Tim Keller | June 6, 2004
The words “dogma” and “doctrine” are negative words in our society. But what is doctrine? Doctrine is something you take by faith, something you trust in, and something you promote. If you’re one who says, “I believe everyone should determine what is right or wrong for himself or herself,” guess what? What you just said is a doctrine. It’s European Enlightenment individualism. First of all, you can’t prove that—it’s a particular view of reality. Secondly, you’re betting your life on the belief that there’s no God who thinks it’s important for you to believe and live in a certain way. Thirdly, you’re promoting it, because when you say, “I think everybody should be open-minded like me,” that’s just another way of saying, “Everyone should accept my view of reality.” It’s something you take on faith, you’re betting your whole life on it, and you’re promoting it to others. It’s doctrine. There is no way to avoid doctrine-based living.
Psalm 19 is filled with doctrine. It’s all about the Word of God and how God communicates with us. How do you know anything about God? How does God tell us anything? This psalm talks to us about the soundless Word of God, the perfect Word of God, and the searching Word of God. If we look through those three parts, we’ll answer the question: How do we learn about God?
Doctrine is like a set of beliefs that we trust and share with others. Even people who say doctrine isn’t important actually have their own set of beliefs. The Bible, filled with ancient wisdom, gives us a strong base for doctrine by making us understand God through His silent, perfect, and searching words.
1. God’s Word without sound
The first part of Psalm 19 shows us how God communicates His glory and knowledge silently through nature. The stars, sun, moon, oceans, and mountains all speak of God’s greatness, making us feel both awe and humility. But, to truly understand this divine speech, we need the clear and perfect words of the Bible.
2. God’s flawless Word
David tells us how perfect and powerful the Bible is, standing as the ultimate source of truth. The Bible can refresh us, reveal our strengths and weaknesses, guide us wisely, and bring us joy. David talks about the challenge of finding joy in following God’s laws, the resistance to the Bible’s authority, and the influence of society’s opinions, while emphasizing the Bible’s importance in shaping who we are and what we believe.
3. God’s Word that searches us
The psalmist talks about wanting to please God even though he doesn’t fully understand his own hidden faults. This shows our human struggle with unseen sin. But, there’s hope in Jesus Christ, who not only obeyed the law perfectly but also took the punishment for our disobedience. Because of Christ’s incredible act of kindness and forgiveness, we can learn to love God’s laws, which can change our hearts and actions.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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