Summary: Doctrine is not a theological mystery only found in classrooms but the basic teachings of scripture that must we must apply to our lives to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
As the church has entered the postmodern era, historic biblical teaching has fallen by the wayside and new theologies have taken their place. The ‘new theology’ downplays the value of scripture and shifts the focus on emotionalism and experiential Christianity instead of Christianity based on truth. What makes us feel good is not the measure of truth. Feelings sway with the wind of circumstances but the truth of God’s word stands as a solid rock that does not change whether times are good or times are bad. Those who are founded upon the rock will never be moved even if the world around them falls apart. As biblical teaching is pushed aside, people are no longer standing strong in the Lord. In fact, very few have any concept of an immovable truth or even what spiritual maturity is all about. Unless a preacher or teacher stirs the hearts of believers with the truth, very few will ever go beyond their Sunday morning dose of emotional excitement. There is so much more to Christianity than getting an emotional charge and claiming self-centered requests from the Lord. Without understanding truth – all of the truth, Christians will be dwarfed in their growth and never experience the true things of God.
God has promised to give His secret counsel to the upright, reveal hidden manna to those who overcome, give wisdom, knowledge, understanding and discernment to those who seek God with their whole heart. The superficial Christian will never find the deeper things of God. The abundance promised to the Christian cannot be found by merely sitting in a pew and considering church attendance to be our weekly service to God. Look at Proverbs 25:2
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
This promise is not limited to earthly kings, for in Christ, we have all been giving the right to become kings and priests (Revelation 1:6 and 5:10). God takes pleasure in hiding the things of God so that those who seek Him will find His glory and be partakers of that glory. You will never truly experience the richness of God without first seeking Him with all your heart. The rich things of God will not be found on Sunday morning, but are for those who seek Him with their lives. If the better things of the Christian life are prepared for those who seek Him, why don’t we hear these things from the pulpits of the church today? Sunday school material has been watered down to the point of almost becoming irrelevant and the truth of scripture has been replaced with world philosophies and feel good messages.
It is a growing trend to devalue doctrine and make the teachings of scripture irrelevant or unimportant. I have repeatedly heard statements from preachers like, “Doctrine is not important in Christianity. Nothing is important but having a relationship with Christ”. This can be made to sound good if presented with passion and this philosophy is packaged in many ways, but it is a completely false statement. In fact, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ without doctrine. Look at Jesus’ statements in John 14:
John 14: 15 " If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14: 23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
If you do not know the word, you cannot keep the word. If you do not keep the commandments of scripture, you do not love God regardless of how emotional you get and how spirited our time of worship becomes. Keeping the Word of God is the evidence that the love of God is in our hearts. The teaching of ‘devaluing doctrine’ has influenced the church through the emergent church movement, the seeker sensitive movement and various books and devotionals that have a pretense of sounding inspirational but are desperately lacking in truth. As teachers and preachers are influenced by these books and spend less time in the word, the postmodern thought seeps its way into their messages and are preached to a congregation that is also lacking in understanding. Ignorance of truth is an open door to sinful doctrines and ungodly philosophies; however, you have the God-given power and responsibility to search out truth and expose doctrine. If you do not know God’s word, how can you keep God’s word? If you do not know God’s word, how can you know God? Sound doctrine is critical because it reveals to us how to know and relate to our Creator and Savior.