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The New Testament stresses the importance of protecting sound doctrine in the church, yet many neglect this instruction. Steve Ham, AiG–U.S., examines this issue.
holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (Titus 1:9)
Today’s big question: how do we protect the church?
Protecting doctrine has always been one of the major purposes of the church. When we read through the letters of Paul, Peter, and John, their strong stand on biblical truth is abundantly evident. The New Testament regularly deals with false doctrine and instructs believers to protect doctrine in the church.
In fact, throughout his letters to Timothy and Titus, known as the Pastoral Epistles, Paul consistently advised these young ministers to deal with wayward doctrine in the church. For example, in 1 Timothy 6:3–5, Paul explained that some have used the church for their own selfish gain by teaching that godliness leads to financial gain. This is an idea that we still hear in many churches today. Paul corrected this false teaching by showing Timothy that true gain is only found through godliness with contentment, and it has nothing to do with material riches.
In 2 Timothy 4:1–5, Paul exhorted Timothy to preach the Word both in season and out of season because the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. Instead, they would gather teachers who would flatter the listeners by telling them what they wanted to hear. Paul’s response was to preach the word and to patiently convince, rebuke, and exhort the flock.
The Pastoral Epistles were written to advise church leaders about the proper functions and governance of the church. The need to protect sound doctrine is repeated over and over again in these books, which demonstrates its importance. Paul wrote about trusting Scripture and rejecting human wisdom in other places as well, such as 1 Corinthians 2:4–5 and Colossians 2:8.
Maintaining sound doctrine has been neglected in the church, and as a result, the church has been weakened. When Paul established local churches on his missionary journeys, he was careful to set up strong, qualified leaders to oversee the congregations.
Passages such as Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Timothy 3:1–3 provide thorough lists of characteristics describing the type of people God calls into spiritual oversight of His church. The more you read over these lists of qualifications and character traits, the more you see that the only people who can lead and protect the church are those who stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God and abide in Christ.
Today’s big idea: the Bible demands that church leaders protect good doctrine.
What to pray: thank God for raising up godly leaders who protect the church.