Making Doctrine Part of Your Devotional Life
By Brad Davis
It is the start of a new year, and that can only mean one thing– Making New Year Resolutions! The word “resolution” simply means “a firm decision to do or not do something.” Most people have determined to lose weight, eat healthier, read books, end a bad habit, or form a new habit to improve their life. (Unfortunately, by the time you read this article, many of those firm decisions may have already turned into disinclinations). One important decision that Christians can make to start the New Year is to develop, or improve, their own private time with the Lord. There are so many options available in this category of devotional life: One Year Bible, Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, or the countless devotional books available for men, women, couples, and families that can be purchased at the local Christian book store or online. However, there is an area of study that should be added to the devotional library of every Christian– the study of doctrine.
I can hear you saying it now, “Hold up there! I did not go to Bible college or seminary. I am not a pastor. Why do I need to know about doctrine?” Exactly, my point. Doctrine is the foundation of our belief system in the IPHC, and if we are not sound in doctrine (what we believe), then we will not have a sure foundation.
A great starting point for discovering the foundational beliefs is to study the five cardinal doctrines of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The “fantastic five” are as follows: Salvation, Sanctification, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Divine Healing, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Professor Ken Young at Southwestern Christian University pointed me toward some incredible writers of Pentecostal Holiness ministers, that explain theological doctrine with words that we can all understand and embrace. Writers like Noel Brooks, John W. Swails, H.P. Robinson, A.M. Long, J.A. Synan, Dr. Terry Tramel, and Dr. Frank Tunstall, who penned books and pamphlets that are theologically sound, academically appropriate, and spiritually transformative.
As an example of adding doctrine to your devotional life, the short book, Focus on Doctrine, is a detailed study of the five major tenets of the IPHC, with contributions by Swails, Brooks, Robinson, Long, and Synan. The book is only 80 pages in length, yet its depth is immeasurable. Although this book was written many decades ago, it is still foundational to the beliefs of our denomination. It could be used as a small group study, Sunday school study, or a personal study. What a great way to grow as a believer and to understand why we believe what we believe.
In conclusion, adding doctrine to your devotional life will challenge you and strengthen your faith as a Pentecostal believer. As a Christian, you will have to be intentional in this area; however, the rewards will be worth the effort. When we are sound in doctrine, we will not be swayed by the fads that come and go. Paul urged the church in Ephesus reminding them “…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men…” (Ephesians 4:14). If we are “not to be carried away,” then we need to be firmly rooted in the foundation of solid and sound doctrine.