Connecting Doctrine With ‘Real Life’
K. J. Gilliard
A continuing complaint in many churches is that an emphasis on ‘doctrine’ will often be at the expense of teaching believers anything ‘relevant’ to their daily lives. Thus, in Christian circles, the majority of books that ‘sell’ are books which have to do more with ‘how to make it through my day without losing my temper’ or ‘how to be a better me’ rather than things which focus on the nature, attributes, works and person of God.
As a result, many believers find themselves ill-prepared to answer objections to the Christian faith or to even adequately explain the content of the Christian faith because they either have a shallow or non-existent doctrinal basis for their beliefs.
Now let’s be clear. Making that connection (between right doctrine/teaching and right living) IS absolutely essential and a necessary part of good, sound expositional preaching and teaching. But we MUST get the doctrine aspect correct first before we attempt to get into the practical aspect.
For example, “How do I become a better husband ?” is probably an immediate question that comes to the average churchgoer’s mind quicker than “Which view of the atonement is correct ?”
Well, the two are intimately connected. Often, people in churches that aren’t doctrinally sound and doctrinally grounded (read: shallow) aren’t made to regularly see the connection between the two – thus, they see and hear doctrine being taught outside of their circles and think its’ not ‘practical’ or ‘relevant’.
So we find the answer to BOTH questions in Eph. 5:22-33.
How is a husband to ‘be a better husband’ ? He is to love his wife in the *same manner* as Christ loved the church – Christ gave Himself up for His bride.
That’s a particular love, not shared with everyone else in the world. That, when cross-referenced with Acts 20:28, John 10:14-17, Matthew 1:21, Titus 2:11-13 and a host of other passages tells us about the extent of the atonement and which view of it is correct. Christ’s love and sacrifice were for His bride, His sheep, His people – not the goats, not the tares, and He intercedes for His people in John 17 – not those outside of His people.
This same kind of love is what a husband’s relationship to his wife should be – specifically, the level of devotion he’s supposed to have and WHERE it should be directed.
So that informs the husband that his desire should be for his wife, not other women. That cuts out all fantasizing, pornography and tells him that as Job did, he needs to make a covenant with his eyes and keep them on his bride – the same way Christ made a covenant with His father and died to bless His bride with every spiritual gift (Eph. 1).
Second, it’s a self-sacrificing love – that informs the husband’s behavior toward his wife is to be of the character that nourishes and protects her the same way Christ does the church, leads her spiritually the same way (v. 26-28 of Ephesians 5). This is a call to spiritual leadership in the home – simply because the same way Christ nourishes and washes His bride with the Word in order to present her spotless and unblemished (notice the Word is the means of our sanctification), the husband is to model this same spiritual behavior in his home as priest and head.
Here, we see the doctrine of sanctification set alongside how a husband is to love his wife and lead his home.
There is MUCH more in this passage, but prayerfully you get the idea. Right doctrine taught rightly shows us how to live right and why we need to live right. If this foundation is not in place, the process of simply ‘living a good life’ becomes nothing more than moralism and personal preference– something which will put believers in a position where their beliefs will only be treated as an option (alongside other moral standards that do not get their start with God) rather than as ultimate truth.
There are many resources for believers now from good, solid teachers that can help believers. Desiring GOD has an entire library of works from John Piper (including all 25+ years of his sermons) online for free as MP3’s and in text form for study and growth in the faith. Likewise, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham and many other teachers have made their materials free so that if you’re reading this article, you can access their works too.
Invest the time. It will be returned to you in years of spiritual productivity and less frustration with learning how to deal with these issues when they actually arise rather than learning about them beforehand and being prepared.
In closing, I must give credit to John L. Duncan of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi for giving the original message that helped to inspire this article. The message is entitled “Sound Doctrine – Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry” and was given in April 2008 at the Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Our Hope in the Resurrection of Christ”
by M.A. Armstrong
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death:” Revelation 1:18 KJV
Over 1900 years ago, the apostle John wrote these words of our glorious Savior and King, Jesus Christ. A lot of believers misunderstand the book of Revelation to be about the anti-Christ and the seals and the devil and the lake of fire. Their fixation is upon the eschatological (end times) unfolding within the pages of the book. And while these things are all included, this is not the true object of the book of Revelation.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:” Revelation 1:1 KJV
The book of Revelation is about He who lived, and was dead, and now lives forevermore. The book of Revelation is about Jesus Christ, the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords, who defeated death on the cross, and was raised up with all power in His hand. It is a revealing of what was once hidden and now made clearly seen. Jesus Christ in His full glory.
While I don’t want us to delve into Revelation today, I want us to focus on what it means for us that Christ was raised from the dead and now lives forevermore. Let’s look to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
“1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NASB
Here we have the most important message that the world has ever been delivered, that Christ died for the sins of His people according to the Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. This is certainly good news for us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins and utterly helpless, without hope.
Much is talked about concerning Christ’s perfect life of obedience to the will and purpose of the Father as well as His sacrificial, substitutionary atonement on the cross, but many miss the importance of Christ’s bodily resurrection. All three of these truths are foundational to the Christian faith.
But, in the Corinthian church, there was some misunderstanding about Christ’s resurrection. Yes, they believed in Christ’s resurrection, but some of them were having trouble accepting the resurrection of the believers also. At the time of the Corinthians, there was a tenet of Greek philosophy called dualism. It basically stated that everything that was physical was intrinsically evil. Because of this widely held belief, the thought of resurrected bodies was disgusting. We see this type of reaction from the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17:32:
“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.”
Epicureans were materialists, and while they did not deny the existence of God, they didn’t believe He was involved in the affairs of men. They believed that the body and soul of a man disintegrated when he died.
It’s also possible that some Jews in the Corinthian church may have been influenced by the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection even though it was “according to the Scriptures” as Paul noted in 1 Cor. 15.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
Here Paul begins to lay out the argument for the necessity of the resurrection.
“13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, who He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes:
“In these verses, Paul gives 6 disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection: 1) preaching Christ would be senseless (v. 14); 2) faith in Christ would be useless (v. 14); 3) all the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars (v. 15); 4) no one would be redeemed from sin (v. 17); 5) all former believers would have perished (v. 18); and 6) Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth (v. 19)”
What a hopeless people we would be without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’d have no hope of future bodily resurrection and all those before us would have died believing in vain. As seen in verses 13 and 16, the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers stand and fall together. If there is no life to come, we’d be better to “eat, drink and be merry” for tomorrow we die.
I’m going to leave off today with the Scriptures. They explain our hope in the resurrection infinitely better than I could even attempt.
“20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 the last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that he is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to HIm, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all”
“54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the say that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.” 55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”