Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P52 (08-17-20)
We cannot manufacture love. God is Spirit, God is love, and love is a fruit of the Spirit and that can only be produced by the Spirit. So whoever has the Spirit living in Him knows love. As you come to fuller understanding of what you already have in Christ Jesus, you are then compelled to depend on Him, resulting in your love for Him, as evidenced when you show love to one another.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So often we think we are the initiator and God must respond to us. But that in reverse order. When we pray, we think if we get enough people together praying that God is obligated to answer us. But, that is not true. Yes, we can make our requests be made known to God, with thanksgiving, with open hands, but to expect God to act when we do our “name it and claim it“ or just because we got enough people together requesting, then we have put ourselves in the position of being God. We have made ourselves the initiator to God, rather than being the responder. When you pray, you pray in the attitude of heart like Jesus, “Not my will, but your will be done.”.
You may also remember the time when people wore “WWJD” bracelets, an acrostic for ”What Would Jesus Do”, as if we are to imitate Jesus actions. So, if that were the case, then should we go to the cross and die for someone else’s sins, so as to take them away from the eyes of God? No, that is something only God called Jesus to do, for He was the only one without sin who could do that for us.
Listen, we would not even know what love is. We respond to the love God demonstrated to us, when He died for us while we were yet sinners, and now, by that faith, we were born again, and now have His love poured into our hearts. We love because He first loved us. God is the initiator, and we are the responder.
So, what are we to imitate? We are to initiate Jesus ’ faith. Jesus is referred to as the second Adam. Why? Jesus, although God and never ceased to be God, lived like a man, so that we, who are not God, will know how to live. How did Jesus live? He lived in total dependency on His Father. He did not do anything unless the Father told Him to do it and He did not say anything unless the Father told Him to say it and how to say it. Jesus was the perfect example of a human being who lived in total dependence on God. He modeled perfectly what He explained to us in the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15, on how we are to live by faith.
In the audio, Bob uses an illustration of a driver education car with two steering wheels, one that Jesus uses to steer our lives or the other steering wheel, which represents our flesh that wants control. Bob uses this to present a visual picture in our minds of how this Christian life is to be lived by faith, to let Jesus be the driver of our life, and we are to rest in Him to do the work. You might find this illustration helpful to grasp this concept of how we are to live in dependency on Christ, in His love, putting faith in His provision, for everything we need for life and godliness that we already have in Him.
Now, what we have done is taken control of the steering wheel, placed the emphasis on obedience, instead of being in love. By looking at obedience as the driving force, instead of the result of His driving force, we have become the initiator, telling God to look at us, as if to trying to impress God by what we do.
Obedience is a by-product of dependency. Dependency is a by-product of love. So, it is not getting people obedient. It is getting people in love and that love will produce the dependency that then produces the obedience. It is impossible to live the Christian life. Only He can give it and only He can live it.
Bob often summarizes it this way. Our act of worship is making ourselves available to the living God, who lives in us to live through us. Make your body available to Him, who lives in you, to live His life in and through you. It is not how much we love Him, but how much He loved us, resulting in our dependency upon God that then results in our obedience to God.
If God is the initiator of that, and we can either respond by saying “thank you” or respond by saying, “I do not like what you did because I was not a part of this deal. So what I will do is become part of your forgiveness package up there. Whether you like it or not, this is what I am going to do. I am going to be a part of this. I am not going to accept what you have done and just be a simple responder down here. I am too important. I am too holy. I am too religious for that. I am going to have something to do with this whether you like it or not.” Whether we verbalize that or not is not the issue. That is in the heart of people who will not accept the truth of the finality of the cross of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:19
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
This is the reason why we love. When we understand His love for us, and the grace of God that has been extended to us through Christ Jesus, and we respond to that love, and we get to know more about that love, and the more we get to know His unconditional love and acceptance. There is a world of difference between those two. God not only loves us, He accepts us where we are. Then I am going to respond to God in direct proportion to how I perceive God. I can now perceive God based not upon imagination, not with speculation, but truth. I do not have to sit around and say, “Well, it would be nice to believe that is what God is like.” Quite frankly, that is what liberal theology is. “I do not want to study the word of God. It does not seem to have much place in my life at all, but I will sit here with my imagination and think with my sloppy sentimentality. This is what I think God is like.” New Age is the same way. “I think He is so loving.” You are right. He is. But that is not based on your dumb imagination. It is based on truth. The bible is truth. It reveals the truth of God. God is merciful. How do we know that? Because He sent His Son.
