Monday, January 16, 2012

The Morning After: Our Doctrine

I am now in the middle of a series that I have called Investigating Cornerstone. I am taking six weeks to talk about our church. Who are we? What kind of church do we want to be? What is the purpose of church? And many other questions. Last week, we dealt with our mission statement, that we exist to glorify God in all things. Yesterday, I moved on to talk about doctrine. Specifically, I wanted to share with everyone why I feel doctrine or theology is extremely important in the life of a church. 

I simply define doctrine as what someone believes about some particular topic about God, religion, or the Christian Faith. In that case, everyone has a doctrine. Everyone is a theologian. The questions is not whether we have views of God; the question is whether those views are biblical or not. Are we a good theologian or hold to some false doctrine.

Of course, we wanted to take some time to walk through our doctrinal statement. But more than that, I wanted to take the time to explain why doctrine matters. The bulk of my message was trying to convince people why every Christian should not be scared of the term, doctrine, but should be actively studying it. I gave three reasons.

First, We Should Study Doctrine In Order To Obey Jesus' Command. Some of the last parting words of Jesus to His followers is known as the Great Commission. Jesus briefly explains to His men that as they go throughout the world, they are to be baptizing people in His name. This certainly assumes a conversion experience, which would mean they would have to know something in order to be saved. But then once someone is saved, the process of making a disciple is just beginning. They are to be taught to do all that Jesus commanded them. Jesus commands us to teach others, which inherently means that we are to know all that He commanded. That's the study of doctrine.

Throughout the early church, they took seriously the teaching of God's truth. They wrestled with it. They sought to defend the truth of God. Why? Because that is what Jesus had commanded them to do. And as we give ourselves to study the truth of God, we are taking the first step towards obedience to the commands of Jesus.

Second, We Should Study Doctrine In Order To Love God With Our Mind. At one point in the ministry of Jesus, He summarized the Law by saying that we should love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37). We live in a culture that is continually trying to dumb us down. We live in a world that focuses more on what we feel than what we think. We live in a world that makes excuses that didn't even exist until a couple generations ago. We live in a world where we are inundated by technology and moving graphics that create in us short attention spans. And in this world in which we live, we want things easy and fast.

So to study doctrine, which is hard and slow, usually takes a back seat and is left for the experts. But maybe that is exactly what we need. We need to be challenged to think more critically about God and our life.

Third, We Should Study Doctrine In Order To Grow Spiritually. We always live out of what we know. The only way I can fully love my wife is if I know her more and more. It would seem ridiculous to tell her that I do not want to know any more of her, but am content with my knowledge. How much more ridiculous would that be of our relationship to God? Spending time getting to know God allows us to love Him more deeply. It allows us to serve Him more passionately. It allows us to give more generously. It allows us to honor Him more reverently.

We cannot love that which we do not know. The Puritans used to say that we should never study doctrine, but we live it. It is practical. It all speaks into our life. Our view of the Hypostatic Union should speak into how I live my life today. It should help us grow.

I believe that doctrine matters. I did spend a bit of time at the end of the message walking through what our church believes. You can find the message at our church website. 

What do you think? Do you think that doctrine is important for the life of the church?

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