By Glendol McClure
In a previous issue, the article entitled, “What We Need Is Less Love,” was presented for your consideration. In that article we discussed areas where less love is needed. The areas discussed were, we need less love for self, for the pleasures of this world, for material wealth, for the wages of unrighteousness and finally, for the praises of men! In conclusion, it was stated, “But what we need more of is love for God’s truths found in the Bible. Dear reader, where is your love focused, on things we need less love for or on the truths of God’s word that all need more love of? Which?”
Since we last discussed the need for less love in the above mentioned areas, in this article we will discuss areas whereby we need more love. Please consider the following.
More Love for Bold Preachers and Preaching!
It has become the norm of some preachers to avoid controversy and speak in such a way as to prevent upsetting anyone in the audience. “Paul and Barnabas waxed bold” in their declaration of the word of the Lord even though many were stirred to anger and eventually ran Paul and Barnabas out of town (Acts 13:46-51). Many brethren in the first century waxed bold in their teaching (Phil 1:14). Paul taught the Gospel boldly, even though he was persecuted (1 Thess. 2:2).
We need preaching that is scriptural, specific and to the point, with proper applications made. Bold preaching is needed on moral issues such as immodesty, social drinking, gambling, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, dancing, attending the prom, materialism, filthy movies and TV shows, etc. When these issues are ignored, then you have soft preaching. Paul commands sharp rebuke of sinners, not soft, meaningless “preaching” where application is not made (1 Tim. 5:20; Tit. 1:13).
We need preaching that clearly marks and identifies error and false teachers of error. Error must be marked according to Paul’s divine admonition — “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). Paul practiced what he preached and commanded to the Roman brethren concerning marking and avoiding (2 Tim. 2:16-18; 4:10, 14; Gal. 2:11-14). This manner of preaching was commanded of Timothy by Paul (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Therefore, if it was needful and profitable to engage in such preaching in the first century, it is especially needful in the twenty-first century, because “evil men and seducers shall wax (grow) worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
It is a sad day when brethren shun and avoid preachers who preach the gospel with boldness, clarity, and love. It is not uncommon to see preachers who follow the apostolic pattern of first century preaching avoided, criticized, vilified, falsely accused, and even fired. We shouldn’t think these actions on the part of some to be unusual, though they are shameful and sad!
There are numerous accounts in the Scriptures where messengers carrying forth God’s word were ostracized and even put to death for declaring “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20 27; cf. 26:19-21). A few cases in point that most Bible students are familiar with: (1) John lost his head because he opposed the unlawful marriage of Herod and Herodias (Matt. 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-28). (2) Stephen was stoned to death because of the bold preaching wherein the present day Jews and their forefathers were accused and convicted of rejecting the prophets, the law and the eventual murder of Jesus Christ (Acts 6:9-7:60). (3) And, Jesus the Master preacher and teacher was crucified and slain because of the message he preached, which is recorded for our learning in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and frequently referenced in the epistles.
Yes, we need to have more love for the truth and those who boldly preach it. Encouragement should be given to those willing to take a firm stand on God’s word. Compromise with sin and error must be avoided and is not an option! The proclamation of sound doctrine with boldness and love must be demanded and supported by brethren for spiritual survival to occur in the sinful world we live in. Please encourage gospel preachers you know to “speak boldly as (they) ought to speak” (Eph. 6:20; Col. 4:4).
More Love for Divine Authority!
To act without authority and to disrespect proper authority, is a serious matter. In every avenue of life, authority must be respected. When authority is disrespected and ignored, problems and troubles abound. The majority of problems in every society are the result of a disrespect or lack of authority — problems in the home, in schools, in the work place, in government, in business, and in the Lord’s church.
Jesus laid claim to all authority in matters religious. He declared, “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). He warned religious people of his day that works that were of the will of the Father would be accepted by him. He also declared that works that were of the will of men were iniquity or lawlessness! This divine warning should strike at the heart and thinking of every religious person, yet, in the religious world today, there is gross disrespect for this warning! The Jews of Jesus’ day questioned Jesus about authority, but displayed disrespect for divine authority by their rejection of him (Matt. 21:23-27; John 1:10, 11). Clearly, the authority of Jesus was from heaven and not of men!
