Posts Tagged With: doctrine

ARBC Visioneering: The Doctrinal Aspect of the Great Commandment Education

Overview | Biblical (Heart) | Spiritual (Soul) | Doctrinal (Mind) | Missional (Love neighbor as self)|

While I plan on developing this more fully, permit me if you will to scratch out some thoughts on this matter.

In the field of systematic theology, scholars have historically broken down and systematized the doctrines of Scripture into various categories:

  • Bibliology: the doctrine of the nature of Scripture
  • Theology:  the doctrine of God
  • Anthropology:  the doctrine of man
  • Pneumatology:  the doctrine of the Holy Spirit
  • Soteriology:  the doctrine of salvation
  • Ecclesiology:  the doctrine of the church
  • Eschatology:  the doctrine of the end times/last things

While this word ‘doctrine’ may cause many inside and outside the church to break out in hives, we must realize that all of us live doctrinally.  A doctrine is a teaching that arises out of a standard or text by which one lives and believes.  So everyone lives doctrinally.  Those who advocate so-called ‘same-sex’ marriage have a standard that they have constructed with the help of culture or other types of systems.  Thus, any violation of this construct pricks their conscience—because a conscience is activated by whatever standard to which one adheres.  This applies to any standard, even to those who claim to have no standards (which is in itself a standard, a doctrine).

When it comes to Christian doctrine, we have our standards that arise out of a responsible hermeneutic.  And these doctrines must be in place in order to tell the world where we stand.  We are in good company, because our culture has no trouble telling us where they stand.  Make no mistake: we have doctrines of all sorts flying at us, subtly or no, and if we who are followers of Christ do not understand what Scripture teaches and are willing to stand on what Scripture says, even if the world calls us fools, so be it.  But our response to what Scripture says exposes how we have ultimately responded to the One who gave it (Romans 1:18-32).

During the overview portion of this visioneering process, I quoted from Romans 8:5-8–

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (ESV).

In these four short verses, four truths are clear:

  1. Where we set our minds shows where we live in this life;
  2. Where we set our minds sets a trajectory toward death and life;
  3. Where we set our minds manifests our relationship to God, either hostile or reconciled.
  4. A mind set on the flesh cannot obey God’s law—it has no capability.

With this in mind, a Great Commandment Education is, most obviously, set upon affecting the mind.  But even with this, there are limitations.  Outside of Christ, our flesh has no ability to obey God’s law (“indeed, it cannot”).

So we must not isolate this from the other aspects of our Great Commandment Education.  The progression is as follows:

  • The heart is changed by truth, by the Word of God (Romans 10:17);
  • The spirit of man is changed when God made us alive in Christ (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:4-7).
  • The Holy Spirit indwells us, giving us the ability to understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
  • The Spirit pours the love of God in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5).
  • Out of love for God, we want to learn as much about God and what He has revealed in His Word as we can (Psalm 119).
  • His Word has teachings that arise out of this.  Another word for teachings is ‘doctrines’ (Psalm 25:4-5).
  • These doctrines galvanize our hearts by the Spirit to bring forth truth to those without Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

So we must recognize first of all that the moment you begin grounding anything on the Word of God, you must recognize that this Word quickens and this Word kills.  The heart is changed not simply by an intellectual assent, but by the Spirit taking the truth and regenerating the heart so we can respond that that truth.  The Word galvanized Moses, but hardened Pharaoh.

Yet there will be some that will make it very clear that they have rejected this Word as intolerant, bigoted, irrelevant, and must be silenced.  The expositional teaching of the Scriptures does not simply expose the Word, but it exposes our motives and will as well.

So, in closing, an education/discipleship ministry has a clear doctrinal aspect that fuels the practical and spiritual aspect.   Otherwise, we do what we do without knowing why we do it.

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Preachers, Be Touched by that Word You Handle

“The preacher who handles the Word must first be touched by that same Word. Doctrinal preaching has an impact within both the cognitive and the emotive sectors. Preaching that leaves the cognitive untouched produces hearers who may leave the sanctuary feeling better but without having been helped by the deep doctrinal truths of the Scriptures. Classical rhetoricians attempted to be holistic in the speech act: enlighten the mind, touch the heart, and move the will. Preaching that avoids head engagement will lead to blindness, and preaching that ignores heart engagement–the emotive realm of the believer’s existence–does so at the cost of boredom and dullness, which prevents the result of an engaged hearing for a transformed life.”

–Dr. Robert Smith, Doctrine That Dances

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Sound Doctrine is Useless

"The doctrine which is according to godliness" 1 Timothy 6:3

Sound doctrine is uselessif it is not accompanied by a holy life!


It is my firm impression that we need a thorough revival of Scriptural holiness.

I have had a deep conviction for many years, that practical holiness and consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians. Worldliness has eaten out the heart of vital piety in too many of us! The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background. The standard of Christian living has become painfully low in many quarters. The immense importance of "adorning the doctrine of God our Savior" (Titus 2:10), and making it lovely and beautiful by our daily habits and tempers–has been far too much overlooked!
The details and particular ingredients of which holiness is composed in daily life–ought to be fully set forth and pressed on believers. True holiness does not consist merely of believing–but of doing and a practical exhibition of the active and passive graces.

Our tongues,
our tempers,
our natural passions and inclinations,
our conduct at home and abroad,
our dress,
our employment of time,
our behavior in business,
our demeanor in sickness and health, in riches and poverty

–all, all these are matters which are fully treated by inspired writers. They go into particulars. They specify minutely, what a holy man ought to do an be in his own family, by his own fireside, and at the work-place.

True holiness is something of "the image of Christ" which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings!

