God Teaches Doctrine
October 26th, 1975 @ 10:50 AM
GOD TEACHES DOCTRINE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-26-75 10:50 a.m.
We welcome you on radio and on television as you share with us the service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled God Teaches Doctrine. In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah, we are now in chapter 28, and the text is verse 9 and verse 10:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breast.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
There are two approaches to this passage in Isaiah. By far the majority of Hebrew scholars will say that the prophet repeats here those who scornfully mocked and ridiculed his message. The chapter begins with the prophet addressing the drunkards of Ephraim [Isaiah 28:1]. Then he turns to Jerusalem, "Ye scornful men, that rule the people who are in Jerusalem" [Isaiah 28:14]. And these so-called wise and gifted, these rulers of the people who themselves are antithetic to the Word of God; the people in Jerusalem who ruled the city scoffed and ridiculed the message of the prophet Isaiah.
And if I could say the words in my words, it would go like this. The scoffers and those that were ridiculing Isaiah say, "What does he think we are? Does he think that we are babes just weaned from the breast? That we are little ones who need to be taught in monotonous syllables? For that is the way that Isaiah speaks to us. He is repetitive. He is repetitious. He deals in trifles. His message is moralistically monotonous. He says it and says it and says it. A line here and a line there; a precept here, a precept there; repeated and repeated until we are weary of it" [Isaiah 28:9-10].
Now, practically all of your Hebrew scholars will say that is the meaning of the text. It is like the people who ridiculed and scoffed at the apostle Paul. In the tenth chapter of the tenth verse of 2 Corinthians, Paul repeats there, as Isaiah does here, what his enemies said about him. Those who ridiculed the apostle Paul said, "His letters are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" [2 Corinthians 10:10]. That is an unusual thing to say about as mighty an apostle as Paul, but that’s what they said about him.
Also in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts, you have the Athenean philosophers’ reaction to the apostle Paul. They called him a spermologos – a spermologos, a seed picker, one who deals in repetitious, repetitive trifles [Acts 17:18]. That’s exactly what they said about Isaiah. As most of the Hebrew scholars will read the passage, he is quoting here what his enemies said as they ridiculed and scoffed at him. "He teaches us as though we were little babes, small children." And he does it repetitiously and monotonously – precept and precept and precept, and line and line and line, and here a little and there a little and yonder a little [Isaiah 28:9-13].
Now, there are also some scholars, a minority of them, who will say that the prophet is here but describing the own simplicity of his message; that when he delivers the message from God, he does it in a way so simple that a child, who cannot read or write, but who only knows by listening – that a child just weaned could not miss its meaning. It is plain; it is simple. It is precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there at it, and yonder a little more [Isaiah 28:13], the message of God thus delivered in simplistic words and fashion.
Wherever, whichever, however you would receive the interpretation, the ultimate meaning of it is the same. The message of God, truly delivered, is always plain. It is simple. Even a child can understand it, "and a wayfaring man, a sojourner, need not err therein" [Isaiah 35:8]. And the so-called self-wise, who refuse it and reject the message of God, do not do so ever because they don’t understand it, but they do it because they are obdurate and incorrigible.
So the prophet begins, "Whom shall he teach knowledge?" – de`ah, good knowledge. It is the same word that he used in the [eleventh] chapter when he said, "The earth shall be filled with the" de`ah, the good "knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" [Isaiah 11:9]. "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" [Isaiah 28:9] – shemu`ah, that which is heard, what God says. What is that shemu`ah, that de`ah, that knowledge, that doctrine, as the King James Version here translated? What is that?
First, what it is not. It is not that narrow, petty, forensic trick by which debating denominationalists beat one another over the head. That is not the knowledge and the doctrine of God.
I heard of a young preacher who came to his congregation for his first service. And a deacon opened the door, just cracked the door a little, and looked out to see who was there for that first service. So he said to the young preacher, who was going to deliver his first message, he said, "I see out there some Methodists. Don’t say anything about the Methodists. I see out there some Presbyterians. Don’t say anything about the Presbyterians. I see out there some Episcopalians. Don’t say anything about the Episcopalians." Then he looked over the congregation and he said, "I don’t see a single Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t see one. Just beat the daylights today out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses."
