The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Apostle Paul commanded Titus, a pastor, to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Paul gave the same command to another pastor, Timothy, “… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2). Sound doctrine is biblical teaching. The preaching of the word of God written — the Bible — was not only for Timothy in the 1st century, but it extends to the Church until Jesus returns. Sound doctrine, biblical teaching, is also the focus of the church until the return of Christ.
Every Christian pastor would affirm his call to preach the Bible. Yet, surveys of the evangelical church in America reveal that doctrinal teaching is not the norm. Christian pastors would likewise affirm the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. But, practices in the Church do not support the reality of the sufficiency of Scripture. Some teach that there are “things” that need to be added to be effective and successful. Programs that address lifestyles are cleverly devised. Preferences in worship music are considered if the church is to “reach” our modern culture. The word “relevant” regularly comes up in conversations concerning one’s church of preference. Relevant is defined today as hearing a “message” that addresses “my” feelings or circumstances. The trend is to design worship for men, women, and children so that chords are struck affirming emotions. Today, church leaders diligently seek to accommodate various life stages to develop a “relevant” message.
Obviously, not all evangelical churches fall into these worldly traps. There are many that consider the importance of sound doctrine and biblical preaching. There are many who understand that there is only one seeker, God, and that He has commanded the way in which He is to be worshiped. There are even many churches that understand that worship on the Lord’s Day is not for evangelism. Not all evangelical churches have replaced expositional preaching with skits complete with “stage props.”
Still, one might think that sound doctrine, biblical preaching, and worship are discoveries of the modern church. Maybe it’s legalistic to suggest that the entirety of God’s word is not only relevant, but also necessary and sufficient to live in Christ. All these issues were dealt with by God in the Old Testament. God said that closing the doors of the church was preferable to vain worship (Malachi 1:10). If the church in the Old Testament was held accountable for her worship and teaching, we should certainly take heed.
Concerning sound doctrine, I was recently studying one of the Psalms of David: Psalm 12. I observed that the first three words of verse 1, “Save, O LORD”, declare sound doctrine. David cried out to God for salvation. He knew that man could not save himself. David knew that man’s only hope was for God to act. David didn’t suggest that he chose God and therefore was the instrument of his own salvation. No, David cried to God. Only God saves. All men are born dead in sin. The Fall of Adam is inherited by all men born of a man and a woman. In another Psalm — Psalm 51 — David declared that he was conceived in sin. David didn’t mean that he was born outside of wedlock. He was simply stating what God declared in Genesis 6:5, “… that every intention of the thoughts of men’s hearts was only evil continually.”
David also knew God was his only hope. Why did David know that and not, say, Saul? They both were anointed to be king. They were both members of the Covenant Community, the visible church. Yet David knew of his dependence upon God, and Saul did not. Surely Saul knew there was a God as did David. Yet, knowing of the existence of God did not lead Saul to depend upon Him as David did.
The reason David knew to cry out to God was because God gave him eyes to see. God did not look down the corridor of time and see that David would choose Him. For there were many times when David chose himself over God.
The first three words of Psalm 12 reveal two essential truths, called sound doctrine. First, God alone saves. Second, God extends saving grace to those whom He chooses. God calls, regenerates, converts, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and glorifies (Romans 8:29-30). Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone (Ephesians 2:1-9). This is sound doctrine.