The word “doctrine” in the Bible simply means “teaching.” Today we generally use the word “doctrine” to refer to a precise teaching or set of teachings while the word “teaching” itself refers more loosely to overall general concepts. Too, doctrine seems to have a religious connotation while teaching may connote the religious or secular. So while in our modern day language “teaching” and “doctrine” have distinct nuances, there is only one word in the language in which the apostles wrote and both English words “doctrine” and “teaching” are translated from it. So when we speak about the doctrine of the Bible we are speaking about the teaching of the Bible. Why is teaching so important?
Doctrine is important because Jesus thought it was important. Jesus said in John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In this context Jesus is saying that the one who truly seeks after God will come to an understanding that Jesus’ teaching is from God and that it is important to understand this because that is the way to life. Notice also John 8:31, 32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The words that Jesus taught are often used to represent within the scriptures the whole of Jesus teaching. The words in which Jesus was instructing others to abide is His teaching–His doctrine.
Doctrine is important because faith is based upon hearing doctrine. Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our very faith, the things that we believe, are the result of hearing the word of God which is the source of all of our teaching. The teaching, the doctrine, is that in which we place our direct faith and our trust because it is through the words that are taught that we come to know about our relationship with God. No man can come to know God under the New Covenant without having been taught and without having learned. John 6:45 states, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” We come to the Father through the teaching, through the doctrine.
Doctrine is important because we must believe the right doctrine. The Bible teaches that to believe the wrong doctrine will lead one astray. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 we read, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” When we believe a doctrinal lie, it will lead to the condemnation of our soul if we don’t recognize that lie and correct it. Someone once said, “Jesus did not come to this earth to make people religious; He came to make people religiously right!” We must believe the right doctrine if we are going to have hope for salvation.
Doctrine is important because ultimately the decisions that we make and the actions that we perform will be based upon what we believe. When it all boils down to it, we act based upon how we believe. Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man?.” Jesus said it is based upon what is in our heart that we act, whether for good or evil. There is not a single action that we do that was not first conceived within the mind. And it is within the mind–the heart–where faith resides. Based upon the things that we believe we make decisions in our life every day. And so it is with confidence that when others act inappropriately, we can confidently say that their beliefs are inappropriate as well. So we preach the doctrine of Christ in an effort to get all who are in sin to repent and to fashion their minds anew around the blessed freedom that results in believing the truth.
What do you believe, dear friend? Do you believe the words of the Bible or do you believe the opinions and traditions of men. Believing a lie will lead you astray. But believing the truth and acting thereon will bring one to eternity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).