‘Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers’ (1Tim 4:16; NIV).
Having defined our destination as one of eternal life beyond the grave, Paul exhorts Timothy and all pilgrims to closely watch their doctrine and their lives.
Doctrine is the composite truth that defines what a person believes in and hence lives out. For a Christian, doctrine is defined by the Bible- 66 books, authored by over 40 different authors living in different cultures, ranging from shepherds to kings, written over a 1500-year period, yet being a cohesive and unified book, proclaiming one message- the lostness of man and a loving God’s prescription in the salvation effected by Jesus.
‘Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had it origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (2Peter 1:20,21).
The Bible was truly authored by God because the Holy Spirit carried the authors as they wrote and hence the cohesiveness in the message. Yet the Bible was not a dictation in the sense that the Koran is considered to be, with the authors actively participating in the process. So the cultural and geographical settings, the style of writing and the context become important in interpreting the Bible accurately.
All lies are a distortion of the truth. When a product is valuable, the fakes and duplicates are several. The more profound a truth is, the more will be the lies built around it. The Bible is no exception. Distortion of Biblical truth abounds- both within and outside the church. A pilgrim needs to accurately interpret Scripture and keep the purity of his doctrine.
The second step follows. For any person, life is built around his doctrine. Integrity is when a pilgrim lives his life true to the doctrine he knows is the inspired word of God. The pressure to conform to the majority pattern of the world and the pressure to compromise and take the easy option when challenges arise will test a pilgrim as he attempts to watch his life in his journey to eternity.
What do you think are the common areas of compromise in doctrine and life for a pilgrim? Do comment.
- FOUR QUESTIONS FOR A PILGRIM-PART 1
- FOUR QUESTIONS FOR A PILGRIM-PART 3