The Importance of Biblical Doctrine.

REFORMED FREE PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

The Importance of Doctrine

BLOG POST | October 22, 2018

Doctrine is not highly regarded anymore. In many evangelical churches there is such ignorance of doctrine that even the fundamentals of Christianity are not well understood. Even in churches that remain faithful in their teaching and preaching, there is often little interest in learning and understanding doctrine. The youth are, for the most part, bored by it, and their elders are content with a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of the Reformed faith.

Very often the symptom of this lack of doctrine is a constant agitation for more “practical” preaching and teaching along with a greater emphasis on liturgy and on the other parts of the worship service until the sermon is all but squeezed out. On the part of the preachers themselves, one finds less and less biblical exposition and more and more illustration, storytelling, and entertainment.

Symptomatic of doctrinal indifference in the private lives of God’s people is complete disinterest in reading good Reformed books and periodicals. In some cases these are purchased and not read; in others there is not sufficient interest even to purchase them. If any reading at all is done, it is superficial, mostly of the “how-to” variety. Almost nothing of substance is read, and most would consider a book of doctrine too deep even though their fathers and grandfathers, who had far less education, not only were able to read theology, but read it widely and well.

If the church and the lives of God’s people are to be rescued from superficiality, decline, and all the church troubles that afflict us today, there must be a return to doctrine. For proof we need look no further than the great Reformation of the sixteenth century. Above all, the Reformation was a return to doctrine—to the doctrines of justification by faith alone, of sovereign grace, of the church, and of the sacraments. Without an interest in or return to doctrine, we cannot even hope for revival and renewal in the church.

In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 the Word of God tells us that Scripture is profitable for many things, but for doctrine first of all. Indeed, if it does not first teach us doctrine, it is not profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. To all of these, doctrine is not only first, but also foundational.

Scripture emphasizes the importance of doctrine in other ways. We learn from John 17:3 that the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is eternal life. Nothing is more important than that. Doctrine, properly taught, understood, and believed, is that knowledge of God and of his Son. Scripture teaches nothing else. “Search the scriptures,” Jesus says, “for they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Let us, then, give heed to doctrine. It is the province not only of the theologians but of every one who desires life eternal. Let us not set doctrine aside in the interest of more “practical” matters, but understand that doctrine reproves, corrects, and teaches the way of righteousness. Above all, it brings us face-to-face with the living God himself, in whom we live and move and have our being. To be without doctrine is to be without God.

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This excerpt was taken from the introduction of Doctrine according to Godliness, written by Ronald Hanko.
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War of Words (13)

War of Words

Chapter 13

Choosing our Words

Reading Ephesians 5:11-32 (especially verses 15,25,29-32)

Two major lessons that stood out from this book:

  1. How our words can hurt or bless (be means of grace).
  2. How what is in our heart influences what we say. When God is ruling in our hearts we win the war of words.

And supplementary to these how the control of our tongues is an accurate spiritual gauge of our sanctification (James 3:2).

When in conversation in fellowship or witness we always need to ask for wisdom (James 1:5) believing God will answer and then need to ask ourselves (whenever possible and we have time):

  1. What truths of Scripture apply here?
  2. What does God want to reveal about himself?
  3. What does God want to show this person about themselves or others (perhaps knock a few more bricks off their wall of self-deception)?
  4. What is God calling this person to do?
  5. How do I get this person to understand?

Things not to do (in all circumstances): Vent rage instead of exercising self-control, clam up or hold back, manifest self-love and be manipulating others to meet our personal desires.

Wholesome talk is:

Other-centred (for their benefit).

From a heart that loves God and one’s neighbour (not our will/desires)

Considers who the person is.

Considers what their need is e.g. confession, repentance.

Ask open-ended questions that enable them to examine the situation, their motives and behaviour and see themselves in the mirror of God’s word.

Forgives when called to and circumstances dictate.

Grounded on the “one another” commands and applicable promises of God e.g. Luke 21:15, II Cor.9:8.

 

Next Study (DV)   Sat. January 20th  2018 to consider Acts chapter 1:1-8 using Hoeksema’s BS guide (£5 at CPRC).

