Extremist or Balanced?
Both individual Christians and churches have a tendency to be lop-sided (to be at one end of the pendulum or the other) when instead we need to be biblically balanced in accordance with God’s Word. On one end of the spectrum, you have the Charismatics, and on the other end, you have churches like the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARB). One group tends to be “lovey-dovey”, gooey with syrup dripping, emotional, free-spirited, hang loose, and theologically carefree while the other group tends to be cold, callused, legalistic, ultra-structured, and theologically-fixated on human opinions.
Neither is biblical, however.
Both doctrine (biblical teachings) and love are important. You can’t be biblically mature without both. They need to be inseparable and interrelated.
Titus 2:7; 1:7-14; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:2-4; Acts 17:11; Ezra 7:9-10 show us the importance of correct or biblical doctrine (having and teaching right beliefs).
1 Cor. 13:1-7; 16:14; 1 Jn. 3:20-21 on the other hand, show us the importance of biblical love (i.e., seeking what’s best for people and/or for God, according to the Bible).
In fact, biblical love is doctrinally-channeled love as Phil. 1:9-10; 1 Jn. 3:18; 2 Jn. 1:1 and 3 Jn. 1:1 show. We are to love in truth, in knowledge, and in discernment.
Confrontation and compassion are not enemies of each other, nor are harshness and love necessarily enemies of each other. Rather confrontation, if done out of a motivation of love, is actually an expression of love (Prov. 27:6; Heb. 12:6).
We see both in the sinless life of Christ Himself: Matt. 23:13, 15; 15:1, 7, 9, 12-14; Mk. 8:15-18; Matt. 15:32; Lk. 19:37-42.
We see them both in the godly life of the apostle Paul: Acts 13:8-11; 1 Cor. 4:20-21; 3:1-3; 1 Thes. 2:7-9.
Confrontation or harshness as well as love/compassion are also seen in the godly lives of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7-10; Jn. 3:25-30), Stephen (Acts 7:51-53; Acts 6:5-8), Peter (Acts 5:3; Acts 3:6-7), and the apostle John (3 Jn. 1:9-11; 2 Jn. 1:1 and 3 Jn. 1:1).
And offending people because of sharing the truth is not wrong (Matt. 15:12-14; Lk. 11:45-47) if we speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
1 Cor. 13:2 If a person knows all mysteries (i.e., previously unrevealed truths of God, Rom. 16:25, and was part of the spiritual gift of prophecy) and all knowledge (i.e., the spiritual gift of the word of knowledge, which was spiritual insight in settling church problems before the New Testament was written, 1 Cor. 12:8), but does not have love, what is he?
Do you ever flaunt any of your spiritual gifts or your knowledge about the Bible without a loving attitude toward those with whom you are communicating?
If so, do you realize that God sees you as a “nothing” (i.e., worthless)?
What should our attitude be toward people – 1 Cor. 13:4-7?
Is this your attitude toward people?
If not, what do you plan to do about it, and how soon?
1 Cor. 8:1 What can (and sometimes does) one’s knowledge (about God’s view on any biblical issue, such as here in this passage on the eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols) make a person?
On the other hand, what does love do?
Is your Bible knowledge making you an arrogant person, or are you edifying other Christians (building them up spiritually) from a motive of love filtered through biblical knowledge (Phil. 1:9, 10), and why?
Phil. 1:9-10 In what should our love abound still more and more?
Is your love based on or channeled through God’s Word/the Bible (i.e., “real knowledge and all discernment”), or is it channeled through or based on your emotions or human opinions, and why?
Why should our love be knowledgeable (Phil. 1:10)?
Is your love discerning so that you approve the things that are excellent/best rather than seeking the promotion of or condoning (with your approval) things that are wrong/sinful, in error, or just mediocre?
How do you know?
[Examples of undiscerning love (not seeking what’s best from God’s point of view) are: financially supporting a Mormon orphanage or the United Way (which finances abortions); donating furniture, food, clothes, etc. to a 7th Day Adventist hospital or donating to a shelter for the homeless that’s run by the Church of Christ or the United Pentecostals or donating to religious organizations that give food to the hungry but don’t share the gospel with these people.].
Matt. 22:36-39 What are people told to do, and how are they to do this?
