Doctrine is important
By: Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson
What do you believe? It makes a difference.
What you believe will impact your actions and/or response to situations you face every day. Our first doctrine states that Scripture, inspired by God, is our source for how we are to live. If we believe this, we will read and study God’s Word, digging deep to establish a foundation on which to live. If we do not read God’s Word, then our actions declare that we do not really believe this doctrine.
If we believe that the work of Jesus on the Cross has made salvation available to the whosoever and that the alternative is eternity in hell, then we will let people know – declaring God’s love for everyone.
A recently published “American Worldview Inventory – Release #8: Perceptions of Sin and Salvation” by Dr. George Barna (www.culturalresearchcenter.com) reveals some troubling trends regarding people’s beliefs. For instance:
- 48 percent believe “that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things during their life, they will earn a place in heaven.”
- 54 percent of Americans believe they will experience heaven after they die.
- 56 percent “say they consciously and consistently attempt to avoid sinning because they know it offends God.”
- 59 percent believe the Bible is not the authoritative and true word of God.
- 58 percent believe that there is no absolute moral truth.
- 69 percent believe that people are basically good (see Doctrine 5).
These findings, and others in the report, reveal a worldview not based on God’s Word and a “works religion” for getting into heaven. Within the Body of Christ and in The Salvation Army, basic biblical knowledge is declining. This leads to less doctrine knowledge and the inability to articulate our beliefs to a lost world. Only 49 percent indicated a personal responsibility, in appropriate situations, to share their religious beliefs with people who believe differently than them. Jesus says that we will be his witnesses (Acts 1:8) and that we are to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
We also must be careful with material that comes from Christian bookstores or religious writers. As Wesleyan/Arminian, we believe that salvation is not limited but available to everyone. We also believe that holiness, demanded by God’s Word (Leviticus 19:1, 1 Peter 1:15), is possible and available in this life – not just once we die. This is through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives wholly sanctifying us and our whole spirit, soul, and body preserved blameless.
God warns us that a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject truth and chase after myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4). So, Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do (Joshua 1:8).
So, what do you believe? It makes a difference.