INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE DOCTRINES
Doctrine to the church is what a foundation is to a building. It is the article of faith on which a believer’s faith is anchored. A building with a weak foundation will collapse under intense unfavorable weather and environmental conditions while a building with solid foundation will weather through storms (Matthew 7:24-27). A believer’s steadfastness and stability in the Lord is dependent on a firm grasp of the Truth revealed in the Bible (Ephesians 4:13, 14). Whereas, lack of knowledge leads to backsliding and destruction (Hosea 4:6). In a world of error and deceit engineered by Satan and his hosts (John 8:44), a believer needs to be well grounded in the truth in order to frontally attack every lie of Satan if he is to remain in faith (Matthew 4:3,4). The early believers understood perfectly the need to be grounded in the doctrines. Both old and young engaged in spiritual activities that built up their Christian character and convictions. They studied the doctrines, prayed and celebrated the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:41-47). It should be observed that, the study of the doctrines took a place of pre-eminence in their ministry. These Spirit-directed activities of the early saints led to the phenomenal growth of the early Church. Apart from this, it brought about boldness, steadfastness, and growth (Daniel 11:32; Acts 4:19,20), to the extent that the whole of Jerusalem was filled with Christ’s doctrine (Act 5:28).
Paul understood the centrality of Bible doctrines to Christian maturity, hence he counseled the Ephesian Christians
that spiritual gifts were endowed them in order to teach doctrines that will bring about Christian perfection (Ephesians 4:11-14). His counsel to Timothy, his son in the Lord was: “Take heed unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shall both save thyself and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:16). Paul’s counsel to Titus who was left in Crete to set things that are wanting in order was that he should “hold fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9).
As believers, workers, preachers, missionaries, and leaders like Paul, Timothy and Titus, our steadfastness to the end is dependent on the understanding of the bible doctrines (I Timothy 4:16). Also, the salvation of our congregation depends on their understanding of the doctrines. A thorough understanding of the doctrines then is indispensable to all members of the church. The strength or weakness of the church depends to a large extent on the members attitude to the doctrines (I Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 3:16; John 5:39; Deuteronomy 4:4-9).
The doctrines which the church stands upon are not mere dogmas or the opinions of men. They are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:15,16).
The Bible clearly teaches on Repentance, Restitution, Marriage, New Heaven and Hell among others. These Bible doctrines explicitly reveal treasures that a Christian cannot do without. The reason and hope of our faith are embedded in these doctrines (I Peter 3:15).
Every believer today in the church, old or young needs to benefit from the doctrines of Christ. This can only come about through in-depth study, prayerful meditation and internalization of truths studied and a faithful practice of these teachings (2 Timothy 2:15).
Neglect of doctrines and the pursuit of superficiality have done incalculable damage to the church in our generation. Emphasis on activities with the attendant neglect of personal Bible study has ruined many lives. Thus, superficial Christian living, backsliding, lukewarmness, worldliness and entertainment of false teaching are rampant in Christendom (Hosea 4:6).
We are in perilous times (2 Timothy 3:1-5); and to be able to hold our heads above the water, we must earnestly contend for the faith. Believers are on the battlefield and we must do violence with Satan and his hosts before we can have entrance into heaven (Matthew 11:12). Our chief weapon of warfare is the truth which is embedded in the doctrines. Knowledge of the truth will set us free from the lies of Satan, and it will also guarantee our true freedom in Christ (John 8:32). In order to counteract Satan’s strategies, we need to dig deep into the doctrines.
The mission of the church as light to the world (Matthew 5:16) is only achievable with a grasp of the foundational truth or God’s word. A church that is ignorant cannot teach the world, as the blind cannot lead the blind. Clearly stated, the unchanging mission of the church is to evangelize and teach the world (Matthew 28:19,20). This responsibility falls on individual believers within the fold today. It is the aggregate that makes the whole; and without a well informed congregation, the church would be unable to fulfill this goal. Knowledge of the basic foundational truths greatly helped the early church to fulfill its mission. They were able to establish new converts, confront the errors of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and endure the persecution of their opposers.
The time has come to accomplish Christ’s mission to the world. But the battle for truth can only be fought by the enlightened believer. As individual members of the church, we ought to arise today and fill the gap left by the saints of old.