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
AsS Jesus said, “When you see me, you see the Father. To know what the Father is like, look at me. You see mercy. You see kindness. You see compassion.” You see all of those characteristics that you cannot see any other way except through revelation.
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
God is certainly creative. How are you going to know what God is like by looking at mountains? You certainly know He is artistic. You certainly know He is creative. His creative capacities are unbelievable. When you look at the animal kingdom, you know He has a sense of humor. When you look at us, you really know He has a sense of humor. But you do not know whether or not He is loving, kind, merciful, or anything else. That had to be revealed to us. You cannot do that through imagination. You do, but your faith is based on imagination. “This is what I perceive what God is like and I will hang onto that.”
When we come to Christ and perceive God, then our perception of God is based on truth. The truth has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus. How are you going to know God? By studying Buddha, Mohammad or Paul or anyone else? No. You get to know what God is like by studying Jesus. When you are studying Paul, you say that is what Paul is like. But the reason that is what Paul is like is because of his knowledge of Jesus. So I am not going to look at Paul. I am going to look at Jesus. I am going to find out how Jesus is like and how He loves me. When I find that out, then I have to respond. We are responders. I do not have a choice. I have to respond. How am I going to respond? In direct proportion in how I perceive God.
Why do we love? Because He loved us first. Someone says, “Boy, this guy is a legalist, but he loves God.” That is a lie. That is an impossibility. How are you going to respond in love to a God who hates you or disappoints you, or always turns His back on you or is always mad at you or a God who says you must do all these things or you have had it. How are you going to love someone like that?
A lot of verbiage going on. I get a little bit skeptical when I hear people talking about how much they love God. I, quite frankly, think you ought to be talking about how much God loves us. When you grab a hold of that, you do not need to talk about how much you love God. It will be a natural response to that truth. We got the emphasis, once again, not on how much God loves me, but how much I love God. That is bragging. You do not need to talk about that. What you need to talk about is how much I discovered how much God loves me, undeserving as I am. That is how much God loves me.
I do not have to talk about how much I love Him because, quite frankly, if you cannot figure that out then something is wrong with you, when you realize how much God loves you in spite of you, not because of you. If you have a God that loves you perfectly, and you are going to respond to Him by saying, “God, thank you.” In your heart you are saying, “I love you too.” Then that is a natural result of saying, “If God loves me perfectly, why should I not be able to live in dependency upon that God? After all, if God is for me, then who can be against me? If God loves me perfectly, then why do I have to sit around worrying if someone else does or not?”
The deepest desire I ever had in my life is to be loved unconditionally and to be accepted unconditionally. It appears to me that need has already been met in Him. If it is met in me then I do not need to be like a tic on a dog sucking the life out of my spouse, trying to get my spouse to love me that way. It seems to me that my experience shows me they cannot. But they do not need to because that need has already been met in Christ. That is marvelous. I can depend on that. When we understand the love of God and I am responding to that love, by faith, which is the only way you can, then your natural mind has to go to the fact then, can I trust or live in dependency upon this God that loves me perfectly? Yes, I can.
To a child, and I think of my days of taking Bob on some dangerous rock climbing in Yosemite, but Bob knew I loved him perfectly and he depended on me to get him out and get him back. I am not saying the object of his dependency was too good. But to that little child, he had confidence and he was not worried at all. I have a God who is much more dependable than I am. If that is the case, then why can I not live in dependency upon Him?
So the object of your dependency is worthy of your dependency? That is why getting to know Christ is the solution to your life. Your Christian life is not lived by you and what you are doing. It is lived by Him and what He is doing. We have an object of our faith and it should not be in us. It is not in our church. It is not in our activities. It is not in our programs. Our dependency should be upon the object of our dependency and the only object of our dependency is Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
Why did he say that I am the true vine in object to the untrue vine? Because in Israel the vine was Israel. Their dependency was upon being an Israeli or being in Israel. No. Israel is not the vine to abide in. Jesus said, “I am the vine to abide in.” Today, there are people who are still abiding in being Israeli. In other words, “I am a Jew. So do not give me this Jesus stuff, because the true vine is Israel, and I am a part of that.” That is why you have the rebellion you have among the Jewish people against Jesus. Then you have the rebellion of the Gentile people against Jesus because they never did know there was a true or untrue vine. It is just the fact to the Gentile, that we just say, “No, I am the vine. It is not Israel. It is me.” In any one of these things, we have a misplaced dependency. Now Jesus has come and is saying to the Jew and the Gentile, “I, Jesus, am the vine.”
