“To be a Christian and not know the doctrine of Christ, is a pure contradiction.” -Thomas Ford
In a recent sermon from the book of Jonah, I made a very brief allusion to thanksgiving and its connection to doctrine. The very word ‘doctrine’ often elicits yawns from the mouths of believers. “Doctrine, oh no! Time to go to nighty-night…” might be the thought running through some minds. Of course, this should not be the case. The doctrine or teaching of our Lord Jesus was central to his ministry. He prioritized teaching. (Mark 1:21) The crowds who heard his teaching or his exposition of doctrine were amazed and astonished. (Mark 1:22, 27) Jesus taught in a variety of settings: in the synagogue, by the sea, and throughout the villages. (Mark 4:1; 6:2, 6) When he perceived the unbelief of the crowds, his next step was to teach. (Mark 6:6) It is no wonder that he was often addressed as ‘Teacher.’ (Mark 9:38; 10:17; 10:35; 12:14) And all of this from just the Gospel of Mark!
Furthermore, Jesus criticized others who did not teach right doctrine. In his conference or encounter with Nicodemus, he said, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10) When he journeyed to the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, he prioritized teaching. (John 7:14) He was so well-known for teaching that when he alluded to going away and not being able to be found, the Jews thought that he meant he was going to travel to the Greeks to teach among them. (John 7:35) Jesus acknowledged his reception of his teaching or doctrine from the Father, “So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.’” (John 7:16) And one of the central purposes for the sending of the promised Holy Spirit is to secure this teaching, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) And all of this just from the Gospel of John!
The apostle Paul continues this priority when he writes the Colossians, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…” (Colossians 2:6-8a, ESV) How do we walk in Christ? Certainly, a portion of that answer has to do with being rooted and established in right doctrine. In this passage, Paul uses the word ‘faith’ to mean the doctrines of the faith. We know this because he makes an immediate reference to what they were taught. He also refers to the dangerous teachings that are promulgated by “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition.” Finally, note that when we walk in Christ according to sound doctrine that we are to abound in thanksgiving. Are you thinking of Christ’s substitutionary atonement? Give thanks. Are you meditating on the nature of the Triune God? Give thanks. Are you reflecting on the Holy Spirit who recalls to our minds the precious teachings of the Son? Then abound in thanksgiving. Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,