THE WORD IS
People often speak as if Christian doctrine and Christian life are diametrically opposed to each other. They believe that the Christian faith is life, not doctrine.
Which is it then, we ask: Doctrine or life?
Let it be said at the outset that the Bible does not ask this question. The posing of the question itself is alien to the Christian faith, because both doctrine and Christian life are included in the Christian faith.
Christ's mission command is also a teaching command: "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... and teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). The Bible always speaks highly of Christian doctrine. The Apostles defended it by denouncing false doctrine. As necessary qualifications for those men who were chosen as pastors of congregations they prescribed that they "hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that (they) may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict " (Titus 1:9).
By doctrine the Bible does not mean the hairsplitting of words. Doctrine is rather God's own revelation to us. It is a proclamation, Law and Gospel, to our conscience and heart. The Christian faith is not just any condemning, understanding, approving or forgiving. The Christian faith has a content or doctrine that God Himself has given it.
Christian doctrine creates life.
A person with a troubled conscience because of his sin finds comfort in Christ's Gospel. We have forgiveness through His blood. Through faith in Him we have received everlasting life. Christ's obedience became a counterbalance to our disobedience. With joy we hear and study God's Word wich tells us of all that He has done in our behalf and of all that He has promised us. The different doctrines of the Christian faith become dear to us. "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). We defend what we love. We do not want to lose that through which God gives us a new life and through which He gives us the strength to continue in it. Continuing in the doctrine is a matter of life and death. Pastors remember the Apostle's exhortation: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching. Persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you" (1 Tim. 4:16).
God's children want to obey God's Word. For this reason too they need the teachings of the Bible, so that they will know what are good and proper deeds in the sight of God.