Prayer Guides | Vol. 9, Day 5-20

    August 28, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
    How to Discern Biblical Teaching and Doctrine


    John 18:37-38 “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” 

    Pilate poses an important question. What is truth? The world’s definition of truth is fluid, but the fact is that truth isn’t something that can be intellectualized. “Truth is truth, even if no one believes it. A lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it.”(Author Unknown) 

    As we take information in throughout the day, we must evaluate and interpret what we see, hear, and read (even at church) to determine what is true. Defining truth rightly is essential, especially in matters of faith and practice, because the only way to recognize what is false is to know the truth.

    By His grace, God provided a plumb line—a standard of absolute truth.

    John MacArthur writes, “When Jesus said of Himself, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life…’, He was thereby making a profound claim … that all truth must ultimately be defined in terms of God and His eternal glory. Truth cannot be adequately explained, recognized, understood, or defined without God as the source. Since He alone is eternal and self-existent, and He alone is the Creator of all things, He is the fountain of all truth.”

    Our plumb line is Jesus Christ and His inerrant, infallible Word—the Bible. This is the standard against which we can measure everything and measure we must! Truth Incarnate stood before Pilate. Though Pilate questioned the false information he received from the Jews, in the end, Pilate considered the truth was not important. Consequently, Pilate gave the Jews what they wanted (see John 19). Knowing the truth matters!

    Questions to Consider: 

    Is my definition of truth God’s definition of truth? Do I evaluate and interpret what I see, hear, and read according to God’s standard? If not, what might be the consequences? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Father, forgive me for the times I fail to use the plumb line of truth you’ve provided.
    • Father, please help me to grow in my knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, that I might rightly measure all things and recognize what is false.

    Day 6 – What Exactly is a False Teacher?

    Galatians 1:9 “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

    False teachers have been around since the earliest days of the church. There are numerous New Testament books that warn about false teachers. The church today is no different. How do we know a false teacher from a true teacher? The only way to know the truth is to study the truth. We must know what we believe and why we believe it. This is why the spiritual discipline of Bible Study is so important. If you understand the truths of Scripture you will be able to discern when a teacher is saying something that goes against those truths.

    False teachers will contradict the Scriptures, sometimes even in a very subtle way. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Seminary, says false teachers have what he calls “heretical math”—adding to, subtracting from, multiplying, or dividing the gospel—as their common denominator. False teachers will most often contort the Trinity, the incarnation, substitutionary atonement, and bodily resurrection in such a way that they contain a grain of Biblical truth, but a grain that has been greatly distorted. We need to make sure we understand these foundational doctrines so we will know when we are being deceived. Always make sure Jesus is at the core of what’s being taught. False teachers want followers who glorify them. True Gospel teachers want followers who glorify Christ.

    Questions to Consider:

    Is what you are hearing leading you into a deeper relationship with Christ or back into the world? Are you hearing about sin and salvation or are you being led to focus on what the world offers, a life of health, wealth, prosperity, and living life your way? Are you digging into the Word daily so you will know when you are being deceived or do you take everything you hear at face value?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray for Bible Study to become a priority in your life.
    • Pray for discernment to know what is true doctrine and what is false doctrine.
    • Pray for all of our pastors and leaders that they will rightly handle the Word of truth. 

    2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

    Day 7 – What Does A False Teacher Sound Like?

    2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

    False teaching often sounds legit. Much like counterfeit money or fake merchandise, they look good, come cheap, and do great harm. So it is with false teaching. The teachers are quick to acknowledge God, Christ, and some basics of the faith. Yet, beneath the surface lurks falsehood. Tim Challies writes, “It is quite rare that we are presented with fraudulent teaching that contradicts the most important teachings of Scripture. More often we are faced with issues of lesser importance than the major tenets of the faith. If we look only for false doctrine that contradicts the first-order doctrines, we may allow countless lesser errors slip through.” 

    Popular false teachers such as Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyers, Jen Hatmaker or Joel Osteen are polished, friendly motivational speakers who mix together some truth with much flagrant heresy. Their audiences reach millions who unknowingly accept all that they spew forth. What do these teachers sound like? They sound like “music to your ears.” 

