Text: I Timothy 1:3-11
I. All of us have friends and family who have vastly different beliefs from our own. It is hard to think of them possibly not reaching heaven.
A. This desire is exploited by false teachers who have no desire to be bound by God’s laws - II Timothy 4:3-4
B. A sign on a Presbyterian church said, “Love God. Love Others. The rest is doctrine.”
1. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you teach, so long as you love God and love your fellow man.
II. Dividing “gospel” from “doctrine”
A. “Although these two kinds of messages are not isolated into different paragraphs, books, or epistles, there is a valid distinction to be made. There is the gospel which brings us into life and the teachings which direct our lives. The gospel gets us on the life raft, and the apostolic teachings guide us on to ultimate rescue. The gospel gets us on the Lord’s work force, and the doctrine directs our work on the job. The gospel brings us into fellowship while the doctrine/teaching guides those in fellowship.” [Cecil Hook, “Gospel and Doctrine,” Free in Christ].
B. By making this distinction the false teacher is then able to claim that “gospel” is essential while “doctrine” only needs to be loosely followed.
1. “The gospel is “the faith” which was already delivered (Jude 3), to which they were obedient (Acts 6:7), which Elymas resisted (Acts 13:8), in which the disciples should continue (Acts 14:22), which was the basis of unity (Eph 4:13). The faith is the basis of our salvation.
Differences of scruples and convictions about the teachings were matters of faith. Romans 14 deals with this point. One man had faith to eat all things while another was weak in faith with scruples (v. 1-2). The faith (convictions) you have keep between yourself and God (v. 22). One who violates his scruples or convictions does not act from faith; hence, he sins (v. 23).” [Cecil Hook, “Gospel and Doctrine,” Free in Christ].
C. The division is furthered by insisting that the gospel is only taught to non-believers and doctrine is only taught to Christians
1. “The gospel was not preached to the church. There is no record of such, no instruction for it, and no need for it. Although the word preach is used over one hundred times in the New Testament writings, it is not used in reference to a believing assembly. It is the word for evangelize. The message was the gospel, the good news, the “evangel” while the one who proclaimed it was the preacher, the evangelist.” [Cecil Hook, “Gospel and Doctrine,” Free in Christ].
D. The conclusion is that the gospels saves, but anything labeled doctrine is not necessary for salvation
1. “This gospel message of the faith was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) before Jude was written, so it could not have included Jude. People were “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7) before any epistle was written. Peter speaks of persons who “have been born anew … through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23), then he identifies the element of the word which initiated life as “the good news which was preached to you” (1:25). It was the gospel/evangel preached/evangelized.
If all of the New Testament writings are the gospel, then a sinner could not be saved without being taught it in its entirety, for he must believe the gospel before he can be saved (Mark 16:15f). He still would be unsaved until he obeyed all that is enjoined in the other writings. Thus, the quick conversion of those on Pentecost, the Ethiopian eunuch, and the jailor could not have been accomplished for a thorough course of indoctrination would have been necessary first. And who ever learns and obeys all of the teachings even in many years of sincere effort?” [Cecil Hook, “Gospel and Doctrine,” Free in Christ].
E. Notice that gospel is defined very narrowly. This allows an “anything goes” approach to being a Christian.
III. But is there a difference between the gospel and doctrine?
A. We know that the Bible uses different terms for the same thing in order emphasize different aspects. Thus, the church is known as the called out, the kingdom, the body, and God’s house. These are not different groups but different terms for the same group
1. Sergius Paulus, a non-believer, desired to hear the Word of God - Acts 13:6-7
a. This would be the gospel, which is able to save - Romans 1:16
b. But notice that he was amazed at the teaching - Acts 13:12
c. The word for teaching is the Greek word, didache or doctrine
B. In our reading - I Timothy 1:3-11
1. Notice that Paul calls it both “sound teaching” (doctrine) and “glorious gospel.”
C. Preach the word ... with instruction (doctrine) - II Timothy 4:1-4
1. Recall the claim that only the gospel is preached and only doctrine is taught, but here preaching is the act of instructing
D. The claim was that evangelizing was only for those outside the church - Ephesians 4:11-13
1. The evangelist’s duty is a part of those given to equip the saints and to build up the church
IV. Doctrine is essential
A. We should walk in the commandments of Christ - II John 6
1. There were false teachers denying that Jesus came in the flesh - II John 7
a. The faith that Jesus came in the flesh would be called “gospel” by followers of Hook
2. If you don’t abide in the teachings of Christ, you do not have God - II John 9-11
a. There is that word for doctrine again!
b. Walking according to the commandments and faith in Jesus coming in the flesh is doctrine
c. Doctrine that determines whether a person is saved or lost
B. One argument was that if doctrine was necessary, it is too much to learn and no one could be saved.
1. Yet, Jesus said that those baptized were to observe all of his commandments - Matthew 18:20
2. It was the great salvation, first spoken by the Lord - Hebrews 2:3
3. Actually, “doctrine” is all that is taught. It is the act of teaching and not a restricted set of topics.
4. Claiming that there is a lot to learn doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be learned.
C. Contrary doctrine is to be rejected
1. Romans 16:17-18 - Contrary doctrine compared to what you were taught
2. Galatians 1:6-10 - Contrary gospel compared to what was preached to you
V. The attempt to separate the gospel from the teachings of the church is a poor attempt to open the flood gates to the acceptance of any and every belief.
A. We must walk according to the pattern given - Philippians 3:17-19
B. Because obeying that pattern of doctrine freed us from sin - Romans 6:17-18
C. What a minute, didn’t they say doctrine doesn’t save? But it does because teaching the gospel saves the lost