Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
This is a fitting follow up to the earlier post this week on the importance of teaching the Bible, doctrine and church history. It light of what recently transpired with World Vision and their conduct policy for employees, this is also an important reminder to remain tethered to the text and grounded in the gospel, to be vigilant to retain sound doctrine, to be convictionally committed in doctrine and practice to the authority of the Word of God.
The challenge of doctrinal heresy or aberration is not limited to some other place, but it can and does affect and infect the local churches where we serve. Paul exhorts to remember that the time is coming – and now is – “when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3).
A short time ago I received an email from one who was helping the leaders of a local church address one who espoused the aberrant teaching of the prosperity gospel. Like many/most of these teachers, he had influenced many. His foundation was unsound doctrine. Though this is tragic, just as sad were the many who were influenced or duped by him, those who had “itching ears.
In part I replied in the following way
You have, probably in a way you have not previously, begun to feel the urgency of the need for sound biblical truth in the midst of significant doctrinal aberrations and heresies, which have arisen due to an influential person espousing the aberrant teaching. As I ponder this, it reflects the importance of solid doctrine and a “head and soul doctor,” a pastor, who will give himself to “watch his (and the church’s) life and doctrine closely, for by it you will save both yourselves and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16).
Paul’s exhortation regarding the life-blood of sound (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Tit.1:9, 13: 2:1, 2, 8) doctrine (Rom. 16:17; Eph. 4:14;1 Tim. 1:3, 10; 4:6; 6:3; Tit.1:9, 2:1, 10; Heb. 6:1) is vital to the spiritual health and well-being of the church and is critical to remember. And for us, it is vital to remember that we, as called and gifted ministers of the gospel, we serve the Lord by serving people in the local church, and one of the most important ways we do that is to teach, train, live, model, etc., this “sound doctrine.” This is the heart of discipleship and disciple-making, so that the church will truly be the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), so that “sound doctrine” would be the foundation upon which we stand and the very air we breathe, so that we will not be tossed by the winds of doctrine (Eph. 4:11-16).
Here are a few important questions of application: