In past bulletin articles we’ve been looking at how best to witness to people of false religions. In the last week of the series, I want to encourage you to know good doctrine.

Doctrine is another word for official teaching. Unfortunately many people associate the words ‘doctrine’ and ‘teaching’ with the words ‘painful’ and ‘boring’. But it is through sound doctrine that your life and the lives of others can be saved from real pain. Paul says to Timothy: ‘Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers’ (1 Timothy 4:16).

If you don’t know sound doctrine, how can you possibly refute people who believe false doctrine? If you don’t know where in the Bible it says that Jesus is God, how can you defend Jesus’ divinity to the Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses? If you don’t know what sin is, how will you explain to a Christian Scientist that they have a problem with God? And if you can’t do these things, you will certainly not be able to teach people how to be saved through repentance and faith. And you yourself might be ensnared by their false doctrine when you speak to them and lost for eternity too.

So how do you obtain sound doctrine? Go to the only place of sound doctrine, the Bible. It is the most powerful weapon you have: ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12). When you refute others, you must use Scripture. Otherwise you will be fighting empty-handed. So read your Bibles and absorb its teaching. Daily.

Also, listen to those who know their Bibles better than you do. Who is that? Church elders. Paul says that elders are there to teach you what is right: ‘He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’ (Titus 1:9). Take advantage of the elders that God has placed at your local church. And listen also to the elders of other churches through hearing their sermons and reading their writings.

Do you watch your doctrine closely by reading the Bible and listening to elders? Or do you run the risk of not saving yourself and others because you are too lazy?

Joel Radford.