For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.(2Ti 4:3-4)
Our brother Marc gave a very powerful message on the importance of doctrine recently. Here’s the link and if you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it http://www.thewordandtheway.net/TWTW%20Audio%20Messages/the-importance-of-doctrine/. We’ve gotten some pretty interesting feedback on this message, mostly from people who simply reacted to the title without listening to him at all. But the feedback hinges on the word “doctrine” and that somehow this is a bad word. This comes from a misreading of the words of the Messiah:
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS (commandments) OF MEN.'”(Mat 15:7-9)
Which is a quote from Isaiah:
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, (Isa 29:13 NASB)
Which when we look at the Brenton translation of the LXX, it matches perfectly:
And the Lord has said, This people draw nigh to me with their mouth, and they honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.(Isa 29:13 Brenton)
So what this says is that people who teach commandments or doctrines of men are the hypocrites. But some have misread this to mean that any doctrine is a commandment of men. That’s not what it says and that’s not the definition of doctrine. Here’s the definition of doctrine:
From G1320; instruction (the function or the information): – doctrine, learning, teaching.
You see, a doctrine is just a teaching or an instruction. What other word means instruction that we might be familiar with?
torah (435d); from H3384; direction, instruction, law: — custom (1), instruction (10), instructions (1), Law (1), law (188), laws (10), ruling (1), teaching (7), teachings (1).
Yes, the word Torah also means instruction as well as direction. Doctrine and Torah are somewhat synonymous. So the folks who have made “bad teaching” the definition of the word “doctrine” have gone a little too far. We do this with the word “tradition” as well. We see that Yeshua admonished the Pharisees for elevating their traditions to the level of true Torah (or even beyond) so we want to put up a wall and not have any traditions at all. This is a phase many who leave Babylon go through. I had my time in the “no doctrine zone” myself.
When we at my house figured out Christmas, Easter, Sunday, and the Trinity were all doctrines of men replete with traditions of men, we went through a phase without any traditions at all and just a literal application of the scriptures. You know what? The scriptures actually leave out some pretty important information. What? That’s blasphemy! The scriptures tell us everything! Well, not they don’t. For instance, the scriptures do not tell us how to have a holy convocation. We are commanded to have them on Shabbat and the annual appointed times, but we are left to decided how we observe the days on our own. This means we have to make decisions on starting or adopting some traditions of our own. We just have to be careful that they do not take on a life of their own.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.(Luk 22:19-20)
Now, if we throw out all the traditions, we miss some pretty important info right here. It says that after Yeshua had taken bread He gave thanks and He did the same with the wine. Those who have attended a Seder or Havdalah know what that means. It’s an ancient tradition where Jews will thank YHVH for the bread and for the fruit of the vine. Yeshua wasn’t against traditions, no not at all! He was against them when they contradict scripture and when men misuse them!
The same holds true for doctrine.
The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching (doctrine) is not Mine, but His who sent Me. (Joh 7:15-16)
The Jews in this passage were astonished because Yeshua was teaching properly without being formally educated. In this case they agreed with His doctrine and He properly gave the credit to His Father.
There is much to be said about the exercise of removing all doctrine from one’s life and then rebuilding on a solid foundation. But rebuild we must. Marc’s message is very good and it illustrates the problems with bad doctrines very, very well. But in order to identify bad doctrine, we have to have good doctrine. And we have to give thanks to our Father for revealing it to us!