    Many times, false prophets or preachers appeal to the natural human desire to be successful, healthy, happy, and financially secure. The most prevalent topics of false teaching seem to fixate on health, wealth, prosperity, materialism (i.e., happiness in material goods), relativism (i.e., truth is subjective—who’s to say what is true?), “me-ism” (i.e., everything is about me) and last, but not least, expressive individualism (i.e., you be you, follow your heart, be true to yourself). All of these cater to, well—you! Your wants, your needs, and your desires. 

    Moreover, they overthrow and undermine the Cross. Instead of announcing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the means by which we are saved, they characterize God as solely loving, kind, and generous. Well, God is all of those things but not solely those things. God has other character attributes as well, many of which are overlooked or rejected. God then is depicted as the means by which we thrive, prosper, and overcome. 

    Tragically, false teaching is far too commonplace. One author writes, “If you cannot identify any voices you hear as false, it’s not because you aren’t being exposed, but because you’re falling for it in some way.” We all bear responsibility for the information we hold to and pass on. Be warned: the more we understand what is right, the more we’ll be able to spot what is false.

    Questions to Consider:

    Does the teaching you listen to make you feel better about your sin? (Rom 16:17) Do the teachers you listen to contradict God’s Word? (1 John 4:1) Do you see God as the provider for prosperity?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, help me recognize false teaching. Grant me understanding as I read your Word that I might know what is true. Pray your way through Psalm 119. 

    Day 8 – What Does a False Teacher Do? 

    Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

    Notice that false prophets do not come disguised as sheep, but they come disguised as shepherds whose goal is to lead the flock astray from the True Shepherd and His Word. Jesus describes them as ravenous wolves. Wolves are known and feared for their stealth and viciousness when they kill, often killing more than they can eat. 

    False teachers creep in to destroy and devour by teaching false doctrine. They are greedy and deceitful. They tell enough of the truth to make the plumb line appear to be level at a first glance; however, when you get the level out (the truth of God’s Word), you see it is out of plumb. If you build your theology on this line, it will never be straight but always out of level with God’s Word. It will not stand when the winds and rain come. Peter tells us 2 Peter 2:3 that in their (false teachers’) greed they will exploit you with false words. And Jude tells us in verse 19 that false teachers “are the ones who cause divisions, are worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit.” False teachers will try and fracture the Church.

    Questions to Consider:

    Will you be able to recognize a false teacher?  Are you studying God’s word so you are equipped to protect you and your loved ones from the ravenous wolves?

    Prayer Prompts

    • Thank you, Lord, for revealing to us who you are in your Word; thank you for providing us with godly pastors and teachers who want to teach us the truth of your Word.
    • Pray for wisdom and you read and study the Word. (James 1:6)
    • Read and Pray through Psalm 1:1-3 

    Day 9 – The True Teacher

    1 John 4:2-3 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

    We know that Jesus is the only way to salvation and that one must confess Jesus as Lord in order to receive eternal life. Jesus Himself proclaims that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Jesus teaches that there is no way to obtain salvation but through Him and that one cannot go around Him and obtain salvation another way. 

    In our passage today we have the Spirit of God as being identified by the proclamation that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. He is God, born in the flesh, and the Spirit of God cannot and will not deny Himself. 

    The false spirit or the false teacher will deny that Jesus is God and that He is the only way to salvation. It is easier to determine a false spirit when it openly denies Christ than it is when the false spirit teaches something that sounds good and right. It is important to remember that the Word of God must be our standard for truth when determining whether a spirit or teacher is false. We must press the content and the outcome of their teaching up against the Scripture and determine if they are from God. A true teacher will always exalt Jesus and proclaim Him in accordance with the Bible. 

    Questions to Consider:

    Do I know the Scriptures well enough to know what it says about who Jesus is? Do I affirm that He is God? Do I know the Scriptures well enough to determine if the teaching I hear on a regular basis is true or false? Have I been persuaded by any false teachers?  

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray and ask the Lord to help you know and love His Word so that you will be equipped to determine what is true and what is false.
    • Pray and ask the Lord to protect you from false teachers.

    Day 10 – What Does a True Teacher Sound Like?

    Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

    Within the qualifications of a pastor, we see a three-fold focus on the Scriptures: an unwavering grip on the precious truth of God as seen in His Word, bold preaching on sound doctrine, and correction of those who teach contrary to the Bible. 

