For some strange reason I like to put my finger on the “Christian” pulse by skimming the newswire. Today the tractor beam was on and it sucked me right into the heart of the Christian Death Star. I know. It’s torture but a necessary torture to gauge the health of what America calls Christianity. This is what I found and I was in no way surprised.
Joel Osteen was being interviewed by Katie Couric. The interview turned to doctrine and he believes an emphasis on doctrine may be what is contributing to low attendance at other churches. He said, “These days, people want to know, ‘if I come to church, how’s it going to help me live my life?’” This was to say why he doesn’t like to get into doctrine at his “church.”
What?! How in God’s world is anyone supposed to get help to live life without the pure doctrine of the God they claim to know or desire to know? You may as well try to ride a horse with just a saddle while leaving your horse in the stable!
Well, we’re going to take a brief look at the word doctrine. The Greek word is didaskalia. We see it 21 times in the Authorized Version, 19 of which it is translated as “doctrine.” Here is the definition; teaching, instruction, precepts, that which is taught. The word referred to a standard of orthodoxy. Open your bible and count the times this word is used in the Pastoral Epistles, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’ll give you a hint. You’re gonna need all your fingers and a thumb in 1 Timothy alone.
With that in mind what does the Apostle Paul tell young Timothy as he instructs on what the man of God, the teaching elder, must do?
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance. (1 Timothy 3:10)
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (1 Timothy 3:14-16)
The very first thing mentioned is, yep, you got it, doctrine! And just how was Timothy to follow? Carefully. Did you see it? Doctrine precedes manner of life. Or to say it another way doctrine directs our life. We live what we believe. What Joel is doing here to millions of itchy eared folks is trying to teach people how to live the Christian life without telling them the very core of what it is to be a Christian. What we’ve got here is a bunch of morality without any power behind it. We’re purveying an entire culture to have a form of godliness and nothing more. Or in construction terms we’re trying to power our house with conduit but forgot to install the wiring. McFly?! Hello?!
Then Paul says to "continue in the things." What things? The things you have learned. What makes him wise? The scriptures!
Next Paul solemnly charges, commands Timothy, to preach the word!
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. ( 1 Timothy 4:1-2)
He’s to convince, rebuke, exhort……..
And teach! Guess what the word is for teach? Didache, do you see the connection?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. So the next time you want to know how to get help to live your life, turn off preachers who love to scratch your ears and give you syrup for your souls when what you really need is meat that will provide the strength to live your life.