The Doctrine of Christ

Seminary studies have proven quite difficult, costly, and eternally rewarding. One recently fulfilling assignment included a position paper concerning the doctrine of Christ

What is Doctrine? 

The word doctrine originates from the greek word δόγμα (dogma) and essentially translates into teaching or what is taught

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul urges his protégé to “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). Careful scrutiny of doctrine is Paul’s charge to Timothy, but what is doctrine and why is it important?

What is the importance of Doctrine? 

Doctrine is the concise, summary statements of Scripture on certain theological topics.[1] The importance of doctrine, according to Paul, is its ability to save those who hear it (1 Timothy 4:16). However, one must understand doctrine is not salvific, the person of Jesus Christ is.

Acts 4:11-12 says, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Salvation is found in no one else and nothing else other than Christ alone. In the words of John Stott, “Christ is the centre of Christianity; all else is circumference.”[2]

One may ask the question concerning the importance of doctrine if Christ is the centre of Christianity?

Paul’s charge to Timothy gives us a clear answer. Paul commands Timothy to keep a close watch on the teaching because it saves. What is this teaching he has entrusted to Timothy? It is the teaching concerning Christ.

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul relays the priority of this Christ-centered teaching, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Coritnhians 15:1-5).

It is this same gospel that Paul encourages Timothy to “guard” in 2 Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). 

Guard the good deposit.

In other words, protect the deposit of “sounds words you have heard from me” (2 Timothy 1:13). Guard the teaching Timothy! Paul encourages his fellow companion in Christ to follow his pattern of teaching sound and true doctrine. 

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul warns him to “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Why is Paul so concerned with doctrine? 

The importance of doctrine is its ability to lead to Christ, and it is only through Christ that salvation is received. The words we speak concerning the life, death, and ressurection of Jesus have the ability to save because they reveal His ability to save.

Doctrine is the vehicle to salvation, but Jesus is the requirement and assurance of salvation.

Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, and it is the words of Paul, Timothy, and the Scriptures that are of utmost importance because they are of Christ.

God has ordained that the testimony of eyewitnesses concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus would deposit the message to future generations. Jesus is able to save completely, but we must endeavor to fully understand, know, and trust in the Christ who is the centre of all Christianity. Consequently, we must trust in the Christ as revealed to us and in accordance with the Scriptures.

In order to grasp the doctrine of Christ, we will examine biblical texts over the next few weeks that reveal the person, nature, life, death, and resurrection of this carpenter of Nazareth, the Son of God.

[1] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 1999), 40.

[2] John Stott, Basic Christianity (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2012), 21.

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