    There is unyielding courage both in his teaching of biblical truth and in his defensive protection of the flock God has entrusted to his care—both positions founded on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. He humbly tends to the soul of the Christian instead of seeking popularity or position for himself. He elevates the whole counsel of God publicly, not because it’s popular or pleasant, but because it’s the biblical thing to do (Acts 20:19-27). He willingly expounds on the tensions of difficult passages. And, this commitment to all of Scripture may lead him to endure suffering for speaking truth (2 Timothy 4:3-5). Yet, this teacher does not shrink back. He counts it all joy to be afflicted for the name of Jesus. 

    God’s glory and the congregation’s eternal good are priorities. A preacher loves his flock more as he loves God most (Matthew 22:37-39). This teacher of sound doctrine wants his flock so well fed by the Word, so well equipped, that they know when they hear false teaching since their ears have been tuned to perceive it. The hearers, then, are mature and able to also teach and defend the truth of Scripture. 

    Questions to Consider: 

    Do I value sound doctrine? Do I complain or appreciate when a pastor teaches on a difficult book or topic? Why? What does this reveal about my true desires? How would I know the difference between a true and a false teacher? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our pastors to have daily, focused time in the Word. 
    • Pray that our church would have a bold commitment to teaching the entire Bible. 
    • Pray we would be equipped through our personal and corporate times in Bible study so we may know sound teaching.  

    Colossians 1:28 “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” 

    Day 11 – A Reliable Source?   

    2 Peter 2:1-3a “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.”

    In Peter’s second letter to members of his flock, he reminds his readers of the imminent return of our Lord. To give his readers confidence in Christ’s return, Peter reminds his readers of the sources from which they have learned: the apostolic witness and the prophetic word (1:16-21).  Having commended these reliable sources, Peter briefly shifts his focus to talk about an unreliable source: false teachers. It seems not all teachers are equal; while the apostolic witness and prophetic writings had their authority based on revelation from God, these false teachers rest on a foundation of personal gain. Therefore, it is essential to beware of false teachers.

    There are multiple consequences to listening to false teachers. Here and now, false teachers scandalize the gospel. At the surface, what they teach may appear to be biblical, but a more in-depth look often reveals that these teachers are teaching blasphemy, exploiting their listeners, and leading them astray from the true gospel. Over time, listening to false teachers leads to destruction. When listeners hear this perverted gospel over and over, it can cloud their judgment and prevent them from ever believing the true gospel, which results in their own destruction.

    So what should we do? We must take everything that we hear and hold it up against the standard of God’s Word. We must pray for clarity in our understanding of the gospel. And we must be on guard against false teachers.

    Questions to Consider:

    Do I often take what I hear and compare it to the standard of God’s Word? Am I careful about who I let influence my thought life? Do I have a real desire to understand God’s Word?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray for God to give you discernment as you sit under the teaching of others.
    • Pray for a desire to meditate on God’s Word.

    Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” 

    Day 12 – The Responsibility of the Believer

    2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”  

    It is very easy in our day and time to find whatever kind of teaching we want to find. The masses gather every Sunday to hear a message that brings hope and inspiration for their time of doubt and trouble. People are drawn to positive messages because it often creates a desire to change and be a better person. Positive messages are not the enemy, but we are in trouble when the messages that we subject ourselves to do not take into consideration the full counsel of God’s Word. We must strive to be taught the Word of God in its totality.

    As believers it is our responsibility to examine the teaching that we hear by pressing it up against Scripture to see if it is correct. This means that we must know the Bible well enough to know when something does not align with it. In our day and age there is simply no reason we should not know the Bible. The Bible is confrontational and demands a response despite our personal preference. It demands that we deny ourselves and follow Him as our Lord, which is not an “ear tickling” thought.  

    The Bible does not allow for us to pick and choose which topics we deal with in our lives. It does not allow for a feeling-based religion where we pick what we listen to based on our feelings. How a preacher uses the Word of God should be a major factor in determining whether one should listen to him or not. A preacher who is always positive is most likely not preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word.  

    Questions to Consider: 

    Is the preaching I listen to faithful to the Scripture? Do I desire to be shaped by the Word of God or to have my ears tickled? Do I press the words of the preacher up against the teaching of the Scripture?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray and ask God if you desire to be shaped by Him more than you desire to feel good about yourself.
    • Pray that the Lord will help grow your desire for the truths of His Word. 

