Understanding Biblical Doctrines
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The objective of this blog is to convey in a simplified, easy to understand manner an understanding of biblical doctrines and its importance in the lives of believers.
All Scripture is taken from the NKJV, ESV and NLT Versions
What is Biblical Doctrine?
Understanding biblical doctrines is very crucial to our Christian faith. Who we are as believers, What we do, our lives and vocation and service to God must be based on sound biblical teachings, sound doctrines. If our doctrine is based soundly upon Scripture, then it is possible that we are indeed walking in the path God designed for us. *** Doctrines is often times translated as Teachings***
Merriam Webster defines DOCTRINE as a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : dogma,
: something that is taught. According to the Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, DOCTRINE (Gk. didaskalia [didaskaliva]). is the act of teaching or that which is taught. In Scripture, then, doctrine refers to the entire body of essential theological truths that define and describe that message ( 1 Tim 1:10 ; 4:16 ; 6:3 ; Titus 1:9 ).
Biblical doctrine helps us understand the will of God for our lives. Biblical doctrine teaches us the nature and the character of God (Psalm 90:2, John 4:24), the path of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9–10), instruction for the church (1 Corinthians 14:26; Titus 2:1–10), and God’s standard of holiness for our lives (1 Peter 1:14–17; 1 Corinthians 6:18–20). It provides clarity to biblical truths and answers to questions such as "What does God want us to know about Him, about His divine plan for mankind? Understanding biblical doctrines prevents us from falling into the traps of erroneous or false doctrine which scripture has already cautioned us about. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;" 2 Timothy 4:3 NKJV.
Let us first of all define the Christian Faith.
According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The bible goes ahead later on in the chapter to highlight examples of people who displayed great faith throughout biblical history, the most popular bible character, being Abraham. The most essential thing to know about faith, according to scripture, is that without faith, we cannot please God; in fact, Hebrews 11:6 states it clearly that it is impossible to please the Lord God without faith. As Christians, we must believe in the Almighty God, the Triune God we cannot see, believe that He exists and is ever-present in the universe.
For our faith to increase daily, we must accurately understand that the Bible, The Word of God, is the foundation of our faith. We must understand the Word of God if we want more faith. Apostle Paul states in Romans 10:17, " So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith comes by hearing and putting it into action. The Word of God is indeed the source of our faith, and when we apply that faith in our lives through our actions, it pleases God. James 2:14-24. There are various types of faith, and they include: saving faith, indwelling faith, the spiritual gift of faith, and doctrinal faith, which I want to focus on here.
What is Doctrinal Faith?
It is a type of faith that simply has to do with what we believe in; the Christian's declaration of faith is called the " Statement of Faith." To have an accurate statement of faith, your personal faith must be entirely and effectively founded upon the Word of God. If you look at documents or go on websites of Christian-based organizations, ministries, etc., you will observe that they all have their Statement of Faith listed. If you do not see a statement of belief or faith in a Christian organization you are interested in affiliating with, you must ask to see one before going any further with that organization. You want to ensure that what you believe in is what they also believe in, and you are not being misled by false doctrines.
Understanding The Doctrine of Scripture
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deut. 29:29 ESV
There are two types of revelation from God
1. General Revelation
2. Special Revelation
With general revelation, the Lord God's existence and power are revealed through nature ( what we physically see around us). "For his invisible attributes; namely, his eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:20. Secondly, it comes from the conscience, see Romans 2:14-16 and thirdly through history, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6.
The Holy Bible is the special revelation of God to man. Throughout the ages, it has had the greatest influence on humankind in every sphere of our existence. Revelation was the act of God that gave men knowledge about Himself and his creation. The Bible was written by over forty men inspired of God to share Himself with humankind. Their assignment was to record the things that were revealed to them and through them to the world. His revelation is to show not only Himself but His divine will for all humankind. The things that God has chosen to reveal to us is sufficient to carry out His purpose in our lives. We do not need to know more than that; God has chosen to keep certain things hidden hence His word in Deut 29:29, which states the secret things belong to the Lord our God.
The Importance of Revelation
Why is the Revelation of God essential to human kind?
1. The Bible which is the revelation of God reveals the Person of God. Although God has revealed Himself to us through general revelation i.e nature, Romans 1:18-21, history 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, God has used special revelation to reveal His person. He has revealed Himself by His attributes, His names e.g Yahweh, I am, and His divine plan.
2. For Salvation Purposes - The sacrifice that was made on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God could only be revealed through special revelation. John 1:10.History i.e general revelation reveals Christ existed and that He died but special revelation reveals why He died ( for our sins).
3. It is important for all doctrine and for our Christian life - Without the Bible, we will not be able to completely understand the teachings of God on certain matters when we study it, and also differentiate between sound doctrine and false doctrine. As a result it will be quite challenging to live a righteous life; to live the way God desires for us live. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
The Revelation of God has been revealed to us for a purpose. It has been revealed to show who God is, His divine will for our lives, and how He desires for us to live as His children. The Bible, which is special revelation, was given to know how we should live and how to serve Him faithfully. The Bible is our manual to help guide our lives, how we live, how we relate with others. It is also for encouragement, motivation, it reveal areas in our lives where we are committing sin, and reveals how to use it as a weapon to fight the enemy of our soul, satan. The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to us. Therefore it is necessary to treasure it, study it daily, and proactively apply the biblical principles to your life. It enables you to know God more, and when we do, He will continually reveal new things to us. Joshua 1:8, James 1:22.
