Now Hold On Just a Cotton-Pickin' Minute...
Let's put'er in Reverse, back up a ways, and look at what we may have driven right past.
What's the purpose of all this stuff that's going on down here on earth, anyway? Is it just so we can live out history and leave some folks behind so they can live out some more history? Did God go to all that trouble creating all this stuff so we could have our 60 or 70 or 80 years of fun and then die? Is breathing all this oxygen and having all this fun that big a deal?
I don't think so. I think the real objective of everything here is eternity. Heaven. The perfection the Bible speaks of that will come one day. If that's true, there are some things that really don't matter one whit down here. A few pop into my mind right off.
One of them is precision in our interpretation and preaching. Sure, accuracy is required, but how far does that have to reach? Do we have to take a stand for or against every statement someone tosses out about how he or she views some passage or idea of scripture? Paul said that the doctrine of Christ, and Him crucified, was so vital that those who preached something else were to be accursed, but does that apply to all these issues that divide people?
I think not.
In Sunday School at Parkview Baptist Church last weekend, I asked just who the Bible was written for. Sure, I know that Paul wrote 1 & 2 Timothy to Timothy, 1 and 2 Corinthians to the Church at Corinth, etc. But who's it for, now? My personal opinion is that it wasn't written for theologians who can exegete all them original languages 'til the cows come home, it was written for folks who seek the truth and want to know God.
You and me, in other words.
So why does He want us to have it .. to know Him .. to allow our lives to be molded into Jesus' image? Personally, I don't think the objective is so we can be Spiritually neat. Whatever level of neatness we achieve here is going to be lost when we lose this earthly body and gain that new home in Heaven. I think the reason .. the motivation .. the objective, must be to impact the number of folks who get to Heaven.
Another thing that won't matter one bit in Heaven is whether the guy that Baptized us believed this or that about eternal security. The Bible teaches that we are to be baptized as an act of obedience after we're saved, and if we did that, I don't think the other details will be important in heaven.
I just don't think our perfection of doctrine will matter much, at all. We see through a glass darkly now, remember? I think that means we're stumbling around in the dark, with only the light He gives us to do the task He sics us on. That's enough for down here, but it ain't much when you contemplate eternity.
Prayer language? Hey ... we'll all be speakin' weird stuff in Heaven, if I'm right, and English or Greek won't be of much use anyway.
I know Monte and Janet Erwin. They're fallible human beings like the rest of us, but I have no doubts whatever that they were called to be the missionaries they were, first in the Caribbean and then in Latvia. Did their service there add to the Kingdom? I betcha it did. So I assume, allowing some reservations of course, that other called candidates have been disqualified or forced out some way or other, over similar (and in my mind) inconsequential issues. I ask you: does that positively or negatively impact eternity?
I think negatively.
We've been told to lay up treasures in Heaven, where those bad things won't happen to them, as opposed to here on earth, where everything's in peril. But the only thing I've ever heard from the pulpit is the comparison with that to giving. But I don't think there will be any money in Heaven. So how does one lay up a treasure in Heaven, in a practical down-to-earth way?
Simple. You invest in something that's going to go to heaven. And that's people. Souls. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that's going on down here must drive toward that ultimate goal. And when we see people issuing new rules or standards or prohibitions, I have to ask if that adds to, or subtracts from, that goal.
Not does it contribute to purity of doctrine, not does it honor our heritage, not will it be popular with this or that group, not will it be politically correct. Will it contribute to the church's task of adding (in our sight) to the population of Heaven in eternity?
One thing that'll do it for sure, IMO? Unity and love shown by the church. Of the sort shown recently in Arlington. Folks who disagree agreeably are apt to get some attention, as that's not a normal human trait.
You know, I can't think of any reference in the Bible that the end times will come, that Jesus will make that trip down here, when we get our doctrine to a pre-determined level of perfection. When we understand this or that. When we finally get church "just right". I seem to recall His saying He'd come back in the fullness of times. I also recall someone saying that means when the work is finished and all are won to Christ, that will be won.
Shouldn't that be the first and last things in our mind?