War of Words (12)

War of Words

Chapter 12

Winning the War of Words

“Our words are the principal tool God uses in the work he does through us.”

Hence the need to choose when or when not to speak (or write) and to choose our words carefully.

We must refuse to let our words be governed by passion or personal desire.

If our conscience pricks us we should apologise to the one offended even if it is just to admit to a sinful attitude. It is also often helpful to others if we humbly confess our need and personal struggles.

The purpose of all human relationships, especially in the church, is to rescue people ensnared by sin, reconcile people to God and restore them to the image of Christ. This alongside edifying them and seeking unity.

The key considerations in winning the war are:

  • Recognising the destructive power of words
  • Affirming our freedom in Christ
  • Saying no to the sinful nature
  • Speaking to serve others in love
  • Talking in the Spirit
  • Goal to restore

We shared about our personal battlegrounds which are usually are in the family with anger and irritation being the principle sins. Sadly our words may fall on deaf ears but we have done our duty if we have confronted the sin (as Isaiah 6:9,10).

We referred to recent article in saltshakers, “Speaking the truth in love and boldness” by Jonathan Langerack which emphasised that loving the truth (The word/Gospel) is loving God and which will necessarily mean our speech loves our neighbour but also our need to respectfully and clearly confront them (Lev.19:17) as Paul did in I Corinthians and Galatians.

 

Next BS (DV) December 30th 8pm last chapter of War of Words ” Choosing our words.”

Next year (DV) we start study guide on Acts by Mark Hoeksema (RFPA)

War of Words (11)

CPRC Men’s BS

War of Words Chapter 11

“First things First”

  1. This chapter is all about heart cleansing which underlies all we say. This is necessary so we can be used positively in the lives of others.

“ Ephesians 5:16 (and Col.4:5) Redeeming the time, Or “buying time”; it denotes a careful and diligent use of it, an improvement of it to the best advantage; and shows that it is valuable and precious, and is not to be trifled with, and squandered away, and be lost, as it may be; for it can neither be recalled nor prolonged: and taking it for an opportunity of doing good to ourselves or others, it signifies that no opportunity of discharging our duty to God and man, of attending on the word and ordinances of the Gospel, and to the private and public exercises of religion, of gaining advantage to our own souls, or of gaining the souls of others, and of doing good either to the bodies or souls of men, should be neglected; but even all risks should be run, and means used to enjoy it: and the reason the apostle gives for the redemption of time is,because the days are evil; as such are, in which iniquity abounds, and many wicked men live, and errors and heresies prevail, and are days of affliction or persecution;” John Gill

Similarly redeeming words buy them back from sin and bring blessing. In the case of Bob and Mary he needed to repent of his resentment against her and his hurtful words especially in front of the children. In his and most cases anger begets anger and James 1:20 states that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.

  1. Stages in repentance: Consideration (of wrong done)

Confession (of sin/attitude)

Commitment (to change)

Change -it means putting off and putting on (Eph. 4:22-24)

 

  1. Wrong attitudes in relation to God/others which would negate any effort to help others:

Doubt, fear, anger (unrighteous), vengeance, self-righteousness, selfishness and hopelessness.

With Bob and Mary there needed to be soul-searching and heart preparation.

  1. Heart preparation (our attitude and putting on Christ) when confronting others:

Wisdom (pray!)

Mercy and judgment (like the cross)

Compassion (sympathy) and humility (we are all the same)

Kindness, gentleness, patience (impatience produces anger)

Forgiving (based on repentance)

Use the word of Christ

Forbearing (when provoked not to retaliate)

Love-willingness to sacrifice for the other, wanting their best.

Peace-inner rest and confidence in the power, rule and grace of Christ.

  1. We do this by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:13). We must never underestimate the power that is in us (II Peter 1:3)-we have the resources over and against our (and their) old totally depraved old man. We need to continually pray Ps. 139:23-24.

