For some Christians, 'doctrine' is a taboo word. They only need to hear the word and their hackles are up! In their view, doctrine is dry. It is head-knowledge. It is not practical. There are others whose preoccupation with doctrine gives precisely the same impression. One recalls the story of the man who was asked his opinion of a certain preacher. The question was put to him, "Was he sound?" The reply came back immediately, "Oh yes. he was sound all right, but the rest of us were sound asleep."
Doctrine can be 'on fire.' Doctrine need not be dull. Doctrine does not need to be above the heads of the ordinary people. It does not belong to the private domain of the academic's 'ivory tower.' When you hear the word, 'doctrine', do not imagine an academic 'holy of holies' which is protected by the words, "Trespassers Forbidden." For both the academic theologian and the ordinary believer, the way forward in doctrine is the same. We must enrol in the school of discipleship. In this school, there are no courses restricted to the intellectual elite. All of us must learn in precisely the same way. It is the way of sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teaching (Luke 10:39).
In Jesus' school of discipleship, doctrine and devotion belong together. Jesus and His apostles knew nothing of the modern tendency to separate doctrine and devotion. If some modern Christians regard 'doctrine' as a taboo word, the fault does not lie with the New Testament. Let us look briefly at what the New Testament says about doctrine.
"The people were astonished at Jesus' doctrine. Jesus "taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus' teaching was doctrine with a difference. It was doctrine brought to life for the people. Doctrine can be doctrine with a difference for you!
"The common people heard Jesus gladly" (Mark 12:37). Jesus' teaching is described as His doctrine (Mark 12:38). In His teaching to the common people, Jesus gave them this warning: "Beware of the scribes ... " (Mark 12:38). Jesus was able to speak forthrightly about the scribes because He spoke with an authority which they did not possess. His doctrine made a difference to His hearers. It brought them gladness. Doctrine can make a difference to you!
The 3,000 souls who were brought to Christ on the Day of Pentecost "continued steadfastly in (or "devoted themselves to") the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:41-42). The apostles' doctrine brought 3,000 souls to Christ in one day! This was doctrine with a difference. This was doctrine on fire. This was doctrine which had authority. This was doctrine which brought gladness to the people. It was no ivory tower doctrine which brought 3,000 souls to Christ in one day. This was doctrine and devotion brought together in a powerful combination. Don't let it be 'Docrine or Devotion?' Let it be 'Doctrine and Devotion.'