What relationship is there between our love for God and our mind?
Are you loving God with all your mind (thoughtfully; with knowledge and understanding of the Bible, conscientiously applying what the Bible says is how we are to love God, namely by our obedience to His commands and principles)?
Col. 2:20-23 What has the appearance of wisdom?
[For example, some churches teach that women shouldn’t wear make-up or pants, or that Christians shouldn’t play cards or shouldn’t drink coffee or Coke or eat pork or any meat for that matter.].
Are you caught up in this false knowledge/wisdom of keeping man-made religious rules in order to look righteous before God, and why?
How valuable/effective is this kind or way of living against fleshy indulgence (e.g., for not indulging in sexual immorality, drunkenness, gluttony; illicit drugs)?
[The only way to have victory over fleshly indulgence is to walk/live/be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22-23).].
Titus 2:1, 7 What is Titus told to do?
Are you speaking/teaching what is in accordance with (fitting for) sound/correct doctrine/teaching/beliefs?
If not, what should you do to change?
1 Tim. 4:1 Why is it important to know the truth?
Do you know “the faith” (biblical teachings regarding salvation) really well?
If so, how well?
And where is “the faith” (truth regarding salvation) to be found (Jn. 17:17; Psa. 119:160)?
How will we be a good servant of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:6)?
Are you pointing out to the brethren (Christians) the fact that church people are falling away from biblical teachings to follow demonic, religious, human opinions?
What is a good servant of Christ constantly nourished on (1 Tim. 4:6)?
Are you constantly nourished on the “words of the faith and of the sound doctrine” (the body or entirety of Christian truth as found in the Bible, God’s Word)?
How, and why?
Titus 1:9 Why is “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching” a qualification in order to be a church leader (such as an elder)?
[“hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching” – means clinging to and applying trustworthy Christian teaching which is in harmony with the doctrine/teaching based on Scripture/apostolic teaching inspired by God.].
If God lists this as a qualification for being a spiritual leader, don’t you think that God highly values doctrine/biblical teaching?
Are you holding fast the faithful word?
Why, and how?
2 Tim. 3:16-17 Of what profit is Scripture?
What is the end result of this profit?
If Scripture (biblical doctrine) is what helps to equip the man of God for every good work, wouldn’t that make biblical doctrine very important, in fact, essential?
1 Tim. 1:3-4 What is Timothy told to do at Ephesus?
[In order for Timothy to carry out this command, he would need to know true/biblical doctrine so that he would know what was strange or erroneous doctrine by comparison.].
Do you ever instruct people not to teach strange/false doctrines or fanciful theories, which are not in keeping with apostolic teaching (1 Tim. 1:11), that is, Scripture?
1 Tim. 1:5 What was the goal of Paul’s instruction?
[Biblical instruction/teaching/doctrine should promote a Christian recipient to have the ability to truly love others because he/she will know what’s best for others because of knowing what God says is best for these different people in different situations. Without biblical doctrine, Christians can’t properly love others to the greatest degree or maybe at all.].
Is the goal of your teaching the Bible that of getting Christians to love both God and people from a pure heart (life), a good conscience (right motive), and a sincere faith (true perspective)?
If not, should it be, and why (Matt. 22:36-39)?
2 Tim. 2:14-18 What is Timothy told to solemnly tell these people in the presence of God?
[“words” – myths or man-made supplements to the OT Law, like angels keeping the Sabbath and being circumcised, and fictitious genealogical histories (1 Tim. 1:3, 4); worldly fables (1 Tim. 4:7), like Jubal in Gen. 4 and telling a story about him; and disputes about hidden word meanings (6:4), e.g., anagrams – rearranging the letters of a word like “serve” into words like “verse”, “sever” and “veers”; religious opinions].
What is Timothy told to handle accurately?
Are you accurately teaching the Bible, the word of truth?
How do you know?
[To accurately handle/teach the word of truth, you need to know biblical doctrine/teachings in context, definitions of words, figures of speech, and rules of grammar really well.].
How does not wrangling (angrily disputing) about words (religious opinions) differ from “contending (arguing) earnestly for the faith (biblical truths/doctrines)”?
Rom. 16:17-18 Who are we to keep our eye on?
