Perhaps you were sitting in a worship service or Bible class, when the preacher or teacher referred to something called “sound doctrine”. Were you confused as to what “sound doctrine” is? Were you curious to find out the answer? “Sound doctrine” is not hard to define or understand. First of all, the word “sound” is similar to the terms “healthy” or “wholesome”. In contrast, “unsound” would indicate that something is far from being beneficial to us. The term “doctrine” is also easily defined. “Doctrine” is another way of saying “teaching”. In other words, “doctrine” is the teaching that comes from a teacher. So, “sound doctrine” is simply “healthy/wholesome teaching”.
In his last inspired letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul urged, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Before his death, Paul wanted to emphasize the importance of “sound doctrine”! He used the terms “the word” and “sound doctrine” respectfully. In other words, if one wants “sound doctrine”, then he must go to “the word”. In this setting, “the word” is a reference to the Scriptures/the Bible. Spiritually speaking, that means that “sound doctrine” only comes from the Bible! The “healthy/wholesome” teaching that mankind needs is the Word of God!
Why then, if “sound doctrine” is so important, have so many people dismissed the teaching/preaching of the Scriptures? Paul “hit the nail on the head” when he indicated that people “will not endure sound doctrine”. Many individuals do not want to learn when they are wrong. Instead, they like to feel “comfortable”. One cannot teach/preach the Word of God faithfully without exposing error and sin. So instead of “offending” someone, or instead of making someone “uncomfortable” for their decisions and actions, many have strayed from “sound doctrine”.
In place of the Bible, lessons or sermons are filled with jokes, entertainment, man’s ideas and philosophies, as well as outright error! If a preacher or teacher dares to teach what the Bible says on certain matters (marriage, divorce, remarriage; homosexuality; the one body/church; etc.), then often times a disgruntled hearer will voice his displeasure. If the preacher or teacher will not back down from the truth, then sometimes the disgruntled will seek to have the preacher or teacher fired. Then, once the faithful proclaimer is removed, the congregation will search for someone who will “scratch” their “itching ears”. This process has been repeated too many times in the body of Christ!
Friend, the church of Christ needs “healthy/wholesome” nutrition. Elderships should be diligent in their responsibilities to “Feed the flock of God which is among you” (1 Pet. 5:1-2). That is accomplished by the proclamation of “sound doctrine”. Just notice how much good comes from the Scriptures: “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Also, James wrote, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Furthermore, Peter indicated, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:22-23).
If you are blessed to hear “sound doctrine” where you attend, then be extremely thankful. You will not find that in every congregation. If “sound doctrine” exposes sin and error in your life, then do not get mad at the preacher/teacher. Instead, let the Word of God “prick your heart” and lead you to repentance (Acts 2:37; 2 Cor. 7:9). Let us all want “healthy/wholesome teaching”!
~ Corey Barnette