This idea has been circling in on me more and more. The reason good teaching (right doctrine) is important is because it can connect us to the right story. The story of Jesus and his self-sacrificial, substitutional death –which atones for sin– is the central story of human history. By hearing that good news and then trusting in Jesus’ work on our behalf, we are rescued from our real guilt before God and welcomed into his family.
Belief in right doctrine doesn’t save. Jesus saves. Confidence in the fact that we have the proper formula doesn’t atone for sins. Jesus does.
It’s kind of a fine-ish line in one sense.
Here’s an imperfect, but perhaps helpful, illustration of this. A man might believe in the power, beauty, and goodness of marriage, understanding what it takes to get married, even down to having a marriage license lined up and all the books on marriage memorized. He may even have the woman picked out and be loyal to her. But getting married, actually marrying the woman you love, is different.
If we are resting in understanding the right formula of doctrine and not in Christ, we are lost.
I believe that the correct formulas are good and helpful –mainly as shorthand for the Story. They help when they point us to the real Jesus we read of in Scripture. It’s the real Jesus, not the formulas, who rescues us.
Look to him. And live.