Now and then, I hear people say something to the effect of “doctrine divides, and therefore should not be emphasized.” To such, I wish gently to draw attention to the great division God himself made in Genesis. In the beginning, the Lord set an expanse between day and night, light and dark, sea and sky. Division is something God makes in order to distinguish that which is good, true, and beautiful, from that which is evil, false, and unformed.
There is a difference between godly division and sinful divisiveness. A divisive spirit is lead by proud and selfish motives to rend the fellowship of saints. It is a disease within the Body of Christ. Sharp division of truth from error, however, is needed at times to preserve spiritual life, just as scalpels are sometimes required to separate what is infected and gangrenous from that which is alive. However unpleasant, failure to make such necessary divisions amounts to ministerial malpractice. It is a physician withholding the means of healing.
Fix your gaze on the unbridgeable chasm between heaven and hell, and remember what separates those on either side. When the Lord Jesus returns, he is “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess 1:8, ESV). True and saving faith entails an embrace of revelation, especially concerning the gospel. For that reason, knowledge marks the difference between life and death. Whereas destruction falls on “everyone who loves a lie,” those whom “the truth has set free” are guaranteed escape (Rev 22:15; Jn 8:32).
On the last day, doctrine, whether true or false, will distinguish between destinations and divide souls forever. To one who says doctrine divides, I reply, “yes, and it is precisely because doctrine divides that it must be emphasized.”