Postmodernism has radically changed our world. Most people might not even know its meaning, but they manifest the effects brought on them through societal and cultural influences. Postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection of what we accept as religiously valid in modern society. This has yielded a refusal of definite truth and morphed into everyone being able to “speak their own truth.” The strongest antidote to all of this is Bible doctrine. Timothy was told, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).
“Doctrine” simply is teaching or instruction that comes from the God-inspired scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Doctrinal preaching, therefore, is preaching that imparts the word of God, increases the knowledge of those who hear, defends the faith, upholds the truth, refutes erroneous teaching, and allows saints to be “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). This is why we need Bible doctrine.
But doctrine is kind of boring to a lot of people. They want preaching (or “messages”) that pulls on the heart strings, or evokes an emotional response such as laughing or crying. For some, doctrine and doctrinal preaching are just too dry. However, there are three thoughts to keep in mind:
- Doctrine affects our lives. Paul instructed Titus to stay away from evil attitudes and actions so that Christians “may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (2:10). How you live is an adornment or a beautification of the gospel. Hypocrisy, or people not “walking the walk,” is a deadly cancer to the doctrine of Christ. Sermons and classes on moral issues, along with strong exhortations to live godly will produce believers who are zealous for their purity.
- Doctrine affects our worship. Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). If you don’t have pure doctrine, you can’t worship God truthfully. It will be empty and useless. Sermons about what we do in worship and the proper preparation of the heart will let us grow closer to God and give Him the appropriate exaltation.
- Doctrine affects our destiny. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine may seem dry to you, but it has saving power because it explains how a heaven-dweller should live. Because of this, you have to “tend” it in your heart. You should look forward to and accept gladly sermons about the nature of the church and the necessity of baptism to be saved.
Not everything done in religion is acceptable. Christ explained, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Paul added, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). It is dangerous to ignore the doctrine of Christ, for ignoring it will lead inevitably to transgressing it. At that point, one loses fellowship with God (2 John 9).
If we drift with the prevailing winds, we will come to the point, as some have, of not wanting to tell anyone they are wrong about anything — and no one will change unless they know they are wrong. Although the words seemed harsh, Peter told Simon that he was “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity,” and Paul told Elymas that he was “full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 8:18-24; 13:6-12). What was the result? Did the stern way it was expressed cause people to abandon truth? No. Simon repented and Sergius Paulus believed. This was the power of doctrine.
Abide in the doctrine of Christ and enjoy the fellowship of both the Father and the Son. Furthermore, continue to contrast the doctrine of Christ with the doctrines of men. And remember that we can still do good deeds without sacrificing the truth that we are required to both believe and practice.