Truth is the life blood of piety, without which we cannot maintain its vitality or support its activity. And to teach people truth, or to revive what they already know into freshness and power, is the preacher’s great means of doing good. – John Broadus
Doctrinal preaching promotes sound doctrine.
A grasp of biblical doctrine is paramount for God’s people. The Bible is the plumb line whereby believers can distinguish accurately the knowledge of God. Most doctrinal errors occur out of error in understanding or ignorance of the Scripture. Doctrinal preaching provides opportunity to address both of these. Note Paul’s words below:
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” – 1 Timothy 1.3-7.
Doctrinal preaching builds a Bible-based faith in God.
It provides warrant for what one believes about God and His relationship to man. A steady diet of doctrinal preaching undergirds the Bible as the authoritative foundation for Christian faith and living, leading the believer to correctly turn to the the Bible in matters of epistemology, worldview, salvation, etc.
“As the Word of God gives birth to genuine and lasting faith, that faith in turn fleshes out the body of belief that is paramount for the life and health of the faith community. For Paul the two kinds of faith were inseparable. Right doctrine births real faith, and real faith shapes right doctrine. In essence, it’s a continual cycle. At the same time the cycle can become perverted. Wrong doctrine gives birth to false and failing faith and false and failing faith leads to belief in a wrong doctrine.” – Jim Shaddix, The Passion Driven Sermon. 45.
Doctrinal preaching clarifies key concepts related to salvation.
Consider Philip’s interaction with the Ethiopian eunuch,
“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. . . . And the eunuch said to Philip, About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” – Acts 8:30-31; 34-35.
Through doctrinal preaching, the listener can be guided to correctly see the greatness of the gospel as God has brought it about in their own lives. A person’s trust in Christ cannot be separated from what they perceive about his identity, character, nature, etc. There are many that claim the gospel, but believe in an unbiblical Jesus. Doctrinal preaching honors the grit and glory of the gospel of Jesus. It explores the wonder and importance of doctrines like the atonement, justification, propitiation, and adoption and provides meaning to these essential truths.
Doctrinal preaching encourages and sustains sanctification.
Peter concluded his second epistle with the positive correlation of knowing doctrine and sanctification. He wrote,
“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish . . . . Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:14; 17-18).
Doctrinal preaching provides an environment whereby Christians can mature in their knowledge and representation of Christ.
Doctrine-filled sermons encourage emotional maturity and stability.
“Doctrine is also important because even Christian feelings or emotions are a result of what we believe. In our time, a great deal of emphasis is placed on feelings, and efforts are made to stir those in a rather direct fashion. In the Bible, however, the believer’s feelings are expected to result from what he or she believes.” – Millard Erickson, … Old Wine, 27.
For the individual well-versed in doctrine, the Bible becomes a central reference point of truth amid a world of subjective, fallen thought. Biblical doctrine has been described as:
“an authentic yardstick by which to approach both biblical and personal experience.” – Merrill Abbey, Living Doctrine in a Vital Pulpit, 68.
Doctrine becomes the source whereby the believer can weigh their thoughts and feelings about the world they are trying the digest and understand, while maintaining a biblical worldview (Romans 12.1-2).
Doctrinal preaching is essential to church vitality and effectiveness.
The pragmatism and ease of programs often leads many pastors to implement growth programs before the congregation understands the God they seek to serve. Doctrine builds admiration for God and inspires His people to live with a keen awareness of His presence and goodness.
“A church can survive and be reasonably successful spiritually without a clear understanding of its vision, but it cannot survive shoddy or incorrect theology. Without a biblical theology as a basis, the church is reduced to a social organization that operates programs rather than supports a ministry that challenges the hearts and minds of people with biblical truth.” – Glenn Daman, Shepherding the Small Church, 66,67.
“Such pulpit work [doctrinal preaching] tends to flourish, or languish, according to the ebb and flow of spiritual life in the church. When prophets and apostles, or Luther and Calvin, preached doctrine, the church made an impact on the age.” – Andrew Blackwood, Doctrinal Preaching, 29.
Doctrine influences church ministry and missions.
Doctrinal sermons directly impact and influence the various ministries of the church and how these ministries are accomplished. Doctrinal understanding influences the prioritization of church ministries. Theological perception can lead the church to understand certain ministries as essential, others as valuable, and others as tangential to their purpose and existence. Doctrine shapes how ministries are accomplished, what they communicate, and by what means they are accomplished.
Doctrinal preaching benefits the preacher.
Perhaps another article could more fully provide the space needed to flesh out the benefits of doctrinal preaching on the preacher himself. Perhaps one will suffice at this moment. Joy. The joy of witnessing God’s Word change the lives of people intertwined with the joy experienced in his own personal transformation. Perhaps we should echo the thoughts of the apostle John,
” I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 4