When one engages in worship of the true and living God, it must be based on heavenly authority for it to be “in spirit and in truth” worship (John 4:21-24). Paul wrote of the zeal of Israel, but, their zeal was misplaced zeal because they went about to establish their own righteousness and did not submit to the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:1-3). They did not respect the authority of God.
When congregations of the Lord add unauthorized practices to the work and worship of the church, are they acting by the authority of heaven or of men? When congregations engage in and sponsor recreational and social activities such as summer camps, ball teams, meals in the “fellowship hall,” Christmas plays, skits, and parties, etc., where is their Bible authority? From heaven or of men? When worship involves the use of mechanical instruments of music, hand clapping, lifting up hands or humming in the worship, where is their Bible authority? From heaven or of men (cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)? When women are placed in leadership roles in the worship assembly, where is their Bible authority? From heaven or of men (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:15)? You see, when religious works are done without a clear apostolic example, divine implication, or direct statement, then the noble question must be asked, “by what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23). Let us heed the divine instructions of Paul regarding authority, where he said, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).
More Love for the Lord’s Church!
To have lack of love for what Christ “purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28) shows utter disrespect and disregard for “the blood of the covenant,” counting it “an unholy thing” (Heb. 10:29). While lack of love is displayed among many by disrespecting the divine mission of the church (evangelism, edification, and benevolence), there are many other areas where love for the Lord’s body is neglected. Here are at least three areas where love is often lacking.
1. Faithful attendance is commanded of all members (Heb. 10:23-26). To willfully forsake the assembling of the saints, where God is worshiped and his word studied, shows lack of love. Selfishness, and disregard for other members and the Lord’s work is also displayed by those who forsake the assembly. Faithful attendance indicates love for the Lord’s church.
2. Holy living by members of the Lord’s body is commanded (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:16-26; Col. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 2:19). Members who live hypocritical lives bring untold damage to the Lord’s body. The apostle Peter wrote, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15, 16). It is not difficult to see why holy and pure lives are commanded of God’s people. Purity in life demonstrates love for Christ and his church.
3. Humbleness and submission one to another is commanded of members of the Lord’s body. Paul taught that members are to have “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:1-8). The lives of members are not to be driven by selfishness and pride, but as Paul directs in Ephesians 4:1-3. Numerous divisions have occurred because of members who had little regard for scriptural unity. Those who endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” show love for the Lord’s church.
More Love for Knowledge of God’s Word!
Hosea wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hos. 4:6). With reading comes knowledge. Without reading, one remains in ignorance. Consider some of the passages that teach the importance of reading God’s word (Exod. 24:7; Deut. 17:19; 31:11; Josh. 8:34, 35; 2 Kings 23:2, 3; Neh. 8:8, 18; 9:3; Isa. 34:16; Jer. 36:6-13; Acts 8:27-32; 1 Tim. 4:13; Eph. 3:4; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27).
After reading these passages, can we not see that knowledge can come only when God’s word is read? Proper study of any subject demands reading. The only way to know God’s will is to read and study it. The Hebrew writer severely condemned ignorance (Heb. 5:12-14). Paul exhorted Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). Countless souls continue to be destroyed because of lack of reading which results in “lack of knowledge.”
More Love for Sacrificial Living!
Inasmuch as God sent his son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to God for all men, all men must sacrifice their lives unto God for the cause of Christ (Heb. 7:27; 9:26; 10:5-12; 11:4; 13:15). Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
We are to glorify God in this body (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Cor. 6:20). Glorifying God is brought about by living a godly life and keeping ones self “unspotted from the world” (Jas 1:27); by doing good works that are ordained of God (Matt. 7:21-23); by remaining “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10). Our life on earth must be spent in sacrificial service to God, preparing for the life to come (cf. Amos 4:12).
We have mentioned and discussed several things whereby we need more love. The areas mentioned are by no means exhaustive. There are many other areas that could be mentioned where more love is needed, such as more love for the souls of the lost, for godly homes, for scriptural discipline of wayward members, for godly leadership, etc. The points we have discussed should be carefully examined and practiced by all who are striving for the heavenly reward.