 

Next study (DV) Sat. Dec. 10th 8pm  Chapter 12  “Winning the War”

 

 

War of Words (10)

CPRC Men’s Bible Study
War of Words Chapter 10
On the King’s Mission
Readings Lev.19:15-18, Heb. 3:13, 10:24,25.
The subject once again appears to be mutual exhortation in the church, caring body ministry and confronting the sin of our neighbour (outside church).
God’s response to sin as in Eden is always judgment AND redemption.
We have to recognise our part in God’s redemptive plan for others (this should be the subject of constant prayer). We are to be conduits of his love (II Cor.5:20).
Wrong attitudes to sin among brethren:
Hatred, revenge, bearing a grudge
Slander
Favouritism
We have our part in the Great Commission, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This means every believer ministry, exemplary lifestyle, concerns justification and sanctification, loving neighbour as self and remembering a rebuke is not condemnation but a call to follow the Lord.
Examples in Scripture of confrontation and a call to repentance: Nathan/David, Paul/Peter, Jesus/Peter. And of comfort and encouragement; Jonathan/David.
When troubles come pray, seek Scripture or recall promises and comfort. Consider what God is doing.
Don’t take it all personally and retaliate when annoyed, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”
View relationships as redemptive and an opportunity; be ready to be instruments in the repentance and obedience in others.
Don’t be put off by fear of offending, though you need wisdom whether you are the right person. Use discretion in waiting for the right opportunity. Remember we are unique and perhaps the one and only person fitted to be his mouthpiece e.g. George and his shooting friends, Julian and friends in gym/rowing/running.
Specially pray for those who are “on our radar” in this regard and never forget that the gospel is the power of God (Rom.1:16,17). Welcome and take every God-given opportunity.

Next study (DV) Chapter 11, “First things first” Saturday November 11th 8pm

War of Words (9)

CPRC Men’s Bible Study       War of Words       Chapter 9 “Citizens in need of help.”

We are all citizens of the Kingdom needing help and called to give it.

Why might we need to confront another believer?

  • If they were committing obvious sin or keeping bad company.
  • If they were believing and sharing false doctrine.
  • If they had offended you.

In confronting, exhorting or comforting someone remember:

PITFALLS PROPER AIMS
Pride-we are no better! Humility/meekness (willing to take abuse)
Being indiscreet (e.g. doing it in public) Reconciliation
Being bitter/wanting revenge/in anger Love for person (wanting their best)
Wrong information Repentance/confession
Matters of no great import (adiaphora) Rom.14 Submission to will of God
Unloving accusation Encouraging/guiding
Judging motives Glory of God

 

Process of backsliding (Heb.3:12-13). Sin leads to unbelief leads to turning away leads to hardening.

Need wisdom if and when to confront or just pray (II Tim.2:25).

The ONE ANOTHER verses:

Exhort (Heb.3:13, 10:25), Be subject (I Peter 5:5), Minister (I Peter 4:9-10), Have compassion ( I Peter 3:8), Pray for and confess faults to (James 5:16), Do not speak evil (James 4:10-11), Provoke (Heb.10:24), Edify ( I Thess.5:11, Rom.14:19) meaning spiritual conversation, Comfort (I Thess. 4:18), Teach and admonish (Col.3:16, Rom.15:14), Prefer (Rom.12:10), Love (John 13:34-35, I John 2 !0), Peace (Mark 9:50), Forgive/confess asap/seek restoration and acceptance after (Eph.4:26, II Cor.2:7), Be kind (Eph.4:32), Forbear (Eph.4:1), Rebuke false teachers (Titus 1:13), Entreat elder (I Tim.5:1).

Lies we believe: “He/she’ll never change”, “I can’t forgive”, “humility leads to being trodden underfoot/drudgery”. Remember God’s omnipotence and promises.

A mnemonic to help in these situations SLAB (for building)

S          use SCRIPTURE

L          LISTEN

A         ALLOW A RESPONSE

B          BUILD UP/ENCOURAGE

 

 

We shared a few examples where we had been confronted and also certain besetting sins that keep us humble but which we seek to kill ruthlessly according to Job 31:1, Rom.8:13 and Matt.5:29.

Next study (DV) Sat. 28th October 2017 8pm on chapter 10 “On the King’s Mission”.

