A Transcript Of The Video Study
A Framework of Doctrine is to the Bible, what a skeleton is to the body. It is the structure which gives support and stability to the entire Bible. Just as a body without a skeleton would lose its shape and integrity, so the Bible without a skeleton loses its shape and integrity.
You see, the Bible is not merely a book of words. It is a book of words which convey truth; which set forth a message. It is that truth; that message; which is the skeleton of the Bible.
The Apostle Paul made reference to a framework of doctrine in Romans 6:17: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” The Greek term translated “form” means “shape, or fashion.” Within this context, it refers to that structure of doctrine, or teachings, which embodies the sum and substance of gospel truth.”
Paul used a similar expression in 2 Timothy 1:13: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The Greek term translated “form” in this text is different from that of Romans 6. This term means ”an outline, sketch, a summary exposition.” Paul told Timothy to hold tightly onto the outline or sketch, or framework, or system, of sounds words, or of gospel truth.
Jude referred to a framework of doctrine in Jude 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The faith is a general expression which refers to that form of doctrine, or, the form of sound words, which Paul spoke about in Romans and 2 Timothy. The faith is none other than a framework of doctrine. It is a sketch, or outline, of the common salvation which Jude was first intending to write about.
And so, you can see the Scriptures themselves refer to a framework of doctrine. Nowadays, a framework of doctrine most commonly goes by the name of Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is the topical arrangement of Bible truth. For instance, John Gill arranged the teachings of the Bible under ten main headings:
1. Of God—His Word, Names, Nature, Perfections And Persons
2. Of The Internal Acts And Works Of God—His Decree And Covenant
3. Of The External Acts And Works Of God—Creation, Providence, Angels, Man, Sin And Judgment
4. Of The Grace Of Christ—In His Humiliation And Exaltation
5. Of The Teachings And Blessings Of The Gospel
6. Of The Final State Of Men
7. Of The Duties Of Man In Relation To God
8. Of The Duties Of Members In A Church Relation
9. Of The Duties Of Members In A Family Relation
10. Of The Duties Of Citizens In A National Relation
Gill gathered and collated all that the scriptures teach under each of these headings in order to give a structure, or a framework, to the truth of the Bible.
Now, this type of framework, or systematizing, is not unique to the Bible. Every field of knowledge has been reduced to some kind of framework or system—whether it be that of physics, biology, mathematics, philosophy, history, astronomy, botany or geology; you name it, every field of knowledge has its own system, or structure, of teachings.
And, what is more, there are different systems for each of these fields of knowledge, depending on who is teaching the subject. For instance, an Atheist will approach these subjects with a very different system, than that of a Christian. Now, both the Atheist and the Christian have reduced these fields of knowledge to a system, or a framework, yet they are two very different sets of teachings.
The same is true of the Bible. There are different systematic theologies of the Bible, depending on who is teaching the subject. An Arminian, for instance, will approach the Bible with a very different system, than that of a Calvinist. Now, you might ask, what in the world is an Arminian and a Calvinist? Don’t worry at this point about these labels. I will explain their meanings later on in this series of studies. For now, it is enough to know that these labels represent two major groupings of all professing Christians—they fall into one or the other of these two camps. They understand the Scriptures based upon an Arminian perspective, or, they understand the Bible based upon a Calvinist perspective. And the point I am driving at in this study, is that the Arminian and Calvinist each have their system or framework of teachings, as they understand the Bible.
This, of course, is one of the reasons why many well meaning Christians are frustrated today—they have not exercised discernment when listening to various preachers, or reading various resources of Christian literature, or following the teachings posted on various websites. Although they are well meaning, and have a thirst for the gospel, yet they have been feeding upon a mixed diet of Arminianism and Calvinism. That, my friend, is like mixing dog food in your bowl of soup—sure, it may not kill you, but it’s not gonna leave your stomach feeling well in the end. And so, some of you have been mixing Arminianism with Calvinism—you have not been exercising discernment with the preachers you listen to, the literature you read and the websites you follow. The Apostle Paul spoke about some who are “ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3:7) I wonder, my dear friend, is that true of you? Do you feel like you are always learning things about the Bible, but you can’t seem to come to a knowledge of the truth? I suggest it may be that you have been listening to Bible teachers and gospel preachers who are teaching you different frameworks of doctrine—different systematic theologies. And, since the framework of teachings contradict each other, you find yourself in a continual state of confusion—your heart and mind are unsettled—you can’t see how the details of the gospel fit together in the grand scheme of Bible truth. My dear friend, if you want to bring clarity to your understanding of the Bible, then you must choose carefully which Bible teachers you choose to sit under and what websites you follow.
I close this study with the warning Paul gave to the church at Rome, at the end of his letter—Romans 16:17,18: ”Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” May the Lord give to us sound minds and discerning hearts!
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.