Lesson 1


Introduction to the Study of Christian Doctrine

Chapter 1 – The Study of Christian Doctrine

ALS bilingual pdf file: Chapter 1 pages 1-6 [NPH: pages 3-6]


In this lesson we will learn that all the truths of the Bible fit together and work together to bring us to Jesus. Jesus is the center of it all.

Just as the hub of a wheel is the center of the wheel, so Jesus is the center of Christian doctrine.

Every spoke of a wheel points toward the hub and every spoke of a wheel moves out from the hub. Every book of the Bible, every chapter and verse of the Bible is there to help us to know Jesus.

There is only one way for sinners to be saved from sin and possess eternal life. Jesus is that Way.

There is only one way to meet and to know Jesus by faith. That way is the Bible, the inspired Word of God.

John 12:20-22 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

Let this be your purpose and your prayer every time you study the Bible: “I want to see Jesus.”

A. The core (center) of the teaching of Christian doctrine

1. Jesus, Jesus, Only Jesus

a. Jesus is the center of Christian doctrine.

John 5:39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Revelation 19:10 …the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (EHV)

b. Jesus is this world’s one and only Savior

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:16 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

c. Jesus is the Church’s One Message to the world.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Mark 16:15 (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

2. One Way to be saved

a. The Bible is the only source of Christian doctrine

Isaiah 8:19-20 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Luke 16:31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

b. The Bible teaches salvation by God’s grace alone

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

c. God’s grace is received by faith alone

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

3. The correct understanding of Law and Gospel is necessary to understand Holy Scripture

a. Failure to use the Law correctly leads to a religion of works.

Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

b. Failure to use the Gospel correctly leads sinners to despair.

Matthew 27:3-5 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

4. The doctrine of the means of grace is a key doctrine.

a. God is present among us in word and sacrament.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

b. God uses word and sacrament to save us.

Isaiah 55:10-11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

B. The Bible is the only source and standard for a Christian’s faith and life.

1. The Bible is God’s Word to the World.

a. God’s Word to the world was passed on by word of mouth from Adam until Moses.

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

b. God gave his Word to Moses and the other prophets who spoke and wrote God’s Word prior to the birth of Jesus.

Joshua 1:7-8 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Matthew 23:35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

c. Jesus brought God’s final Word to the world.

Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

2. The Bible is the only source of Christian Doctrine.

a. God forbids us to add to the Bible.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Do not add to what I command you

Revelation 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.

b. God forbids us to take anything out of the Bible.

Deuteronomy 4:2 …and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

Deuteronomy 4:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

Revelation 22:19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.





Review your notes from this lesson. Give correct answers to the following questions. You may also find correct answers to these questions in the book “God So Loved the World” as indicated on page 1 of this lesson. Be ready to discuss these questions and your answers at the beginning of the next session.

Your first exam will follow lesson 12 of this course.

  1. Who is the core of Christian doctrine? Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 2:2

  2. Who is Jesus Christ?

  3. What two principles enunciated by Paul will we follow as we approach the study of Christian doctrine?

a. Acts 20:27

b. 1 Corinthians 2:2

  1. What are the three principles which guided the Reformers in their teaching of Christian doctrine? Explain them.




  1. Why is it important to use law and gospel properly?

  2. Why is it important to stress the use of the means of grace as we study Christian doctrine?

  3. What is the Christian’s sole source for doctrine? John 6:68,69.

The Bible is the only source and standard for the Christian’s faith and life: pp. 4-6.

  1. What was the source of doctrine for the people of the Old Testament from Adam to Moses? Genesis 3:15.

  2. When Moses wrote the Pentateuch, what became the source for believer’s faith and life? Deuteronomy 4:2; Joshua 1:7; Isaiah 8:20, Luke 24:44.

  3. What did Jesus tell us was the authority for our faith and life? Luke 24:44; John 6:63, 68, 69

  4. How have Jesus’ words been passed on to us? John 14:26, 16:13,14

  5. What warning does the Bible give those who would add to or subtract from the teaching of the Bible? Revelation 22:18,19.

  6. What do the Lutheran Confessions state concerning the teaching of Christian doctrine? Cf. Smalcald Articles II II:15; Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration rule and Norm:3

  7. What is our approach to the study of Christian doctrine?