- Surveys show that 12% of evangelical Christians believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
- 33% of Christians don’t know who delivered The Sermon on the Mount.
- 60% of American’s can’t name even name 5 of the 10 Commandments.
- According to 81% of Christians, the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves.”
I don’t know if that broke your heart like it did mine, but unfortunately, those same sources say the statistics for the youth of today are even worse.
In a time when more people than ever have the Bible in their own language and when the Word of God adorns table tops and is neatly tucked in bookshelves in almost every home, our knowledge of Scripture is at an all-time low.
How is it possible that a country once founded by biblical principals doesn’t even know the law by which it was established?
How does a world, with more access to the Word of God than ever, find itself untaught and even uninterested in the God’s love letter to mankind?
Perhaps it’s because our casual and convenient Christianity craves an easy faith that balks at biblical truths because it calls us to much more than we’re comfortable with.
Or could it be that in the church’s attempts to be relevant it has relentlessly pursued to reach people without properly grounding them in their new-found faith? Or worse…what if their new-found faith fell short of biblical faith and what they thought they had was not saving faith at all?
Many well-meaning pastors in well-meaning churches have become satisfied with well-meaning Christians who enjoy living in community together but couldn’t explain what it means to be saved if their salvation depended on it.
Today, we are going to do a little digging and find out why digging is an absolutely necessary part of the Christian life.
BELIEF: Doctrine doesn’t matter as long as Christians try to love others and live responsible and peaceable lives.
- “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:13
- “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3-4
- “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” Ephesians 4:14-15
- “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18
- “ teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,? Titus 2:12-13
- “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” 2 Timothy 4:2-3
Doctrine definitely matters. We need to know truth to be able to discern lies. What we believe to be true establishes how we live our lives.
In other words, our beliefs determine our behavior.
Doctrine not only teaches us how to live, it gives us something to live and die for. Doctrine arms us with strength to stand, courage to fight and truth to discern right from wrong-to know truth from error and to see a lie a mile away.
Itchy ears long for mushy messages and feel-good talks. But the need of our hearts is to know what we believe. That means we need to learn doctrine.
So, what can we do to change the tide of biblical illiteracy?
1. Know what you believe. Make it your priority to dig in the Word like your life depends on it. Study topics, words and books of the Bible. Learn some biblical basics like salvation, repentance, redemption, substitution, atonement, reconciliation and propitiation. Big words that pack a profound doctrinal punch.
2. Teach the Word. You can’t teach what you don’t know, so you have to know the Word yourself first. But as you grow, it’s important to the next generation that you pass down biblical literacy and leave a legacy of faith.
3. Live what you believe. Knowing truth and living it out are two different things. We may know we are daughters of the King but we may not understand how to walk that out in real life. We may know we are fully forgiven, yet we tend to heap loads of guilt on ourselves or choose not to forgive others as we’re called to.
4. Surround yourself with those who are wiser in he Word. No matter how much you know, you can always know more and you never know everything. It’s always wise to hang around wise people. They challenge us to dig deeper, to know more and to live out loud for Jesus.
Doctrine definitely matters. You can’t discern truth from error if you don’t know what truth is.
Pastors are called to teach doctrine. We are called to know doctrine. All are called to discern between true and false doctrine. So, yes sweet friend, doctrine matters.
So, let’s get digging! We’ve got some doctrine to learn!
What about you? Do you know what you believe? Are you willing to teach the Word so others will know doctrine? If your church is doctrine-lite, do you try to pitch in and help make doctrine find it’s rightful place of importance there or do you settle for a light helping of doctrine?