Doctrine vs. practice—must we choose?

Post an article on doctrine, and especially on one of the brotherhood’s favorite subjects, and our people will flock to it. Post one on prayer, evangelism, the Christian virtues, or some other practical aspect of our faith, and watch it cry for attention. This tendency has been noted over and over again in the various sites published by Forthright/GoSpeak.

If there is a solution to this problem—and it is a serious one—only God knows. (He does know the solution: it’s called repentance. How to get our people to repent is another issue.)

If the Lord Jesus requires obedience to his covenant, let us be obedient in all things. Let us teach all his will, and practice it as well.

The apostle Paul often divided his letters in two major parts, the doctrinal and the practical. The latter flows from the former. Doctrine determines action. From the teaching of God’s truth always comes a “therefore.”

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Rom 12.1.

I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, Eph 4.1.

But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching, Tt 2.1

On the other hand, some, apparently influenced by postmodernism, have gone out from us by emphasizing practice to the detriment of doctrine. That is the other extreme.

God does not want us to choose doctrine or practice, but both. He will not brook preferring one over the other. In the church of God, let us determine that we will practice all that we preach, that we will preach all that the Word contains.

No one ought to congratulate himself that he has sound doctrine if the full practice of the life of Christ is not evident in him. Nor should one feel superior spouting words of grace and freedom while spurning the Lord’s commandments.

Let us pray that God will show us our faults and give us grace and strength to change our ways.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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