Good doctrine … there I said it … the “D” word. It seems, in many churches, we’re afraid of the word and of calling other biblical concepts by their traditional or biblical names. I understand the value of making preaching and teaching relevant. But have we gone to such lengths to avoid using biblical terminology that we’re at risk of producing a generation of biblical illiterates?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, doctrine is, “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.” Biblical doctrine is made up of the ideas and beliefs that the Bible teaches to be true. It’s the Bible carefully studied and understood.
Good doctrine matters because what we believe about God, His sovereignty, and His dealings with those He loves, determines how we’ll respond to the tests and trials of life among other things. It also determines whether we witness, how we interact with others, especially our spouses and children, and whether we have peace at the end of our lives. Good doctrine matters more than we know.
Isaiah 15 & 16
2 Corinthians 4.1-18
Good Doctrine Matters!
2 Corinthians 4.1-18:
Good Doctrine Concerning Tests & Trials
One area where good doctrine is vitally important concerns the tests and trials we experience in life, like the people whose lives have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as my husband talked about in his sermon, a couple of Sundays ago.
Look at what Paul had to say about his own in verses 1, 7-10:
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart:
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
What if you believe God will give you whatever you desire if you just have enough faith?
What if you believe God always wants His children healed physically, guarantees that our children will grow up to serve Him, and gives us freedom from all hardship?
Then … what if … God doesn’t make you rich or heal your body? What if your child gets sick? What if you continue to struggle financially? What if your husband doesn’t get saved or come back home or never changes? What if the man of your dreams doesn’t appear? What if you suffer physically? What if your children rebel?
You can start to wonder: Does God really care about me? What’s wrong with my faith? Why does this stuff seem to be working for everyone but me? Ironically, what seems so appealing, can actually lead to despair because we don’t have a Biblical view of how God works through the tests and trials of life.
Read the above verses again. Verse 1 says, “… we do not lose heart.” Yet look again at 8-10. Paul said he was “hard-pressed on every side.” They were under great pressure or strain, but it didn’t crush them. They were perplexed by what was happening and why, but it didn’t lead to despair because they trusted the One who allowed the circumstances. They were persecuted, but knew that it didn’t mean God had abandoned them. At times, they were knocked down, but it didn’t destroy them.
How could Paul have suffered all that he did and not be destroyed or driven to despair? Because he knew the One who allowed those circumstances did so for His glory, for His sovereign purposes, and ultimately for their good (Rom. 8.28-29).
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Today’s Other Readings:
Isaiah 15 & 16:
Judgment Against Gentile Nations
Isaiah not only warned God’s people of coming judgment, but he also warned of His judgment against other nations.
Moab was a nation that descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot through incest with his daughter. This prophecy warned of the destruction of their land and resources, as well as, coming military defeat.
Despising God’s Blessings
Verses 24-25, “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents …”
These verses contrast believing God’s word with a lack of contentment (they despised the pleasant land—God’s blessing) and complaining. We’re faced with the same choice. Are we going to be thankful or discontent? Are we going to trust God and enjoy His blessings or are we going to be constantly wanting more?
Make Every Effort
Verse 9, “Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another.”
Whether we have sinned against someone else (Matt. 5.23-24) or we are the one sinned against (Matt. 18.15), we should make every attempt to seek reconciliation with others and to keep the circle of involvement as small as possible, beginning with just you and your brother, sister or neighbor. Only when we are unable to resolve our issues do we widen the circle and, even then, it needs to be done in biblical ways, not with gossip and malice.
In the next few days, we’ll ask ourselves whether we’re shining the light of Christ or whining like the rest of the world, talk about how delayed obedience equals disobedience, presumptuous sins and more.
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About When Life Is Hard: When life is hard, really hard, we often spend all our time pleading, begging, yelling, refusing, and questioning. While none of these things are necessarily unusual, they are missing the ultimate point. When life is hard, when things get ugly, when all hope seems to be lost… that is when we are able to display the superiority of the life lived in God.
It is in those moments of despair, when we question what is happening, when we don’t know what to do, when some trials never seem to end, that we can lean most heavily on God’s promises and truths.
Working his way through five questions we’ve all had run through our heads, trusted pastor James MacDonald helps us understand what we should do now. We begin the journey by looking at different types of “trials”, figuring out exactly what we’re dealing with, and recognizing that God certainly knows. Second, the obvious question: “Why?” God sees us going through trials and we long for two things: for them to be over and to know why they happened in the first place. Next, we need to know what to do with these trials when they come (and they will most certainly come). Fourth, we have all wondered it, can trials be refused? Are God’s purposes really being fulfilled in the midst of this trying time? And lastly, God reveals Himself to us through these trials. . . and sometimes, they just don’t ever end. Why doesn’t this trial go away?
God told us to expect trials, but we can grow and find hope when they come.
Always True: God’s 5 Promises When Life Is Hard: The biblical hope of God’s promises in the midst of life’s storms, also by James MacDonald.
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