[In order to keep our eyes on those who are contrary to the teaching we learned (from the Bible) implies that we know biblical teaching/doctrine. Therefore, knowing biblical/correct doctrine is very important.].
What should be our relationship to these contrary people, and why?
[If you don’t know your Bible really well, then you should turn away from such false teachers rather than try to debate them and get yourself thoroughly confused.].
Acts 17:10-11 Why were the Bereans more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica?
Do you see how God through Luke (the author of Acts) is commending the Bereans for seeking to know correct doctrine?
Are you examining the Bible daily to see whether the things you’re being taught are biblically accurate or not?
If so, how?
[Just because someone is a minister of a large church, is a famous TV preacher, or has a seminary degree, it doesn’t mean they are teaching the Bible correctly. Read the context, know rules of grammar, figures of speech, who the Bible author is writing to, in what dispensation (period of time the events or teaching is taking place in), and knowing Greek and Hebrew would be helpful in order to get the correct interpretation.].
2 Jn. 1:9-11 Who does not have God?
[“the teaching of Christ” – is that Jesus is the Christ, God the Son, in human form, 2 John 1:7; 1 Jn. 2:23; 4:2].
Who are we not to greet or receive into our house?
[“teaching” – 2 Jn. 1:7].
[“greeting” – wishes him Godspeed, endorses him, or encourages him].
Do you ever do this (e.g., to Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc.)? Why?
Do you see how you couldn’t obey this command of God if you didn’t know correct/biblical teaching (doctrine)?
[So doctrine is very important!!!]
Eph. 4:11-16 As a result of being equipped for the work of service by those who exercise their spiritual gifts of instruction, what are we no longer to be tossed by?
What are we to do instead – Eph. 4:15?
[Notice that all four gifted men in verse 11 have instructional gifts. In order to not be carried about by every wind of doctrine, a person needs to know what the true doctrine is, which makes true doctrine very important.].
Are you ever “carried about” by smooth-talking, religious people who speak on things not really supported in Scripture, but who use the Bible as their supposed basis?
If so, what can you do to prevent this from happening in the future?
1 Tim. 6:3-6 Who is conceited and understands nothing?
How would you know whether a person is advocating a different doctrine/teaching if you didn’t know correct/biblical doctrine?
What does a morbid interest in controversial questions (such as, How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?) and disputes about words produce?
Do you ever get involved in this kind of discussion?
If so, what benefit, if any, has it produced for those involved?
2 Tim. 4:2-4 Why is Timothy told to preach the word and to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction?
[A person can’t reprove, rebuke, and exhort another person correctly if he doesn’t know sound/biblical doctrine; thereby, showing the importance of biblical doctrine. Also, this passage shows that people aren’t going to like to hear biblical doctrine, but rather human teaching that pampers their ego.].
Are you preaching or teaching God’s Word accurately, or merely teaching “the power of positive, humanistic thinking”?
Matt. 15:7-9 In what way do people worship God in vain?
Are you ever guilty of making your opinions or the opinions of others into doctrines that you say are biblical or of God, when, in fact, they are not?
Why do people do this?
What are some examples of man-made doctrines being passed off as if they were biblical?
What does God think about the person who’s teaching man-made opinions as being the teachings of God, Gal. 1:8-9?
Titus 3:9-11 What are we told to shun (such as, Can God create a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it?), and why?
Do you ever engage in this type of discussion, and why?
Who are we told to reject, and when?
Rom. 10:2-3 The Jews had a zeal (i.e., intense devotion) for God, but not in accordance with what?
How did their ignorance of the truths of God (knowledge of His will and ways) affect their actions?
Do you see how enthusiasm without the knowledge of God’s truths leads to emotional error?
Do you ever put zealousness for God that’s directed by emotion and human opinion above being guided by biblical knowledge?
By now, do you see the importance of knowing and teaching biblical doctrine and not emotional, feel-good, humanistic sermons?
Jas. 3:13 Is having a lot of knowledge the mark of a wise person?
What is the mark of a wise person, and why?
Heb. 10:24 What are we to consider how to stimulate one another to do?
Are you involved in doing this, or is your knowledge of Scripture merely for the purpose of debating people?
1 Cor. 16:14 How should everything that we do be done?
Is this what you are doing when you get into religious differences of view?
If not, what do you plan on doing to change this?