Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10
It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul, who was the man with possibly the deepest revelation of the gospel that ever lived (God’s chosen instrument is what Jesus called him) actually said, “We know in part”. This is an incredibly humble thing to say, and just as important for us to remember; for it means there are more parts that we currently do not know. Meaning, your beliefs/theology will continue to change as you come to understand more, when God shows you another ‘part’, when you continue to seek truth, and find another piece. Not only this, but even at the end of our lives, even with the greater insight, revelation, and truth God shares with us, we will still only know in part. Not until this creation is finished, and we stand before God will we understand the full picture of God, his gospel, and his complete truth.
Often our beliefs change, but once that change happens we think now we’ve ‘got it’ – we think now we really DO have the full truth. While we may have come to understand another important part of the truth, we have to be humble, as the Apostle Paul was, and realize we still only know in part. There’s more parts still to discover; there’s more renewing of our minds to come.
If your beliefs are exactly the same as last week, that’s all right. If they are exactly the same as five years ago, that’s concerning. I say this because our faith is a journey, and along this journey God continues to give us new pieces to his puzzle of truth.
Some of the doctrines you think are the most full-proof, the most foundational even, will come tumbling down at some point, and replaced with a clearer, more divine understanding. The first time this happens it is shocking. The second it is still shocking, but at least not as unexpected. After a while, you start expecting it as part of the faith journey.
Doctrine is the interpretation of man. Popular doctrine is the interpretation of very powerful men, meaning church/denominational leaders who in essence demand people to accept their doctrines or leave; they use the fear of exclusion to keep people agreeing with their doctrines. This is sad, but it’s been happening for centuries, but don’t let the pressure and doctrines of other men/women override the Spirit of Christ in you, your teacher, as you move forward in your faith. Let him teach you. Allow yourself to learn new things from him, even when you favorite preachers are saying the opposite.
A rule of thumb that the Apostle Paul gave us when talking about only knowing ‘in part’ was to remember what we have right here, right now. That is, faith, hope and love. And he particularly drew attention to love, reminding us this is the greatest of all.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13
While on the journey of faith, seeking and discovering new ‘parts’ of the puzzle of the gospel truth, keep your heart centered on the reality of love. For in the end, doctrines will fade away, but love will remain forever.