“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
Philosophers routinely discuss the “necessary and sufficient conditions” for certain things. Air, for example, is a necessary condition for my breathing. It is, however, by itself insufficient. In order to breathe I need more than air, I need many more things, such as a functioning respiratory system for instance. As redeemed New Covenant priests we must be very concerned to know what God considers to be the necessary and sufficient conditions for a local assembly to receive a good “spiritual report card” from the Lord. To begin with, God requires that our saints have at least some theological training. They need not be scholars with earned degrees, but they must know at least the main things about God and His redemptive plan. “Sing praises to God,” wrote the psalmist, “sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:6-7). Some theological understanding is essential. God Himself declared, doubtless with a heavy heart, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Paul voiced the same concern for national-ethnic Israel. “Brethren,” wrote the great apostle, “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:1-2). Clearly mere enthusiasm for the things of God is insufficient. Some knowledge is required. Even so, doctrinal precision in our statements of faith by itself will not do either. The church at Ephesus seemed on outward inspection to be a very healthy church. The Lord commended them, saying “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted” (Revelation 2:2-3). We are shocked to read that the Lord’s problem with this church was so serious that He threatened to disband their local assembly (Revelation 2:5). Hear the Lord’s strong words of correction for this seemingly healthy church: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). The greatest command is to love the Lord with all that we have, and the Lord has shown Himself to be altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16; 1 John 4:19). As we prayerfully study the Scriptures, may our knowledge of the Lord, and our appreciation for the Savior, abound more and more to the glory of God.