War of Words (8)

War of Words


Chapter 8
“Getting to the Destination”
Some believers might cave in to Satan’s suggestion that someone or some group could never change but that would be contrary to Scripture that states God sanctifies his people and church. If the intransigent one is not a believer, truly he or she may get worse! It is always our duty to forgive those who repent, confess and apologise for an offense.
Allowing sinful anger or using demeaning words or names are two sins of the tongue we ought to regret.
The promises of God regarding sins of the tongue and our general need for encouragement are I John 1:9, James 5:16, James 1:5, Psalm 141:3, II Cor.12:9, Romans 6:14, 8:35 and Eph.3:20. He promises forgiveness, cleansing, victory, wisdom and guarding.
A key prayer would be asking for wisdom in words used in the home, in church and on internet.

Key portions of the chapter.

  • The destination (of sanctified speech) is reachable. We ought to thank God for our conscience and feelings of guilt which he brings for different sins and at different times in our lives. (We may remain careless about a besetting sin for a long time!)
    We are assured that we are more than conquerors not only in persecution and hardship but also over sin and death.
  • The fruit of our lips is always worth consideration. It should be: encouraging, loving and wise. It may need to be exhortatory.
  • It should never be bitter, unforgiving, foolish.
  • Only God can reveal to us the heart sin that is the root of sinful words (Luke 6:45, I John 1:9).
  • Confession to God and others (especially those offended) is necessary a.s.a.p. (Eph. 4:26,32).
  • We ought to commit ourselves to not demean, call names and get angry sinfully.
  • When opportunity arises where we would normally sin let us put the old man to death, avail ourselves of God’s grace (by prayer) and put on the new man!
  • Think before you speak (Prov.15:28).
  • Important tools against Satan intruding into relationships are: absolute honesty and a willingness to listen (approach-ability).

Next Study (DV) Saturday October 7th on chapter 9 entitled “Citizens in Need of Help.”

War of Words (7)

CPRC Men’s BS

War of Words Chapter 7

Speaking for the King

I found the book “Ye are my witnesses” from 2012 BRF conference to be the best source on this (£5 from CPRC bookshop)

What is witness?

Tripp rightly says our words are to glorify the King and we are his ambassadors and our lives and lips are to testify of Christ our Lord by the Holy Spirit (John 15:25-26).

Why witness?

The command and empowerment (Acts 1:8, II Cor.5:20)

The motivation for us is the love of Christ that draws us away from self (nay it kills self). This substitutionary love is the most compelling argument for change (repentance) and is the only and most powerful means of accomplishing it.

To whom are we witnesses?

Believers and unbelievers, family and acquaintances. Our godly responses and behaviour around them is vital. It may require reproof (Eph.5:11).

What is the aim?

To see people come into the fellowship of the church (Kingdom).

Outcome?

We know witness has the effect of drawing people to Christ, bearing fruit in lives but also hardening others. It may bring persecution and suffering.

Content?

Repentance and faith in the salvation of Christ. Christ’s precepts (10 C). All Reformed truth. Also our personal hope and expectation and meaning in life. Defence of the truth.

What do we need?

Courage and prayerfulness (Acts 2)

Do we take the initiative or wait for opportunities?

If led, we take the initiative, but it’s always encouraging to be asked because then we know we have real interest and God is at work. (I Peter 3:15).

Next study Chapter 8 of “War of Words” on “Getting to the Destination”, Saturday Sept 16th 8pm

 

 

 

War of Words (Chapter 6)

CPRC Men’s B.S.


War of Words Chapter 6
Following Christ for the wrong reasons
Reading John 6:26-40

  1. Can we profess to follow Christ for the wrong motives? Yes! Tripp gives the example of a man who was bitter with God as things went wrong in his life and a woman whose husband did not love her. Had these people counted the cost? Were they not like those who Christ warned only followed him for the food he provided and for the possibility of an earthly kingdom free of the Romans? Jesus says his people will go through tribulation (John 16:33). The “followers” in John 6 left him when confronted with their own inability, the sovereignty of God in salvation and the exhortation to seek their only satisfaction in the true bread of life, himself. If we say we follow him and have selfish reasons or complain of providence we lie and if we backslide by seeking to satisfy other ambitions other than Christ and his kingdom we will become bitter and discontented. The pure motives of Job and Habakkuk (Job 1:20-21, Hab.3:17-19) are outstanding compared with the mercenary motives of Judas Iscariot and Simon Magus and the pride of King Saul. Trials should not cause us to doubt the love of the King but rather convince us of it! Godly responses to trial and affliction glorify God because there is nothing selfish or of self-interest in them. Indeed we are humbled, hurt and held up to contempt in them.

