Sound Doctrine is for Everyone
The term “sound doctrine” is a term that I have always associated with people who know more than me. I thought pastors, seminary students, or biblical scholars dealt with doctrine. It never occurred to me that doctrine was something I should be concerned about. It was always over my head and above my pay grade.
In his book, Sound Doctrine, pastor and author Bobby Jamieson helpfully defines sound doctrine as “a summary of the Bible’s teaching (on a certain topic) that is both faithful to the Bible and useful for life.” This definition is simple and clear. The doctrines (summaries of the Bible’s teaching on a topic) that we ascribe to must be faithful to the Bible—the whole Bible. This part of the definition is vitally important for Christians to grasp. The Bible is our absolute standard of truth (John 17:17) and Jesus tells us if we love Him, we will keep His word (John 14:23).
Benefits of Sound Doctrine for the Christian
Over the past eight years, I have sat under the leadership and teaching at Providence Church. During that time I have also become a father and lived as a Christian in a world ravaged and broken by sin and I have come to realize just how important sound doctrine really is. So should you. The second part of Jamieson’s definition is that sound doctrine is useful for life. Here are some of those areas where it becomes useful.
Sound doctrine shows you how to live.
Sound doctrine brings boundaries to the Christian life. Sound doctrine teaches us how God wants us to live (Phil. 1:9-11, Ps. 119:1-8). It gives us a measure by which we can align our lives with God’s Word and ask the question, “Is this true of me?”
Sound doctrine replaces lies with truth.
Sound doctrine equips you to deal with your own emotions. The reality of sin is all around us, and there are many hard things we have to deal with. Our emotions are affected by sin as well. God’s Word tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” (Jer. 17:9). Our emotions speak loudly at times and tell us lies in the midst of our suffering. Sound doctrine corrects those lies and allows truth to control us instead of our emotions (John 8:31; Prov. 28:26).
Sound doctrine protects you from false doctrine.
This is a big one, especially in our culture of social media where everyone has a platform to share their opinions so freely. There is no place for opinions when it comes to sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is based on what God says, not man. Sound doctrine helps us sniff out false doctrine or teaching from a mile away. False teachers are divisive and mean to pollute the gospel (2 Pet. 2:1-3, 1 Tim. 3:3-5, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, Rom. 16:17). Others may wholeheartedly believe that a doctrine they claim is supported by the Bible (1 Tim. 1:3-7). Either situation requires us to be rooted in sound doctrine so that we can discern what is true (Rom. 12:2) and not be swayed by the enemy (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
Sound doctrine gives you confidence.
Finally, as Christians, we know there are hard truths that people will struggle to accept and inevitably, we will be asked about it. We must endeavor to know what we believe and what the Bible says about it. As Peter encourages, we always need to be ready to give a response for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15).
How can we get sound doctrine (or know that we already have it)?
Be in the Word
If we are to keep God’s word (and have sound doctrine), we must know what His Word says (Deut. 17:19). To know what His Word says, we must read it and hear it regularly (Ps. 1:2). Looking back at our definition above, this means as we read the Bible, we must read it in context of what all of scripture says.
Go to Church
We also digest scripture that leads to sound doctrine by being present at church on Sunday (Heb. 10:25). At Providence, we have the benefit of sitting under excellent expositional preaching each and every Sunday. We walk verse-by-verse so we get a good understanding of what the specific verses are saying, as well as how they fit into the overall canon of scripture. We also learn on Sunday how to read and study scripture as we listen.
Get into a Community Group
Community groups are a good and safe place to work through challenging doctrine and scripture and come to a right understanding of them. Our church leaders are there to help care for, protect, and equip the flock to live a life of faith in the body of Christ. One way they do this is by ensuring that all discussion is rooted in—and when necessary, pointed back to—sound doctrine (Eph. 4:11-14).
Sound doctrine should permeate every day of our lives as Christians (Eph. 5:15-17). It is vital to our sanctification. As we grow in Christlikeness through the power of the Spirit, the Word should increasingly shape everything we say, do, think, and feel. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you would like to be better equipped to understand sound doctrine, consider joining Foundations. This 12-week study of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith kicks off on Wednesday, August 22. Sign up at providencefrisco.com/equip.
Taylor is a professional in the construction industry. Taylor and his wife, Lindsay, have a daughter, Emmie Joy, and are currently waiting on the Lord to grow their family through adoption. Taylor and Lindsay have been covenant members at Providence for almost 8 years. Taylor serves as a community group coach, Redemption Group leader, and has also served as a community group leader. He enjoys spending time with his family, being at the lake, playing softball, and watching Auburn sports.