Recently my lovely wife Joselyn was invited by a coworker to her church. It is always a pleasant feeling to a Christian to be invited to another house of worship; especially when it’s someone you know or have regular contact with. It is a completely different and troublesome feeling, however, when you go to this “church” only to find out that the teaching there is anything but Christian. Sadly the latter feeling was the case for my wife. She kindly and eagerly went to her coworker’s church only to find it teaching contrary doctrine to orthodox Christianity. Behind the pulpit the pastor openly denied and attempted to debunk such essential doctrines of the Christian faith such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, and justification by faith alone in Christ. This group by the way is Iglesia ni Cristo which in English is translated “church of Christ.” This group is not affiliated with the Campbellite restoration movement,”Church of Christ”, even though they have the same doctrinal stances regarding water baptismal regeneration and the belief that they are the one true church. As me and Joselyn prayerfully prepare for our soon to come conversation with this coworker, I am reminded of the importance of sound doctrine as a Christian. Unlike the Trinity Broadcasting Network which can feature Trinitarians and Modalists having fellowship on the same platform, under the banner of Jesus, as if their opposing views are minor doctrinal issues, sound doctrine derived from the Bible is needed in order to join us unto Christian orthodoxy and protect us from heresy. In this blog we will see the Biblical emphasis put on the importance for having sound doctrine. In the next blog we will put it to work by examining Iglesia ni Cristo.
Doctrine or teaching is in no way foreign to the Bible. Both in the Old and New Testament we see the word doctrine mentioned many times: 51 times in 50 verses in the King James Bible. These numbers, however, fluctuate from translation to translation. Solomon spoke of teaching doctrine in Proverbs 4:2, “For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.” Solomon saw the need to give his son good doctrine and of course it is only good doctrine if it is in fact sound doctrine! We can also draw from this the importance for parents to have sound doctrine themselves in order to give sound doctrine to their children. The doctrine parents pass on to their children will shape their worldview either for better or for worst both now and for all eternity. God saw this need and gave instruction on when to begin teaching sound doctrine, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts (Isaiah 28:9).” We see here that for parents teaching sound doctrine begins very early in a child’s life. Teaching sound doctrine to children is taught both in verbal and non-verbal ways. Verbal ways such as “don’t lie, tell the truth,” and non-verbal ways such as pulling a baby away from a electrical socket.
In seeing the need for good doctrine as we saw in the Old Testament, it is only reasonable to beware of false doctrine. In the New Testament we see warnings about false doctrine. In Matthew 16:12 Jesus warns His disciples about the false doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducee’s, “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducee’s.” Jesus was no stranger to dealing with false doctrine. In Matthew 22 alone He dealt with two false doctrines: The Sadducee’s denial of the resurrection and the Pharisees doctrine of the Christ being the son of David. How much more then should we do the same in our day and age? This is only possible of course if we as Christians have sound doctrine ourselves. The Apostle Paul spoke of the need for being mature in Christian doctrine by giving us a descriptive picture of what a Christian without sound doctrine looks like, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph. 4:14).” A good example of this is the founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo Felix Manalo. Felix came up in the Catholic church, then left them and studied the doctrines of various denominations and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. From this he formulated what is now the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo which consist of Campbellite and Jehovah’s Witness theology. This is why the Apostle Paul saw the need for us as Christians to be nourished in sound doctrine (I Timothy 4:6).
Finally it is the responsibility of those of us who are teachers, preachers, and pastors to make sure sound doctrine is being taught to those whom God has giving to feed spiritually. Teaching the Word of God is a great responsibility to us who teach it to others. So much so that James tell us in James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” Those of us who teach God’s Word are under God’s radar. God holds us accountable for how we teach His Word in every area from Christian living (Christian ethics) to doctrine (theology). This is why apologetics is so important. Apologetics is present because false doctrine is present: both theologically and philosophically. Sound doctrine exposes and corrects false doctrine. Sound doctrine exposes false doctrines such as Jesus being a created being and sound doctrine exposes and corrects false philosophical doctrines such as moral relativism. Where false doctrine exist, sound doctrine must be proclaimed in order to expose false doctrine for what it is. Those of us who are teachers of God’s Word are giving this sweet piece of instruction, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).” This is done both by teaching sound doctrine and exposing false doctrine, Every Christian teacher is more than happy to proclaim the glorious truths of God, but very few want to be Christ-like in exposing false doctrine like Jesus did. God hates false doctrine (Rev. 2:15), so it is critically important for us to have sound doctrine rooted deep within us and expose false doctrine.
In conclusion we see that there is STILL a dire need today for sound doctrine. It is our responsibility to pursue sound doctrine at all cost. Many Christians in the past have died because of false doctrine and their stance for sound doctrine while many more lost family, friends, jobs, and social status of other sorts in the name of sound doctrine. Reformer Martin Luther lost his social status with the Catholic church because of sound doctrine and exposing Catholicism’s many false doctrines such as indulgences. I’m pretty sure C.S. Lewis lost his social status in the world of atheism when he believed in the existence of God and received the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ and the gospel. I lost the vast majority of my friends in the Church of Christ when I left them due to embracing the sound doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To have sound doctrine is costly, but it’s worth it in knowing who God is and what God wants from us. A Christian cannot truly know God and have a relationship with Him on the basis of religious experience alone. It is this plus sound doctrine as well which will make a healthy and meaningful relationship with God possible. Sound doctrine is the sure and solid foundation which Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:24-27. Without this solid foundation called sound doctrine, we are destined to fall and be destroyed by Satan and his doctrine of demons.