2. So why do we follow Christ? Because he is the only Saviour, is worthy and we are thankful, love him and want to glorify him. This is the Christ-centred life.

3. Can we be side-tracked? Yes! The desire for glory (fame or position), money /possessions (lust of the eyes), self-gratification (greed, sexual sin) or just elevating family, marriage or friendship with people above love for Christ will all choke our spiritual lives like weeds and kill the good plant if not rooted out (parable of sower). All these are self-centred. See Luke 12:15, Matthew 10:37.

4. What are we to seek first? His Kingdom and righteousness-loving him by obeying all the commandments, doing good works which will bring reward, being good stewards of all we have (for increased responsibility in glory), laying up treasure in heaven (qualities of faith, purity and spiritual fruit produced in others by our witness/teaching). I Cor.3, I Peter 1:3-9.

5. What glorifies God? Loving God with heartfelt praise and thanks (Psalm 50:23), suffering patiently (I Peter 2:19 and Peter told of his death John 21:19), true conversions (Gal.1:24), genuinely loving others.

6. What really satisfies us is oneness with Christ and the fruit of the Spirit (the bread and water of life) and humble submission to his sovereign will.

7. Since our words and actions are shaped by our purposes and motives it is vital to get them right. For this we pray (Psalm 50:10, 139:23-24). Selfishness rather than Christ-centredness will, if thwarted, bring out rebellion, complaining, anger, hurting others, using others and feigned spirituality. Contrariwise godliness with contentment is great gain (Psalm 75:23, 17:15, Phil.3:10, I Tim.6:6). This will affect what we say, write about on FB, blogs, e-mails or snail mail.

War of Words (Chapter 5)

 

He is King

How ought the sovereignty of God affect our lives/words.

Read Romans 11:33-36.  God clearly rules over all that happens.

Tripp states,” A life of godly communication is rooted in a personal recognition of the sovereignty of God.” Can we prove this from Scripture? Well if we recognise that all that is said to us or done to us is under God’s control we will not do either of four things:

  1. Retaliate (David and Shemei, Christ (I Peter 2:24).
  2. Grumble, complain, show frustration or be disappointed (Phil.2:14, Job 1:21-22). How much of our speaking expresses irritation toward people who get in our way?
  3. Rebel. Miriam and Aaron, all civil rebellion e.g. Adonijah, Absalom.
  4. Envy (Psalm 73:3).

Rather we will respond positively, thanking God, taking the opportunity to witness and recognising God’s sanctifying providence. We will encourage fellow saints in his sovereignty and point to evidences of his loving hand. We will rest in his love/control (Matt.11:28-29, Job 22:21).

All “idol words” will be set aside, words and schemes to get what we want e.g. Jacob and Rebecca.

Tripp gives an excellent definition of fantasy,” An imaginary world of our own making where we are king.”  All fantasy, devoid of reality and almost inevitably selfish and wicked is to be crushed by the Christian.

Tripp then takes us through the spheres where God is King and sovereign:

  • God rules the created universe and every situation (Dan. 4:34-35).
  • God rules over all for the church, for her redemption (Eph. 1:22)
  • God rules over the specific details of our lives, every Christian individual. (Psalms 139, 121).
  • God rules over every aspect of our salvation (Ps.138:8, Phil.1:6).
  • God rules over the circumstances of our sanctification (Eph.1:4-6, Rom.8:17-18, 28-29).
  • God rules over our relationships for our sanctification (Eph.4:12).
  • God rules over everything for his glory.

A.W. Pink’s “Sovereignty of God” is a key and comprehensive work (available on line).

Next study (DV) August 5th on chapter 6, “Wrong motives”.