    Day 13 – The Plumb Line of Biblical Doctrine

    John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” 

    John 8:32 “And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” 

    John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”  

    John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” 

    In these passages Jesus clearly refers to Himself and His Word as the truth. The standard for truth is Jesus Himself, and all things should be examined through the lens of His Word. It is common for people to desire truth and people have been known to look for truth in all sorts of places. The Bible is a fascinating book, and many people have challenged the truths of God’s Word, only to find that it is true and that it stands even under the most intense scrutiny. Jesus and His Word have never been wrong, and they will never be wrong. Whenever we desire to hear truth, we must use the Word of God as the standard for determining truth. We cannot expect to know the kind of truth that sets us free apart from knowing Jesus Himself.  

    Many people have searched for truth their whole lives only to find themselves confused and disappointed. There are many who claim to have found a sense of truth but remain unsatisfied. Jesus is the kind of truth that satisfies the soul and leads to eternal life. It is the kind of truth that brings security and contentment. The Word of God is intended to be the “plumb line” for the believer.  

    Questions to Consider:

    Do I live like Jesus is the standard of truth? Do I live like Jesus’ words are true? Do I find my source of truth in the Word of God or in the world?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray that God would help you love and trust His Word.
    • Pray that God would help you abide by the truths of His Word.
    • Pray and ask God to help you determine if you believe something to be true that is indeed false. 

    Day 14 – What Does False Doctrine Sound Like? 

    2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 

    Our flesh easily redefines riches in our own terms and diminishes God’s grace. A popular heresy—the prosperity gospel—tells us that we need more than God and that we deserve worldly goods if we rightly ask (James 4:3). This falsehood focuses on us in this finite life, instead of on God, His kingdom, and eternal life. 

    Anytime a Christian thinks himself worthy of good things based on merit, he is living out the deceptive doctrine from the health and wealth fake gospel. It’s easy to fall prey since false teachers use Scripture, appealing to our deceitful desires. We want to only say a prayer or do good deeds, expecting God to give possessions, position, or good health. Yet, in this we’re implying that if I give to God, I get from God—thus becoming an idolater of self. We must remember the whole context of the Word, obey it, and be on guard against man-centered, works-based thinking. 

    If we believe we deserve ease, we set aside Jesus’ example and the whole counsel of God. Remember truth. God is the giver of life, and salvation is a gift (Genesis 1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23). We will face trials and should be joyous in them (John 16:33; James 1:2-4). We have a living hope and an eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-7). We are blessed by the Comforter’s presence and peace (2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 28:20). And, if we are given earthly things, they’re entrusted to us so we may cheerfully give (2 Corinthians 8:1-15). 

    Questions to Consider: 

    Do I give the impression to non-Christians that life will be easy after salvation? Am I satisfied with God or do I want stuff from God? Do I pursue God’s kingdom or my own?  

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Praise God for our eternal hope in Christ. 
    • Pray for God’s kingdom’s expansion, and His will to be done. 
    • Pray for contentment in Christ and a desire for holiness through every trying circumstance. 

    1 Timothy 6:5b-6 “...who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

    Day 15 – What Does False Doctrine Do? 

    Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” 

    This is one of the most piercing passages in the Bible. Imagine living your life serving others, doing all of the “good” things, and you meet Jesus, and He says, “Depart from me.” There are many who preach a name and claim it gospel. Jesus is portrayed as a “ticket out of hell” or a genie in a bottle to perfect heath and financial wealth. The true gospel is stripped of its focus on eternity and reduced to a means by which everyone can experience his or her best life now. The focus is on self-satisfaction and on fleshly desires. This is in direct opposition of what Jesus teaches us in Mark 8:35 as we are to die to our selfishness and live in obedience to God’s Word. Read John 14:15.

