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Intersect: Harrold pitts' secret

INTERSECT (Where the Bible Meets Life) is a regular column of ONE Magazine featuring Dr. Garnett Reid, a member of the Bible faculty at Free Will Baptist Bible College. Email Garnett

The DaVinci Code. The “Gospel of Judas.” Court decisions squelching “intelligent design” in favor of evolution. Islamic terrorism and persecution. Terri Schaivo and right-to-life challenges. The burgeoning Gay Rights movement. Over the past couple of years, like a series of punches from a heavyweight contender, these blows have pummeled the church and the Christian faith.

Resurgent Doctrine

A great blessing for God’s people is emerging out of this assault—a resurgent interest in doctrine—a return to teaching and instruction as the only solid basis for biblical worship. The debate over doctrine versus worship is misguided. True doctrine produces true worship because it reveals God as He really is. Worship that neglects doctrine is distorted, even false, because its foundation is suspect.

You might find it surprising that New Testament letters say little about “worship” per se. Instead they teach the fine points of true doctrine. We must not shy away from the notion of doctrine as though it were too rigid, too boring, or too impractical. After all, doctrine is simply “teaching.”

Early Church Pattern

The early church made no such mistake. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” and “filled Jerusalem” with the message. Paul notes that Roman believers “wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching” they had received. He reminds the Corinthians of the “word of instruction” they had learned, and challenges both Timothy and Titus to “hold firmly . . . the doctrine of a faithful word” so they could teach “healthy” doctrine themselves. “Guard the deposit,” Paul tells Timothy, “the pattern of sound words” conveyed by Holy Scriptures and “profitable for doctrine.”

When God’s church majors on teaching Scripture, amazing things follow. The truth “sets us free,” as John puts it. We are satisfied in the deepest part of our beings. Doctrine shapes life. Holy living, evangelism, prayer, discipleship, missions, and service are by-products of a faithful heart renewed by a steady diet of truth.

Pitts Taught the Bible

Pastors and laypersons must saturate themselves with doctrine to the glory of God. Every pastor should be a theologian, and lay leaders shouldn’t lag far behind.

When Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on the door of certain church members in Northport, Alabama, they would make a quick exit. “Oh, you’re from Reverend Pitts’ church,” they’d say, and quickly move on. Brother Pitts taught the Bible. His flock learned it, and the whole community knew it.

John Piper is right: “In times of revival people see more clearly that eternity is at stake in what we believe, and this gives a cutting edge to doctrine.”



©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists