“Where there is no doctrine, there is no church.” – Martin Luther
The Scriptures speak of a time where many will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3). We live in such a time. The church today has very little interest in doctrine. Professing Christians prefer simple lessons on practical Christian living to doctrinal instruction. They speak passionately of reaching out to the unbelieving. Evangelism becomes the sole preoccupation of the modern church and doctrines are intellectual and boring concepts that have little relevance to her today. Rev. Ronald Hanko accurately depicts the situation of the church world today:
“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” (Doctrines According to Godliness).
The Reformed church, by contrast, loves her doctrine. Her doctrines teach her Who the God of the Scriptures is. Her doctrines magnify the glory of her God in all His perfections. They reveal Him as the only sovereign God Whose will alone is to be obeyed. Her doctrines are like a spiritual compass that guide her in the way that she is to live in this world. She guards her doctrines jealously because her God is jealous of His truth. Constantly she seeks to develop her doctrines to grow in a fuller understanding of His Word. She teaches them faithfully and diligently to her young so that they grow up to be mature men and women who are characterised by godliness. Again Rev. Hanko offers his words of wisdom,
“If the church and the lives of God’s people are to be rescued from super ciality, decline, and all the church troubles that af ict us today, there must be a return to doctrine”. Why return to doctrine?
In the first place, the Reformed faith is a body of doctrine. The Reformed faith which we love so dear consists of doctrines. To confess our faith is to confess doctrine. It is the body of truth concerning God Himself as He reveals Himself in His Word. The doctrines of the Reformed faith proclaim the sovereignty of God in all His works. They reveal Him as the absolute Lord of heaven and earth, the One who created all things and to Whom all things owe their existence. A student of Reformed doctrine is humbled by this truth and stands in awe at Reformed doctrine.
In the second place, doctrine is the foundation of all practical Christian living. A believer can never know how to live aright before God without doctrine. This is because true doctrine is the truth of God’s Word that is a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path (Ps 119:105). The Word of God is profitable for doctrine, to the end that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:16-17). The doctrines which the Reformed believer subscribes to is according to godliness (1 Tim 6:3). He adorns the doctrine of God His Saviour in all things (Tit 2:10). His life is a pattern of good works and whose doctrine demonstrates incorruptness, gravity and sincerity (Tit 2:7).
Thirdly, doctrines are the truths of Scripture in which the Reformed believer instructs his family. He speaks sound doctrine to them (Tit 2:1) and faithfully explains them because it is his covenant duty as head of the family. By such instruction God causes those them that weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts to understand doctrine (Isa 28:9). His children receive doctrinal instruction from their catechism classes and grow up in the consciousness of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, doctrines are necessary for the Reformed church to grow in the grace and knowledge of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
She must preach the doctrine of Christ with power (Luk 4:32) to build up and to edify His body. She must by sound doctrine (Tit 1:9) reprove those who oppose themselves to the truth. As the mother of believers she nourishes them up in the words of faith and of good doctrine (1 Tim 4:6). She exhorts them with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim 4:2). It is the glory of the church, says the puritan William Perkins, to have its doctrine powerful and effectual for the winning of souls (The Art of Prophesying).
truth (2 Tim 2:15). Constantly we place our doctrines to the test of the Scriptures so that we may oppose all that which is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:10). Our doctrines identify us as the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). We desire growth and development in our doctrinal understanding so that we are no more like children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14).
Reformation in the true church of Jesus Christ always begins with a return to doctrine. This is the old paths which the prophet Jeremiah spoke of, where is the good way to walk therein to find rest for our souls (Jer 6:16). Luther walked in these paths, as did Calvin and the other faithful reformers. Our brethren in the Protestant Reformed Churches walk in these paths, where to follow will bring us safety and joy immeasurable.
The Lord in His goodness has given to us a young people’s magazine, where a platform for the propagation of His truth may be served. In a time where Christians prefer shallow and superficial spiritual reading to solid doctrinal study, let us proclaim God’s truth in all its power, depth and beauty. Let others know that we are a people who love our doctrines, who live by them and who will die for them. Let others see the infinite glory of our God in the doctrine we confess! (1 Tim 4:16)
Written by: Aaron Lim | Issue 1