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Monday, 1 February 2010

The Importance Of Combining Discernment With Love

What We Can Learn From The Ultimate Failure Of  The Ephesian Church

We are living in the days Jesus prophesied where if possible even the elect may be deceived. False teaching and false prophesies can be found everywhere. We cannot stop it but we can try to prevent  false doctrine from our pulpits and house group leaders by being watchful. It is true that the most important work Jesus wants us to do is preach the good news and win people for Christ, but are we producing strong or superficial Christians by the message we preach and what happens to them when they enter our churches? Although it is imperative that our churches guard against unscriptural teaching and practices and worldly religions and ideas corrupting our churches, this needs to be combined with our practicing the love of God.

Please read these two scriptures together: Acts 20:17-36 and Rev 2:2-6. See Paul's discourse with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-36 and in particular verses:28-31 and then what Jesus said about the church at Ephesus.

Paul said that wolves (false teachers) will come in seeking to divide the church. He also talks about showing acts of love. It seems (by the verses in Revelation) that they had indeed watched out for false teaching but in doing so had forgotten about combining the watch with love.  

Could it be that being so watchful could produce in us: suspicion, and thinking evil of each other 1 Cor 13:5. If we are not careful being so watchful could result in coldness towards each other and a sternness in the church which leads to a coldness towards our Lord and Saviour? We can concentrate too much on the one and forget the other.

Our Lord commended the Ephesian church for their watch and prevention of false teaching but ultimately the lamp stand was removed because they had lost their first love.  How do we maintain both? How do we ensure false teaching does not destroy the church "a little leaven leavens the whole lump”  but also ensure that coldness does not result whilst doing this?  We need to pursue both! Our churches need to teach truth and love.

How do we watch out for false teachers without becoming too suspicious of (and cold towards) each other? How do we maintain a spirit of love, tenderheartedness and unity and at same time expose and deal with false teachers? If either a loveless church or false teaching abounds then final result is the church either disappears or becomes worthless. 

We are also instructed by 1 Cor 8:1  Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
Heb 10:23-24 says let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stir (or spur on in NIV) up one another to love and good works.

Peter says in 2 Peter 1: 12-13  "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you."

Here Peter says that he used “reminding them” as a way of stirring them. So I also write this post about these things as a reminder that we need to practice love and teach truth/discernment. Not one without the other.

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