(J.C. Ryle, Holiness via Grace Gems)

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Spirit-Filled Churches are Doctrinal, Rational Churches

For the next few months, I will be preaching from the book of Acts.  This coming Sunday, I’m preaching from Acts 2:42-47.  After the Spirit descends on the apostles and Peter delivers his message to those attending from all the nations of the earth for Pentecost (Acts 2:5), we see the effects of a Spirit-filled church. 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and may wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The word devoted comes from the Greek (proskartereo) which means to be steadfastly attentive; to give unremitting care to a thing. The life of the followers of Jesus is one of devotion to Jesus. Consider in Acts 1:14 where those in the Upper Room were “all … with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer.” In Acts 6:4, the apostles notified the congregation that their purpose was to “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The key foundation to bring unity to a church, to grow a church spiritually, and ultimately to be an influence in our lives comes from a devotion to God’s Word.

Yet why does Luke say “the apostles’ teaching.” Why put it like this? Keep in mind that the entire corpus of the New Testament comes from either the apostles or close associates of the apostles. Look with me at 1 John 1:1-4:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4, ESV).

Spirit-filled churches are doctrinally astute churches.  They are rational.  By that, I mean they make truth claims that come out of events that happened in history.  To say that the Bible is merely a book of moral platitudes or a book that simply stirs up emotional devotion is failing to apply the rules of literature as we would to any other book.  God grounds the Scriptures in times, places, people, events wanting us to go back and look at the events for ourselves!  Children go to school and learn about Rameses II or King Darius of Persia, and can find these and other dignitaries in books such as Exodus and Daniel/Haggai, respectively.  Luke does the same thing in the birth narrative by bringing in Caesar Augustus, the census, where Mary and Joseph had to return (Bethlehem)—even mentioning the inn where they were turned away due to the blinking “No Vacancy” sign out front (OK, no sign was out front, but you get the idea).  The Scriptures call us to examine the truths claims made through the various literary genres presented (historical, wisdom, apocalyptic, epistles, etc.). 

Doctrine clarifies.  In an age of compromise and political correctness, clarity has become a lost art.  In an effort by churches and their leaders to avoid conflict and, ultimately, losing members, they have forfeited their calling and their responsibility to speak clearly about the truths God has revealed in Scripture.  Paul exhorted Pastor Titus to “Teach what accords with sound doctrine” (2:1) and to help his congregation in Crete “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (2:10).  Sound doctrine produces sound living in every area of life (read through Titus 2:1-10). 

Doctrine unites.  I weary of the claim that ‘doctrine divides.’  First of all, of course it divides.  Any time one makes an absolute claim, someone will disagree.  I could say, “Joey Votto is the best player in the game.”  That is an absolute statement.  Some may agree due to his statistics (leading the majors in batting with a .336 average, 38 RBI, etc.) and some may agree because he’s their favorite ballplayer.  They use both objective and subjective data to make a conclusion.  Yet, a case could be made for Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and a handful of other players.  Thus, disunity. 

Does doctrine divide?  Yes.  While some use their doctrinal convictions (biblical or no) as weapons against those who disagree, the fact is that doctrinal distinctives from Scripture help divide the true followers of Christ from the false teachers.  In Titus 1:10-16, Paul warned Titus about those who are “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party” (v. 10).  Not only does he say they must be silenced (1:11), but he must “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of the people who turn away from the truth” (1:13-14).  Titus taught what was in accord with sound (healthy) biblical doctrine as a way to rebuke and silence the heretics “that they may be sound in the faith.”  Doctrine unites, bring back those who have gone astray into the fold.  By compromising and placating, they would become leaven to the community (1 Corinthians 5:6) but also be seen as condoning and accepting false beliefs that would destroy their very souls!  Truth separates the wheat from the tares! 

What say you?  Of what profit is doctrine to the church of Jesus Christ?

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Results of the Fall of Man

“As a result of the fall, the descent into sin has continued unabated ever since.  A respect for authority was replaced by rebellion. A clear conscience was replaced by guilt and shame. Blessing was replaced by physical, spiritual, and eternal punishment. Viewing God as a friend to walk with was replaced by viewing him as an enemy to hide from. Trust was replaced by fear. Love was replaced by indifference and even hatred. Intimacy with God was replaced by separation from God. Freedom to obey God was replaced by enslavement to sin. Honesty was replaced with lying and deceit. Self-sacrifice was replaced by self-centeredness. Peace was replaced by restlessness. Responsibility was replaced by blaming. Authenticity was replaced by hiding.”

— Mark Driscoll, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, p. 147-48.

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Links to Help Your Grip (3.29.10)

  • John Piper’s upcoming leave is a humble lesson for us all.
  • Russell Moore’s article warns the church about losing its blood:  “The eclipse of blood in American Christianity has quite a bit to do, I suspect, with American prosperity.”
  • Check out our new Neighbors to the Nations blog, set up for our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.
  • Crossway has released a free chapter on Worship from Driscoll’s "Doctrine" http://ow.ly/16Ukru
  • My afternoon at the IMB International Learning Center http://ow.ly/16UgVR
  • Hershael York, professor at Southern Seminary and pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky tells us when eschatology matters most (hint: its not in a classroom or backroom debate). 
  • My friend, Mark Combs who is pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Salem, Kentucky, wrote an insightful article on the recent health care legislation passed in Washington, D.C., last week.   
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Driscoll on Oprah/Tolle Pantheism/Panentheism

Pastor Mark Driscoll examines Luke 2, where an angel announces the birth of Jesus, Christ the Lord, to shepherds in a field. The angel reveals how we are to see Jesus. We are not to insert him into a false ideology (e.g., atheism, deism, pantheism/panentheism, or theism) that offers no hope, no good news, no savior. Rather, we are to praise Jesus like the angels, Mary, and the shepherds did.

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