Mostly we think in terms of the doctrine of God like that. Actually, what is it? The teaching of God, the knowledge of God, the doctrine of God is the summation of God’s self-revelation to us. This is what He is like. And those great truths are encased in the holy pages of the Bible, and we call them the doctrines of the faith. For example, the Lord, when He finished His great Sermon on the Mount, so amazed the people who listened to Him as He spoke of His Heavenly Father that the Scriptures say that they were astonished at His didachē [Matthew 7:28].
Again in the Book of Acts, the Sanhedrin calls in the apostles, whom they interdicted speaking in the name of Jesus, and said to them, "You have filled all Jerusalem with your didachē" [Acts 5:28]. What is that didachē?
Well, let’s take it down in two languages. Let’s take it down first in Greek. Didaskō is the great word for teach. Didaskalos is a teacher. And didachē is what is taught. Let’s take it down in Latin. Docere means to teach. Doctor is a teacher. And doctrina is the teaching. So the King James Version rightly translates the word. "And they were astonished at his didachē" [Matthew 7:28] – at his doctrine. Or the Book of Acts: "You have filled all Jerusalem with your didachē" [Acts 5:28] – with your doctrine, the teaching, the reality and truth of Almighty God. Every department of God’s work has its didachē. It has its teaching; it has its truths and its propositions. That is true in music. It has its truths and its teaching. It’s true in astronomy. It’s true in biology or chemistry or physics. It’s true in all of God’s creation. But this is the work of God.
The truths that we see in music or in astronomy or in physics and biology – we are there summarizing the great truths, the great doctrines, the great teachings of the works of God. But in religion, the doctrine has to do with God Himself, what He Himself is like. When one studies the teaching, when he studies the doctrine, he is studying God Himself. And to know the truth is to know the Lord Himself. The Lord prayed that in His high priestly prayer in John 17:3: "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true" and living "God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" [John 17:3].
So the doctrine is the great truths of Almighty God revealed to us in His self disclosure in the Bible. Now, that doctrine is also the essence and the substance and the strength of the Christian faith. Without it, the Christian system is nothing but a sentimental, maudlin, formless mass of moralistic clichÃ©s. We need the great revelation, and the great truth, the great doctrines of God in order that we might have a foundation upon which to stand and in order that we might stand ourselves.
One of the great systematic theologies of all time was written by A. H. Strong. Augustus Strong, he was a mighty Baptist theologian. And in that systematic theology, he wrote this sentence, "A man need not carry his backbone in front of him, but he needs to have one, and a straight one; or else he will be a flexible and a humpedback Christian." End quote.
Every man needs a backbone to stand up, without which he is limp and lumpy. Every Christian needs a backbone, that is, a great stack of truth around which his life is built. And without it, he’s a maudlin sentimentalist, a moralist of the cheapest kind of order. I had a woman in this church who took her husband and joined another church here in this city. And she came to me one day – I happened to stumble into her – and she said, "Oh, our wonderful church! You don’t have to believe anything to belong to our church."
She is correct. I know all about it and you do, too. They are an aggregate of critters who don’t believe a thing in the world – absolutely nothing. They don’t stand for anything. They don’t believe anything. They don’t accept anything. They are just there – kind of bland and, to me, ridiculously silly.
Peter Marshall one time prayed, "Lord, help us to stand for something. For if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything." We need a great doctrinal basis and truth upon which to build our lives, our hope, and our faith. And that truth is revealed to us in the great disclosures, the great didachē, the great doctrines of Bible.
May I point out to us also, that these doctrines, these teachings are the great decisive, ultimate, fundamental turnings, characterizations of all experience and of all life? They are more real than a stone or a mountain. A stone or a mountain is dead, inert, inanimate. But an idea, a teaching, a doctrine is explosive. It is dynamite! All ideas and all teachings and all doctrines are like that.
