Doctrine and Devotion (Thought for May 2019)

April 28, 2019

in Monthly comment, Uncategorized

“All theological questions show up in life somehow, somewhere, or they aren’t worth the bother.”
(Haddon Robinson)

This idea has been expressed in various ways. The title, ‘Doctrine and Devotion’, is one — it’s also the name of a podcast I listen to regularly (check it out).

What is most important is that this is biblical thinking. The wisdom literature of our Bibles: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs all deal with the question of how to live for God’s glory in this world. In fact, that’s kind of the idea of ‘wisdom’ in the Bible — how to live well. Now for that we need two ingredients: good doctrine, which tells us what’s what, and devotion — actual life (you know: hands, feet, mind, lips… all our being involved, cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 22:37-38), lived for the glory of God. Both are needed, or we are not living well. Not if you ask the Bible.

Sadly, though, we are creatures of extremes, and this shows up in this area as well. Some are all doctrine, no devotion – they have all their Ts crossed and Is dotted, but they don’t live for God’s glory. Perhaps they’re full of pride or bitterness, or unkindness, or some other sin. Their theology
does not touch their lives. Dead orthodoxy is not what God requires though. In fact, He doesn’t delight in it. The devil is orthodox in this way.
Then there are those who have little or no doctrine, all ‘devotion’. They will tell you that it doesn’t really matter what you think. ‘Christians disagree.’ ‘All you need is love.’ I hope it bothers you that the Beatles agreed with this sort of thinking. The problem these people have is that life lived like that is not devotion to God — because He is Truth, and truth matters to Him profoundly. See how Deuteronomy 6:4 sets up what follows — Israel’s pious living was to be rooted in the truth about God. God’s not looking for dogooders, but for worshippers, John 4:22-24.
We need to watch out, because Satan delights in using our creaturely extremeness to cause troubles for us and in the church.

Listen to Shai Linne, in Cosmic Powers:
For those who minimise truth, he’ll burden them with  heresies
For those who emphasise truth, he’ll turn them into Pharisees
One generation, he’ll tempt them to be legalists
The next generation, he’ll tempt them to be hedonists

So, what’s the solution? We need to pray that the Spirit of God will lead us into all truth as we read, study, meditate on His Word and hear it preached.

He is the One through Whom we experience the Word alive and keeps us from dead orthodoxy — and He is the One Who empowers us to obey Christ and live for God’s glory. And that is our ultimate aim. It feels at times like walking a tightrope — but we are called to this, and all things are possible with God.



May 2019

[^1] Robinson, Haddon W.. Biblical Preaching: The Development
and Delivery of Expository Messages . Baker Publishing
Group. Kindle Edition .

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