Does Doctrine Matter?

If you drift through the modern American churches it will not take long to hear the echo of “…doctrine is not important, it just divides the church. Let’s unite and show God’s love!” But God’s Word disagrees.

2 John 1:9-10  NKJV “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;

This new tolerance message proclaims “all brothers are equal before God anyway, and it is pride that demands one group or denomination is right, condemning the others.” Well, John makes it Biblical, true doctrine is supposed to divide [verse 10]! We are not talking about small issues that are not clearly defined in scripture, but the plain truth.

Our Lord has strong emotional feelings about wrong doctrine. Rev. 2:14-15 quotes Jesus as saying, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. [15] Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” [NKJV] Since Jesus Christ hates wrong doctrine, he warns those believers who do not care about His doctrine to “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” [Rev. 2:16].

Doctrine is such an important issue with God He warns us He will fight us if we do not follow His teaching. It seems doctrine is important!

Since John makes it clear in our text that anyone who does not live out the doctrine of Christ is going to hell whether religious or not, believing and living out Christ’s teaching is significant and non-optional [verse 9]. You would not know it from our modern churches.

Barna research shows just 9% of the adults claiming to be born again have a biblical worldview. This falls to 7% of Protestants in general. This is based on the doctrine that absolute moral truth exists and founded on six core beliefs: the accuracy of Bible teaching, the sinless nature of the Lord Jesus, the literal existence of the devil, the all knowing and all powerfulness of God, salvation by the mercy and grace of God alone, and the responsibility of each Christian to obey the great commission.

This is further explored through pastoral leadership. Southern Baptist pastors are the most Biblical [71%], other Baptist churches were next [57%], then followed non-denominational Protestant pastors [51%], charismatic and Pentecostal [44%], pastors of black churches [35%], leading mainline denominations [28%] and United Methodist [27%]. [Read the whole report, Only Half of Protestant Pastors Have a Biblical View,  online at Barna.org.]

The immoral choices and practices of the majority of church attendees are now clearly exposed!

Since the majority of pastors reject doctrinal truth they do not call people to repentance and obedience to God’s doctrinal standards. Paul commands preachers to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; [4] and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” [2 Tim. 4:2-4 NKJV].

Since less than 10% of adult church members want to live Biblical lives, pastors who rebuke and exhort their congregations to absolute truth and obedience are not going to be popular or have jobs.

Here is some proof. A ChristianMingle survey showed 89% of self-identified Christian singles who answered the survey said they are having or will have sex before marriage.

According to Barna, over 90% of those claiming to be born again say the Word of God does not influence how they live their lives.

Instead, Paul warns us, “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)

As the majority of pastors preach false comfort and eternal life without obedience, people feel good about themselves. Rejecting the absolute commands of Christ and His Word the congregations live their lives satisfying their own desires and feel comfortable and safe believing the fable that they are going to heaven too! This always starts with false ideas and teaching and then is lived out in lifestyle.  This is seen in what is preached, but also in what is ignored! Does your pastor rebuke and exhort you on a regular basis? Or do you like [your own selfish desires] the quiet encouraging type?

For example, false doctrinal teaching about marriage, divorce, and sexual activity outside of marriage [one man and one woman] throw stumbling blocks before this nation. Broken homes permanently harm children emotionally and leave bitterness and frustration. The government pays out billions of dollars trying to support single moms and their children. Billions are spent on insurance and medical expenses for sexually transmitted diseases. Millions of babies are murdered through abortions. All this because people ignore God’s loving commands protecting and providing life in a better way. Is doctrine important?

Doctrine is the Foundation of Life Change!

All scripture” is given to us by God to change our life styles after we are born again in Christ. The “apostles’ doctrine” [Acts 2:42] was based on Christ’s commands, not suggestions [Matthew 28:20]. One of the earliest documents of the church is a pass around work called “The Didache of the Apostles,” which is the Greek word for doctrine. Paul commanded all Christians to change, beginning with right doctrine, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” [Romans 12:2].

“Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters [authorities], to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, [10] not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

    [11] For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, [12] teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts [selfish desires], we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, [13] looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. [15] Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

    [3:1] Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, [2] to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. [3] For we ourselves were also once [past not present] foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. [4] But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, [5] not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, [6] whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [7] that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [8] This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” [Titus 2:9-3:8 NKJ].

What Steps Should You Take to Please God?

First, if you are under the teaching of a pastor or church that is not teaching the whole absolute truth of God leave. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him.” But you say, “I like my church!” I know you are protesting because your friends and family are there. Or you might have already decided the Biblical church is boring, the music is dead, the pastor preaches too long, etc. Repent! “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” [Romans 16:17].

Then, join a Biblical church and take responsibility. “…be careful to maintain good works.” The people of your city are going to hell! It is not what you like that matters, join a team of believers who are fulfilling God’s purposes and get busy.

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