The idea of an inquisition, the horror of the Inquisition – how could such a thing be in Christian history? Because of the teaching, the doctrine, the idea that a non-conformist must be coerced, even burn him at the stake, or drown him in the river, or let him rot in the dungeon. That’s an idea, that’s a teaching, that’s a doctrine.
We’ve just been through – all of us who are at least my age can well remember the horrors of the inhumanity of the Nazi leaders in Germany. How could they incinerate, burn in gas chambers, burn them up in incinerators? I’ve seen those incinerators. It’s the strangest thing in the world to look at a great incinerator and it’s covered with wreaths, flowers in memory of loved ones – an incinerator. How could a people, cultured and educated, the most cultured and educated that the world has ever seen, the most literate, the most university-trained – how could they destroy millions of their people? Because of a teaching, because of a doctrine, that of Nietzsche and Bismarck, creating, they said, a super Teutonic race – a Germanic people up above all the rest of the hoi polloi, whom they sought to destroy. That’s an idea; that’s a doctrine. And doctrines are explosive. They are like dynamite.
Take again the awesome world in which we now live. There has never been, there has never been a challenge to the Christian faith like that of doctrinaire communism. Where did that come from? From the teaching, from the doctrine of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
It’s something in a man’s head. It’s something in his mind. There is no God, they say, and the right of human property, private property is just expressed selfishness. And what we need is to clear out all things that are owned and all the religious beliefs of men and everything belongs to the state – a man’s head and his heart and his hand and his home and his children and his body and everything that he owns. That is an idea, and you call it communism! It is explosive. Doctrines are. These things – stones and mountains – are inanimate and dead. It is the doctrine that lives.
You can take any boy. I don’t care whose boy, your boy. You can take any little child, any little child, and you can teach him to be a cannibal and he will eat human flesh all of his life. Or you can teach him to be a goose-stepping fascist. Or you can teach him to be a communist, or a Catholic, or a Baptist, or a Democrat, or a Republican. That is the power of the doctrine, the didachē, the teaching.
Now this is a tremendous assignment of the church. God has given to us a body of truth, the self-revelation of God in the Scriptures, incarnate in Jesus Christ. And this is our heavenly mandate. We are to teach it. We are to inculcate the doctrine.
For example, in Matthew 28, verse 19, the Lord says, "Go ye therefore, and matheteuō all the world" [Matthew 28:19]. Now that’s a strange thing, matheteuō. Matheteuō is the Greek word for teaching. It’s the Greek word for making disciples. It’s the Greek word for making learners, matheteuō.
Why didn’t the Lord say there euaggelizō, evangelize? Go into all the word and evangelize – euaggelizō the whole earth. Well, we do have that mandate. We are to do the work of an evangelist [2 Timothy 4:5]. But when God gave the Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20], He chose the word matheteuō. Your word mathematics comes from it – matheteuō, to make disciples, to make learners.
What God is saying to us is this: there is more to discipleship and more to church membership and more to the salvation of our souls than just an evangelistic meeting and people come down the aisle, pour down the aisle. There’s more to it than that. There is a lifetime of learning connected with it. There is a dedicated study of God’s Word and God’s will with it. We are to make learners. We are to make disciples, matheteuō. That’s the heavenly mandate to us [Matthew 28:19-20].
The church is called the pillar and the ground of the truth [1 Timothy 3:15]. That is, as the dipper will hold and shape the water, so the church must hold and shape its people in the truth of God. We are to meet. We are to pray. We are to study. We are to be taught. We are to listen. We are to preach. This is the great assignment of the church: to make learners of these who seek the truth and eternal life in our Heavenly Father and in His Son Christ Jesus.
This is also the great mandate of the pastor and the preacher. He is to inculcate in his people the great truths, the great doctrines of the faith. In 1 Timothy, Paul will write to his son in the ministry, who was the pastor at Ephesus. He will write to him and say, "Till I come, till I come, give attendance to reading," the public reading of the Word of God, and to exhortation and appeal based thereon, that we accept the Lord as our Savior – to reading, and to exhortation, and to the doctrine, to the didachē [1 Timothy 4:13]. And then two verses down, he will say again, "Take heed unto thyself, and to the doctrine; for therein thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" [1 Timothy 4:16].
