Recently I read an article by a preacher who claimed he had been observing what he referred to as a “dangerous trend” in the churches of Christ today. He claimed that many churches are putting too much emphasis on doctrine. I am always honest with those who take the time to read what I write, so I have to tell you, that was all of the article I needed to read. How can any person who has any faith in Christ deny the importance of doctrine? In 1Tim. 1:8-10 the apostle Paul rebuked anything that was “contrary to sound doctrine”. In 2 Tim. 1:13,14 he wrote, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words” (doctrine) “which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” 2Tim. 2:2 he wrote, “And the things that you heard from me” (doctrine) ”among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach” (doctrine) “others also.” Titus 2:1 he wrote, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.”
In John 6:63 Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” How can anybody say there is anything in this world more important than sound doctrine? In Jude 3, Jude wrote to “those who are called...sanctified...preserved in Jesus Christ” (v. 1), that he “found it necessary” to write to them “exhorting” them to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude says “the faith” is to be defended. We are to “contend” for THE faith, and to do so “earnestly”. What is “the faith” if it isn’t the doctrine? What is the faith if it isn’t the “Words” that Jesus speaks to us that “are spirit”, and “are life”?
The faith that saves is an objective faith. This means saving faith doesn’t originate on our inside, like so many are teaching today. Rom. 10:17 says, “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Saving faith originates, and comes to us from an outside source. It must be heard. Remember, Jude 3 says Christians are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was “ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED”. It comes from God to those who hear His Word in the Bible and choose to believe.
Something else to notice about Jude 3 where it tells us the faith has been “once for all delivered” is, there can be no new miraculous revelations. The faith that saves is complete. Perfect. The only revelation from God today is the Bible. This means the faith that saves is the same for everybody. And it should be understood the same by everybody, It should be understood the way that God intended for it to be understood when He delivered it to us in the Bible. No person has the authority from God to add to it, take away from it, or change it in any way. Rev. 22:18,19 still say, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book: and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Saving faith is the faith of Christ. It is the doctrine of Christ and has come to the world from God through Christ. We receive this faith when we choose to believe and obey His Words the way He says. Again in John 6:63, He still says, ”It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” In Matt. 7:24, He says, ”Therefore whoever HEARS these sayings of Mine and DOES them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Heb. 5:8,9 say, ”Though HE (Jesus) was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” We can’t obey Him if we don’t know His doctrine, can we? The church of Christ isn’t His without His doctrine. If we don’t hear it, believe it, study it, and obey it, all that’s left is our own righteousness, and that will never save anybody. It takes the faith of Christ - the doctrine of Christ. That means there is nothing in this world that is more important to those who will inherit eternal salvation than His doctrine.
Timothy A. Sundlie
Preacher / Evangelist for the Tazewell County church of Christ