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As a Christian who has studied theology much of my life, I firmly believe that a good understanding of theology is essential for proper Christian development as much as proper nutrition is essential for physical development.
In today’s age of technology, there is no excuse for poor theology.
We have every resource available to us, most of which is free. All we are lacking is the willingness to put in the time and effort needed to truly understand the deeper principles of God’s word.
But is it enough to have our theology right?
What if we get our theology right, but we still have it all wrong? Or is this is even possible?
The church of Ephesus was a very faithful church. Jesus said that he saw their works and labor and patience. He saw that they didn’t tolerate those who were evil. They were faithful to test false apostles and exposed them for the liars that they were.
This was a church that was very concerned about upholding good doctrine and righteousness.
And Jesus commends them for it. In fact, in verse 6 he goes on to commend them hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, whereas He rebukes the church in Pergamos for permitting them to remain among them.
However, while the church in Ephesus was careful about good and correct doctrine and righteousness, they still got it wrong.
Jesus still had something against them: they had left their first love.
In all of their working for God, in all of their careful examination of theology and doctrine, in all of their hatred for false prophets and perversion of the gospel, they had allowed their love for God to grow cold.
This is exactly what the enemy wants for us.
Jesus wasn’t saying that good doctrine and theology aren’t important. He wasn’t saying that He doesn’t care that there are false prophets and teachers who are perverting the gospel.
He wasn’t saying that He isn’t interested in our service for Him. He cares very much about these things.
But when they are no longer driven from a place of love and passion for God, they begin to rot and grow putrid.
And this is exactly what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 13.
Paul said that when we do things for God: We give to the poor, we prophesy, we utter theologically correct sermons with a golden tongue – but all from a place of pride and spiritual superiority, we are loud, annoying, and our efforts are meaningless.
Love gives substance, meaning, beauty, and fragrance to what we do.
When we serve God by serving others from a place of deep love and passion for God, it’s beauty is seen by those whom it touches.
When what we share through our speaking or writing is doctrinally correct and agrees with the whole of Scripture, and it comes from a place of deep passion and love for God, it has great substance and meaning — and it’s fragrance pleases the Lord.
Love without a proper biblical foundation isn’t Agape love, and therefore is often distorted and tainted by human agendas.
Correct doctrine and theology without Agape love is irritating and hollow, and often tainted by pride and self-righteousness.
But when our churches serve from a place of sound doctrine and Agape love, our service has warmth, depth, and bears much fruit.
Why am I sharing this today?
We are living in a time of extreme polarization on nearly every front – and there is no place where it is felt more keenly than in the church.
There are churches battling tirelessly against a progressive gospel, that could easily be compared to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
There are Christians who are going the distance to bring righteousness and justice into the political realm.
There are believers who are very concerned with a deep, dark underbelly of corruption, distortion, disinformation, and delusion that is polluting our education system and influencing our children.
All of these are worthy battles that I believe God wants to be fought and won.
However, if we take up our weapons to fight, and leave behind our first love, our battle will not be pleasing to God.
Jesus told the church at Ephesus this:
Jesus considered them to have fallen away, despite their works, their labor, their correct doctrine, and their tireless efforts against theological corruption and distortion.
Because all of their labor and efforts were void of love.
And his remedy was clear: Acknowledge your are fallen, repent, and go back to the basics. If they failed to do this, he would come quickly and remove his presence, anointing and light from their church.
They would exist, but without God’s presence among them.
A church void of God’s presence and anointing is a religious church, going about the motions but lifeless.
Jesus called these white-washed tombs full of dead man’s bones.
Dear sister, I don’t want to be an irritating, loveless, lifeless Christian void of God’s presence and annointing!
I want to share the truth of God’s Word with excellence….and with love.
I want my passion for truth to be drive by a passion for God, His presence and His life in me. Because if my passion for truth is drive by a passion for anything else, it will be hurtful, damaging and fruitless.
I will close with this:
Choose wisely those whom you listen to.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern whether their words are filled with love and a passion for God.
Seek first God’s kingdom.
Seek first His presence in your life. Delight yourself in Him first and foremost, and then all of your works spring from that fountain.
Be careful to not allow your righteous anger about the distortion, corruption, and delusion we’re seeing in our society today to be what drives your message.
When anger becomes your driving force, it is no longer righteous but sinful. Love for God and a passion for His presence must be what drives us