Sound doctrine is a gift, a blessing, and a fountain of life to those who love the Lord Jesus. What can be more beautiful to a believer than the precious truth about His Lord? However, as precious as sound doctrine is, it is not enough.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones elaborates:
There is a terrible danger of putting our doctrines (teachings), the true doctrines, about the persons into the place of the persons. And that is absolutely fatal. But it is a very familiar scare, which traps evangelical people and orthodox people. You can be orthodox but dead. Why? Well, because you are stopping at the doctrines, you are stopping at the definitions and failing to realize that the whole purpose of doctrine is not to be an end in itself, but to lead us to a knowledge of the person and to an understanding of the person and to a fellowship with the person.
There are churches and denominations today that are perfectly orthodox yet are quite dead.. They do not seem to be used at all in the salvation of souls, nor really in giving their people assurance of salvation. Why? Because they remain only on the level of doctrine – this intellectual concern and this intellectual correctness. It is a terrible thing to substitute even true doctrines for a living relationship with the person. (Taken from Revival, p. 58).
It is true, no meaningful relationship can exist without true knowledge of the other, but there is a great danger of making that truth an end in itself which is an abuse of the truths God has given us. God’s Word, and the doctrines therein, are purposed to lead us into fellowship with God Himself. Andrew Bonar said it best:
It never is the belief of bare truths that saves the soul; for these have to do only with the understanding. Truths, however weighty, must guide us onward to the Person who is the essence of the testimony…Faith is begun in the head, but not perfected till it comes into the heart…The belief of the testimony concerning the Son of God, our Savior, is the porch of the building, through which we pass into the audience-chamber and meet the Living Inhabitant, full of light, and life, and love. (Taken from The Person of Christ).
Doctrines are designed to lead us into fellowship. They are roads, not destinations. They are doorways you pass through, not living rooms you sit in. We must always be careful that we do not camp on the road or stop in the doorway, but that we enter through the doorway of doctrine into fellowship with the Living Christ.