When a man stands in a pulpit, he has an assignment from heaven. He is to take the truths of Almighty God, the teachings, the doctrines, and he is to expound them to the people; for in doing it, he saves himself and he saves those who listen to him.
Now look again in the second Timothy letter, he will do the same kind of a thing. In his last epistle to his son in the ministry, the pastor at Ephesus, he writes, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . I charge thee therefore" – 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 . . . with all longsuffering and doctrine" [2 Timothy 3:16-4:2].
"And doctrine": there is to be meat, there is to be foundation, there is to be truth in the message that the man preaches. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," theopneustos, "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" [2 Timothy 3:16]. This is the great basis upon which the minister is to stand. And Sunday by Sunday, day by day, as God gives him the hearts and ears of the people, he is to expound to them the truth of Almighty God, delivering the doctrinal message, the teached message of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You know, it is amazing, astonishing to me. These are the truths or the doctrines for which the martyrs laid down their lives. And we either ignore them, or take them for granted, or never preach them, never deliver them. We’re out involved, for the most part, in some lightsome, tripsy thing that has to do with war and peace, or labor and capital, or economic considerations, or all of the passing ameliorations, and fancies, and theories, and winds of change of the day; when all the while, the man of God is supposed to stand in the sacred pulpit and open God’s Word and deliver to the people the great revelation and truths of the Almighty, written here on the face of the Book. This is the assignment of the preacher.
Now, there is an assignment of the congregation, of those who listen. The Lord said in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the Lord said, "The good ground" – the good ground – "is that one who receives the seed and bringeth forth fruit unto God, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold" [Matthew 13:8]. That is, there is no fruit without first that root. There must be sowing before there is reaping. And when we seek to gather Christian fruit – the glorious life in a Christian – when we seek to gather it without the tree, without the root, we are obviating the very command and program of God. The Lord never made the world that way. If I do not have the Christian tree, I cannot gather the Christian fruit. If there is not in us the great commitment to the truths of God, the revelation of God, I cannot have the fruit of the Christian life.
Now, how do we learn the doctrine? How do we learn the truth of God? Just exactly as the prophet Isaiah describes it to us here: "Whom shall God teach knowledge? And to whom shall He make to understand His doctrine?" [Isaiah 28:9]. This the way: as to a little child; "precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little" [Isaiah 28:10], yonder a little.
We had a youngster at the 8:15 service come and accept the Lord as his Savior. And I turned the little fellow over to our divisional director, Libby Reynolds, and I said – having given the little fellow the book I’ve written here on joining the church – told the little fellow – his name is Chris, isn’t that a wonderful name? I said, "Chris, I wrote that just for you. Now, you take this book and you enroll in that class" – and it begins tonight, I was told – "and you learn every syllable of that book. First chapter, What It Means To Be Saved. Second chapter, What It Means To Be Baptized. Third chapter, What It Means To Take The Lord’s Supper. And fourth chapter, What It Means To Be A Good Church Member."
"Line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little; precept upon precept, precept upon precept" [Isaiah 28:10] – that’s the way God teaches us His knowledge and His doctrine. Is that peculiar or strange or unique? No. That’s the way we learn everything. A musician, a musician, a musician, how do they learn to play those instruments? Precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little, there a blue note, yonder a blue note, here a right note, there a right note, getting back into the swing of it, doing a little at time, a little at time, a little at time, day after day, day after day. Oh, the monotony of it! If you stand around listening to anybody play a trombone, you’d go crazy! That’s what happened to me one time.
Little at a time, little at a time, little at a time; all learning is like that. You will learn to talk that way. If you were not learned to talk, you’d just grunt. Talking is a learned thing and you learn to speak little at a time, little at a time, little at a time. Walking is that way. If you had not been taught to walk erect, you would travel on all fours kind of like an ape. You are taught that. All of God’s world is exactly like that.
