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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Why Baptists Preach Doctrine

North Star Baptist

As printed in The Baptist Challenge, March 2014

The pastor of a church of another faith in my town once said to me, “If you Baptists would not preach so much of your doctrine you would get along a lot better and grow a lot faster.” The poor fellow had not stopped to think that his church in the town had an average Sunday School attendance at half of what they once had when the population of the town was half what it is now.

It did not seem to have dawned upon him that where he sprinkled about eight people during the year, in addition to the babies he had sprinkled, our church that same year had baptized a few under one hundred who professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. He did not know that, of twenty-eight college students baptized into the membership of our church that year, fourteen of them had come from membership in churches of other faiths with a number coming from his own church.

A pastor of a church of another faith said to me one day, “If you will notice, you will find that Baptists grow where poverty and ignorance abound.” I recall that it was said of Jesus, “And the common people heard him gladly.” (Mark 12:17)

But, now to the question: “Why do Baptist Preach Doctrine?”

I. We preach it because we have nothing else worthwhile to preach.

What do we mean by “doctrine?” The word “doctrine” is used some forty-eight times in the New Testament. It simply means, “that which is taught,” “teachings,” “precepts.” A “teacher” in the New Testament is one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man. Jesus, in using the word “teacher” as applying to Himself, used it as the one who showed men the way of salvation.

The word is used of those who in the religious assemblies of Christians undertook the work of teaching, with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:28ff; Eph. 4:11; Acts 13:1; James. 3:1). One can claim the assistance of the Holy Spirit only so long as he teaches or preaches that which the Holy Spirit can approve.

If God calls one to teach or preach, He calls that person to teach or preach what He wants taught. When Jesus, the master Teacher, was teaching in the temple as recorded in John 7, some said He is a good man, while others said He deceives the people. Some marvelled, saying “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”

Jesus said “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (John 7:16) Now if Jesus who is the very Son of God said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me,” how much more should I say, “The doctrine which I preach is not mine, but His that sent me!”

I repeat that we preach doctrine because we have nothing else worthwhile to preach.

II. We preach doctrine because we are commanded to preach it.

Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13f “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine ... Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.”

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

Now, according to Paul, who would you say is responsible for strife, railings, etc.? Paul places the blame on those who refuse to teach the Word. How does Paul classify those who insist that we do not preach the doctrines? He calls them proud, ignorant, destitute of the truth. What should be our attitude toward such, ac-cording to Paul? He urges us to withdraw ourselves from such. They insist that we forget our differences, give no attention to doctrines and walk together. I prefer to listen to Paul on such matters.

Paul said to the young preacher, Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-2).

And as fully as I believe John 3:16 was inspired of the Holy Spirit, do I believe the words of Paul in 2 Tim. 4:3-4 were inspired of the Spirit when he said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to them-selves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Again, Paul in speaking to Titus (1:9) concerning the duties and qualifications of the bishop, or preacher, said, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”

Are we to preach to please men or to please God? Peter understood we were to preach to please God.

I repeat we are to preach doctrine because God commands us to preach it. When God commands, that should close our ears to all appeals to do it otherwise.

III. We preach doctrine because we believe it and because we believe it does make a difference what one believes.

In spite of the common idea that it makes no difference what one believes just so he is sincere, we believe it does make a difference. Here are some of the statements we commonly hear which are false.

“Everybody has a right to believe what he wants to believe.”

These are some of the deceitful arguments the devil has in playing down convictions and in leading people to belittle the Word of God.

What about the statement, “We are all working for the same place!”? Of course, they mean heaven when they speak of place. But Baptists are not working to go to heaven. We are working because God has made it possible for us to go to heaven by grace through faith in the saving power of His Son. Any who are working in order that they may go to heaven and are not depending solely on the shed blood of Jesus Christ are not going to heaven. It is simply one of the statements Satan has popularized in order to deceive souls, lead them astray, weaken the cause of Jesus Christ and send souls to eternal perdition.

What about the statements, “Everybody has a right to believe what he wants to believe! Every man has a right to his own opinion!”? I do not have a right to discount or deny the Word of God. I have no right to believe that which is false when I can know the truth. I have no right to put my opinion up against the infallible mind of God.

I dare not be egotistical enough to say that it makes no difference what God thinks or says. Or that my thoughts and opinions are as good as His. I dare not say that God has no thoughts on these matters or that He has had nothing to say about them. Or, if He has, that my opinions are worth as much as His.

No word of God is unimportant and no word of God can be innocently ignored. Nowhere does God say or even imply that it makes no difference about a divine command. If we ignore it or change it we do at our own risk. Some people will admit that it does make a difference what one believes in every realm except the one where it makes the most difference — the realm of the spiritual.

They call us narrow, bigots, selfish, etc., because we have convictions and stand by them. The man who dies rather than surrender one star in his country’s flag is called a hero and a monument is built to his memory, but the person who refuses to surrender some of the principles in the Word of God is called a narrow-hearted bigot. Who is the bigot? It is the one who claims he has the right to change or reject the Word of God and set up his own word or opinion in its stead.

IV. We preach what we believe because we know we must give account to God for our stewardship of the message.

What God has asked us to do, He expects us to do. For what He expects us to do, we will have to give account to Him for not doing.

He has given us one gospel. He expects us to preach that and none other. There is no other. In Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia he said,

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9).

Baptists believe there is one gospel — the message which includes the doctrine of the virgin birth of our Lord; His sinless life; His substitutionary death for our sins; His bodily resurrection from the tomb; His glorious ascension from Olivet; His reigning at the right hand of God where He intercedes for us, and His glorious return. The gospel includes the doctrine of the new birth as He taught it. If any of this is left out we have no gospel — no good news.

As we believe there is one gospel, we believe there is one depository for that gospel — the church of the Lord Jesus Christ — and we believe there is one accounting. We must give account for what we believe and preach — not to any council of churches or other ecclesiastical body, not to any Pope or self-appointed overlord; but we must give account to God.