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Doctrine is Essential

Barry is the founder and Professor of the M.Div. program for Mindanao Grace Seminary, Philippines.

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Disregard for Doctrine

Doctrine has become a dirty word in our days. If doctrine is even mentioned, it is with disdain or disgust. I am not sure if many Christians even know what doctrine is. Doctrine is certainly not the main focus of many Churches. At some point in time, Church changed.

We see during the time of the Reformation the focus was on the preaching and teaching of the Word. The same was true through the time of the Puritans. Doctrine was central. Today, the majority of Churches focus on "Christian Living." It is often practical but most of the time it is not Biblical. So often, the teaching of the church is a mix of pop-psychology, motivational speeches, and self-idolatry. Whereas before, the sermons and teaching were about God, now they are all about "you." Many of the songs sung as worship have the word "me" more than the word Jesus. It is worship- it is self-worship.

With the loss of doctrinal distinctions, there was a downgrade of the Gospel. Methods of creating decisions replaced calls for repentance. The bar was lowered and anyone who would nod to a few platitudes was admitted into the fold. The abandonment of doctrinal preaching and teaching produced weak sheep. The jettison of Gospel repentance produced false sheep.

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A Mixed Multitude

The goal of some pastors is to build an organization with as many members as possible and with the least resistance. The idea of a pure Church made up of only evident believers is gone with the wind. Now, the focus is on numerical growth so the pastor can have more recognition in the community and more money in the bank.

How does one maintain a mixed congregation of goats and sheep? The only way is to try to give the goats a little of what they want so they will stay, and give the sheep a little of what they need so they can survive. The way to do this is to teach things from the Bible but avoid doctrine. If one does teach doctrine, make sure it is watered down so as not to drive away the goats.

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If we urge pastors to preach the pure Word, they know that it will offend both the goats and the weak sheep. The goats will spit out the food of the Word and the pitiful sheep will choke on it. The goats only want their way and for years in Church they have gotten it. When a pastor comes along and tries to call them to the Word, they view that pastor as a trouble maker who is upsetting their play house. The weak sheep also are not happy. Before they were comfortable in their baby bed, being spoon feed baby food, and everything was done for them. Then comes this mean, old pastor who tells them to get out bed, dress themselves, and start acting like a grown up. The mean old pastor no longer spoon feeds them the sweet, easy baby food that they were used to. He gives them meat, potatoes, and vegetables. They are not used to this food. It is hard to chew. It is not sweet in their mouth. It is hard to digest because they have the stomach of a baby. They do not see themselves as weak and pitiful. No, they see the preacher as mean spirited. If he loved them, he would treat them like babies and do everything for them. They do not understand that the preacher does love them because he wants them to grow and mature. He is not a harsh man but a loving shepherd who wants them to be pleasing to the Lord.

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Growth is the Goal

The Christian life is a life of transformation. That is the purpose. When we are saved we are changed. We move from death to life -from darkness to light- from the realm of this world to the kingdom of glory. But the change does not stop at conversion. If we are truly changed then we go on changing. We continue to grow and to mature. To grow we must have food. And the better the food the greater potential for growth. Therefore, those who want the sheep of God to grow must know and present the pure doctrines of Scripture, regardless of the response of the goats.

© 2022 Barry G Carpenter

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