“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4
To recap: here we have Ephesus, a church that is on the doctrinal straight and narrow, willing to confront false teaching and just doing a lot of things right. Yet, Jesus condemns them for having left their first love. As we discussed in the previous post, that could be a simple fading of the joyous love they felt for the Lord when they first came to believe, rather like a married couple when the honeymoon is over.
We are going to meander a bit today, as I have lots’ on my mind and may wander a bit. Maybe they had left their love for Jesus, and their love for each other? As some pointed out in comments, both can apply. Not only that, but the two are inexorably tied together, and can’t really exist apart from one another. We can’t truly love our brother until we properly love God. If we love God, we WILL love our brother…and on it goes.
Today we are going to look at the relationship between doctrinal adherence and love, as it seems to apply to Ephesus.
In the work I am part of, we fancy ourselves to be the final bastion, and keepers of proper Doctrine. We stand on it, we love it, and we teach it. Just ask us, we will tell you. I am totally okay with that. Truth matters and I believe we have done a fine job of gleaning proper doctrine from God’s Word. God expects us to seek and stand on the truth in the Bible.
I like to serve with people who think and believe like I do, even on secondary issues. That’s normal; we like to be with people like us. I have no problem whatsoever with that, as it makes things go smoothly.
Can we go too far? Yeah, we can. I think we can fall into sort a “doctrinal legalism,” where we lost sight of what matters and get bound up in things that don’t. How did God show His great love for us? He saved us. What, then is the best way we can show love to those around us? Preach that message properly. Look, I will die on the hill of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone; if Christians don’t die on that hill, souls will die and be separated from God forever. On the other hand, is sprinkling versus dunking my hill to die on? I mean, sprinklers have it wrong; water immersion is correct. Yet, do I need to die on that hill, or just not go to church with those folks?
What I mean by this, is how do we interact with people on these secondary issues? Especially, now do we deal with those who don’t believe regarding them? I will use a real-life occurrence to illustrate. I am a cessationist, and not interested in a debate about it here btw. I don’t believe tongues are a gift for today. Some do, and that’s okay. Anyway a few years back I encountered a young lady who was out of the church and, by her own statement, not a believer. She understood my Baptist background and was quick to bring up the topic of tongues. It seemed evident she wanted a debate about the issue. While that might be fun, it was not on the table. Why? Because she was, by her own admission, not saved. I could have had the debate, and at the end, she would still be lost. So, I just sidestepped that and asked why she wouldn’t believe. I was shocked. She wanted to believe, but didn’t think she could because…drum roll…she had never spoken in tongues! So, we had a little talk about that; we talked about by grace alone, by faith alone. I don’t know how it ended up for her, but I do know that she was closer than if I had chosen to debate doctrine with her.
I am a premillennial, pre-tribulation rapture kind of guy. I believe it to be so; you may not. When a person we know is feeling hopeless for the future and what it holds, is that the time to resoundly correct them on their crummy eschatology? Probably not. What really matters?
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
If we get so broiled up on the fine points of doctrine that we forget the One we love, then we have a problem.
Friends, doctrine does matter. Truth matters, That is why Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for theirs; doctrinal purity pleases God.
On the other hand, our relationship is with Jesus, not His doctrines. Maybe Ephesus had forgotten that?