Life is about God, his glory, and the success of his purposes in and through us. The Bible points us to this from cover to cover.Paul Tripp
To wrap up this theological series, we will consider how we enact the doctrinal truths we’ve surveyed. Even beyond salvation, Scripture continues playing a role in our spiritual formation as we learn and live the Word to the glory of God. The Scriptures teach us many things; the Bible convicts, corrects, and trains in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Developing a robust theology is an important part of our growth, because what we believe affects how we live. Michael Horton puts it like this: “Theology is not about preparing for an exam – it is about preparing for life – it is about living and dying well.”
Christians acknowledge that God has spoken through human authors by way of his Spirit, and that God’s revelation reached its fulfillment when he spoke his final word to us in his Son, Jesus Christ. In the doctrines of sufficiency and necessity of the Scriptures, we see a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Affirming these characteristics of the Bible leads born again believers to hear, read, study, and learn the Scriptures with anticipation of clarity in what God has revealed. But make no mistake, we are in constant need of help from the Spirit to understand Scripture and apply it.
Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 1:23-25: “…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” The Bible provides us with the basic story we need in order to understand our world and to live in it as God’s people. Yet, it is one thing to confess the Bible to be the Word of God, and quite another thing to live out its doctrinal truths. What we do, how we live, displays what we truly believe. We have to choose what we will believe. So how do we do that? By abiding in the Word of God. By reading, studying, thinking, and talking about the truths of Scripture. It’s total surrender, wholehearted dependence on what God has told us about who He is and who we are in Him.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ - Phil. 3:7-8
Are you experiencing growth in knowing God personally, as the Holy Spirit reveals details of Him through His Word? Is spending time with God in His Word a priority to you? Can you say with Paul, “Count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8)? How can we maintain a passion to know God? As God’s children, we are supernaturally renewed moment by moment, day by day, as we hear, read, learn, and live out the truth of the Scriptures.
If you wish to know God, you must know his Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by his Word. If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word.– Charles Spurgeon
As we’ve merely skimmed the surface of Doctrine of the Word of God while considering the implications and applications, we can know one thing for certain – we are in desperate need of God’s revelation to be saved and transformed. Words of hope and promise are splashed across every page of the Bible, pointing us to Jesus. James teaches us we were born again “by the word of truth” (James 1:18).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? - John 14:6-9
Jesus Christ is the only way to know the Father (John 14:6-9), but perhaps you’ve never met Jesus. Do you know him personally? Knowing him personally involves knowing many facts about him, yes, but it also demands much more. Personal knowledge involves a relationship. Knowing Jesus well requires a saving faith followed with commitment and time spent together. The Bible is the only certain and sufficient, inerrant, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephes. 2:20; Rom. 1:19-21; Rom. 2:14,15; Psalms 19:1-3; Heb. 1:1; Prov. 22:19-21; Rom. 15:4; 2 Pet. 1:19,20).
The triune God, the Christian God of the Scriptures, is the ultimate teacher when it comes to Christian doctrine. God loves us! And in His goodness, He has given us this gift of Scripture (Psalm 119:68) that we might learn of Him and of His gospel, and that we might please Him in our walk. By directing our faith and our love toward God by way of the Scriptures, it enables us to walk in His presence and give Him the glory He deserves (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Pet. 3:18).
...whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. - 1 Pet. 4:11
Sound doctrine helps to overcome wrong ideas. If you believe wrong, you behave wrong. The Spirit of God enables us to live life by reorienting our thought patterns so that we see God, the world, and ourselves from God’s perspective. At the same time He changes our affections so that we love God and value the things that are important to Him. What does the Spirit use to produce this wonderful transformation in us? He uses the Bible, particularly the doctrines of Scripture. God saves us and sanctifies us through the truth (James 1:18; John 17:17-19). Let’s enact truth in doctrine by changing how we think, and choose to believe what God has said. Because, when we do, it will change how we live.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. - Col. 2:6-8
Doctrine is fundamental to successful Christian living. It’s what sets the foundation to build a godly life that endures temptations, persecution, and sets the course for a life of consistent growth in Christlikeness. The teaching and preaching of doctrine is an important task for the church. The Apostle Paul stressed this in his letter to the Ephesians (4:19). Doctrine taught rightly informs the mind and enflames the heart. Doctrine matters in the church and life of every Christian. Therefore, the major doctrines of the Bible are not just dry subjects of interest only to biblical scholars and pastors. They are intensely practical truths. You may have sound doctrine in your head and live poorly, but you cannot live well without sound doctrine in your heart. Good doctrine is meant to be lived. To enact biblical doctrine, we live it, we share it, and as Christ’s church, we pass it on from generation to generation.
Christian doctrine has a twofold object. The primary object of doctrine is God; the secondary object is all things in relation to God. Doctrine teaches us to see God as the one from whom and through whom and to whom all things exist, and doctrine directs our lives to this God’s glory.– Scott Swain
For further study, I recommend reading from my sources for this series that are found in the intro post, It is Written: An Eight Part Theological Series.