The Truth Works
The purpose of Bible teaching should be the application of its truths to people's lives. More and more religious people who sit in the pews today do not like to hear sermons about doctrine, but prefer to hear practical things that deal with their daily lives. They feel doctrinal lessons are dull and hard to sit through. But I wish to remind everyone of doctrine's importance to Christian living.
The word "doctrine" means "teaching." Many of Paul's epistles can be divided between the doctrinal part and the practical part. For an example, in the book of Romans in chapters 1-11, Paul speaks about doctrines such as sin, faith, justification, the removal of the law of Moses, and God's faithfulness to the Jews while also accepting the Gentiles. But, starting in chapter twelve, Paul deals with practical matters such as sacrificial living, love, vengeance, civil government and the resurrection. In the book of Ephesians, this division occurs in the middle of chapter four. In the book of Colossians, chapter three begins some of the practical teachings such as putting off sin, forgiving one another, husbands loving their wives and children obeying their parents.
The truth is that these practical things in Christian living are based on doctrine taught in scripture. Therefore, doctrine should not be minimized or disdained. Paul instructed Timothy, "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine." (1 Timothy 1:3)
For instance, consider the doctrine of God's grace and salvation. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) This doctrinal truth, that God loved us when we were yet sinners and unloving toward Him, is the basis for the Christian's practice of overcoming evil with good. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21) Our enemies may not deserve our mercy and grace, but neither did we deserve God's mercy toward us when we were enemies of God. (James 4:4)
Another practical application of Jesus dying on the cross in order to save souls is that a Christian should always treat his brother in Christ in such a way as to save him and not destroy him. Paul said to the Roman brethren, "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:15) We should not destroy our brother for whom Christ died. To destroy our brother would not be Christ-like. Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
The importance of doctrine cannot be denied since it is what determines proper and right practices in our lives. This also shows the danger of a false doctrine or teaching. A false doctrine which is founded upon wresting the scriptures (2 Peter 3:15) will adversely affect how a person applies its teaching to his life. False doctrine leads to false and improper application to a person's life and conduct. Right teaching leads to the correct application in our lives. We will continue to examine this subject when we see how Paul's teaching about grace was misunderstood and led to some Christians making false application to their lives and conduct.