Summary: Do you have a strong allegiance to a particular set of doctrines or theology? Are you a staunch Arminian or a dedicated five point Calvinist?
Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) "And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."
Do you have a strong allegiance to a particular set of doctrines or theology? Are you a staunch Arminian or a dedicated five point Calvinist? Are you a severe Molinist or a Wesleyan? In my theological studies as a Christian in ministry I've learned a great deal about both Calvinist theology, mainly from Liberty University, and also a great deal on Arminian theology, mainly through Olivet and the Salvation Army.
I've been very dedicated to my theological systems in the past. But today I no longer hold as closely to a particular theological system. Why? Because as time passed, I realized that as I studied the scriptures, I was beginning to cancel out scripture passages that didn't fit with my theology.
I'll give you a very basic example. This is a common scripture, directly from the mouth of Jesus: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.
Now, this plainly says a clear truth, if we as followers of Jesus do not forgive others when they sin against us, if we hold resentments and unforgiveness in our hearts, then our sins will not be forgiven.
Let's look at another example. A classic scripture, very well known and often discussed, Matthew 25:31-46:
"31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”"
This scripture is clearly telling me that if I don't feed the hungry, cloth the naked, invite in the stranger, and the visit the sick and in prison, and instead I live selfishly and don't do those things, I'm going to eternal punishment.
Now many will try to bend themselves into theological pretzels to try to explain about scriptures like Matthew 25, and John 15, and many others. But I'm not willing to be dishonest about it, I'm taking a plain reading, in it's context, and in the greater theological context, and it's still right there. It's the word. And I won't paper it over with man made theological systems.
That's the point today. Hold loosely to your theological system. Let scripture upset your neat theology. Don't paper over scriptures that contradict, even cores of the theological system. Because it's just dishonest to do that. God is real. His scriptures are true. What fate awaits us if we paper over God's word for the sake of our theology and doctrine?