30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

November 5, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Sound Doctrine"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word.

It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "Sound Doctrine", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.

I trust that all in the audience this morning are familiar with the strong love that Paul, the matchless apostle of the Gentiles, had for his son in the gospel, Timothy. The 16th chapter of The Acts of the Apostles tells us of the meeting between Paul and a disciple called Timotheus, who was well reported by the brethren in Lystra and Derbe. This young man, whose mother was a Jewess and whose father was a Greek, was Timothy, one of the most colorful preachers of the New Testament. To him two of the books of the Bible are addressed, and in his behalf some of the soundest advice of heaven is directed. I say this because God realized that the destiny of the church would soon be on the shoulders of young men like Timothy. This has ever been true, and the best that age has to give has unselfishly been imparted to the men of tomorrow. Paul's advice to his son in the gospel was the best that he could give, and, added to this was the guiding power of the Holy Spirit directing the pen of Paul. Evils that were present and those to come were pointed out to this young preacher that he might stand fast in the faith. Paul admonishes him to hold fast to sound words and sound doctrine. Listen now to what is said in 2 Timothy 1:13: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." Now let me share with you three other passages of scripture from the first book of Timothy. In chapter 1:10 we read, "for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine," In chapter 4:16 we find these words, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." And finally in chapter 4, verse 13 it says, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

These are but a few passages in this advice to Timothy that teach the lesson that we are to hold fast to sound doctrine. There is an important matter in which young Timothy was to give all of his attention to, as again it says, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." Paul correctly feared the time when men would not teach sound doctrine any longer. Paul was a constant encouragement to this young man in letting him know how things were and what would come about one day. He writes to Timothy in the 4th chapter of 2 Timothy, verses 2-4 to, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." This is a divine, Holy Spirit-guided prophecy. We learn that there will come a time when men will not endure sound doctrine. They will seek out teachers who, having no fear of God, will teach what the audience wants to hear with no thought of the sound doctrine of yesterday, with no concern for the doctrine of Paul and of the apostles. This caused Paul to write in Galatians 1:8,"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."


This morning I have been talking about "sound doctrine." But what is "sound doctrine?" Sound doctrine is simply Bible doctrine, doctrine that a man can verify with chapter and verse in the New Testament. Sound words are, in the same manner, Bible words, words that are found and taught in the Word of God. To be more. specific, let me say that no doctrine is sound if it cannot be found in the New Testament. We are living under the New Covenant, or the New Testament, and no permission of God is given to go back to the other side of the cross, that is the Old Testament for our authority for what we are to be doing today in living for Christ under the sound doctrine of the New Testament. Paul, in the second chapter of Colossians, verse 14, tells us that the old law was "nailed to the cross." He also argues in the ninth chapter of Hebrews that Christ had to seal the New Testament with his blood, that His Testament was not in force as long as He lived, but became of effect after He died. I want to encourage you to open your Bible to that New Testament passage and let's read it together. Hebrews 9:16-17 says,"For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives." In another place he points out that even a man's covenant, if it be confirmed, no man can disannul, or add to it. Therefore, sound doctrine would not be the commandments of Moses, but the teaching of Christ. To be more definite, the sound doctrine to which Paul refers here is The teaching or doctrine of the apostles which is in fact the teaching of the Holy Spirit which was sent by Jesus. In the second chapter of Acts, verse 42, we find this expression used concerning the church at Jerusalem,"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Here we have the matter clarified even further: Not only is sound doctrine New Testament doctrine, but it is also the apostles' doctrine. The apostles of Christ, speaking for him, bound sound doctrine on all men, and that is why Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2: "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." What things had Timothy heard of Paul? The answer is clear: Sound words and sound doctrine, the apostles' doctrine, the things that the apostles taught that all who heard them would abide in the truth of Jesus Christ, striving to do His will based upon His teaching, not man's teaching. Now let me further say, there is nothing wrong with any man preaching or teaching, as long as that teaching is based upon the teachings of Christ, that which has been revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament, to know of those things. We all need to be of the mind set to let the Bible speak to us and to remain silent, not to enforce ideas or creeds upon others where there is no divine guidance.

