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What Does Doctrine Mean? A Biblical Definition of Doctrine | Jack Wellman

What Does Doctrine Mean? A Biblical Definition of Doctrine

What Does Doctrine Mean? A Biblical Definition of Doctrine August 14, 2015

Doctrine is important to the church and to believers so what exactly is doctrine and why does it matter? What is a biblical definition of doctrine?

What is Doctrine?

Doctrine is essentially something that is taught and can be a principle or principles and even a creed of principles presented for acceptance or belief by someone or by a group of people. Doctrine is basically a system of beliefs and may denote both the act of teaching and that which is learned. For Christians, it is a set of accepted beliefs and it is the set of true beliefs that define the parameters of that belief system like the sinless-ness of Christ, His divinity, His all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross and so on. Christians believe these things to be true and there is no negotiating them or watering these beliefs down into something that is more palatable for those who may not believe them. The essentials of the Christian faith are doctrines that are unchangeable and are the immutable teachings of God taught through His Word, the Bible.

False Doctrines

Any time there are true doctrines there are false ones. The author of Hebrews warns “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them” (Heb 13:9). Jesus says that some are “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9) so it is “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). This explains Paul’s admonition “to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Rom 16:17) “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14). Paul commanded Timothy to “remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1st Tim 1:3). The fact is “The law of God is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1st Tim 1:9-10). Paul gives a final warning to Timothy that “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” (1st Tim 6:3-4a).


Doctrine Matters

They say that doctrine divides and that is actually a good thing because we need to separate ourselves from the doctrines of demons. Paul clearly said that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1st Tim 4:1) and this kind of “wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (James 3:15). Peter prophesied that “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2nd Pet 2:1). That day, unfortunately, has come. Some cults, for example, teach that the Holy Spirit is not God but a force or power of God which is contrary to biblical doctrine of the Trinity so the point is, doctrine does matter. It must be biblical or it is a doctrine of man or of demons.

Biblical Doctrine

I wrote earlier about true, biblical doctrine such as the teaching that Jesus is the one and only way to be saved (Acts 4:12), that Jesus was sinless and was the perfect sacrifice that was sufficient for us to be saved and was resurrected as we will be someday (Rom 10:9-13). When Paul laid out the qualifications for an elder (or a pastor) it was vital that “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” (Titus 1:9) and wanted Titus to make sure and “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1) “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10). This agrees with what the author of Hebrews writes “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Heb 6:1-2). Doctrine matters so much so that our very faith hinges on it as it is the only way we can be saved (Acts 16:30-31) for without the right gospel you’ve got the wrong Savior.


I hope this has helped explain what doctrine is and particularly, biblical doctrine, for in it are the very words of eternal life. The gospel is the very power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). The best way to ensure you are not deceived by hearing a false gospel is to know the true gospel so well that you can discern error right away. Doctrine divides and false doctrines deceive but proper doctrine saves. That is my prayer for all who read this that you might be saved.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • SJ

    I’m glad you posted 1 Tim. 6:3-4a. I’ve been running into people claiming to be Christians who call themselves sinners and didn’t seem to know we’re saints now and that Christians are suppose to be godly and different from the world now.

    I’m not sure if this is worldliness creeping in on them and taking over or the doctrine of demons but it could be the latter. When you attack a brother or sister Christian for daring to mention repentance then there is something wrong with your belief system as a Christian.

    It concerns me that there are probably tens of millions of Christians around today that never repented and changed their ways….which is what a mature Christian does.

    It could be that the Progressive Christians are the unrepented Christians. It is easy to think because you are born among a Christian family that you are a Christian still you need to properly repent, change your ways and seek to be godly like Jesus Christ and obey God’s precepts more regularly. Jesus Christ didn’t die on the Cross and rise from the grave for things to be the same for His people or to let sin reign over us.

    More people today need to realize they were dying to sin and self in baptism….not to stay sinners but to leave it behind but people are so misinformed today and there are so many distractions.

    The people that actually read the bible for themselves regularly are so far ahead of the people that only go to church because as Pastor Wellman wrote above….you can only learn to spot doctrinal error early by immersing yourself in it’s pages regularly.

    We are washed by the water of the Word….it washes our hearts and minds from all the worldly error surrounding us. We are surrounded by error and a lot of doctrinal confusion and it is almost too easy to walk by sight when we need to walk by faith.

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen my friend. I fear that for many the last thing they will hear is from Jesus in Matt 7:21-23 and it will be tragic.

  • “Doctrinal” TRUTH IS!

    “Our FATHER and GOD sent HIS Only Begotten son into the world to save the world”! (John 3:16)

    And what did those of this evil world and/or religion’s way do?

    They crucified The Messiah!

    Yet, Thankfully that which IS of The TRUTH will always RISE AGAIN!

