by Tom McLemore
“But as for you, teach what befits sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
THE MEANING OF SOUND DOCTRINE
“Sound” translates the Greek word from which we get “hygiene” and “hygienic.” We may think of soundness in terms of that which is healthy and health giving. “Doctrine” refers to teaching or information which is communicated. From these terms, we learn that sound doctrine is simply teaching which produces spiritual health.
Some misunderstand the nature of sound doctrine. They limit the notion to controversial issues. It is important to speak the truth on important doctrinal issues (Jude 3). Yet, all Bible teaching which produces spiritual health is sound doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). In this sense, any sermon which calls upon people to conform their lives to God’s will is a doctrinal sermon! Also, some seem to think of sound doctrine only in respect to the manner in which the teaching is presented. If it is harsh, loud, judgmental, and tactless, it is sound. If it is loving, kind, conversational, and tactful, it is unsound.
On the basis of the misunderstanding of the meaning of “sound,” some must think the soundness of doctrine depends upon how it sounds to them. You may hear them say, “That has an uncertain sound to it.” Regardless of how it may sound, if it is Biblical, it is sound.
SOUND DOCTRINE AND THE
WELL-BEING OF THE CHURCH
Christ’s evangelistic mandate included training (indoctrination) of those who were converted (Matthew 28:20). Paul’s missionary methods included this vital work (Acts 14:21, 22; 15:41).
There is a great and perennial need (often neglected) to follow up conversion with sound teaching and training therein. The drop_out rate and the regression into sin on part of new converts, as well as folk who have been Christians several years, is a well_known, grievous, and serious problem. Greater efforts must be made to establish Christians. Sound doctrine must be provided. Establish them in the faith of the gospel. Instruct and train them in godly Christian living and active service (Titus 2:11_14).
In Crete, a problem existed, and Titus was dispatched to work on it. In Titus 1:5, 12, 15, Paul provided a description of some of the spiritual sickness in Crete. Paul advised Titus that the situation called for sound (healthy, health-giving) doctrine! (Titus 2:1). All of our congregational efforts to lead and enable Christians to live godly, fruitful lives calls for sound doctrine.
WHOSE TASK IS IT?
Elders of the church are responsible. Qualified elders’ doing their job prevents much spiritual sickness and defect and promotes spiritual growth. Paul makes clear the necessity of appointing knowledgeable, courageous, and able teachers to the eldership. (Titus 1:9).
Preachers are indeed responsible. They are to teach (Titus 2:1), declare, exhort, and reprove (Titus 2:15), model (Titus 2:7), remind of (Titus 3:1; cf. 2 Peter 1:10-12), insist upon (Titus 3:8), and see that people learn (Titus 3:14) sound doctrine.
Christians are also responsible (Titus 2:5, 10b). How the child of God lives in the present world either adorns the doctrine of God or discredits it (Titus 2:12; Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15, 16).
THE URGENCY OF SOUND DOCTRINE
There can be no growth or productivity without health, and there will be no health without growth and productivity (John 15:1-8). Sound doctrine is the remedy for what ails us!
The elderly need sound doctrine. Older men and women in the church should be solid pillars of stability and examples of spiritual health. Some are just that, and we thank God for them. But some are weak, critical, hard to get along with, pessimistic, and in general useless to the cause of Christ. The remedy lies in their conforming their lives to sound doctrine (Titus 2:2, 3)!
Our homes need sound doctrine. Sadly, some young men and women are failing miserably in their responsibilities. Wives are often neglectful of their duties (often because of a lack of training from older women). Some husbands, overcome by lust, are unfaithful to their wives. Some mothers fail to love their husbands and children, resort to abortion, and are guilty of child abuse, etc. The remedy is hygienic teaching (Titus 2:4-6)!
The church’s ministry calls for sound doctrine. Preachers sometimes preach but don’t practice or serve. Some are immoral, fail to stand for convictions, don’t take their work seriously enough, and take themselves too seriously, etc. The remedy is sound doctrine (Titus 2:7, 8; cf. 1 Timothy 4:16)!
Sound doctrine is a must in the workplace (nearest analogy to ancient master/slave relationship in modern times). In some cases, employees do not work hard, demand more than agreed upon, and take advantage (e.g., on the job theft), etc. The remedy is the hygienic teaching applied in the work place (Titus 2:9-10)!
Sound doctrine must transform our communities. In one’s community, there may be disregard for law, people unwilling to be good citizens, lack of community involvement, slander, man’s inhumanity to man, and apathy. The remedy lies in sound doctrine (Titus 3:1, 2)!
The program of the church demands sound teaching. Some Christians are useless to the cause of Christ, uninvolved, sitting, not giving, and not helping. Some are convinced that the work of the Christian is merely to argue with other Christians about opinions. Sound doctrine is the remedy (Titus 3:8b-11, 14)!
Certainly we need to preach the gospel in its purity and truth to the lost, but sound doctrine is needed by the Christian. Let us establish Christians in the faith. Also, let us train the Lord’s people for practical piety and good works, as we have seen. As for us, may God help us to teach what befits sound doctrine!
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