    False teachers often fail to teach the truth of Scripture. For example, as children of God we will experience suffering. Many false teachers teach the exact opposite of this. Paul tells us in Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.” My friends, we should not be surprised when we experience trials and suffering. But the good news is that it is for a short time on this side of eternity. When Jesus walked on earth, He suffered many things, including the rejection by the ones who claimed to love Him. Why should we be surprised when we suffer some of these same things? We can rejoice that we have a Savior who knows how it feels to be rejected, beaten, hungry, and homeless. Read Hebrews 4:14-16. Jesus, our high priest, is fully God and fully man, who left His throne to reveal God to us in the flesh. The good news of the gospel tells us there is nothing we can do on our own to save ourselves. Jesus paid the price in our place when He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, was buried, rose three days later and now sits at the right hand of God. 

    Questions to Consider:

    Are you worshiping the Jesus of the Bible? Will you know false teaching when you hear it? How can you be sure? 

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy by giving us your Word. May we be doers of the Word and not just hearers.
    • Lord, grant us discernment and guide us with your Holy Spirit to protect us from false teaching. Open our eyes that we may see wonderful things from your Word.

    Day 16 – First, Second, and Third Importance Doctrines

    1 Corinthians 15:3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”

    Doctrines are the teachings of our faith that come from God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Doctrine can be sorted into categories or levels of importance; hence, Paul’s use of the phrase “first importance” in the above verse. The ability to understand as Paul has, those doctrines which we must defend and firmly uphold, and those doctrines we can give latitude to disagree on. 

    Dr. Al Mohler explains these categories or levels as first, second, and third order/importance doctrines. First-importance are doctrines that are fundamental to the Christian faith. These doctrines center on the Gospel. Examples: the person and work of Christ and Biblical authority. Second-importance are doctrines necessary for the ordering of the local church which do not define the Gospel. Example: gender roles, baptism, and communion. Third-importance are doctrines that create fruitful theological debate, but do not threaten the fellowship of the local congregation. Example: the timing and sequence of Christ’s return. 

    Without a clear understanding of this ordering, all doctrines may be seen as a point of conflict with church members. We are called to defend and uphold the Gospel truths. Yet, in all doctrine, we must speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:11-16). Unity is no small matter. As one author puts it, “Part of the way the world is to believe that Jesus is really God’s Son is because of the unity or oneness between Christians.” Indeed, it is the very means by which God’s people reflect the love of God (John 17:23). So we have two fundamentals we must uphold: doctrine and unity. 

    We must uphold the very core beliefs that herald the Gospel. We must patiently and compassionately hold firm to the truth of Christ’s atoning death, burial, and resurrection. In everything regarding doctrine we must demonstrate humility, grace, and love. 

    Questions to Consider:

    Does it matter what you really believe as long as you believe in Jesus Christ? (Gal 1:6-9) How can you begin today learning more about the doctrines of your faith? (Psalm 119:9) 

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray that God would give you a desire to invest time and energy in learning more about what the Christian faith teaches. 
    • Pray that you would utilize resources from trusted pastors and scholars as you grow in your understanding of Biblical doctrine. 

    Day 17 – Learning Biblical Doctrine 

    2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

    Often when we speak about Biblical doctrine suddenly people think of a seminary. You may picture a lovely campus with rustic buildings and rich history. But, what if instead of thinking about an institution, your first thought of studying doctrine is in a church where people are faithfully reading the Word of God together. The truth is that the people of God can learn doctrine by reading the Word, with the aid of the Spirit, and in community with faithful believers. 

    Doctrine is codified beliefs within the church. According to 2 Timothy, Scripture is God-breathed. God is perfect and righteous; thus, the Scriptures are perfect and righteous. The Word is profitable for teaching and training in righteousness. The Word of God builds a foundation, and it forms a lens through which all believers see. Biblical doctrine comes from the Bible. If you want to learn more about the Lord Jesus, look in the Scriptures. 

    We don’t study the Word on our own. Every person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ has been indwelled with the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit teaches and illuminates believers. The Lord has equipped believers with His Word and His Spirit so that we can learn biblical doctrine. 

    We can also learn Biblical doctrine in community. While reading the Scriptures we also can speak to other believers and learn from one and another. Other believers can be an extra set of eyes on the Word, seeking the Lord to understand the Scripture more. 

    Questions to Consider: 

    Are you learning sound doctrine from your time in God’s Word? Are praying for understanding before and after reading the Word of God? Are you in real discipleship relationships that seek to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and His Word?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Ask the Lord for a continued desire to study His Word.
    • Ask God to open your eyes to see and understand what you have read and studied. 
    • Ask the Lord for community that seeks to spur one another on to good works.

