Below is what God says about doctrine. The word doctrine appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 49 times in the New Testament. John McArthur says the main ministry within the body of Christ is to teach sound doctrine (Eph 4:10-16) [the main ministry outside the body of Christ is the preaching of the gospel].
What is Doctrine?
What is doctrine? When do we study doctrine? Is it teaching? Is it a man’s message? Or perhaps a sermon?
Let’s study (2 Tim 2:15) Scripture and rightly divide (2 Tim 2:15) what God would have us know (Col 1:9-10) that we may live by faith (Ro 1:17)!
1.) Your weekly assembly with the saints must include teaching doctrine:
Act 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Notice they also continued in doctrine; regularly studying doctrine. They were also steadfast; keeping at it consistently.
2.) What did they study? The Apostle’s words?? Of course not; they knew it was God’s words:
1Th 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
3.) After the apostles had spread the gospel in an area and believers were gathering they told them they would be leaving and they left them in God’s hand and His Word:
Act 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Notice that there is no succession of future Apostles; Paul didn’t say, “Wait for the next Apostle; or Apostle Bill is coming next.” Instead he left them in God’s hand with God’s Word. So the Bible becomes the sole authority from that time on – and still is!
4.) We see that doctrine is literally God’s Word; the Word of God; Jesus’ words; in fact, Jesus is the Word of God:
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Joh 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
1Pe 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do itas of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
One of Jesus’ title is the Truth:
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
5.) Here’s some more on doctrine (your translation might’ve dropped the word for teaching or message):
1Ti 4:11, 13, 15-16 These things command and teach. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
6.) An elder is one who labors in Scripture and doctrine:
1Ti 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
A teacher is one who labors in he Word and God’s doctrine; not one appointed to an office as a teacher/pastor and given authority to say what he wants in his speeches.
Do your teachers/pastors labor in God’s words or man’s? Do they have eloquent speeches, stories, and examples filled with their words or God’s? Do they make you laugh? How do you choose between teachers/pastors – by what words they use, by how they teach, and/or their personality and preaching style?
7.) Next we see that doctrine is not man’s words, examples, stories, or teachings:
1Ti 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
8.) How do we learn doctrine? From Scripture itself:
Isa 28:9-10, 13 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
The Holy Spirit gives us understanding when we read the Word:
1Co 2:13-14 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [comparing one verse with another]. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Faith comes only by the Word of God:
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We see it even comes down to the very words one is to use when studying doctrine.
9.) Why? Because there’s God’s words and there’s man’s words. God words are not man’s words; His thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8-9). God does not want His words and wisdom to be confused or made impure by man’s. Mainly, God wants our faith to rest in Him; not man. And since faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Ro 10:17) it comes down to the very words!
1Co 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Notice that God’s words are contrasted negatively with man’s word. A teacher can’t add his words, or paraphrase a passage, or come up with their own words – he must and can only teach doctrine from Scripture:
Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Mat 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mat 15:6b …thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
What could be more serious than replacing God’s words with man’s!
10.) So this excludes: man’s words, speeches, oratories, speaking while all others are silent, catchy phrases, humor, wit, personality. This includes anything else outside of Scripture – citing man’s words; quoting worldly philosophy (Col 2:8); photos; movies; plays; dancing, etc.
This is very serious in God’s eyes. If we come across such a teaching we are to mark them, warn the body, rebuke them, and avoid them:
Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words…
Gal 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
Eph 5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
Tit 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
So we see that doctrine is God’s word’s on any topic/subject in our walk.
So think through all of your teachers, pastors, brethren, and books you read. Are they rightly dividing doctrine and following all these verses? Do you want your faith to rest in man’s words or God’s words?
These things command and teach.
…be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation,
in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;
that thy profiting may appear to all.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:
for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
1 Timothy 4:11-13, 15-16
1 Timothy 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things,
thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ,
nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
Pro 4:2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.