by Mike Ratliff
3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. Jude 1:3 (NA28)
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3 (NASB)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Timothy 6:1-5 (NASB)
Over this weekend I’ve been in a conversation with my editor at CRN, Marsha West. It was about a couple of people who were monopolizing one of her posts on her Facebook Page which dealt with two things, doctrine itself and the Doctrine of Unity and Separation. These two people were insistent that the only valid doctrines are God’s doctrine found in his Word spoken to us clearly. Well, what about the Doctrine of the Trinity? What about the Doctrine of Baptism and the Doctrine of Regeneration. Are they one and the same? Some people claim they are while many of us call that a false doctrine called “Baptismal Regeneration.” You get the idea. In any case, Marsha ended up blocking one of them and asking me to define for her where these people were coming from. The best I could come up with was they were “cage stage pharisees” and that they were very close to what I have seen in the Hebrew Roots movement. For us to be wise and discerning according to God’s will we must know His Word, that is, His truth and, therefore, His doctrines. We must know the difference between what God says and what men say in their man-made religiosity. Yes, Doctrine is important regardless what these post-modern pharisees say.
13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NASB)
13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)
13 Until I come attend to the public reading, the exhortation, and the teaching of scripture. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In this passage, the Apostle Paul commands Timothy to attend to handling God’s Word diligently in a certain way. He is to read it publicly, that is, read it to his flock. He is to exhort them. The last part of that command τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ or literally, “the teaching” or “the doctrine” or “the instruction.” Timothy was being commanded to impart “doctrine” to his flock. That is what Biblical teaching is. A Pastor’s primary function is this very thing. He is not to be an entertainer or entrepreneur nor even is he to place his love for his flock above the necessity to teach them the truth from God’s Word.
Those who want to abolish all “doctrine” and just follow the Bible are really wanting zero doctrinal boundaries while we see that the Word itself teaches us the very opposite. Go back to the passage I placed at the top of this post, which is Jude 1:3. I ask, how can we contend for the faith if we do not know the truth? If your truth is different than my truth then how can we do that?
The word “contend” in Jude 1:3 translates the verb ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι or epagōnizesthai the Infinitive, Present, Deponent case of ἐπαγωνίζομαι or epagōnizomai. This is a compound word made up of ἀγών or agōn, “”which means strife, contention, [a] contest for victory.” It along with the verb ἀγωνίζομαι or agōnizomai originally referred to the fighting and struggle involved in the Greek games.” By adding the prefix ἐπί or epi,. “for”, Jude is telling us that we must fight for the faith. Those contending with Marsha thought that was what was going on, but how can you ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι for the faith if all you have is doctrine-less Christianity? All you can do is point to your own experience not our immutable God and His doctrine that never changes.
My brethren, we can make an idol out of anything and pride is deceitful even masquerading as humility so we must always understand that Christ is our all-in-all and without him we can do nothing. God gave us his word and we are to read it, exhort others from it, and teach doctrine from it as commanded.
Also, sitting at the feet of well trained theologians who understand Doctrine and can teach it is eternally valuable to us. Why? If you go back to my post the Doctrine of Unity and Separation, for instance, how are we to do this correctly if we ourselves are ignorant of Biblically correct Doctrine?
Soli Deo Gloria!