Justification: The Importance of Doctrine

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”

“We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is.”

A.W. Tozer

A man’s theology is the most significant contemplation he can entertain. Simplified and nominal Christianity is an emergent dilemma fueled by thoughtless and doctrine-less Christians. Whereas grace is not coercively imputed on the right-minded, it certainly results in both a transformation and renewal of the mind (Romans 12:1-2). Therefore, the uncontrollable reaction of saving grace and its transformed affectation of the heart must also be the renewal of mind – totally consumed by God. Doctrine has an integral place at the study desk of every Christian, for it is a fragment of such soteriological renewal (Prov. 3:13-14; 10:13; Hos. 4:6; 2 Pet. 1:3). The negation of doctrinal study naturally prepares one to entertain thoughts about God that are not worthy of Him, which is the essence of idolatry.

However, doctrine is not a personal soteriological tool, but a descriptive device to ascribe to our experience of God’s attributes. Yes, the draw of grace and the gift of faith is permitted to, and usually does, come upon a heart that can not define, label, or categorize what it is experiencing. Specifically worded, doctrine does not pursue dogmatics as to functionalize a religion, but to clarify a gospel. Therefore, doctrine is utilized best when it designates the essentials; and Christianity is “in its essence”, and fundamental distinction, “a gospel.”[1] Hence, one must inquire which doctrines pronounce and demystify the gospel.

The answer must be found in the doctrine that manifests the greatest religious discrepancy to Christianity, while featuring the person of Jesus Christ. In the broadest sense, the principle of control – generating or manufacturing a means to appease or become the divine – purposely constructs all of man-made religiosity. Conversely, the gospel proclaims a God who acted on behalf on His children, providing the way that they could not manufacture. It is in light of such dissimilarity that the doctrine of justification ought be noted as “unique to Christianity” and “the heart of the gospel.”[2] Such declarations regarding the doctrine of justification propound the stated need for the doctrine to be unfolded and searched out in clarification of the gospel.


 

[1] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2001), 118.

 

[2] Ibid., 118.

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