In this age of contemporary Christianity I am seeing a trend of minimizing the importance of doctrine.
Sound doctrine is being replaced by social activism. This leaves the impression that our primary duty to society is to improve the quality of man’s life, while at the same time neglecting the proclamation of repentance unto salvation.
I call this trend spiritual drifting. We take something that is intrinsically good and allow it keep us from focusing on the main thing which is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul. We drift toward a performance based Christianity rather than a dependence based relationship.
No committed follower of Christ would deny our need to be responsible citizens in our community. But when social change becomes our war cry rather than declaring the sufficiency of Christ then we have drifted from the main thing.
Despite man’s increased involvement in saving the planet through recycling and their continual role in helping the street people have food and shelter, the world continues to deteriorate at a rapid pace. It is estimated that over 500,000,000 people have been murdered through wars, Marxist governments and abortion in the last 80 years.
It’s all about living with a proper Biblical Worldview. Doctrine that keeps us centered in Christ is a key element in a Biblical Worldview. When we allow Scripture to be twisted and taken out of context to suit Christian pop culture, then we are guilty of changing our worldview from Biblical to secular. Let me give you an example.
One of the most quoted verses among Christians is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” This verse has been used by many believers for circumstances where they would like to see a good outcome. This is especially popular with athletes. I read recently of high school cheerleaders who made this giant banner with Philippians 4:13 written in big letters. When the football players ran onto the football field they were to run through the banner indicating that they were claiming this verse for victory. I applaud the cheerleader’s boldness, but this verse was taken out of context.
We all know that God will help us in any task if we ask for His help and wisdom. I have even asked the Lord to help me when I played sports. I would ask Him to help me do my best and also to protect me from injury. But this verse is not about evoking God’s help in any task we undertake.
The context of the verse has to do with trusting God to help us through suffering, persecution, trial and tribulation. We see the context of the verse in the verses preceding verse 13. Paul was in prison enduring hardship, suffering and persecution and he was saying that in Christ’s sufficiency he can endure all things.
In a similar passage in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his “thorn in the flesh.” He prayed earnestly for this hindrance to be removed but God told him that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” So the passage in Philippians is about continuing to trust God in the midst of our weakness and suffering.
Why is it important to rightly divide the word of God? There are two primary reasons. First, when we take a text out of its proper context it becomes a pretext and loses its supernatural intention. In this particular verse, it causes us to miss the point that in the midst of suffering I can make it through because I know that ultimately this suffering will result in God getting the glory. It’s not about playing a great game and hopefully achieving a desired outcome.
Secondly, a lack of sound doctrine dilutes the Scripture to fit our situation, rather than allowing the truth of the Scripture to create spiritual change in us. Our ultimate goal is to bring God the glory in all that we do and believe. Our worldview is formed by our doctrine. Our Biblical worldview is what distinguishes us from the world. As we apply the Word of God to our life, may we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth in order that we may be a people of sound doctrine. (John 16)