The Importance of Scripture and Doctrine

IMG_3507We don’t have the benefit of Jesus being physically present as we see in the Gospel accounts. As a result, to know what He desired, to understand what He meant, we need to refer back to Scripture. Doing so keeps us from many errors and fallacies. For instance, I am amazed at how often I hear folks who consider themselves Christians say something that I know for a fact goes against Jesus’ direct words. Another example is when I hear a person quote one part of Scripture because he or she saw it on a meme and it fits what that person want to believe. The truth is that if that person were to consider Scripture more as a whole he or she would see how Scripture has been wrongly interpreted. It doesn’t take a theologian to understand Scripture. It just takes a diligent believer.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.

– Psalm 119:105-106, ESV

Have you ever tried to make your way through a cluttered room in pitch black darkness? Every step could be dangerous as you either could step on something that would cause you to fall and hurt yourself or you could bump into something that could crash into you. If you’ve had small children, you probably have done this room walk a time or two. It isn’t fun and at times it can be downright frightening, depending on what types of toys the kids like to play with. The joke is always about stepping on a Lego block or a plastic army figure but stepping on either is no joke! It can be even worse if you step on something you think should be a solid step, putting your weight down, only to find out that you are stepping on a ball or a skateboard or a decent size toy truck. Then you’re losing your balance, your flailing away as you fall, and there’s no telling what you’re going to land on top of and what’s going to be pulled down on top of you in the process. Have you got that scenario in your mind’s eye? Good.

Now imagine you had a lighted path that took you from the doorway of the room to exactly where you need to get to. Imagine that the lights give you just enough illumination so that you could take each step safely and confidently. It doesn’t have to be a lot of light. It just has to be enough. Just enough means you are no longer afraid. Just enough means you can move through quicker and more assuredly. Without Scripture, life is that pitch black, toy-filled room of danger, only the consequences for not making it through are more severe than a sprained ankle and landing in a pile of Lego blocks. Scripture, all of it, is that lighted path. It is safety. It is assurance. It is that narrow path that leads you through.

No wonder the psalmist declared he had sworn an oath to God’s Word, confirmed it, and chosen to keep its righteous rules. The psalmist understood that life lived without guidance from the Scriptures was dangerous. It was unlivable. However, in our churches today we do not take Scripture and the teachings and understandings we derive from a proper interpretation of Scripture, otherwise known as doctrine, seriously enough. We focus on the verses we like. We repeat the messages that make us feel better. We stay primarily in the New Testament and skip the life lessons in the Old. We sin and we don’t even know it. Unfortunately, a cursory reading of Leviticus reveals that God doesn’t excuse us when we unknowingly sin. He expects us to figure it out and come back to Him. But since we’re not reading Leviticus, we don’t know and understand that important point about God and His holiness.

Scripture is God’s gift to man. It is God choosing to reveal Himself and His ways to us. Too often we treat it like another present under the Christmas tree. It’s so much more. It’s infinitely precious and important. That’s why, during His earthly ministry, Jesus continuously referred back to the Scriptures. He drew attention to them. He took time to explain them, often using other Scripture to reveal the full meaning and to correct false interpretation. His apostles followed in His footsteps. There are a lot of references back to the Old Testament from the New Testament. Why? It’s simply because all of Scripture is important. Let us not neglect any of it. Let us honor its importance. And let us let it be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.

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