When we talk about the doctrine of salvation planned in eternity past, this involves foreknowledge, predestination, and election. In its accomplishment in redemptive history, it concerns Jesus’ righteous life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. But, our focus is on salvation applied in the personal experience of the believer.
In the first part, we had focussed on the life of the preacher, but in this part, we look more specifically at Paul’s second exhortation here in 1 Timothy 4:16, “pay close attention to yourself and to your doctrine or to your teaching.” He’s not just talking about the manner of his presentation. He’s talking about the content of his message and it’s the responsibility of the preacher to “Earnestly contend,” Jude said, “for the faith once for all delivered.” And the Apostle Paul said that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine for reprove, correction, training in righteousness that the man of God would be equipped thoroughly furnished for every good work.” The first use of scripture is for doctrine, for biblical truth. So then as Paul said in 1 Titus 1:9, “the elder must be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute and rebuke those that contradict.” So, it is absolutely crucial, and oftentimes failures in ministry or fruitlessness in ministry is a direct result of the preacher’s inconsistent life or the preacher’s poor understanding of doctrine. There’s much false teaching, and weak erroneous doctrine in America, in China, and in India, and all over the world. And the Apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20 that “be on guard for yourselves and for all the Church of God, over whom the Holy Spirit made you overseers to shepherd the church of God that he purchased with his own blood.” Why? “Because after I depart savage wolves will come in, not sparing the flock and number two from among you false teachers will arise leading people astray.”
That’s what we are focusing on: the doctrine of salvation. This will be a review for some of you and new for some of you, but I do not apologize, as Peter said, “to stir you up by way of reminder even though you know these things and have been grounded in them so that after my departure you may be able to call them to mind.” So we’re talking about the doctrine of salvation.It is absolutely crucial that in addition to deepening holiness in your life, you are growing in and understanding the truth of God. There’s some truth that is absolutely crucial and essential. There’s some doctrines that are important but are non-essential. For example, it is not necessarily a salvation issue of a person whether his eschatology is amillennial, post-millennial and pre-millennial. It is not absolutely crucial in regards to pneumatology or his doctrine of the Holy Spirit that he is a cessationist or non-cessationist regarding the spiritual gifts. Also in regards to the question of baptism, however, this is a bit more crucial because it can have eternal consequences. If people are hoping in their baptism, that is whether one is a baptist or whether one is a pedobaptist, that is more crucial. But pay attention: we are absolutely required to be certain in our understanding of the foundational doctrine regarding salvation issues.
By way of background, when we talk about the doctrine of salvation, it is usually discussed or presented in three stages. What do we mean Well? First of all, there is salvation planned in the eternity past. Second of all, there is salvation accomplished in redemptive history. Third of all, there is salvation applied in our own personal experience.