the earth, and to answer human curiosity about such things, and that is a big assumption. And it goes further than that, but my purpose here is not to argue the point, (which I could accept from either perspective, it matters not to me) but rather to say that right or wrong, the matter of the truth of the earth's age is a form of leaven in doctrine, it adds nothing substantive to my faith which would help me grow into the image of Christ, nothing.
1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
If we can't see how that such calculation is absolutely not edifying then we ought to put in some time praying about it. Doctrine is supposed to help us grow in the faith, that does not mean that we just, "believe in God harder," it means that the things we obtain in the faith, by faith, should be a growing experience. Good, sound doctrine, is that which helps us grow up into Christ in our minds and in our behavior.
1Timothy 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent
not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to
the doctrine which is according to godliness;
One of the most tempting and seductive forms of gain, is not the gain of money, but rather the seduction which comes from the promise of the gain of special, hidden, secret, or forbidden KNOWLEDGE.
The serpent tempted Eve with knowledge, and so also do many teachers of corrupt doctrines tempt us with doctrines which are not according to godliness but rather according to the human desire for ANSWERS. Humans are curious creatures who like to have their questions answered so secret knowledge is very tempting.
Colossians 2:18 ...intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Paul was speaking of matters of conscience, and so am I. There is no sin in having an opinion about how old the Earth may be. But that is not the sort of knowledge on which we ought to base our faith. And one should be very careful about intruding into such matters. And remember I use that issue only as a very minor example. If you want a bigger example, just visit my "Shepherd's Chapel" section on doctrine.
1 Corinthians 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
I have tried to practice that sentiment in all my inner thoughts and I hope that in my writings on doctrine I can help communicate to others the substance of important doctrines and the folly of doctrines which constitute corruption.
God, His Nature and Character
On Jesus Christ and the Nature of God
Among the crucial questions of our faith are, "Who is Jesus Christ?" and "What is the Nature of God?" A few years ago I wrote a paper exploring the question from a purely textual basis, that is what started this doctrine page.
On Jesus Christ and The Nature of God Download PDF (March 31, 2009)
One of the things that necessitated the writing of the above article was some statements I had made about the doctrine of the Trinity. The above article does not discuss the trinity directly but the following does.
On the Doctrine of the Trinity I discuss the doctrine of the trinity.
On the Use of the "Sacred Names" Updated! Why I stopped using Hebrew names for God and Christ in my songs in favor of traditional English substitutions.
Humanity, Our Nature, Character, and DestinySubjects such as death, human origins, what salvation means etc.
I Believe in Death and In the Resurrection of the Dead (January 22, 2013) - The culmination of 20 years of immersion in the scriptures. Available in both text and audio format. This is subject is very dear to me because for so many the doctrines of death and resurrection has been obscured and corrupted. I have taken great pains and gone to great lengths to demonstrate the proper understanding of these doctrines.
Doctrinal Subjects Related to My Background
The Shepherd's Chapel and Dr. Arnold Murray This is a very extensive area of my site. In my youth, I was a student of Arnold Murray and the Shepherd's Chaepl. We must earnestly contend for the faith against those who would corrupt it. This section is a record of my ongoing fight against the false doctrines I was taught.