10/24/2022 0 Comments
October 24, 2022
This Week's Teaching | Prayer Requests
"Sound Doctrine? It's Not What You Think!"
When the Bible talks about “sound doctrine,” most people think that means "correct theology." But sound doctrine is actually more about how we live than what we think.
Perhaps that feels like a forced distinction. What we think affects how we live. Of course it does. But I think it’s a necessary distinction — that is, if we’re to restore ourselves to a simpler faith.
The word “doctrine” just means “the teachings.” It can be the doctrines of a religious group, or of a political group, or of any group that has a common understanding that they gather around.
When we talk about the doctrines of the Church, it includes traditions and theological understandings — neither of which are inherently bad, both of which contain much good. But the foundational doctrines of the Church are simply the teachings of Jesus, as taught by his apostles.
If our only doctrine was what Jesus taught, that would be enough. That conviction is at the core of this “simpler church” model we’re following. When we “devote ourselves to the teachings of the apostles,” it is because we are following the teachings of Jesus.
We are followers of the Way of Jesus, as taught by the apostles, so we study the scriptures written by those apostles. And in those scriptures we read that elders (pastors, overseers) should “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”
I think most of us hear that as “teach theology.” And some of us are so energized by it that, in our zeal, we take charge of the conversation with fancy words to describe complex and abstract thoughts. Honestly, I love that God has created some of us with a knack for understanding complex thoughts, synthesizing different concepts, and boiling them down into a common language for our common good. But just as honestly, it’s overwhelming when people quarrel about words and meanings of words. It’s actually a sin. It doesn’t produce good fruit.
But, as we study the scriptures, we see that “sound doctrine” is less about what we think, and more about what we do. To teach sound doctrine is to remind and encourage people to live temperate lives, worthy of respect, being self-controlled, loving, kind, pure, reverent, etc., living in ways that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Amen.
Once we’ve prioritized that, it’s fine to have complex thoughts, and to develop theological understandings. Of course it is. It can even be helpful. But only if, ahead of that, we are following Jesus in how we live, not just thinking about it.
As I explore this further in this week’s teaching, I start off with two statements:
I trust you’ll find 20 minutes when you can watch prayerfully and consider what it means for your life and faith.
Devoted to Prayer
Please be praying for God to open a door for ministry in areas where there has been interest in our simpler way of being church, represented by stars in the above map.
When Paul writes to others from his missionary journeys, he talks about some places where “a great door has been opened for effective ministry.” It seems that God is starting to open such a door with regard to our X242 ministry. Please pray for wisdom and discernment that we would make the most of every opportunity in each of the above areas.
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Roger Shenk is the pastor of X242, a network of microchurches.