PROLEGOMENA Introduction to the Study of Christian Doctrine
Chapter 1 – The Study of Christian Doctrine
Lesson 3 ALS bilingual pdf file: Chapter 1 pages 30-48 [NPH: pages 22-34]
In lesson 2 we saw that some Christian churches do not base their teachings on the Bible alone. Some of these churches elevate reason above the Bible. Others accept traditions as authoritative. Traditions change. Human thinking changes. In this lesson we want to see that the Bible is unchanging and therefore our faith does not change.
Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Jesus does not change. His Word also will not change.
A. Christianity is the absolute religion
- Christianity gives us the only way to heaven
a. All man-made religions are based on works.
Romans 1:20-21; 25 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. …They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
b. Only Christianity teaches salvation by grace.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
- Christianity is based on the inspired, errorless, unchanging Word of God
a. The Word of God (The Bible) does not change.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Matthew 5:18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
b. The Bible’s message applies to all people at all times.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
B. Theology is an active aptitude to administer the treasures of Scripture
a. Those who serve in the public ministry of the church must have this aptitude (ability).
1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be…able to teach….
b. Only the Holy Spirit can give this ability to us.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Acts 26:17-18 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
C. Christian doctrine is everything that the Bible teaches
a. Only the Bible determines Christian doctrine.
i. Reason does not determine what is true.
1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. ii. We must teach the truth clearly.
2 Timothy 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
b. All the Bible is valuable for Christian teaching.
i. Every word is there for a reason.
John 10:34-35 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—
Galatians 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.
ii. The Bible teaches a unified message. Jesus is the center of its message.
Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
c. Individual doctrines of the Bible can be distinguished from each other.
Matthew 22:29-30 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
D. The Bible distinguishes between teachings basic to salvation and teachings that assist faith
- Fundamental doctrines are so basic that we cannot be saved if we deny them.
a. The doctrine of justification
Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
b. The doctrine of the Triune God
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.
Isaiah 48:16 “Come near me and listen to this: “From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there. And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, endowed with his Spirit. John 5:23 …that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. c. The doctrine of sin and repentance
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
d. The doctrine of the forgiveness of sins
Psalm 130:3-4 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
e. The doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:8-10a See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. f. The doctrine of the vicarious atonement
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
g. The doctrine of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead
1 Corinthians 15:12-14 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
h. The doctrine of the gospel
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
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.”
- Non-fundamental doctrines strengthen or assist our faith but are not essential to salvation.
a. The doctrine of angels
Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
b. The doctrine of verbal inspiration
2 Timothy 3:15-17 …and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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.
- Secondary fundamental doctrines
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
b. The Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 10:21-22 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
- Open questions
a. On what day were the angels created?
Job 38:4-7 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels (literally: sons of God) shouted for joy?
b. Will the world be annihilated or renewed on the Last Day?
Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
E. The academic divisions of theology
See the text book, God So Loved the World, English page 33.
F. We grow in the study of Christian doctrine through prayer, meditation, and trial
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Daniel 9:1-6 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Conclusion God’s Word, the Bible, is able to give us a correct and complete understanding of who God is and how he saves us through Jesus Christ, his one and only Son. The Holy Spirit works through his Word to give us the ability to teach his Word correctly.
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.
(Note to translator: the following questions have been translated by Emily)
Christianity is the absolute religion. Pp. 22-24
What is an absolute?
List 2 reasons why we call Christianity the absolute religion?
a. Ro 3:28, Eph 2:8,9, Jn 14:6, Ac 4:12
b. Lk 21:33, Ro 5:5
Theology is an active aptitude to administer the treasures of Scripture. Pp. 24,25
Define: theology in the objective sense.
Define: theology in the subjective sense.
Distinguish between the ability all Christians have to teach God’s Word and the special abilities give to some to serve in the public ministry. Col 3:16, 1 Pe 3:15: 2 Co 3:5, 1 Ti 3:2
Identify the characteristics needed by those who serve in the public ministry.
a. 2 Co 3:5
b. Jn 8:31, 32
c. Mt 28:18-20, Ac 20:27
d. 1 Co 4:2
e. Mt 7:15, Ro 16:17, Tit 1:9
f. 2 Ti 2:3, 9, 12
Christian doctrine is everything that the Bible teaches. Pp. 25-27
What is Christian doctrine? 2 Tm 3:16
What is true doctrine?
What is false doctrine?
Demonstrate that there is no useless information in the Bible. Ge 12:6, 2 Ti 3:16
Demonstrate that we cannot limit doctrine only to teachings that pertain to our salvation. 2 Ti 3:16; cf. the statement of our Lutheran Confessions: FC Ep V: 3
Explain: Luther and the Confessions speak of doctrine as singular, not plural.
Distinguish between doctrine in the wide sense and doctrine in the narrow sense.
Of what use are doctrinal statements?
Explain: doctrinal statements may change, but the Bible does not change.
The Bible distinguishes between teachings basic to salvation and teachings that assist faith. Pp. 27–33.
Is there any teaching of the Bible with which we can dispense? Explain. Mt 28:20, 2 Ti 3:16
What is a fundamental doctrine?
What is the central doctrine of the Bible? Gal 5:4; Jn 3:18; Cf. SA II I:1-5
Identify the fundamental doctrines of the Bible.
a. Isa 43:11; Jn 17:3, Ac 4:12
b. 1 Jn 1:9
c. Mt. 9:2
d. Mt 16:13-17
e. 2 Co 5:21, Gal 4:4,5
f. 1 Co 15:17, 1 Ti 1:19,20, 2 Ti 2:17
g. Ro 1:16; 10:17
What is a non-fundamental doctrine?
How can an error with regard to a non-fundamental doctrine still undermine the foundation of a person’s faith?
What is a “secondary fundamental doctrine?” Identify which teachings of Scripture fit into this classification.
What is a proper use of the term “open question?”
What is an improper use of the term “open question?” Mt 28:20
The academic divisions of theology. P. 33
- List and explain the six major areas into which we divide the study of Christian doctrine.
- Identify and explain the four major disciplines which we use in our study of Christian doctrine.
We grow in the study of Christian doctrine. Pp. 33,34
Identify the three ways through which we grow in the study of Christian doctrine.
a. Jas 1:5
b. 1 Ti 4:13, 15
c. Mt 10:22