The Importance of One Letter
It is easy for us to overlook the importance of a single word, even of a single letter, as we speak. An illustration of this is shown in the adage, “The only difference in united and untied is where ‘i’ is found.” One single letter moved one space totally changes the meaning of a sentence where it is found. This is why it is important to take time to look at individual words/letters as we read the Bible.
Look at these two lists and see if you notice how one letter changes the word of God. The Bible speaks of: His doctrine (Matt. 7:28); the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42); your doctrine (Acts 5:28); the doctrine of the Lord (Acts 13:12); sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:10); the doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1); etc.
Now, look at the second list: the doctrines and commandments of men (Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7); the commandments and doctrines of men (Col. 2:22); the doctrines of devils 1 Tim. 4:1); and strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9). Did you see the difference? It is the letter “s” to show a distinct difference between the word doctrine and the word doctrines.
The Bible uses the plural, doctrines, to refer to false teaching, but it never uses the plural to refer to the teaching from heaven. It rarely uses the singular to refer to teaching coming from the heart of man, and every time it does, it clearly identifies its origin.
The One Doctrine
On any Bible subject there is only one teaching. In our society, we have the concept that one doctrine is as good as another. That is why people say, “That’s what you believe about it. Let me tell you what I believe about it.” This language ignores the fact that our God is one and when He speaks it is always singular. There is no way that He, who cannot lie, can teach one thing in one place and a contrary thing in another.
The One Faith
Paul says that there are precisely the same number of “faiths” as there are gods. “There is one body, and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God…” (Eph. 4:4-6). The Bible does not make provision for me to have one faith and you have another faith. Our faith comes from the doctrine we are taught, and the Bible never, even one time, speaks of the doctrines of God.
Religious division mocks the prayer of Jesus for unity among His followers. If I believe and teach the only doctrine found in the Bible and others teach only the same doctrine from the same source there will be unity. There is a vast difference between doctrine and doctrines!