If you know NFL history you’ll know that the dominant team in the 60’s and 70’s was the Green Bay Packers. They were coached by the great Vince Lombardi. It was said that Coach Lombardi began every new season with a lecture to both the veterans and the rookies on the basics of football. He literally held up a football and said, “This is a football.” He talked about its size and shape, how it can be kicked, carried, or passed.
Can you imagine how “basic” and “fundamental” that must have sounded to his veteran players? And yet maybe that explains why Vince Lombardi was such a successful coach, because he began with the basics.
It is with this idea in mind that I emphasize basic Christian doctrine. I believe Christians today at all levels need to be schooled in the basics. If you believe the mountains of church research done in the last few years by George Barna, Lifeway Research and others, you know that Christians have lost touch with the basics of their faith. Pastors can no longer assume that Christians in their congregations are either fully aware, believe or understand the fundamentals of their faith.
Why is Bible doctrine important?
- Doctrine is important because Jesus thought it was important. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
- Doctrine is important because doctrine is truth and truth will give you freedom. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
- Doctrine is important because we need to discern false teaching. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17).
- Doctrine is important because the decisions we make and the actions we perform is based on what we believe. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…” (Prov. 23:7)
Think about it…
- The doctrine of God helps us rest in His love and power.
- The doctrine of Jesus’ second coming gives us hope in God’s plan in a chaotic world.
- The doctrine of sin gives us an answer to the problem of evil.
- The doctrine of the Holy Spirit gives us power to live victoriously.
- Doctrine is important because we need to know how to share our faith. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15).
I love doctrine. Doctrine is truth and life. But a few things must be considered:
• Believing all the “right things” doesn’t replace a genuine, vibrant, walk with God. Checking off all the doctrinal boxes doesn’t make you a spiritual Christian.
• Let’s not become arrogant about being right. This happens too often. We think we’re the only ones who know the Lord. We think we have a corner on the truth. And that is flat wrong and God hates that. We speak the truth in love. Jesus always balanced grace and truth.
• We often make the mistake of confusing doctrine with those gray areas of the Christian life. Too many argue over nonessentials. We don’t want that. That is legalism. Jesus said to the Pharisees “You teach as doctrine the commandments of men.” If it is clearly in the Bible, let’s preach it. If it is not and it’s our opinion, let’s not raise it up to the level of doctrine.
• Remember grace, God’s unmatched grace, toward sinners.