Whats the importance of doctrine?

Recently I had a young girl come to my office an ask me a very crucial question. "Why is doctrine important?"As I sat back in my chair my mind went in a million different directions.  I responded by saying "Doctrine is the most important aspect of your Christian walk. Essential doctrines are the foundation of our faith. With out doctrine our salvation is highly questionable and our lifestyles may not be pleasing to the Lord." We continued to converse for a while and this is the gist of what I said to her

 I hope this helps.

First we must understand that doctrine is simply another word for teachings. Teachings are everywhere in scripture. You can barley mention anything about Jesus without making a doctrinal statement. If you say Jesus was a man, you've just made a significant doctrinal statement. If you say that Jesus was a prophet, you've just made a significant doctrinal statement. Doctrine is inescapable.

When most people hear the word "Doctrine" they think of some abstract and lofty idea that doesn't pertain to practical human life. O how ignorant of a thought that truly is!

To put it bluntly, we have no basis for practical living without doctrine! Its that important.

Here are two practical reasons for the importance of doctrine.

1. Without doctrine your salvation hangs in the balance: Our salvation is made sure upon what we believe. If we say we believe the Gospel is true, than we have believed and put our trust in particular doctrines. The atonement, The Humanity of Christ, The Deity of Christ, The Bodily Resurrection of Christ, The Authority of Scripture... The list goes on! What you believe totally impacts the validity of your salvation; and without doctrine you cant know what you believe and thus never truly know whether or not you are saved.

If you don't believe in the trinity, how can you say your a Christian? If the god you serve is not the God revealed in scripture, your serving a god who does not exist, aka and idol.
This does not mean that one must have a comprehensive understanding of all details concerning the indispensable doctrines of Christianity upon the accepted presentation of the Gospel, but rather must upon growth in Christ come to comply with all preeminent doctrines as they are encountered. Denials of these truths come to prove the inauthenticity of the initial acceptance of the gospel, thus ones salvation must be brought into question. Doctrine is very very important.

2. Without doctrine you cant know how to live: The teachings of the bible carry with them biblical principles. These principles are to shape a Christians lifestyle into one that is honoring to God. However, without doctrine, we cant know what a God honoring lifestyle looks like.

For example, how is a man supposed to love his wife? Should he treat her harshly for lack of obedience? Should he treat her as a personal slave? Should he commit adultery because she has gained a few extra pounds?

I submit to you that there are biblical doctrines that speak to such questions.
"The Vicarious Atonement of Christ" speaks to this very issue.

The Apostle Paul states "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."  Ephesians 5.25-33

Do you see how the doctrine gave substance to the situation? This transfer of truth to practicality is true of all biblical doctrines.

Another example would be the "abstract" doctrine of God's omnipresence. What practical implications could that possibly bring forth? Well, Omnipresence is the doctrine that God is everywhere present. That implies that he sees all that you do, and have ever done for that matter. You can hide none of your sinfulness from the eyes of the Lord. In fact, He saw what you did last night!

Do you see how understanding God's omnipresence may change the way you behave when no earthly eyes are watching? Understanding this doctrine can bring a sense of conviction when one sins, a sense of comfort when tragedy strikes (knowing that God is near), a sense of peace when in the middle of a storm. God is always with you!

Here is a wonderful quote to consider and think through: "God is over all things, under all things; outside all; within but not enclosed; without but not excluded; above but not raised up; below but not depressed; wholly above, presiding; wholly beneath, sustaining; wholly within, filling" -Hildebert of Lavardin

Doctrine is very important!