All that said, just how important is it to follow sound doctrine? In the epistles, the word "doctrine" is used 26 times in 25 verses. It is used 3 times in the first two chapters of Revelation. And 51 times in 50 verses in the whole Bible. . Maybe it's just me, but that makes it seem like doctrine might be just a wee bit important. So let's see what the Bible has to say about the importance of...the Bible.
The main text will be 1st Timothy 4:13--Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Hmmm. What was that last word? What's that that Paul tells young Timothy to be attentive to? Oh yeah. DOCTRINE. Why is doctrine important? Is a Calvinist more saved than Arminian? Is someone more sanctified if they don't believe in a pre-trib rapture? Well, both of these questions are moot. These are not necessarily saving doctrines.
But, how would one know that if they didn't understand proper doctrine? What of the one who comes in and says, "Unless you speak in tongues, you're not saved!" Don't laugh. There are people who teach that. A friend of mine from our church was told that by a HyperCharismatic "preacher" once. It messed her up for years. And he's not the only one that preaches that. I have to shake my head whenever I hear some preacher say, "We believe in salvation through Jesus Christ as evidenced by speaking in tongues." Why did these goofballs preach this? Because they do not understand proper...DOCTRINE.
If you don't have it, how can you know what is right and wrong? How can you say that someone knows the truth? You see, God did not give us His written word just so we could have something to put on our coffee table, or carry around with us on Sundays. He gave us His word--He spoke the words to the apostles and prophets--so that we would know Him, trust Him, fear Him, and obey Him. The pages aren't perforated. Their aren't little lines that say "Cut here if you don't like this." ALL Scripture is profitable. Every single verse. Even the ones that some people don't like because they make them feel bad. Oh, yeah, that's another reason He gave us His word. That whole "conviction of sin" thing.
You see, one can say they worship God. They can claim to believe in the same Jesus as you and I do (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons). But, how can you know if they do or not? Well, yo have to examine their...you know what. Do they believe Jesus is the eternal, uncreated Son of God, born of a Virgin (i.e., a chaste virgin), begotten by the Holy Spirit (not by physical sexual intercourse with God the Father)--or do they believe He was just an angel? Or that He was Satan's brother in some pre-mortal world? Do they believe that God the Father had to learn how to become God? Do they believe the Holy Spirit is simply "God's active force?" If they hold these doctrines, they do not know God.
Now, you'll get your Joel Osteens, your Emergents, your Purpose-Drivers who will say that, "Well, we should just help these people be the best people they can be!"
Who cares if they're lost and headed for eternal destruction?
"Let's just help them cope with their life for now! In fact, lets show them how to have their Best Life Now!!" If these people would study to show themselves approved (2nd Timothy 2:15), and would actually study their Bibles instead of just skimming over the tough parts, they would fall on their face, repent, and pray for the lost instead of heaping scorn on those of us who understand the importance of proper doctrine.
Oh, I'm sorry. That just makes me a member of the "doctrine police." So be it. There's a reason Paul said to "gove attendance to...doctrine." Because it's IMPORTANT!!! Here are some more verses that show how important this is:
- 1st Timothy 1:3-4--As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
- 1st Timothy 4:16--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.
- 1st Timothy 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...from such withdraw thyself.
- 2nd Timothy 4:2-4--Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
- Titus 2:1, 6-8--But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine...Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
- 2nd John 1:9-11--Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
- Revelation 2:14-15--"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."
But, nah, doctrine isn't important.