I recently had the opportunity to attend the NEXT Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. I can’t remember the last time I heard so much valuable, solid, biblically based teaching in one spot (except at P4C and I am usually not sitting in on the sessions for that). I was so deeply challenged and can’t stop thinking about the things that I heard there – which is a good thing.
The focus for this year’s conference was “Foundation: The Importance of Sound Doctrine”. With a lineup of great men of God like Joshua Harris, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, JC Mahaney, DA Carson, and Jeff Purswell (more info click on links) – home runs were being hit out of the park every session. I found myself at the end of each message saying, “Can it get any better”, and it would. I was convicted of the lack of sound doctrine in my own life. I have for a while considered myself to be a person who was founded on sound doctrine (not that I could never learn anything else), but at NEXT I was hit afresh with how much I still have to learn about who God is through His word. I was dually hit with the truth that sound doctrine is important and to say that it is not is to proclaim that you care nothing about learning of our great Savior. For that is what doctrine is: it is the study of God and his character; His nature; the very essence of who He is. Not just some facts about God but rather truths that produce and motivate a life that desires to live for the glory of God alone. Too long have we left off the glorious study of a glorious God and allowed our own imagination to conjure the image that we now possess of Him. We have rejected doctrine [truth] because of some misplaced idea of the division that it causes, and we are now reaping the results in our church and unfortunately in the next generation.
The question that remains is: are we advocates of sound doctrine; not the doctrine that only speaks of facts about Him but rather the doctrine that produces a heart that is in awe of Christ and the work that He has done; an awe of how powerful God is in his creation; a love, found in His love, that causes us to love others around us; an understanding of His sovereignty; and we could go on. As Joshua Harris so simply put, “We are all theologians”. Whether you are a Christian or not you have a view of God, and it affects how you live your life. It may be shallow, deep or somewhere in between but you are a theologian.
So are you studying true doctrine – the truth of God’s word- and is it producing a deep and passionate love for Him and his lovely bride the Church? If not, and you are one to say that we don’t need doctrine, then I ask you to come to grips with the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy when he said, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1Tim. 4:16).” Remember: it does matter what you believe. It grounds you. And when the winds of trials come and blow fiercely upon your life, the only thing that will stand will be what your life has been built upon (Luke 6:46-49).
I would encourage you to download the messages from this year’s NEXT Conference. Below, you will find the link to each one of the messages given. I guarantee they will challenge you as you never have been challenged before…
Joshua Harris – What Are You Built On?
Mark Dever – The Doctrine of Christ’s Work Accomplished and Applied