Why is Sound Doctrine Important to Faith?

A question I am often asked is: “So what if people believe different things about the Bible? What difference does it really make?” It can make a huge difference. What a person believes about something largely determines whether or not he trusts it. A person will not even have enough faith to sit in a chair if he does not trust that it will hold him up. What you believe about the Bible plays a huge part in whether or not you have faith in God, i.e., trust Him.

We all know about the harmful effects of rumors and gossip, and spreading lies about someone is a very effective way to get people to distrust him. When it comes to God, such rumors and lies come in the form of false doctrines. It is sad that there are countless people who have been taught erroneous things (false doctrines) about God that have caused them to distrust Him or even turn away from Him altogether.

Perhaps the greatest lie being told about God is the one first propagated by Satan in the Garden of Eden—that the Word of God cannot be trusted. Today we hear that same old song in many refrains: the Bible was written by men, and men are fallible; its original meaning has been greatly changed as it has been handed down through the centuries; there are obviously many contradictions in it; ad nauseam. Satan’s first goal is that people not even read the Bible. For those who do, he offers a smorgasbord of erroneous interpretations.

The doctrine that God is in control of everything that happens on earth has caused many people to distrust Him. God designed us to know what love is, and we all know when we are being loved and when we are not. If we believe that the disasters and troubles in the world are due to a “loving God,” we naturally distrust Him (just like we distrust anyone who causes us disaster and hurt). What the Bible actually says is that the world is under the control of the Devil, the evil one (1 John 5:19), and thus it reflects his evil nature. That is why there is so much tragedy and pain in life.

In the coming age, when the Devil is no longer in power, we will see the nature of God reflected in the world around us. There will be no sickness (Isa. 33:24); an abundance of food (Isa. 25:6); and the earth will be a safe place to live (Isa. 11:6-9). [1] Once a person really understands that the world around us is controlled by the Devil and that God is working for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28), it is much easier to trust Him. [2]

The doctrine that God tortures people forever in “Hell” has also caused many to distrust God or even turn from Him completely. [3] How can a just and loving God torture someone forever? Many people today think that torturing people for even a short time is wrong, so in what sense can God be considered loving or fair if He torments people in fire forever? In stark contrast to the unbiblical but widely believed doctrine of eternal Hell, John 3:16 (KJV) tells the simple truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The choice God gives people is not between everlasting life in Paradise or everlasting life in pain in Hell. The choice we have is between everlasting life in Paradise or everlasting death. Every person will either live forever or “perish,” that is, die, forever. The wages of sin is “death” (Rom. 6:23), not eternal life in torment. If we understand this, it is much easier to trust that God is fair and just. He wants all men to be saved, and has offered salvation to every man, but He honors our choices, and those who do not choose life, die forever.

The list of false doctrines that cause people to doubt God and His love for us can be multiplied many fold, but the point should be clear: we trust people if we consider them to be trustworthy. If we want to trust God, but are taught that He does things that, if anyone else did them they would be put in jail, then we find it hard to trust Him. In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and Sadducees taught many harmful things that confused people about God and caused them to distrust Him. Jesus told them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces…” (Matt. 23:13a). Some religious leaders are still doing the same thing today by teaching false doctrines that make God very hard to trust. The truth is that God is loving and kind, fair and just. When our doctrine about God is correct, we will find that it is easy to trust Him.

Endnotes

[1] For a much more detailed explanation of what the reestablished world will be like, see our book, The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul.
[2] For a thorough explanation that God is not in control of all evil, see our book, Don’t Blame God: A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin and Suffering.
[3] For an explanation that unbelievers are not tortured forever, but are forever dead, see our book, Is There Death After Life?, and The Fire that Consumes, by Ed Fudge.

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