Obedience Of Love -- By: Ernest Pickering

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:2 (Summer 1959)
Article: Obedience Of Love
Author: Ernest Pickering


Obedience Of Love

Ernest Pickering

WHAT is real Biblical love? How is it manifested? The answer to this question is sorely needed today. God’s people are being given the impression by some Christian leaders that all doctrinal controversy, rebuke of error, and unflinching obedience to the Scriptural doctrine of separation is unkind and ungracious. Pious positivism is being equated with genuine, godly love.

Did Athanasius, the early church leader, demonstrate Christian love when he stubbornly contested for the doctrine of the true deity of Christ? Did love motivate Martin Luther when he fought for doctrinal purity against the ecclesiastical powers of his day? Did John Wesley evidence love when he chose to preach on a graveyard tombstone rather than conform to the dictates of men? Was J. Gresham Machen filled with love when he lifted his powerful pen and voice against the spreading apostasy within the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.?

The modern notion of love that is prevalent in some evangelical circles today would brand all of these men as disrupters of the peace, strangers to genuine love for the brethren. It is no longer considered fashionable to contend sharply for the faith or to insist upon a clear-cut doctrinal position. It is considered bad taste to contest with error, or call attention to false teaching, or rebuke brethren who are drifting from their doctrinal moorings.

One great man has sounded a warning on this very subject. Vance Havner, writing on “The Forgotten Anathema” said, “Some Christians who once championed sound doctrine beat a retreat once in a while and from stratospheric heights announce that they do not ‘stoop to controversy.’ When a man contends for the faith in New Testament style he does not stoop!. .. Contending for the faith is not easy. It is not pleasant business. It has many perils. It is a thankless job. And it is highly unpopular in this age of moral fogs and spiritual twilights. It is a day of diplomats, not prophets. It is nicer to be an appeaser than an opposer. It is the day of Erasmus, not Luther; of Gamaliel, not Paul.” (Sword of the Lord, Jan. 7, 1955).

An examination of Scripture will reveal that divine love is strong and virile, not weak and sentimental.

I. The Obedience Of Love

One of the clearest illustrations of God’s demand for obedience is found in I Samuel 15:1–23. Four things stand out in this passage: (1) A clear command (v. 3); (2) A definite disobedience (vs. 8–9); (3) An attempted cover-up (vs.

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