    And TRUTH IS! “Whoever would be a friend of this evil world is the enemy of Out FATHER and GOD”, for “the WHOLE world (not just a portion) is under the control of the evil one”! (James 4:4, I John 5:19; 2:15-17, John 7:7)

    And there IS Only One “Pure Religion and Undefiled! (James 1:27)

    “Pure Religion and Undefiled before Our FATHER and GOD is this! To visit The FATHERless (those who have no relationship with The GOD and FATHER{Creator} of ALL), and widows (those whose “bridegroom” has not risen from among the dead) in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world!” (James 1:27)

    Not a system but The Active Faith of those who, in TRUTH, have been “Born Again” of The Holy, Set Apart, SPIRIT! Those “sons of Our FATHER and GOD” who have their portion !NOW! in HIS Family, of “WHOM the whole Family in Heaven and ON EARTH is named”……. (II Thessalonians 2:10-13, John 3:3,7, I Peter 1:23, I John 3:1-2, Philippians 2:15, Ephesians 3:15)

    “A Household of Faith” indeed and TRUTH! (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 2:19)

    Simply, ALL other religion IS “IMPURE and DEFILED”!

    And notice that “Pure and Undefiled” religion is “oneself (personal)”, The Brethren of The Messiah desiring and seeking to share with others that which they have both “seen (experienced) and heard (received)” as they are led of The Holy, Set Apart, SPIRIT that IS Our FATHER and GOD……. (I John 1:3)

    Simply, corporate “religion” is pagan and of this wicked world!

    In the u.s.a. they are naught but 501(c3) Not-For-Profit corporations, most certainly not for anyone’s profit, both in SPIRIT and TRUTH!

    “Come out from among them and be separate”!

    Have naught to do with the doctrinal heresies of pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters!

    Hope is there would be those who would “receive a love of The TRUTH” for they will “Come out from among them” both physically, doctrinally and SPIRITUALLY! (II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

    FATHER Help!

    HE DID! and HE does…….

    ALL Thanks and Praise Be Unto Our FATHER(TRUTH, SPIRIT, CREATOR, GOD, LORD, MASTER, LIGHT, LOVE, LIFE,,,,,,, ALL IN ALL that which IS Truly GOOD)! (John 20:17, Mark 10:18)

    • Marie Fennell

      I need to know something, I was raised in a very strict church and now I understand we r saved by his Grace.I dont go by their belief, not cutting ur hair or not wearing pants, because I was raised this way am I doing wrong by him.I pray every morning and night, read the Bible, go to church and I Love Jesus with all my heart.

      • Not that which i have done, but that which Our FATHER has done for me, and in me…….

        The law is no more, yet modesty was and is most certainly needful in these final days, and i believe a modest ‘fe’male child of Our FATHER and GOD would not wear tight pants, nor would she use her hair as bait to attract a man’s attention.

        And TRUTH IS! The big “I(ego,id,self,pride)” needs die for a soul to be in “The Family of Our FATHER and GOD”, which IS “both in Heaven and On Earth”! For TRUTH IS as The Messiah testified, “i can do nothing of my own self”! (Ephesians 3:15, Galatians 6:10, John 5:19,30; 8:28-29)

        Can His brethren(naturally male or ‘fe’male) do anything more?

        So it is “The “I(ego,id,self,pride) Must Die!

        And in as much as i can ‘see’,
        That which is of the “I(ego,id,self,pride)” in me,

        So it is i yearn, and to Our FATHER cry,
        For deliverance from all that is of the “I”.

        The “I”, born of “imag”ination and selfish desire,
        As lust, greed, and pride, stoked a consuming fire!

        A fire burning out of control, as “I” leads the way,
        It’s smoke concealing the fleshly mind that leads one astray.

        Yet even in the smoke, searing heat, and blindness of ‘sight’,
        TRUTH can pierce that blackness of darkness, revealing “The Light”!

        And nothing can hide from “The Light”, so “Light” reveals the “I(ego,id,self,pride)”, allowing a soul to “see” clearly, and clearly the “I” must die.

        Yet to live, yet die, seems an impossible task,
        And so we need of “Our FATHER”, the impossible to ask.

        Help me to “deny (die to “I”,ego,id,self,pride) myself” FATHER!

        And as HE helps, HE reveals evermore of the self-less One, The Messiah! (John 5:19,30; 8:28-29)

        And liken unto The Messiah, so also do His brethren(naturally male of ‘fe’male) need to seek and desire above ALL else;

        “FATHER, not my will, But THY Will Be Done”! (Luke 22:42)

        Yes! Such needs be sought and desired more than this natural life itself!

        FATHER Help!

        HE DID! and HE does…….

        So Peace IS! in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this evil world and/or religion’s way in this day and age……. (Philippians 4:7, John 14:27; 7:7, I John 2:15-17; 5:19, James 1:27; 4:1-4)

        FATHER Help!

        HE DID! and HE does…….


  • Carrie Harris

    What version of the Bible is this

    • Jack Wellman

      I use the ESV Carrie.

      • Carrie Harris

        Thank you I don’t have that version. Will be looking into that.