The astronomer learns it a little at a time. The pharmacist learns it a little at a time. The surgeon learns it a little at a time. The physicist learns it a little at a time. The chemist learns it a little at a time; the lawyer – the whole world is that way. And we learn it a little at a time, teaching the people, bringing them up in the knowledge and the nurture and the doctrine, the didachē of the Lord.
Look at this. Last week, last Thursday night, I delivered a stewardship address at the First Baptist Church in Amarillo. They have a budget there, a goal of one million, five hundred thousand dollars for the new year. After the address was over, the pastor, Dr. Winfred Moore, said to me, he said, "Can you realize that when Dr. Howard Williams came to be pastor of this church, the whole summation of the giving of the entire church was thirty-six thousand dollars?"
I said, "I can conceive of that." Dr. Howard Williams grew up in this church. When he was executive secretary of Texas, he belonged to this church. And then from the executive leadership, went to be president of our Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and died as the president of the seminary. He was a fine denominational strategist and leader. And what he did when he went to the First Church in Amarillo was line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. He began to teach the people stewardship, tithing, giving to the Lord.
And the church began to flower and to grow and the people grew. And when God added it all up, it became a tremendous thing. The church that gives more to the Cooperative Program than any church in the world is the First Baptist Church in Amarillo. It is a great, mighty congregation. Why? Because of the teaching of a great, godly man. Here a little, there a little; this man and that one; this family and that one; this child and this youth; teaching, teaching, teaching – just as God has assigned the leadership of the church.
That’s the reason, and I hate to be repetitive myself – but that’s the reason I say to the leadership of our congregation, I have seen in the last few years a great turning in our church, the First Baptist Church in Dallas – a tremendous turn. And I didn’t plan it. I didn’t sit down and say, "Now we’re going to turn the congregation." I think God did it. It’s just something that happened.
Now, the great turn of the congregation is, more and more and more I find our congregation turning to a great teaching ministry. The effort and the financial resources and the praying and the whole building of the organizational life of our church is increasingly flowing in channels of matheteuō, making disciples, teaching the didachē.
I see it in our First Baptist Church school that God is blessing so much. I see it in our Bible Institute – that the favor of heaven is upon it. I see it in the hungering and thirsting of our teachers that they might know more of God’s Word – to impart it, to mediate it to the people who come down here to study in our Sunday school.
I find it also in my own ministry. Why, I have a record of all the sermons I have ever preached in my life. When I go back and look at those sermons that I first began to preach and when I look at the way I preach now, I don’t recognize your pastor. I just don’t recognize him. What your pastor does now, unless there is some reason to change the format, what your pastor will do every time he gets up to preach his, he’ll take a text, he’ll take a passage, it will be a paragraph or a chapter, and he will expound what God says in that revealed Word. Every sermon will be just like that.
When I first began to preach, I did nothing like that; nothing. I’d preach some subject of this, that or the other. Whatever happened to call, seize my attention during the week. I don’t even think in those terms anymore. What I do now is take a book like Isaiah and we start expounding it and see what God says. And when we through with Isaiah, we’ll go to the New Testament and we’ll take us a book there and we’ll expound it, seeing what God says.
Why, sweet friends, you can’t know how much that has blessed my own heart. And look around you. Mel says, almost, I don’t see a chair, a seat in this auditorium that is empty. It is packed. And at 8:15 this morning, it was packed again. Why? There’s one reason only. People love to hear the Word of God expounded. What does God say if He says anything in a world of turmoil and trouble, of darkness, of despair?
We know what the president says. We know what the prime minister says. We know what Brezhnev says and Mao Tse-tung says. And we know what the educators say. "Pastor, does God say anything? Is there a word from the Lord? If there is, what does God say?" And it’s food for our souls. It’s life for our hearts. Well, I have so much more to say. Let me choose just one thing and I will be done.
