By David Moore, Boys’ Ministries Director
Being asked to write an article on the subject of “Sound Doctrine” was, to say the least, challenging. After all, I am not a scholar or a theologian. I was not even sure where to begin. I was challenged by a quote I read recently that was attributed to Albert Einstein. It says, “if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself”. So, I decided to look at this from a viewpoint of simple, rather than complex, understanding — What are the basics of understanding sound doctrine?
I first started by trying to define the word doctrine. Webster’s Dictionary defines doctrine as teaching, instruction, something that is taught, and a principle or position in a system of belief. A computer search on church doctrine came up with, “a written body of teachings of a religious group”.
When referring to the early believers, Bishop McGhee says that in Acts 2:42 (NIV) where we read, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings…”, the early believers were learning from the apostles, who had been with Jesus during His ministry. The doctrine was, in essence, what was later recorded in the four Gospels.”
So then, simply put, sound (whole, complete) doctrine, is the teachings of Jesus. This is what Jesus had to say about His teachings while He was still with the disciples. “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-25 (NIV)
Then, when He was about to leave the disciples, Jesus said this about His teaching: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:19-20, (NIV)
Three things stand out to me in these verses, and they are outlined below:
- These words are not just from Jesus, but from the Father.
- Jesus emphasizes the importance of not just hearing His teaching but obeying it as well. A disciple, or learner of Jesus, is a person who is fully committed to being a Christ-follower. This involves both knowledge of, and obedience to, the things Jesus said and did; following Him in obedience.
- Also emphasized, is the importance of having the Holy Spirit at work in our lives to teach and remind us of the things Jesus said.
I now believe that Albert Einstein would be pleased, that I am able to teach a six-year-old about “Sound Doctrine”; knowing and obeying the teachings of Jesus. I heard a saying that has stuck with me and it is one I try to live up to. “We practice every day what we believe, everything else is just religious talk.” Sound in doctrine – teach it and live it.