Summary: God has given us the Bible at we might know the truth. If we want to please God then we must discover what the Bible says we must believe and practice and then obey.
A. Doctrine, and sermons about doctrine, have fallen on hard times over the past couple of decades.
1. This cartoon conveys how many people feel about doctrine and dogma.
2. Several years ago, I happened to be talking with some folks in the community and they asked me what I was preaching about on next Sunday.
3. When I told them I was going to preach a lesson on the importance of doctrine and you should have seen their faces.
a. They looked like they had just taken a dose of caster oil, or a big bite of a sour pickle.
4. To be honest with you, I often feel the same way.
a. I think to myself, “I just want to be a follower of Jesus, why do I have to worry myself with the subject of doctrine?”
b. Or I think something like, “Doctrine? Let’s focus on something useful for my daily life!”
B. I read about a sign in front of a church that said, “Love God. Love others. The rest is doctrine.”
1. The message being communicated by that sign is plain: Loving God and loving others are essential things, but doctrine is not.
2. In other words, it doesn't matter what you believe or teach, as long as you love God and love others.
3. I think that this sentiment reflects what a lot of religious people in America believe.
4. Now please understand that I am second to no one in my conviction that loving God and loving others are the greatest commandments.
a. Jesus Himself said so explicitly in Matthew 22:37-39.
b. If we get those things right, we will get everything else right as well, because "on these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40).
5. However, when doctrine is relegated to the status of non-essential, unimportant, and not relevant to man's salvation, then there is a lack of understanding concerning the nature of loving God and loving others.
1. If we really understand what it means to love God and others, then we would know that believing and teaching sound doctrine is essential.
C. The truth of the matter is that everything in Christianity starts with, and is held together by, doctrine.
1. A person can’t just be a follower of Jesus unless they know and understand the doctrine about Jesus.
2. Daily Christian living requires that we understand the doctrine of God so that we can become like him, and do what he requires.
3. The reality is: that without doctrine there can be no Christianity nor can there be the church.
4. Without doctrine there would be chaos. There would be no place to take a stand or to begin. There would be nothing to hold on to or nothing to build upon.
5. So, how important is doctrine? I think we would agree doctrine is very important.
6. When I use the word doctrine I’m talking about “the truth.”
a. I’m talking about everything that is involved in the body of beliefs that make up “The Christian Faith.”
b. It includes the knowledge of Christ and his teachings.
c. It includes God’s truth about the church – it’s organization and mission.
D. Doctrine was certainly important to Jesus.
1. In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
a. Holding to the teaching of Jesus equaled knowing the truth, which results in freedom.
b. Without the doctrine of Jesus there can be no salvation and no transformation.
2. Conversely, a lack of knowledge of the truth, or a misuse of it, is destructive and deadly.
a. Jesus said to the Sadducees who were questioning him, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29)
b. Jesus said to the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Matthew 15:9 that worship is useless and unacceptable to God when it is simply the doctrines and commandments of men.
3. Jesus gave many warnings to “watch out for those who would teach false doctrines.”
a. In Matthew 7:15, Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
b. To the church in Pergamum in Rev. 2:14, Jesus warned against the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.
c. To the church in Thyatira in Rev. 2:24, Jesus warned against the teachings of Jezebel.
4. From these passages we see that Jesus made it clear that some teaching is from God and is truth, and some is not.
5. So, if Jesus thinks that doctrine is important, so should we, right?
E. Doctrine was also important to the early church and was addressed by the apostles.