What's the Deal with Doctrine?
By Skip Heitzig
What would you say should be the church's number one priority? Love? Missions? Service? It might surprise you to know that doctrine was actually number one on the list of priorities for the early church. As Acts 2:42 says, "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."
If there was ever a word I feel sorry for, it's doctrine. It sounds stuffy and cold, but it simply means instruction or teaching, specifically of God's Word. But why put such an emphasis on it?
1. Because learning leads to growing. Acts 2 tells us that as the early church learned doctrine, it led to growth (see v. 47). Because the church was learning, it was growing. And as believers, we can never grow spiritually unless we are learning truth and eating the right spiritual food (see 1 Peter 2:2).
Unfortunately, many people in the church have this notion that it's not about head knowledge—it's about heart knowledge. Yet God said through the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). The early church understood this and put doctrine at the very beginning of their vision statement.
2. Because preaching leads to practicing. The church devoted themselves to preached truth—to the apostles' doctrine—then put it into practice (see Acts 5:42; 6:7). Put another way, truth makes its mark through the preaching of that truth. That's why doctrine must remain front and center in the church today.
3. Because continuing leads to persevering. Notice the church "continued steadfastly" in doctrine. It doesn't say they began with it then moved to something else—no, they stuck with it, even when they were persecuted and times got difficult. So make the Word of God your priority in all seasons of life. Keep trusting God's promises. Don't be like those described by Jesus in Mark 4 who are "sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time" (vv. 16-17).
It's easy to follow Jesus in good times, but He calls us to follow Him at all times. So continue in doctrine and in the Word, and continue putting what you learn into practice. As you keep at it day by day, you'll not only grow—you'll become an overcomer in whatever life throws at you.
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