This method of the Lord that we learn, learn all of our lives, growing in the knowledge and in the doctrine. How? Precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little [Isaiah 28:10], something today, something the next time we come to church, something the next time we gather; just little at a time, learning together in the Lord.
Now, I choose one thing left in the sermon and then I will have to close. When I was in Baylor; when I was in Baylor University as a young preacher, I took a course in mathematics, trigonometry. I had no interest in the mathematical course at all. My, my, what could I do up here with trigonometry? Well, I took the course because of Professor Harrell. He was a born philosopher.
And here’s one of the things he said, he said, "I saw a great building go up." And he said, "There was a tremendous stone there, a tremendous stone. And it was to be split exactly in half and placed above the vast, wide door; through which, under which the people would enter the big building." So he said, "When I saw that big stone, to be split right down the middle," he said, "I thought in my heart, I know exactly how that man will split that stone. He’ll get him a great big wedge made out of heavy steel, and he’ll put him a little place right there in the middle of it. And he’ll get him a forty-pound sledge hammer and he’ll beat on that wedge and he’ll just split that stone right down the middle."
And he said, "That’s what I thought he would do." He said, "You know what he did? He got him a little bitty piece of steel and drilled a little tiny hole and stuck it right there. Then right next to him, he got another little peg of steel and stuck it right there. Then he got another little sliver of steel and put it right there. Then he got another one and he went clear through the length of that stone with those little iron steel pegs. And then he’d take him a little hammer, and he went back and forth: Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And upon a day, he said he saw that stone split right in the middle, beautifully done and according to the grade and strength of the stone." Then he said he watched them put it and elevate it above the door and the thousands and thousands of people go through that door into that great building even to this day.
When I heard him say that, I thought of this text. Precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little [Isaiah 28:10], tap, tap, there a little, tap, tap, here a tap, there a tap, everywhere a tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Learning in the way of the Lord, isn’t that just something? Isn’t that just something?
Oh, I do not know of a more heavenly assignment than to say with the psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go up into the house of the Lord" [Psalm 122:1]. Let’s listen to the Word of the Almighty God. And let’s ask God to bless us as we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, in the doctrine of the faith.
Now, the invitation; the invitation is this same thing only I will have to say it in a rabbinical language. The sweetest, the dearest, the tenderest of all the invitations our Lord ever said are those verses that close the eleventh chapter of the Book of Matthew, "Come unto Me, come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" [Matthew 11:28-30]. Now you look at that invitation, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." That is an old Talmudic rabbinical saying for, "Enroll in my school and sit at my feet. Take my yoke upon you and learn about me. Enroll in my school and sit at my feet." What a blessedness, what a preciousness to do it all the days of our lives, sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning of Him.
And tell me, could you think of a more divine heavenly assignment to which God might invite us in heaven than to sit at the feet of Jesus forever, learning of the full orbed beauty and glory of God? That is the invitation this holy hour, come. Enroll in the school of Jesus. Sit at His feet, matetheuō, be a disciple; a learner in His gracious goodness and love. Would you? A family, all of you; a couple, two of you; or just one somebody you; in a moment when we stand to sing our appeal from the balcony round, the press of people on this lower floor, on the first note of the first stanza, answer with your life. Make the decision now in your heart. And when we sing, stand up walking down that stairway, walking down that aisle. Do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
GOD TEACHES DOCTRINE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Two approaches to the passage
1. Repetition of the sarcastic response of his critics (2 Corinthians 10:10, Acts 7)
2. Description of the simplicity of his message
II. What is doctrine?
A. Not petty, forensic tricks
B. Summation of God’s self-revelation to us
1. Works of God have teaching and truth
2. In religion, doctrine concerns God Himself
C. Substance and strength of Christian faith
D. Ultimate decisive factor in all human life
E. Teaching assignment
1. Church (Matthew 28:19-20)
2. Preacher (1 Timothy 4:13, 2 Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 4:12)
3. Congregation (Matthew 13:23)
III. How do we learn doctrine?
A. Precept by precept, line by line
B. Patient interest, desire (John 7:17, Matthew 5:6)