Let me further suggest to you that every God-fearing individual in this great audience this morning should examine every teaching to see if it is sound doctrine, to see if it is the apostles' doctrine. If such teaching can be found in the Bible, then follow and practice it. If it is not found in the Bible, then abandon it. This simple rule would purify religion as the filter purifies the stream. We would be able to disregard all the teachings of men that are not found in the Bible, and all of the people of God could unite in the doctrine of our Lord. The Savior's prayer cries out for unity, and a careful examination of the Word of God is necessary if men are to walk together.


Now, let's take the remainder of our time allotted this morning to talk about some areas that we are to practice religiously in keeping with sound doctrine. We have discussed these areas in previous lessons here on this radio program, but I want us to consider once again some things that many churches engage in, yet not necessarily in accordance with New Testament teaching or that which is sound doctrine.

Let us consider, first, in the light of the Bible, the action of baptism. There are literally thousands of men and women, boys and girls in denominations across the world today that have been baptized, yet not in accordance with New Testament teaching. Many have had their baptism planned, in that they knew the day that they would be baptized in keeping with a local church practice. Some would admit their belief in Christ and be baptized after they had attended certain classes at a later date. Others would wait to be baptized on special days such as birthdays, anniversaries, "Easter" and even during the celebrated Christmas season. But let me ask, was this the practice of the early church? Was baptism, a burial in water, postponed until a certain day? It would do us good to pull out our Bible's and find out more about what the Bible says, after all, if we are to practice "sound doctrine," then it is important to know what the Bible says. On the Day of Pentecost, recorded in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles, three thousand cried out, in regard to their salvation, and when Peter commanded them to"repent and be baptized," the 41st verse tells us, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Here we find this clear fact: On the day that they believed, they were baptized, and as a result were added to the church. Their obedience was not postponed to some future date or day. It was too important for that.

In the eighth chapter of Acts we find a still more powerful example. Philip preaches Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch while the two are riding in a chariot. In the preaching of Christ, he preached baptism, for that is part of the preaching of Christ. The thirty-sixth verse of the eighth chapter reads like this, "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing." As soon as the eunuch knew what he needed to do in order to be saved, he was baptized for the remission of his sins. He did not do it on another day.

There was no postponing of baptism here, for while the chariot wheels rolled, the eunuch demanded baptism. Some would say that he demanded baptism because he would not be in a position again to receive it, but the record tells us that he had gone to Jerusalem to worship and he would have been in a position the following year to be baptized into Christ. The answer from this example is that sound doctrine demands that baptism is too important to be delayed, and that when men and women believe with all of their heart they are to be baptized not on a special day but always without delay. In the sixteenth chapter of Acts there is a final proof. Paul and Silas were locked in a dungeon in Philippi, and as they sang praises unto God the doors were opened by an earthquake, and the jailer cried out saying, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" After telling him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the record tells us that "And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized." The question would be, why not postpone this man's obedience to the gospel to a given day or a set time or season? The apostles gave the example, and sound doctrine cries out for us to follow it. Where in the Bible can we find the record of an apostle, when a man, expressed a desire to be baptized, asking him when he would like to complete such obedience? Is it not sound doctrine that every time, in the long list of conversions recorded for us, men expressed a desire to be obedient to Christ, they were baptized immediately or the same hour of the night? Even while on a journey men obeyed God Almighty in the waters of baptism.


