“There are many reasons that ignorance pervades today’s church. For decades, Christians have focused on felt needs rather than doctrinal truth. We have focused on immediately-applicable topical sermons rather than verse-by-verse exposition that unleashes the whole truth of God’s whole Word.”
For over a decade, I have been reviewing books that are of particular interest to Christians. While the vast majority of the titles I have reviewed are solid works founded on biblical principles, I am far better known for those occasional reviews of the very worst books in the Christian world. Sadly, these books that teach the worst are often the books that sell the best.
I do not relish writing such reviews. That’s partly because they meet plenty of backlash. But it’s mostly because I find writing them very sorrowful. It’s sorrowful to witness the church’s widespread theological ignorance exposed by these books’ popularity. Because Christians are not trained in sound doctrine, they wholeheartedly embrace error, often finding it more satisfying than God’s revealed truth.
There are many reasons that ignorance pervades today’s church. For decades, Christians have focused on felt needs rather than doctrinal truth. We have focused on immediately-applicable topical sermons rather than verse-by-verse exposition that unleashes the whole truth of God’s whole Word. We have ceased catechizing our children, building within them a solid, systematic foundation for their faith. We have emphasized Christianity as a relationship with God at the expense of Christianity as an established body of truth. In so many ways, we have focused on feelings rather than facts. We have attempted to make Christianity palatable by making it simplistic.
While the Christian faith is much more than facts, much more than doctrines, it can never be less. Christianity is dependent upon truths that are taught by God’s Word and received by God’s people. Every Christian is responsible to learn sound doctrine, to be in trained in the truth in order to discern error. Here are three means God has provided for us to train ourselves in sound doctrine.
Train Yourself in Sound Doctrine
Every Christian is individually responsible to study sound doctrine and learn it for themselves. Paul told Timothy, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). Paul wanted Timothy to know that this training would be hard work: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
To know sound doctrine, we must know the Word of God, for “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Every Christian must read, study, and know the Bible and the truth it contains. King David models an appropriate love for God’s Word when he exclaims, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). By day and by night he read the Bible, he learned the Bible, and he applied it to his life.
Christian, you must know the truth of the Christian faith. And to know the truth of the Christian faith, you must know the Bible. You must sit under the teaching of God’s Word week by week in the local church. You must ensure a habit of regular, consistent Bible intake, reading the Word, pondering the Word, and ensuring you are living consistent to it. You have access to myriad resources to help you in this—books and commentaries and web sites that will help you further understand, embrace, and apply the truths of God’s Word. Commit your life to the pursuit of the sound doctrine by a deep commitment to God’s Word.