    Day 18 - Why Make the Effort to Learn Doctrine 

    Jude 20-21 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

    In addition to learning doctrine for the purpose of defending our faith against false teaching, we study doctrine because it cultivates a love for God that, in turn, produces love for others. In the verse above, Jude expresses “keep yourselves in the love of God.” The fundamental way Christians can remain in God’s love is by studying His Word and growing strong doctrinally while also being persistent in prayer. Jude repeatedly urges that Christians need to understand doctrine to “contend for the faith” as well as grow in our understanding and love of God and, subsequently, our love for others.

    In the article “6 Great Reasons to Study Doctrine” 

    Tim Challies states “Your love for God is limited by your knowledge of him, so that you can really only love him as far as you know him. As the depth of your knowledge grows, so too does the depth of your love. This is why the study of doctrine cannot be the pursuit of dry facts, but facts that lead to living knowledge of God and growing love for God. When you know doctrine, you prepare yourself to live in ways that express love to him and others.” 

    We need to read and study “the whole counsel of God” in order to begin to understand doctrinal issues. Unless our study involves every portion of Scripture, we will never know who He is and what He expects from us regarding our walk with Him.

    Questions to Consider:  

    Are you studying doctrine solely for the purpose of attaining knowledge? Or, are you studying the whole counsel of God so that you know Him better, and in turn, know what is expected of you as a believer?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • God, help me to put You first as my motivation to study Scripture and doctrine.
    • Father, push me to search for truth and purpose in Your Word.

    1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

    Day 19  – Consider the Consequences

    1 Timothy 6:3-5 “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

    Paul’s words here to Timothy echo those of the prophet Isaiah, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, NKJV). If someone exhibits a pattern of teaching things not found in Scripture, we must understand that it is because they are not of God. To avoid falling prey to such teachers, we must know Scripture, use Scripture to develop sound doctrine, and press everything we hear against that healthy standard. If we don’t, we are more likely to be led astray by false doctrine.

    When we are not careful and listen to false doctrine, we are likely to suffer present and future consequences. In the present, consequences could include division, quarreling, controversies, slander, and evil suspicions. We, too, need to hear the warning from the prophet Isaiah given to those who would not heed the Word of God and, instead, turned to other “spiritual” means. “They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness” (Isaiah 8:21-22, NKJV). Adherents to false doctrines or “spiritual” things not founded in Scripture are eventually given up to their thoughts and drive themselves into the darkness that their wrong thinking has created. Read and meditate on Isaiah 8:11-22.

    Questions to Consider:

    Do I study the Word with a desire to understand it? Do I allow Scripture to influence my thought life? Do I practice what I have learned in Scripture?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Pray for God to give you understanding of His Word.
    • Pray for this understanding to move into practice.

    DAY 20 – The Responsibility of Believers 

    Acts 17:10-12a “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed.” 

    The Bereans trusted in the authority of the inerrant, infallible Word of God and measured everything they heard against it. The Scriptures were their plumb line and source of truth. The Bereans studied the Scriptures diligently, daily searching and examining them. They took the initiative themselves and actively sought to determine if the teaching they heard was true—a task that requires time and effort.

    The Bible reveals who God is and what He came to do—that we might know Him and know what to believe. As Christians, we bear a responsibility to seek out the truth and grow in our faith, but desire is not enough. We must intentionally invest time and effort to learn and understand what God’s Word teaches. We ought to read and diligently examine the Scriptures, daily, to help us distinguish between true doctrine and false doctrine.

    If we don’t know who the God of the Bible is, how can we rightly worship Him? If we don’t rightly understand God’s Word, how can we rightly apply it to our lives? If the Bible is not our standard of truth, how can we recognize false doctrine? If we don’t know what we believe, how can we make disciples or effectively witness to others about the Christian faith? We can learn much from the Bereans.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Am I committed to intentionally building a foundation of truth by examining the Scriptures daily? Do I press the Biblical teaching I receive up against God’s Word?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Father, I pray that I will value your Word as the Bereans did. Please help me to manage my time wisely in order to make reading and studying the Scriptures a priority.
    • Father, your Word is truth. Please help me to grow in my knowledge of you and my understanding of what the Bible teaches about the Christian faith.