7 Reasons Why Doctrine Matters for Every Christian
Doctrine is simply the teaching we need to know from the Bible. God gave us Scripture to teach us certain things about him, what he has done, and what he continues to do in the world.
Sound doctrine helps us stay on target regarding what the Bible teaches, why we believe it, and how to live to God's glory in daily life. Here are seven reasons why doctrine matters for every Christian.
1. Doctrine explains why we can rest in the finished work of Christ.
We can read the Bible but still not fully understand why certain events happened in the biblical story or why God included certain books. Doctrine helps us to understand the problem—humanity’s guilty and sinful state—as well as God’s solution—his sending of his only begotten Son to live the perfectly obedient life on my behalf and be the perfect once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sin. Through doctrine we learn that all who trust in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone shall be saved (Rom. 3:23; 5:12–21; Eph. 2:8–9).
Furthermore, if we don’t read all the “to-do’s” in the Bible in context, we might mistakenly think we are right with God by our own obedience and kind deeds. Doctrine helps us to know that we are only right with God based on the finished work of Christ. Doctrine also shows us why it is important for Christians to try with all their might to keep God’s commands as their rightful sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to their Savior.
2. Doctrine helps us understand how God is a relational God.
When we learn about the Trinity and how God is one in essence and three in persons, we can have confidence that God is not some stoic figure who made the world but doesn’t care for or love it. The love between the persons of the Trinity (Matt. 3:17; John 14:31; Gal. 4:6) overflows to God’s creation, even to the point that the Father gave his only begotten Son to accomplish salvation for fallen humans. Doctrine instructs us regarding the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation as he convicts people of their sin and conforms them to the image of Christ (Rom. 5:5).
3. Doctrine explains why we feel empty apart from God.
God made us for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify him and enjoy him forever! This is why we can never feel fulfilled apart from him. God made us to have a joyful relationship with him, but we can’t apart from Christ because of God’s utter holiness and our guilt and indwelling sin. Even though we are different kinds of beings and we cannot reach up to God no matter how hard we try, he condescends to be in a loving relationship with us in Christ—and this is glorious!
4. Doctrine teaches us how to worship God.
Doctrine helps us to worship God with more joy, because we can better comprehend how Israel’s creed (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”) is true and at the same time recognize that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God (Psalm 139:7–8; John 10:30; 1 Cor. 8:6).
When we hear God’s Word rightly preached, partake in the Sacraments, pray, and sing songs of worship, doctrine explains to us that we are always approaching our heavenly Father in Jesus’ name (because of his work on our behalf) by the Holy Spirit (who indwells and sanctifies us).
5. Doctrine guides us in how to love God and our neighbor.
Because doctrine teaches us that our right standing before God is based on Christ’s work and not our own, we don’t have to view our good deeds as ways to make God love us better. We also don’t have to worry about being popular or esteemed before people. God already loves us fully in Christ, and that’s all the love any of us ever needs. We are God’s children, and our inheritance is secure.
We can love God and our neighbor not based on a need to perform but rather out of tremendous gratitude for all God has done for us and as our rightful duty as his children. Doctrine reminds us that it is God’s will for us to grow in holiness and be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
6. Doctrine teaches us that our hope is not in vain.
We don’t have to worry about whether or not the Bible is true. Through learning about the major covenants of the Bible and the amazing continuity of Scripture, we can only marvel that everything we read about in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, and the rest of the books of the Bible is inextricably linked together by God’s promise in Christ.
It seems impossible for so many different authors over such a long period of time to write sixty-six books that all point to God’s redemptive plan to redeem the world; yet, this is exactly what we find in the Bible, because the Holy Spirit inspired the authors (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
From Genesis 3:15, where God promises to send the Seed who will crush the head of the serpent, to Revelation 22, where we learn that the Lamb of God shall sit on God’s throne forever, God’s Word gives us knowledge of the hope that will never disappoint Christians; because this hope is based on the fact of the bodily resurrection of Christ, who shall return one day to consummate his kingdom (1 Cor. 15:12–28).
7. Doctrine helps us to pick up our cross and follow our King.
Because doctrine teaches us the great truths we need to know, we can pick up our cross and follow Christ (Matt. 16:24). We don’t need to be afraid—no matter what God allows in our life—because we know he has a plan and his plan is good.
We also know God is great as well as good, and we can trust him even when the world doesn’t seem to make sense. We don’t need to regret anything that we are leaving behind, because God has something far better for us than anything this world can ever offer: peace with him and everlasting life in his presence.
Don’t let anyone lead you to believe doctrine is unimportant, irrelevant, or confusing. We must always be diligent to seek out sound doctrinal teaching and learn how to distinguish biblical truth from error, just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). Doctrine is essential because it imparts the truth to us we need to know to have the joy, peace, and confidence in Christ that God wants us to enjoy.
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