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ReVision

The Source of Sound Doctrine

We need to work at understanding Scripture.

The Mind of Christ in His Word: Part 2 (4)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine… 2 Timothy 3.16

Theologians all
We have considered a few of the sources of false doctrine, those vain speculations which are the fruit of nothing more than the best thinking of human minds. Advertising, education, friends, the media, politicians, pop culture – these are just a few of the ways false teaching insinuates itself into our thinking, beliefs, actions, and lifestyle.

False teaching can also come from within the Church, as teachers, afflicted with doctrinal revulsion, head off in pursuit of some whim or intellectual fancy and set themselves up as having gained some “new insight” into what it means to be a Christian. And that “new insight” may be only to debunk sound doctrine and insist, for example, that we really just need to accept and love one another.

These winds of doctrine seek to fill the sails of our souls and drive us off course in our journey with Christ. We must learn to recognize and resist them, and set our soul – heart, mind, and conscience – to the pure winds of God’s Spirit. Sound doctrine, in contrast to speculative thinking, is a work of God’s Spirit, as He, through the whole counsel of God in Scripture, teaches us how to think, believe, and live with respect to every aspect of human life.

The Spirit teaches us how to compare Scripture from one part of the Bible with Scripture from other parts in response to our interests, queries, studies, or meditations (1 Cor. 2.13). As the Bible sheds its light on our questions, our task is to sort out the various texts and teachings, compare and combine them, and use them to help us understand God’s will, purpose, and plan.

Yes, it takes time, it can be difficult, and it requires much patience and perseverance. But this is the work of searching the Scriptures that makes for a sound mind and a strong soul (Acts 17.11).

Sound doctrine is nothing more than Scripture ordered to the task of addressing the primary concerns of belief and life. This is the work of theology, of discovering by reason and logic the mind of the Logos, as He guides us into all truth in His Word (Jn. 17.17), and renews us in His mind (Rom. 12.1, 2). Theology – the discipline that leads to sound doctrine – is nothing more than the pursuit of the knowledge of God and His glory. And that makes every believer a theologian.

The work of theology comes with the turf for those who are called to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12).

Examples in Scripture
We see examples of this process, the discipline of theology, at work in the Bible itself. For example, as part of his argument concerning why salvation must be all of grace, and all dependent on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul offers a brief synopsis of the problem of sin in Romans 3. Drawing from various passages in the Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah, and combining them in a logical order, Paul explains the devastating effects of sin on our minds and wills, making us ignorant of God’s truth, hostile to God, and in danger of His wrath.

By searching, comparing, and ordering Scriptures, he developed a summary of the doctrine of sin, which then helps to explain why salvation and righteousness can only be attained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Similarly, in Hebrews 1, the writer is making an argument that Jesus, as the Son of God, is more to be revered and obeyed than the angels. His belief concerning this question draws from at least three different books of the Old Testament and five different passages. The writer wasn’t making up His doctrine of Jesus to suit the needs of his readers, or merely to express some personal whim. His convictions are the fruit of careful study, comparison, analysis, and synthesis of the relevant texts of Scripture.

This pattern of searching, comparing, and ordering the Scriptures is what Jesus was thinking about when he commended the wise scribe who brings out of the treasury of God’s Word insights from both old and new revelation – the Old and New Testaments (Matt. 13.52). By faithfully pursuing this work, we increase in the knowledge of God, His Word, and sound doctrine, and thus have our minds shaped more to reflect the mind of Christ.

Doctrine for all of life
What Paul did for the doctrine of sin and the writer of Hebrews for the doctrine of Christ, we have the privilege and calling of doing for every aspect of life. Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for discovering the will of God about all of life, every good work (2 Tim. 3.17). As we learn how the mind of Christ thinks concerning all aspects of life, we learn what we must believe in order to mature in Him; and we are renewed in our minds, and live as servants and ambassadors of Christ in His Kingdom and for His glory. By applying ourselves to sound doctrine, we are led to believe as we should and live as God commands and promises, in the hope of knowing His blessings and manifesting His glory. 

Sound doctrine thus comes to us as revelation – God disclosing for our edification whatever He considers necessary for faith and life. Human beings do not discover or invent sound doctrine; nor must they fall into the trap of thinking that sound doctrine changes with the changing circumstances of the times or the needs and whims of people. Sound doctrine, being revealed by God, is true and lasting. It needs only to be studied, understood, believed, and applied to have the promised effect of transforming our souls and equipping us to love God and our neighbors.

But if we succumb to doctrinal revulsion, our openness to sound doctrine – and with this, our access to divine truth and a renewed mind – will be sorely compromised.

For reflection
1.  What do we mean by saying that the Holy Spirit is the source of sound doctrine? Why is this important?

2.  Meditate on 1 Corinthians 2.12, 13 and Acts 17.11. How do these guide your thinking about the work of sound doctrine? Is this work part of your own spiritual disciplines?

3.  What are some questions Christians should be asking the Bible these days? How does asking such questions relate to the work of sound doctrine?

Next steps – Demonstration: Give thanks to God for the sound doctrine of His Word. Which aspects of the treasury of sound doctrine do you expect to live out today?

T. M. Moore

This might be a good time to review our ReVision series on “Winds of Doctrine.” You can download all the studies in that series by clicking here.

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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