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-QUESTION: What is doctrine?

QUESTION: What is doctrine? ANSWER: The word in the Bible that is translated “doctrine” is usually didaskelia. It means simply “that which is taught.” But the Bible says more about doctrine. There are three kinds of doctrine, three kinds of teaching. First, there is doctrine which is destructive – it shipwrecks faith, and church leaders must deal with it (1 Tim. 1:19-20). Such doctrine is contrary to what a church regards as foundational truths of the faith. Foundational truths are recognized by the Church in a formal way, and informally by individual believers based on their spiritual maturity. Teaching which is destructive to the faith is properly called “false doctrine.” This label should not be used for teaching with which one merely disagrees. It would be misleading if one so concluded by reasoning as follows: “In my opinion that is unscriptural, and therefore, it is ‘false doctrine.’”

Second, there is doctrine which is not profitable. We are specifically told that we should teach “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29 NIV). This verse clearly implies that there is doctrine which is not helpful to those who listen. Teachers and preachers should challenge themselves with the question, “So what?” to determine if what they are saying is profitable to the hearers.

Third, there is doctrine which is profitable. The Bible says that “all Scripture … is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is profitable for more than merely knowing, because by itself “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1), and Bible knowledge is no exception. But biblical knowledge becomes profitable when it is used for rebuking, correcting, training and equipping us for every good work. Doctrines are of value only if we can apply them!

We can easily become occupied with mere points of doctrine instead of with becoming the people the Lord wants us to be – which is what doctrine is for!

Answered by Alan Crosby

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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