No Longer Children Tossed To and Fro
The purpose of the apostolic and prophetic word which we now have in the Sacred Scriptures which the pastor preaches and teaches, with the help of those others in the church who do the same, is that the members may be solidly grounded in the faith such that they “may no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
And what does this tell us but that: 1) Doctrine is vitally important. Many tell us that “doctrine divides love unites,” in an effort to leave off with the teaching of doctrine as some may disagree. But the Christian faith proclaims a definite doctrine. “Doctrine” is derived from the Latin, docere, “to teach”; that is, “doctrine,” simply means, “the teaching,” in this case, the teaching of the Christian faith. The teaching of doctrine, of some body of propositions which are believed, is unavoidable. The only question is “What body of propositions?” Moreover, those who wish to avoid doctrine generally have sinful inclinations or agendas which they do not want challenged. Which leads us to: 2) There are those who would pervert the doctrine of the Christian faith and twist it to fit their own agenda and sinful inclinations. This is why Paul must warn us of those who do so. And then, 3) It is the teaching of the doctrine of our faith that ensures growing into maturity. Without solid biblical teaching, we remain babes in Christ forever—which is what some would prefer to be. And solid biblical teaching is exactly what pastors will give an account for on that great and terrible day.
But Paul also tells us that there is a way that doctrine must be presented, and that is by “speaking the truth in love.” There are times when we must “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). But even then it must be done in humility and with kindness. Too many of us have been guilty of beating people over the heads with our Bibles. This accomplishes nothing. It takes wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak, when the person before you truly wants to know the truth and when he only wants to bait and badger. Resist the latter by not engaging (Matthew 7:6). But when the Church hears the word of God and obeys and then speaks the truth in love, then do we grow into the Head (our Lord), and the local body grows into a healthy body “each part working properly…that builds itself up in love.” This is what the world desperately needs to see from us: a growing and healthy church where love drips from its very walls, a love built upon the sure foundation of Christ and his teaching.