The Importance of Christian Doctrine, Part Two

By Leroy Forlines

According to Peter, knowledge is important to Christian living. He says that “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord” grace and peace may be multiplied to us (2 Peter 1:2). He further adds that “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” God’s “divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” (verse 3).

It is important for us to recognize two things: (1) the type of knowledge referred to, and (2) the blessings received from this knowledge. The type of knowledge referred to is doctrinal knowledge—knowledge about “God, and of Jesus, our Lord.” The blessings are grace and peace, and all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Grace and peace are involved in the very fact of becoming a Christian and become the foundation and source of all other blessings. Life and godliness deal with the practical issues of daily life.

The mere presentat¡on of doctrinal knowledge does not accomplish all that Peter credits to knowledge. Knowledge must be addressed to the total person. Man is a thinking, feeling, acting creature. We think with our mind, feel with our heart (not our physical heart, but the seat of our emotions), and act with our will. We have needs of the mind, needs of the heart, and needs of the will. Preaching and teaching must address each of these.

The first point of contact that knowledge has is with the mind. With the mind we comprehend ideas. Contrary to the thinking of many people, all people enjoy learning. Notice the satisfaction that the young child expresses when he says, “See the dog.”

It is an expression of joy for having achieved his knowledge. Think about your own experience when you gain new insights or understand something for the first time. Not liking to learn is not what bothers people. It is the dislike of study effort failing to produce a learning experience. In every area of life, we grow weary when effort is not rewarded with results. We lose interest when we fail to understand things. We have about the same feeling when we seldom hear anything new.

If church and Sunday school are going to meet the needs of people’s minds, people must learn. They must be constantly expanding their knowledge with new ideas. There is the need of constant repetition of important truths, but there is also the need of declaring the whole counsel of God. When this happens, it will not be so hard to get people to study their Bibles.

Once the Bible begins to unfold with meaning, people will want to study it. The feeling of ought in Bible study must be accompanied by the feeling of reward before people will enjoy it. It is a thrill when a particular doctrine begins to take shape in one’s mind. There is a deep satisfaction when various doctrines begin to fit together to form a system. Along with this satisfaction, a person begins to develop an intelligent faith.

Remember, God made us rational creatures so we could think. What better thing can we think about than God and His relationship to us and our relationship to Him? People have a deep curiosity about the past and the future. People like to know God’s plan of the ages. They like to know how God’s plan has developed until the present moment. They particularly like to know what God’s plan holds for the future. God gave man his curious nature. The cult movements have taken advantage of this curiosity and have given people a wrong view. Dare we pass up this opportunity?

Let’s find out what questions people are asking and answer them with God’s answer as given in the Bible.