In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul exhorts Timothy, "Preach the word!" He didn't say, "Timothy, preach your own opinion. Preach what the committees of the church have agreed on." He said, "Preach the word!"
Frequently people will come to me with this question, "What does Calvary teach?" But that's an irrelevant question. The issue is what the Bible declares about God, and about Christ, and about the church, and heaven and hell.
2 Timothy 4:3 says, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." There's a lot of people who hate that word, but it's a good word; it means instruction or teaching. It's actually the same word as "Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering, and doctrine" (v. 2, KJV).
2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in right-eousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." And though that is true, though this is a great word and a great concept, there are still people in the church of Christ who have such "works" sentiments that they say, "Who cares about doctrine? That's technical stuff. That's so irrelevant. That's really not the issue." But Paul says it is the issue.
When you buy some kind of gadget, you get a manual with it. If you're like me, you hate manuals and you don't read them. One Christmas, my wife got me a cool coffeemaker. I thought I could figure it out, but I couldn't. It came with a manual and a video, so of course I watched the video. But I still couldn't figure it out. I had to go back to the manual.
Well, as Christians, the Bible is our manual for life. My concern is that the Bible, the manual of truth, is more and more being disregarded by the church of Jesus Christ on this earth. Did you know, there are some people who believe---and actually teach and preach---that what you feel is more important than what you know? "As long as you feel good about it, who cares about the knowledge stuff, the doctrine stuff?" And so you have a generation of people who are long on zeal and short on facts. They're very enthusiastic, but they're hazy when it comes to scriptural truth.
However, the prophet Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). In Acts chapter 2:42, the church was commended because "they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine." In 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul said, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." In Titus 2:1, Paul said, "Teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (NIV).
So obviously, based on that, doctrine is far more than important. It is essential.
James Montgomery Boice wrote, "We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge... Ask an average Christian to talk about God. After getting past the expected answers, you will find that his god is a little god of vacillating sentiments."
Ignorance is not bliss; it's dangerous. It is essential to know the truth. On four occasions, Jesus rebuked religious leaders for not knowing what the book says. He asked them, "Have you not read what Moses said?" "Did you not read this and that?"
So I wonder if the Lord might ask us that same question in situations where we're plagued with, "What do we do about that?" Haven't you read? "What do I do about this relationship?" Haven't you read? It's in the book. More than once, Paul wrote to the church and said, "Now brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant..." Or, "Brethren, I write these things so that you won't be ignorant..."
I want to echo the words of Paul: "I don't want us to be ignorant concerning spiritual truth." My heart's desire is that Christians be well-fed. And that's why we plow through the Bible like we do. That's why we give attention to language and background and context and the sense of a word all through the Bible. That's what our expositional Bible studies are all about---verse by verse, line upon line, the Old Testament as well as the New.
I would encourage you to look up the references that are spoken in any message from the pulpit, actually read them on your own. And then apply them to your life. Take the questions that are on the bottom of the outline and actually apply them through the week. That's how you'll grow. And that's the reason some grow fast and some grow slowly, because some have a real hunger and an appetite, and others do not. Study to show yourself approved to God, as we get back to the foundations.
Of all of the ages, and of all of the countries that have ever existed on earth, it is this age and this country that have been most blessed with scriptural resources. Churches, Bible bookstores, teaching tapes, and sermons are all so readily available. Which means, "to whom much has been given, much shall be required" (see Luke 12:48). It would make sense that we would be the strongest spiritually of any believers. Sometimes that's true and sometimes it's not. We should give ourselves to truth, to find out "What does the book say? What is the heart of God?" We should welcome sound doctrine, and we should develop a strong appetite for the Word, because the only way to know God is through His Word. The only valid experiences are those that can be substantiated by the Word. We should know it, so that we can look at all of life, every situation, every circumstance, and filter it through the truth of the Word, and get direction from God.
Skip Heitzig is the founder and senior pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. His teachings are heard across the country and around the world on The Connection. Skip and his wife, Lenya, and son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Janaé, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Skip and Lenya are the proud grandparents of Seth Nathaniel and Kaydence Joy.