Sound Doctrine (7)
…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. 1 Timothy 1.11
Learning and teaching sound doctrine has two ends a proximate or near-term end, and an ultimate or overarching end.
The proximate end is that those who learn sound doctrine should grow in love for God and their neighbors. Sound doctrine is the fuel that moves the engine of love and drives the divine economy. If we do not teach sound doctrine, then we will most likely promote a view of Christian faith that is oriented to the self and its interests and needs: Get God to get you whatever you want, and let your neighbors fend for themselves.
That’s a crude caricature, I know, but it’s not far from the mark. If love for God and neighbor are not the driving force and consistent outcome of our learning and teaching, that leaves just one person to look out for: Me. Sound doctrine does not promote a self-serving gospel, but the only and true Gospel of our self-denying, God-exalting Savior and King.
And that is the ultimate end of sound doctrine – to further the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.
In the Church today, many are living a compromised gospel. Their understanding of the faith of Jesus is that it amounts to our sins being forgiven and being assured that we’re going to heaven when we die. In between there’s some stuff about loving others, expecting God to meet your needs, and being part of a church; but the real deal, the ultimate matter of this gospel is the assurance of heaven.
I would describe this, not as true Christianity in anything like its full and glorious sense, but a kind of near Christianity that almost, but not exactly, gets it right. Going to heaven when we die is certainly part of the Gospel message and way of life. But it’s not the whole of it, because it fails to address the believer’s calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12).
The true Gospel is glorious because it strives to glorify God in all things.
The glory of the Gospel
The Gospel is glorious because it brings the salvation of Jesus Christ into every area of our lives, so that all the various facets of our lives – all our relationships, roles, responsibilities, time, possessions, and diversions – are brought into the light of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, reconciled to God in Him, and set on a course of restoration to beauty, goodness, and truth.
We have embraced the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom, and all the glorious doctrines of that heavenly realm are shaping our lives, when we live for the glory of God in all of life, every day of our lives.
All who have believed the Gospel long for this transformation to proceed in their lives, and so they feed on sound doctrine to that end. By so doing, they grow in love for God and neighbor as they learn how to seek the glory of God and to let that glory come to expression in every aspect of their lives.
Proclaiming the Good News
But besides living that glorious Gospel, letting the glory of God shine through all their works and words, those who are fed and nurtured on the sound doctrine of the Word of God are also moved to proclaim that Gospel to the people in their everyday lives. What they are learning of sound doctrine to enrich and enhance the joy and rejoicing they have in the Lord, they eagerly and readily share with the people around them, whether those people are believers or unbelievers.
The Gospel is Good News, the very best news that anyone can know; thus, we do not keep it to ourselves. The Spirit of God within us provides the power to take sound doctrine and enable us to bear witness to Christ with the people around us (Acts 1.8). And, when we’re loving God and our neighbors by learning sound doctrine, proclaiming the Gospel will have a prominent part in all our Christian experience.
Do not neglect sound doctrine!
So do not neglect to study sound doctrine as part of your daily reading and meditation in the Word of God. What the Church needs today – what you and I need – is sound doctrine, the Word of God learned and taught in all its facets, cover to cover, for every area of human life and interest.
We need to have our mind filled with sound doctrine, our heart engaged with it enthusiastically, our conscience bound by it, and our daily life shaped by it.
Sound doctrine is the need of the hour. Insist on it, and feed on it richly, rejoicing to feed on the whole counsel of God’s Word, until the fruit of love and the progress of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God are more consistently evident in your everyday life.
1. What is the glory of God? What does it mean to glorify God in our lives?
2. How can we aim at the proximate and ultimate goals of sound doctrine in all we do?
3. How can Christians encourage one another in sound doctrine?
Next steps – Conversation: Share with a Christian friend what you have learned about the importance of sound doctrine from this series. Make your friend a copy of the PDF of this series, and invite your friend to work through this study with you.
T. M. Moore
To learn more about understanding and using the Bible, enroll in the course, Introduction to Biblical Theology. It’s free and online, and you can study at your own pace or with friends. To learn more and to register, click here. This week’s study is Part 8 of a series on The Word of God, and is available as a free download by clicking here.
The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus in all its parts, as centerpiece and fulfillment of God’s covenant and promises. Our workbook, God’s Covenant, takes you through the entire Bible, following the development of themes related to God’s covenant, and consummated in Jesus Christ. Here’s an effective tool for helping you read the Bible through God’s eyes. Order your copy by clicking here.
Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online, via PayPal, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.