July 17, 2006 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Doctrine is often downplayed today in favor of ecumenical unity. The following statement by pop singer Pat Boone, who is a Charismatic Christian, typifies the popular attitude toward doctrine:
“Doctrine divides, experience unites. We don’t all have our doctrine all completely correct, but God doesn’t judge us on our understanding of doctrine” (Pat Boone, August 17, 2001, cited from Calvary Contender, Sept. 15, 2001).
Boone claims that since allegedly don’t have our doctrine completely correct and God doesn’t judge us about doctrine, let’s just focus on unity. This idea is widely held. Many have written to me and said in effect, “Who do you think you are? Do you believe that your doctrine is right and everyone else’s is wrong? You can’t know that.”
But this is not what the Bible says.
The Bible says the believer CAN know sound doctrine.
In 2 Timothy 2:15 the believer is commanded to rightly divide the Word of God.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
To rightly divide the Word of God means to interpret it properly and to know its doctrine correctly. Why would God require a Christian to rightly divide the Word of Truth unless He would give him the ability to do that? This verse indicates that God will hold the Christian accountable for this task, because only the one who rightly divides the word of truth is approved.
The Bible tells us exactly how to know the correct doctrine.
1. We know sound doctrine through obedience. The Lord Jesus Christ gave the following promise in regard to knowing sound doctrine: “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). To know sound doctrine one must be willing to obey the truth. If a man is open to the truth and willing to obey God, the Lord will give him wisdom so that he will be able to discern sound doctrine from false. In Proverbs 1:23, God says, “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” God has promised to make His truth known to those who submit themselves to Him.
2. We know sound doctrine through continuing in God’s Word. The Lord Jesus made another promise in regard to knowing the truth, as follows: “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). This precious promise clearly states that a child of God can know the truth. To do so, he must continue in God’s Word. This means he must read it, study it, memorize it, love it, and seek to obey it.
3. We know sound doctrine through the Holy Spirit. 1 Jn. 2:20-21 says, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” Verse 27 says further, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” Thus the Scriptures plainly state that the believer has the Holy Spirit to teach him and he can thereby know the truth.
If the ecumenical philosophy is correct and a believer cannot be certain of sound doctrine, the commandments and promises of God make no sense.