Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Friday, July 29, 2005

That Dirty “D” Word – DOCTRINE.... (Part 2)

Interestingly, another profession that uses the term "doctrine" is the military.

In the profession of arms, doctrine is a nation’s systematic approach to the problem of warfare. It is influenced by the organization’s history and experience; it is developed by professionals who have studied and practiced warfare.It explains the fundamental principles of conflict and it provides an organizational point of view on how war should be fought.

Military doctrine dictates how a nation fights. For example, the old Soviet Union, knowing that technologically they trailed the West, recognized that their superior numbers and lack of human rights constraints could be made an advantage. So they built a war machine that relied heavily on overwhelming numbers of cheap, simple, rugged, easy-to-use tanks and other equipment, that required far less training and maintenance than did the sophisticated Western systems, and that could be used by large numbers of quickly (and poorly) trained draftees. The soldiers were subjected to draconian discipline, discouraged from thinking for themselves, so that the Russian generals would be able to control their troops more completely. They hoped that they could overwhelm the NATO forces with sheer numbers, knowing that they would suffer terrible losses
but certain that they would outlast the smaller Western armies.

NATO, for its part, decided that highly trained and skilled troops were worth the investment, and the nations of the Alliance were more prosperous and could afford more complex equipment. The more individualistic Western societies encouraged their soldiers to think for themselves and to take initiative, making for a more flexible and adaptive military.

Although the two sides never fought, the results of the two schools of thought played out in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Soviet-backed Arab nations were defeated again and again by the much-smaller but more innovative and technologically advanced Western-influenced Israeli forces, which had taken German tactics from the Second World War as their model (isn’t that ironic?).

Now, think of the Christian life as war. That’s what it is, isn’t it? We have an enemy. He probes us for weaknesses and attacks us. Only by working together, and following our instructions from our Divine Commander, the Lord of Hosts, can we survive.

It’s interesting that, along with his repeated and impassioned calls to hold fast to sound doctrine, Paul compared the Christian’s preparation for the spiritual battlefield to the equipment of a Roman soldier:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:11-18)

Notice that the first metaphor Paul uses here is that of a belt – the belt of truth. The truth of Christianity is Christian doctrine. When we teach truth in our churches and Sunday schools, we are instructed in Christian doctrine. So why does Paul compare it to a belt? Well, the Roman soldier’s equipment – the breastplate, his clothing, his sword and dagger – would have all been held together by the belt. Even modern soldiers wear what’s called a Webb belt – off of which hangs pouches for a water canteen, ammunition, gas mask, and most of the other things a soldier requires in combat.

In short, truth holds together all of a Christian’s spiritual combat gear. Without truth, you’re useless on the battlefield and much of your spiritual equipment is useless. How can one be righteous if one has no truth, or follows false doctrines? How can one carry his weapons into battle, the message of the Word, if one has not learned the truth?

And our truth is Christ. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Without an accurate understanding of the truth of Christ, as described in the Bible, we find ourselves useless on the spiritual battlefield.

Do you have a commitment to truth? Is the truth you hold completely in accordance with God's Word? Have you read the verses about sin, and salvation? Can you explain them? Defend them against those who would distort them?

Just as a soldier must remember and act upon his training to fight, a Christian must know and be skilled in applying, living, and explaining the truth of Christ - our Christian doctrine.


Post a Comment

<< Home