History is an unending cycle. Buried within the pages of the past are previews of the problems of the present. Humanity’s desires and needs, joys and struggles never change. Consider the problem of unhealthy teaching in the early church. This was one of Paul’s primary concerns in his first letter to Timothy and thus correct doctrine is an emphasis throughout the book.
If Paul were writing today, he would write the same thing. The church still needs to be reminded of the importance of doctrine because there are still so many who are turning away from it. But why is this such an important topic?
Unhealthy doctrine produces speculation, not salvation. Timothy’s charge was to give stern orders to some that they “teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith” (1 Tim. 1:3-4). Unsounds doctrine does nothing to increase our knowledge of God. Such teaching instead produces questions and false ideas which drive man further away from Him.
Sound doctrine–healthy doctrine–does the opposite. Such teaching produces love of a pure heart, a good conscience, and authentic faith (1 Tim. 1:5). Sound doctrine leads to repentance (2 Tim. 2:25), salvation (1 Tim. 4:16), spiritual growth (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and is a blessing to all who hear and apply it (Col. 1:28; Matt. 7:24-27).
Too much of the 1st century Ephesian problem exists in the church today. Too many preachers speak in question marks. Too many fill their lessons with emotionally charged psychobabble which sounds good but lacks real substance. There must be a renewed emphasis on sound, doctrinal preaching in the church of our Lord. The church cannot thrive without it. Doctrine makes an eternal difference.