As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
(1 Timothy 1:3-4)
As Paul would attest, doctrine is of utmost importance. In fact, he reserved some of of his sternest warnings to the various churches not for improper conduct but for erroneous doctrines (eg 1 Galatians 1:6-8, 2 Corinthians 11:4)
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…
(1 Timothy 4:1)
The Holy Spirit tells us, in time to come, there will be those who will turn away from Christ because of false doctrines. Wrong beliefs can literally mean the difference between Heaven and Hell.
So how can we ensure that our doctrine is established on solid ground?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible, which is the written word of God, is the sole authority of all matters pertaining to Christianity and the basis of our doctrine. When in doubt, consult your Bible.
I know of people who would tell me that personal revelations from God is more important than just reading the book, but this raised the obvious question, “How do we know they are from God?”
While God can indeed communicate with us through special revelations (dreams, visions.. etc), the only way we can confirm they are “God-given” is always to go back to His words. It does not take a professor in theology to realize that any “revelation” that runs counter to clear teachings of the Bible is definitely not from Him.
To further illustrate the power of the written word of God, just look at the story of the Temptation in the Wilderness. Rather than using His own authority (which He could), He quoted the Scriptures to rebuke the devil.
“But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
(Matthew 4:7) ”
“For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 7:10)
Because He knew… not even Lucifer could deny what is clearly written in the Scriptures (Bible).