Are You a Loving or Academic Christian?

Galatians 5:6, 13-14 1 John 4:21
Galatians 5:6, 13-14
1 John 4:21

Jesus loves the Father and people. In fact, Jesus loves the Father by loving people.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is to love people (Matthew 22:34-40). On earth Jesus expressed his love in many different ways, but his primary way of loving both God and man was through revealing the truth about God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) for the benefit of the people.

God is glorified when his invisible attributes are made visible and known (see other blogs for deeper explanation). And while Jesus loved people by helping them physically, his primary purpose in helping people was to preach the gospel (Mark 1:38).

With such a clear emphasis on preaching, teaching, and exegesis of Scripture, it is right to be a person who questions ministries within the church which don’t accomplish these goals. It’s right to be the person asking, “Does this small group study really get into the word of God?” or “Is this pastor’s topical preaching really biblical?” or “Do my Christian friends and family truly see the benefits of studying doctrine and theology like I do?”

These are good questions to ask, but the danger lies when we begin to overemphasize the means of delivering the message and forget that the whole point is not only to know the message but to deliver it to people so it can actually save and help them in their lives. Jesus wasn’t so focused on preaching and teaching because he just couldn’t get enough discussion and debate over theological matters. Jesus emphasized preaching the truth because he knew this was the most effective and beneficial way of loving God and people. If your motive in studying God’s word is anything other than loving God and loving people, then your motive is unbiblical.

Additionally, to truly love people through preaching and teaching or even common discussions amongst friends, our Scriptural exposition, messages, and conversations must be more than a lecture of doctrinal points. The biggest difference between a lecture and a sermon is that the professor gives you biblical facts and the pastor helps you apply biblical truth to your life. If you just download doctrinal information to people and never help them apply Scripture to the real and individual problems in their lives, then you are an academic person, not a loving person.

If you beat people up because they don’t fully explain the Trinity like you think they should rather than showing them, for example, how the loving community within the Godhead should be our example in how we love others, you are missing the point. If you whip people with Romans 9 when they can’t wrap their minds around the sovereignty of God and man’s salvation rather than, for example, explaining the comfort it is to know our evangelistic efforts rest on God and not us, then you are missing the point. If you get into debates over the meaning of words like “propitiation” but never explain the great comfort this word can bring to someone feeling condemned over their porn addiction or how they failed in their parenting this week, then you are missing the point. If you flippantly talk about the biblical points of an eternal hell without tears in your eyes and with no attempt to use this doctrine to spur people closer to God, then you are missing the point. If you talk about the deity and doctrinal qualities of the Holy Spirit without ever helping people learn to be filled with the Spirit so they can produce good fruit, you are missing the point.

If your study of the word of God is not benefiting other people, if each time you open the Bible you are just laying another brick for your philosophical glass tower you like to sit in and judge people from, if your study of God’s word is creating quarrels rather than quality relationship, if your intake of theological food is making you fat and sedentary rather than fit for service, then your study of the word of God is not helping you accomplish the first and second greatest commandments.

Let us love doctrine, expositional preaching, and theologically stimulating conversations and topics, but let us love these things because they help us love God and people.

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Mark Ballenger is the writing ministry of Mark Ballenger. To reach Mark, send him an email anytime:

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