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“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
“Doctrine” means “teaching,” and it is by doctrines or teaching that the great realities of God and of our relation to Him - of Christ, the Spirit, salvation, grace, glory - are made known to us. It is by doctrine [through the power of the Spirit] that believers are nourished and edified, and where doctrine is neglected growth in grace and effective witnessing for Christ necessarily cease.
How sad then that doctrine is now decried as “unpractical” when, in fact, doctrine is the very base of the practical life. There is an inseparable connection between belief and practice: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” [Pr. 23:7]. The relation between divine truth and Christian character is that of cause and effect: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32] - free from ignorance, free from prejudice, free from error, free from the wiles of Satan, free from the power of evil’ and if the truth is not “known” then such freedom will not be enjoyed.
Observe the order of mention in the passage with which we have opened. All Scripture is profitable first for “doctrine”! The same order is observed throughout the epistles, particularly in the great doctrinal treatises of the apostle Paul. Read the epistle of “Romans” and it will be found that there is not a single admonition in the first five chapters. In the epistle of “Ephesians” there are no exhortations till the fourth chapter is reached. The order is first doctrinal exposition and then admonition or exhortation for the regulation of the daily walk.
The substitution of so-called “practical” preaching for the doctrinal exposition which it has supplanted is the root cause of many of the evil maladies which now afflict the Church of God. The reason why there is so little depth, so little intelligence, so little grasp of the fundamental verities of Christianity is because so few believers have been established in the faith through hearing it expounded and through their own personal study of the doctrines of grace. While their soul is unestablished in the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, their full and verbal inspiration, there can be no firm foundation for faith to rest upon. While the soul is ignorant of the doctrine of justification, there can be no real and intelligent assurance of its acceptance in the beloved. While the soul is unacquainted with the teaching of the Word upon sanctification, it is open to receive all the crudities and errors of the perfectionists or “holiness” people. While the soul knows not what Scripture has to say upon the doctrine of the new birth, there can be no proper grasp of the two natures in the believer, and ignorance here inevitable results in the loss of peace and joy. And so we might so on right through the list of Christian doctrine.
It is ignorance of doctrine which is mainly responsible for thousands of professing Christians being captivated by the numerous false isms of the day. It is because the time has now arrived when the bulk of our churches “will not endure sound doctrine” [2 Tim. 4:3] that they so readily receive false doctrines. Of course it is true that doctrine, like anything else in Scripture, may be studied from a merely cold intellectual viewpoint, and thus approached, doctrinal teaching and doctrinal study will leave the heart untouched, and will naturally be “dry” and profitless. But doctrine properly received, doctrine studied with an exercised heart, will ever lead into a deeper knowledge of God and of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
excerpt from The Sovereignty Of God by A. W. Pink
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