INTRODUCTION TO DOCTRINE
"God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." (Rom 6:17)
That form of doctrine to which Paul refers in Romans chapter six is the doctrine which calls sinners to forsake their sins and yield their lives as servants unto righteousness. It is the doctrine which directs mankind to the door of entry into a place of favor with The Almighty God, who created all things for His own pleasure and glory. All of mankind has drifted far away from that place because of the fall of Adam, and God has provided a means of reconciliation through the sacrifice of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, for our sins.
Once a person has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, by repentance and forgiveness of sins, the need for doctrine does not go away. Paul told Timothy that a continued faithfulness to doctrine plays a very important role in our ultimate salvation. We are able to "endure to the end" by adherence to the doctrine of Jesus Christ as well as the "Apostlesí doctrine." (Acts 2:41,42) In writing to the young Timothy, Paul said,
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (manner of life), in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 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." (1 Tim. 4:12-16)
It is important to consciously keep doctrine in mind, partly because we are so prone to forget. We get busy with life and so easily turn to "our way" and forget the instructions of our Maker. As a result we get caught in the snare which plagues all of humanity; "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:" (Prov 21:2) He said further, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov 14:12; 16:25) God has not left us to our own devices, lest we sin against Him, and against ourselves, as well as others, and bring great harm upon ourselves. In Paulís epistle to the Romans, he made it clear that we do not have the option of choice in the details of our lives. However, we do have an option. It is to decide whether we will yield our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, or whether we will yield them as instruments to God.. If we will yield them to God, we will follow His instructions. Romans 6:16-18, makes the point very well.
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
Not all Christians nor Christian ministers will be willing to be obedient to Gods doctrine. Some just want to go to church, sing a little, hear a comfortable speech, and return to their pleasures. Therefore we are warned by the Apostle Paul, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom 16:17,18)
The Doctrine of GOD our Savior covers several different areas. It begins with the doctrine of "Repentance and Faith in God," and extends unto "The Resurrection of the Dead" and of "Eternal Judgment." Once we have come to God through repentance and faith in God, we become exposed to the broader view of all of the aspects of Godís doctrine.
Three times, in Matthew and Mark we are told that they were "astonished at Jesusí doctrine." They were astonished as much by the way He went about putting it over as they were about the content, "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." They were more accustomed to the Scribes philosophizing, instead of showing forth the truth of God clearly. Jesus could speak with authority, because He knew exactly what God meant by what He said, and God had sent Jesus with full authority to represent Him in every way. (John 7:16)
The first mention of their astonishment at Jesusí doctrine was when He had concluded His "Sermon on the Mount." (Matt. 7:28) What a wonderful variety of things Jesus covered in that sermon. It contains all of the basic tenets of the New Covenant, (New Testament), and it embodies the fundamentals of living a life hidden in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The fourteen tenets in "The Sermon on the Mount" are the New Testament equivalent of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. These fourteen tenets are prophesied of in Ezekielís description of the temple in Ezek.43:15-18 . Keep in mind that Paul showed that the temple was a figure of the "Church." (Eph. 2:21)
"So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns. And the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof. And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; . . .And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it."
It shall be an altar of "Twelve," sitting upon a base of "Fourteen." The altar of the New Testament "temple" is found in Heb. 13:10. It is the Twelve Apostles. Jesus made that altar of twelve spiritual stones, just as the Father had told him to do in Exod. 20:25. "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it thou hast polluted it." Those Apostles had the testimony that thy had not been educated in the religious schools of their day. That is one reason that the Apostle Paul could never have been one of "The Twelve;" he had studied at the feet of the greatest of their teachers: Gamaleel.
The second mention of their astonishment at Jesusí doctrine is in Matt. 22:23-33. Jesus responded to a subtle question from the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. "And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."
The third mention of their astonishment at Jesusí doctrine is recorded in Mark 11:15-18. In this declaration of His doctrine Jesus, forcefully and adamantly, condemned the apostate covetous practices of the religious leaders of His day, pointed out how they should be performing, in order to measure up to Godís will for His "Temple."
"And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine."
We see in Mark 4:2-9, that His parables were doctrine. "He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: . . . And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Also in Mark 12:38-40, His doctrine included warnings against religious deceivers. "He said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widowsí houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
Jesus told us that He had not come to promote himself, or to formulate His own doctrine and persuade us of it. He came to reveal The Father to us, and familiarize us with Godís desires and instructions for our lives, and to provide the means of our reconciliation with The Father. That mission was important enough for Jesus to leave all that Heaven had to offer and suffer here for a season.
In this series we will try to present all of the aspects of the doctrine of "Him that sent (Jesus)." (John 7:16) And if we will adhere faithfully to those things, we will both save ourselves and them that hear us.