Is Doctrine Biblical?

Biblical Evidence for Doctrine and Confession of Faith

Beyond the obvious fact that all have confessions and doctrine whether they know it or not, the Bible explicitly teaches us to formulate, trust in and live by doctrine. Here is a catalogue of some verses which stick out to me on this topic.

Doctrine is the use of human terms and learning in order to interpret, describe, define, and apply God’s speech. We need to reinterpret our views of all things in light of the way the Bible speaks about them; nevertheless, we need to use human language in order to make that clear. We must pour Biblical contexts into the meanings of the words used in these formulations. Doctrine is formulated, practiced, commanded in the Bible itself.

Texts Historically Used for Doctrinal Formulations in Worship (besides the Psalms)

Deu 6:4-6  “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!  (5)  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  (6)  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Exo 20:1-18  Then God spoke all these words, saying,  (2)  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  (3)  “You shall have no other gods before Me.  (4)  “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  (5)  “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  (6)  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  (7)  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.  (8)  “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  (9)  “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  (10)  but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.  (11)  “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.  (12)  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.  (13)  “You shall not murder.  (14)  “You shall not commit adultery.  (15)  “You shall not steal.  (16)  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  (17)  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  (18)  All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.

1Ti 1:15  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

1Ti 4:9-10  It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.  (10)  For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

Col 1:15-20  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  (16)  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.  (17)  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (18)  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  (19)  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  (20)  and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

The Old Testament was focused on practice, which preached to the people yet they also commissioned Levites to teach (this demonstrates that we can profess more than we can necessarily understand by way of practice) Thus practice must be informed by theology or else it too will lead us astray.

2Ch 17:8-9  and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tobadonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests.  (9)  They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the LORD with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.

2Ch 35:3  He also said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the LORD, “Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it will be a burden on your shoulders no longer. Now serve the LORD your God and His people Israel.

Texts which describe forming Doctrine

Pro 4:4  Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;

Psa 19:7-12  The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  (8)  The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  (9)  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.  (10)  They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.  (11)  Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.  (12)  Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Psa 119:102  I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me.

Luke/Acts Described How the Gospel (a Doctrine) went to the ends of the earth

Luke was written for the sake of certainty of Doctrine (1:4). Acts 15 and the Jerusalem council is evidence of the importance of doctrine. Acts 1:3, and 28:30-31, begins with Jesus and ends with Paul teaching the doctrine of the inauguration of the Kingdom. Most importantly, the work of Christ was taught by the whole Old Testament and Jesus himself defined this practice of doctrinal formulation about the Son of God incarnate from the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Luk 24:25-27  “And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  (26)  “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  (27)  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Texts which command holding to doctrine which is already standing

Deu 4:5  “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it.

Deu 6:8  “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Deu 11:18  “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Rev 7:3  saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”

1Co 15:3-6  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  (4)  and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  (5)  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  (6)  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;

2Pe 1:12  Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.

Pro 23:23  Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

2Th 2:15  So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

2Ti 2:13-15  If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.  (14)  Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.  (15)  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Rev 3:3  ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Especially for Elders and Deacons

Tit 1:9  holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

2Ti 2:2  The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Jud 1:3  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Tit 2:1  But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

Tit 2:7  in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,

Luk 1:1-4  Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,  (2)  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,  (3)  it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;  (4)  so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Texts that describe how to learn doctrine

Pro 1:5  A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

Pro 9:8-9  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.  (9)  Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

Rom 15:14-15  And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.  (15)  But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,

Psa 119:11  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You

Texts that describe those who remain ignorant

Eph 4:14  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

Heb 5:12  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Text that describe heretics

Jer 32:33  “They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.

1Ti 4:6  In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

1Ti 6:1-4  All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.  (2)  Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.  (3)  If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,  (4)  he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,

2Ti 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

Tit 1:10-11  For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,  (11)  who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.

Act 18:28  for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

2Ti 2:25  with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

Jud 1:16-18  These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.  (17)  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,  (18)  that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”

1Jn 2:21-24  I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.  (22)  Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  (23)  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.  (24)  As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

Gal 1:8-9  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  (9)  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Conclusion: we have spoken before about the term “Biblicism.” It sounds like a great term, but the historical context from whence it comes is not Biblical. All through history there has been a tendency toward the slogans, “no creed but Christ,” “it is not a religion, it is a relationship,” “deeds not creeds.” Unfortunately Christianity does not deal in the world of sound bites since we have two things which set us apart from Biblicism.

First, we have our own definitions which are separate from the secular philosophers. If this is so, we have to define philosophical terms based on the way the Bible describes them.

The real problem for Biblicism is that without standard definitions (which come from the Bible’s usage of terms by the way) they inevitably will supplement their interpretation of scripture by way of the categories which they already know from secular/unbiblical sources. When the Bible uses the term spirit and soul, or mind and will, it must be interpreted in light of the context. But without this work of context and standardization of the meaning of terms from the Bible, we inevitably will define these terms, and others by humanistic terms.

This led to the Anabaptist peasant uprising in the 1500s, modern theological liberalism, open theism, and a whole host of people who say, “I am just reading my Bible.”  This has historically been the case. It makes sense logically that it would come about. Thus we should expect no different in the future from the no “creed but Christ” crowd.

Second, we do not succumb to the fallacy that the Bible does not teach doctrine. We define doctrine as using human language to interpret, define, describe, and apply God’s speech. What came above demonstrates clearly that the Bible itself defined terms, confessed the faith, commanded adherence to, and practiced life on its basis.

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