“E for Effort”— we’ve all heard that— probably more often than we should. While that might be an appropriate phrase in some situations it doesn’t cut it when it comes to spiritual things. As another old saying goes, “Close only counts in horseshoes”. When it comes to our relationship with God trying isn’t good enough– we have to be right!. Yet, in this politically correct, pluralistic society in which we live we tend to give people a pass rather than challenge their beliefs— as though we were doing them a favor.
Just because a person says, “I love Jesus” doesn’t mean they do, nor does it mean they are right with God. But, sadly, sincerity is all that matters to some folks. God, however, isn’t so easily pleased. He insists that we believe certain things and behave in certain ways. Nothing less will satisfy Him. I raise this issue because it is common to see young Christians, new Christians, and immature believers, who appear to love the Lord, error regarding certain important truths. They have zeal, but lack knowledge. They speak in glowing terms about their love for God, but have never learned the truth about important doctrines. They are sometimes involved in “Christian service”, but are off-track in their manner of life. They are doing things, but aren’t doing things right. And it matters to God.
Think about it. Can you imagine the Old Testament Jews worshiping as they pleased without any regard for the instructions God gave? What if they had decided for themselves what kind of temple to build, or where to place it, or to not build one at all? Suppose they decided to use different animals for sacrifices than what God prescribed, or to make no sacrifices at all. Get the picture? We all realize that those things would be unacceptable to the Lord. Why then do some of you feel that it’s okay to depart from the New Testament pattern that God gave? It isn’t for us to decide what to do or how to do it. God alone has the right to make those decisions.
Here’s something that I’ve noticed—-In watching these folks is seems that the doctrine of the church is always involved. They either don’t know or don’t care what the Bible teaches about the nature, purpose, and mission of the church. With many the attitude is, “As long as I am right about salvation nothing else really matters”. Really? What if it matters to God? And how can you call yourself a “Christian” and not care about pleasing Christ?
One of the best ways to discover error is to find out what the person believes about the church. Many well meaning believers are in error because they know nothing about it. That, however, doesn’t excuse them. The doctrine of the church is laid out in the New Testament and they can read it for themselves. Dear friend, “E” not only can stand for “effort”, it can also stand for “error”. It makes no difference how sincere you are or how much energy you expend in religious activity if you are wrong you are wrong– you error. And that is costly. To be crowned we must strive lawfully (2 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 9:24).
While we all, no doubt, error in some way, we should do our very best to avoid it. Many are wasting their lives simply because of their lack of understanding. Worse yet is that many are unsaved and do not know it (Matt. 7:21-23). Sincerity and good works won’t work.Salvation is “by grace” and “through faith” alone (Eph. 2:8). Only “the truth shall make you free”(John 8:32). Even if you are truly saved, you have no right to disregard what the Bible teaches and live as you please. Being right about salvation doesn’t mean it is okay to be wrong about everything or anything else. Making an effort to serve the Lord doesn’t mean we are serving Him. To avoid failure we must find and finish God’s will— in all matters. Think about it!