There are two types of pressure the church faces today. Pressure from the outside (which my previous posts addressed) and pressures from within the church.
Outside the church, we must practice speaking the truth in love despite the consequences. It is because we love people, that we hold out the truth to them.
Inside the church, we must also practice speaking the truth in love despite the consequences. But since everyone thinks they have truth –the consequence is – fractions, divisions, arguments and a stain on the church.
So what do we do? Do we just all agree to disagree?
This seems to be the resounding message I am experiencing in the evangelical blogging world.
Should we all unite around the gospel? (I will address this topic next Monday)
The question I want to answer today is —-can truth be known?
Some have claimed that for centuries theologians have disagreed on certain doctrines in scripture, therefore, no one really knows for sure whose interpretation is correct.
I disagree with this. That is philosophical reasoning friends and NOT Biblical.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”
So is scripture sufficient for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness or is it uncertain?
The Apostle Paul surely thought it was possible to know. He not only wrote over 10 of the New Testament books of the Bible –filled with doctrine– but he also exhorted believers to know doctrine, not waver on it and to expel those who did not put up with sound doctrine! This is a tall order friends.
But before we hop right into the New Testament verses stating this. Let’s look at what Jesus said about this. Immediately following Jesus’ resurrection He said to his disciples:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
This is the Great Commission. Within the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to teach others to obey everything Jesus commanded. This means his words are both understandable and meant to be obeyed.
What is sound doctrine?
It’s that simple and that complex! Sound doctrine is scriptural teaching on theological truths.
Truth – sound doctrine – matters. Those who do not know the truth about salvation cannot be saved. Those who do not know the truth about holiness cannot break free from sin. God’s word gives us instruction not only for salvation but marriage, parenting, use of finances, serving, order in the church, order in the home, purity and much more.
I Timothy 6:3-5 says:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Galatians 1:8 says:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
Colossians 2:8 says:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
2 Timothy 2:15 says:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
I recently heard a well known speaker tell a room full of believers, they do not need to defend God’s word. It can defend itself. Basically, she was saying, Christians need to calm down and not be so uptight about “truth”. But I read in 2 Timothy, we are to guard sound teaching.
2 Timothy 1:13,14
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Titus 1:9 says of an elder:
9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
2 Timothy 4:2-5 says says:
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
I Timothy 4:16 says:
16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
These next verses are interesting…we will talk a little more about this next week. But please look at the context of how Paul looks at sound doctrine in I Timothy.
I Timothy 1:3-11
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
We see 3 things in I Timothy 1:
1.) Paul told Timothy to “command certain people to not teach false doctrines any longer” (v 3).
Timothy was to speak up! Guard and defend the truth.
2.) He told Timothy, “the goal of this command is love” (v5).
Why should he speak up? Out of love. Good doctrine leads to a life of love.
3.) Then we have a list of “ungodly and sinful and unholy and irreligious” deeds (v 9) and after this list of deeds they are said to be “contrary to sound doctrine” (v 10) that conforms to the gospel (v 11).
So we see that doctrine is more than simply the gospel but it also pertains to life, ethics and morality. Evil deeds and behaviors find root in a lack of sound doctrine and become gospel issues.
Titus 1:1 says that truth leads to godliness. If we do not know God’s word and his truth, we cannot refute false doctrine and we cannot grow in godliness. Sound doctrine is about more than just the gospel. And so next Monday, we’ll talk about the idea of “agreeing to disagree” and the question “should we just unite around the gospel”?
But until then – I have one more set of verses to share. (Seriously friends – it was very hard to not make this post incredibly long because the Bible has so much to say on this topic!)
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisionsand put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
If we are going to know truth and be able to refute error – we must be in the word daily. We must read it and know it and not be afraid to defend it.
Are you able to detect error when you hear or see it? When you do detect it, do you respond Biblically as we see in the passages above or do you shove it under the rug and chalk it up to just different interpretations of the Bible? Remember that sometimes God uses these situations to draw us deeper into his word so we will grow in godliness.
Walk with the King,
The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing