It is Not Enough to Know the Facts of Doctrine

“Paul says that ministers must not only be learned and instructed in doctrine, but also powerful both to resist the attacks of the enemies of God and his word and to uproot the seeds the devil has sown for a time.” (John Calvin)

Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

There are many pastors and Christian teachers who have a wide knowledge of Christian (Bible) doctrine. They have most commonly trained in some seminary or Bible college, studied systematic theology, and so on. But knowledge of the facts of doctrine is not always accompanied by the wisdom of God.

Church leaders must be able to rebuke those who contradict God’s Word, but such contradiction is not always easy to detect. For instance, if a person comes to a local church and begins to spread some heresy, denying some fundamental element of the gospel for example, a sound knowledge of Bible doctrine will enable it to be recognized, rebuked, and rejected. Sometimes these kinds of heresy are more obvious, at other times more subtle and covert. But typically they are detected. (Whether the church leaders actually take action and reject the factious man is another question).

But there is another kind of bad seed which the devil sows among us and which typically goes undetected. This is the reviler, the abuser, the sociopath, or the narcissist. Such a person may even hold to a profession of sound doctrine, but this kind’s heresy is that of a more “practical” nature. This kind lusts for power, reviles the innocent, regards himself as superior and entitled (see Diotrephes in 3 John), wears a disguise of saintliness on Sunday, and yet for all his profession of sound doctrine, he is a wolf. And as I said, this kind is just as much an emissary of the devil as is the doctrinal heretic. In ways, he is more dangerous. The first kind (the doctrinal heretic) will generally be confronted in a typical Bible-believing church. But the second kind, well, that is another story. The typical scenario is that such a wolf continues undetected, unrecognized, and even enabled and supported.

This is why knowledge of Bible doctrine must be accompanied by God’s wisdom. The one discovers the error of the wolf’s words. The second (wisdom) discovers the motives of the heart. God’s wisdom, it seems, it rather rare nowadays among the people of God.

One thought on “It is Not Enough to Know the Facts of Doctrine

  1. Many neglect a passage in 1 Timothy that lists those things that are not according to sound doctrine and they all include … bad behavior!

    “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,”
    ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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