Now let's notice another Bible practice that often times is not done in accordance with the Bible, and that is the taking of the memorial feast. The proper time for baptism is when the sinner is convinced of his guilt and expresses his desire to obey his Lord; and the proper time for the Lord's supper, if we are to be guided by sound doctrine, is the first day of the week, not any day or man made special days such as "Easter" or "Christmas", but rather on the resurrection day, the first day of every week. The Bible calls this the Lord's Day, and in the first chapter of Revelation and the tenth verse, John declares, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day." It was on this day that Christ came from the tomb, conqueror of death of hell and the grave, and on this day that the early church met to take the communion. In the book of Acts, chapter 20, verse 7 we can read a valuable verse concerning the breaking of bread or the Lord's Supper. There it says, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." Here is sound doctrine. The church at Troas met on the first day of the week to take the communion. It is referred to as the breaking of bread because the loaf was broken by Christ before it was given to the disciples, Matthew 26. Paul tarried seven days waiting for this day and continued his sermon far into the night. Acts 2: 42 tells us of the diligence with which the early church kept this feast. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." This was not done once a year, but steadfastly, without wavering. This is sound doctrine.


I realize this is not the "Easter" season as many in our society refer to it, but I want us to notice another example of individuals that are determined to keep certain days sacred and holy, treated as a religious holiday, that are not so used in the Bible. An example of this would be "Easter" itself. Can we find where the church ever observed such a feast in the days of inspiration? If so, where can we find it in order to speak sound words? The word "Easter" is found once in the King James translation of the New Testament. It is not found in the corrected, revised version. In the King James version it is found in the twelfth chapter of Acts and in the fourth verse. Let's take a moment now and read these first four verses. "Now about this time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." The correct translation of the word is not "Easter" at all but "passover." All who can read the original know that the word is "pascha," and all of the other times it is found in the King James version, about twenty-eight in number, it is correctly rendered "passover." It was not a Christian festival that king Herod, always the enemy of the church, respected. The record declares that his purpose was to vex certain of the church. He killed James as a blow to the church of Christ, and when .he saw that it pleased the Jews he took Peter also. His purpose was to please the Jews. Hence, he waited until after the days of unleavened bread. If "Easter" had been an approved Christian day, he would have delighted in killing Peter on the very day that his Lord arose and thus bring shame on the cause of Christ. It was the custom of the kings to please the popular element in their kingdoms so his desire was toward the Jews who had crucified and rejected Christ. The revised version, representing the best of the scholars of the English-speaking world, corrected this mistake in Acts 12: 4, and rendered it "passover" to strip all authority from the term "Easter."

Now, let me as ask a question: Can a man observe times and days and months and years, and be true to sound words and sound doctrine? Let Paul answer from the fourth chapter of the Galatian letter, verses 9-11: "But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." No one will deny that he is making this argument against those special days in the old covenant that is no more, and the times and days apply to the Mosaic Law. But hear the point: If it was wrong to observe special days recorded in a law that at one time was given by God in the religious realm, it would certainly be wrong to observe a day that has no basis in the religious realm today, because these special days are the creation of man, not God.

To be sure the Christian has a pascha, not once a year, but upon the first day of the week, when disciples gather around the table of the Lord in his kingdom. He remembers the Lord's death and celebrates his resurrection in the Lord's appointed way. His mind and heart meditate upon the death and resurrection of him who was and is the light, the way, and the proud conqueror of death. With clean hands and a pure heart, he gathers, as the disciples did at Troas in the long ago, to break bread. Every Lord's Day is his pascha, and thus he abides within the limits of sound doctrine. His pascha is not a mere historical date, but the divinely appointed day of the Lord. He understands with Paul that if Christ is not raised, our faith and our hope are vain, and thus, abiding by the scripture "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb 10:25), he continues steadfastly in the breaking of bread.

Dear friends, I want to encourage you this morning to make sure that whatever you are doing religiously, to make sure that it is in accordance with the teachings of God. Only those that practice "sound doctrine" in their life, will be able to enter into the joys of heaven. Let's read the Bible every day and find out what we need to do to be pleasing to our Lord. Remember, Jesus clearly said in Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"Those that are guilty of practicing lawlessness are those that are not practicing "sound doctrine."

May you always strive to be pleasing to God. Thank you for listening this morning!

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"