The Bible, which is the Word of God, was designed by the Lord God to inspire humankind. The Bible's primary purpose is to affect change in people, i.e., impact the lives of everyone who reads and meditate on God's Holy Word in a manner that brings about a transformation in their lives. The Bible is more than just a historical book; it's more than a book filled with archeological and geographical information. It is a unique and powerful book written by over forty authors of various backgrounds over 1600 years to demonstrate God's love for humankind.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God according to 2 Timothy 3:16a. Through the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit, these forty human authors of the Bible were inspired to write God's Word for the sake of humankind. God wanted humans to know about Him, Who He is, and His hope for all humanity. The entire Scripture/Bible is full of inspiration from the history, testimonies, poetry, songs to the epistles, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The infallible and inerrant Word of God has been given to all God's children as the manual to guide their life's journey as they strive to live a life of godliness.
Friends, to live the life that God has purposed for you, to know the heart and mind of God, every Christian must read, study, and meditate on His Word regularly and apply the contents to their lives. No other book on earth, but the Bible will bring you closer to the Lord God, mature you as a believer, and help you fulfill your divine purpose.
The Inerrancy of Scripture
The word "Inerrant" means "Without mistakes or without error"
According to Paul Feinberg, who was a Theologian and Professor of Systematic Theology, Inerrancy
" is the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.”
Does Inerrancy and Infallibility mean the same thing?
These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Infallibility means incapable of making a mistake, while Inerrancy implies the absence of any error. Being infallible is usually used to indicate reliability and trustworthiness. It refers to something that is without any blemish or defect.
Those who trust the Bible's infallible teachings will never be led astray. Some Christians generally use the terms inerrancy and infallibility in slightly different ways. Inerrancy contends that the Bible does not have any errors of fact or any contradictory statements. It is more concerned with the details of Scripture. The Bible teaches Inerrancy, 2 Timothy 3:16, Jesus testified to the Inerrancy of Scripture; Matthew 4:1-11, History, Geology, Archeology, etc. proved the reliability of Scripture.
It is unfortunate to see that even within the church, some doubt the Scripture's Inerrancy and reliability. Despite the historical, archaeological proofs, eyewitness incidents, prophecies fulfilled. For example, hundreds of prophecies relating to our Lord Jesus Christ's coming in the Old Testament were fulfilled. Yet there is doubt! The doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy is a significant one because the truth does matter. This issue reflects on God's character and is fundamental to our understanding of everything the Bible teaches. The Bible is a reflection of God, Himself, His nature and all that He is "All scripture is God-breathed" 2 Timothy 3:16, Jeremiah 1:2. There is no valid reason for anyone, especially those who call themselves Christians, to doubt the authority and accuracy of Scripture. The Bible is credible, inerrant, and infallible.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" Psalm 19:7
"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Acts 17:11
Interpreting The Bible
How does a person effectively interpret Scripture? It is important to understand that without the intervention or influence of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot effectively interpret the contents of the Bible with simply human logic or reasoning. Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of Scripture comes through the revelational power of the Holy Spirit, our teacher, and guide. The Holy Spirit of God guides us in comprehending the contents of the Bible.
Theologians refer to the intervention or work of the Holy Spirit as Illumination or biblical Illumination.
To "illuminate" means the state of being enlightened.
And so what does illumination within the biblical context mean?
Here is how Christian author and Dean of Liberty University's School of Religion, Elmer L Towns puts it. He states "Illumination is the ministry of the Holy Spirit that enables us to understand and apply the spiritual message of the Scriptures. When a Christian sits before an open Bible and begins to discover the truths of Scripture, this ministry of the Holy Spirit enables him to understand the message of Scripture. The Holy Spirit directly illuminates men's understanding. " To enable the Holy Spirit to aid you into interpreting the Bible, there are certain principles that the believer has to adhere to or practice.
1). The believer must have an active prayer life. Prayer goes along with studying and meditation of scripture which is the next principle.
2). Studying Scripture; becoming a bible scholar where you spend quality time studying and meditating on scripture, comparing scriptures, teaching from Old Testament to New Testament..
3). Examining one's self daily to ensure that one is still in right standing with the Lord. Confessing our sins regularly and daily cleansing is significant in our relationship with God.
Friends, the Bible is a spiritual book. It is also a book that if not careful, can be easily misconstrued as a result of its figurative languages i.e metaphor. There will surely be disagreements amongst Christians in their interpretation of the Bible, words taken out of context, and that is why the presence of the Holy Spirit is crucial to helping us to understand God's Word and knowing how to effectively apply it to our life situations.
Here are some scripture texts that references the working of the Holy Spirit via Illumination
1 Corinthians 2: 12-16, John 14:26, John 16:13-16, Daniel 5:14, 1 John 4:2
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