The term “doctrine” generally means “teaching” or “instruction.” We usually use the term, however, to represent the whole content of what is taught in an educational program or catechism. The doctrine of the Church of God in Christ refers to what is taught throughout our brotherhood of member churches.

Our triune God has disseminated doctrine to His people. The Father said His doctrine dropped “as the rain” to the earth [Deut. 32:2a]. Jesus astounded hearers with his doctrine, “for his word was with power” [Luke 4:32]. And we are told the Holy Ghost is responsible to teach us all things [John 4:26], and bring to our remembrance what Jesus said. We know that God is sending teaching to the church.

It is the doctrine that was delivered to the church that saves and keeps saved individual believers. Paul instructed Timothy to heed “unto the doctrine” and to continue in it, “for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” [1 Tim. 4:16]. Right doctrine gave us power over sin; as Paul told the Romans, “ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you [Rom. 6:17]. Our doctrine helps us witness to others; the believer “may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” [Tit. 1:9]. In fact, any work we do for Christ is empowered by our doctrine; we are “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” by the doctrine we extract from scripture [2 Tim. 3:17].

We would be wise to consider that we also encounter false doctrine in the way. This is why the writer of Hebrews warned us to “be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” [Heb. 13:9]. In Jesus’ own day he had to guard his disciples from the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which was corrupted and false [Mat. 16:12]. And, of course, we no the origin of all false doctrine is ultimately the Devil; from the fall of mankind, he has been distorting God’s doctrine to snare human beings [2 Cor. 11:3]. False doctrine is propagated today principally through “false teachers” who rise among us and introduce “damnable heresies” to susceptible believers [2 Pet. 2:1]. Such false teachers have always troubled the church: epistles by Paul, John and Jude have large sections dealing with false doctrine’s threat to the nascent church. But as we look at the 2000 years since their day, we must admit that heretics and false teachers regularly come forward. We believers must stay vigilant against fals doctrine. We must let no man deceive us [Eph. 5:6]; we must let no man beguile us [Col. 2:18]; we must beware [Phil. 3:2; Col. 2:8; 2 Pet. 3:17]; and we must never give heed [1 Tim. 1:4; Tit. 1:14] to false doctrine.

This danger brings to the forefront how important it is to distinguish right from wrong doctrine. We will have to remain prayerful, and study God’s word to be confident in our knowledge of the truth. Most importantly, we need to let the Holy Ghost be our teacher [1 John 2:27] so that we will be fortified against error and have a mechanism to “try the spirits” that approach us with false teaching.

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