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Then He says you are the branches. The literal Greek translation, is rendered, “You are branch.” It does not even say “the branch.” You are branch. I am the vine. You are branch. If you remain in me and I in Him, He will bear much fruit and apart from Me you can do nothing.
What is He saying? I am the source of life. I am the source of the Christian life. I am the source of God. Everything that you need to know about God is contained in me. I come to show you God. I came to show you who I am and when you see who I am you are going to see who God is because I and the Father are one. When you have seen me you have seen the Father. When you have seen me and the Father, you have seen the godhead.
What Jesus is saying is this. “I am the vine, you are the branch and here is how this life is to be lived, through dependency upon me and your dependency upon me will bring about the control of me in your life.” If I am depending upon alcohol for meaning and purpose to life, that alcohol is going to control me, not because it is a chemical but because of my dependency. My dependency is what brings about the control. That is why someone can drink a quart of alcohol and not be a so-called alcoholic. We say it is chemical. It is not chemical. It is a dependency. One is depending on alcohol to do something and the other is not. One person is drinking it because it is here and something to do. The other is drinking it because it does something for me. It makes me able to be me. That dependency upon that brings about the control of that.
Look at drug dependency. What does that mean? I am depending upon that drug regardless of where I get it. Where I get it is irrelevant, whether off the street or at the pharmacy. If I become dependent upon that drug to do something is the issue. And we are told sometimes that you are not going to live without that then that creates dependency. Then that thing will control your life. I am not going to be without it. Every day of my life and every moment of my life, I will be wondering if the pills are going to be there. I am going to live in total dependency upon that. Why? Because of my dependency upon that.
What Jesus is saying is this. When you are living in dependency upon me that gives me the opportunity to be the controlling factor in your life.
1 John 4:7-8
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
“Because I am not going to control you through any other means except through the result of your dependency upon Me. Otherwise, you are going to be a robot. Otherwise, we are going to think of control like a man with a puppet. I am not going to do that. This is going to be voluntary. This is going to be a type of relationship where I am saying I am willing to live my life in and through you, but I am waiting on your dependency to see if you are willing to let Me do that.”
I said many times that the Christian life is like a driver education car, where you have two steering wheels in it. All of a sudden Jesus is sitting in the car and all of a sudden, through this thing called car salvation, you are in the car with Jesus. He is in the car, and you are in the car. You look at each other and you look down, and there are two steering wheels. It is like Jesus is saying, “Now Bob, I offered you this seat, and you accepted that by faith, and now we are in the car together. We are going to take a ride, called the ride of life, but I want to tell you something. There are two steering wheels here. One is your wheel and the other is mine. You can live in dependency upon me who called you to get into this car to begin with, provided everything that you needed, and incidentally, on this trip we are going to take, I have already provided everything you need for the trip. You do not have to worry about getting stopped to get cokes or McDonald’s or anything else. I already provided that for you, so you do not have to worry about any of that. It is all settled. We are going to go on a trip together. Now, the issue is, do you want me to drive this car, because not only is it my car but I know where I am going and you don’t. I also know all the laws. I also know all the turns. I know all this. I know it all. You do not know anything. You have never been on this trip before. The issue is, knowing what I just told you, do you want to drive or do you want me to drive?”
“Well, Lord, I have never been in a car before, why don’t you drive.” That is the early Christian with total dependence. “Jesus, I did not have anything to do with this salvation and I am in this car with Jesus and we are going to take a trip and I say, ‘Praise God.’“ Then we get on the trip. Then you start watching him. So I started observing Him. I see how He turns the car and steps on the brakes, and how he handles all kinds of situations. I sit there thinking, “I can do that. I can hardly wait for the next stop when He gets off. I am going to leave Him. I can drive this car myself.”
After a while, we grab a hold of the wheel. Interesting thing about that is He does not sit there and fight you. He just takes His hands off. “Okay, if you think you can drive better than Me, why just try it.” We run into trees. We scrap cars. We bump off of hills. And He still does not grab the wheel. Finally, He says, “Bob, when are you going to learn to take your hands off the wheel. I am not going to sit here and fight you with this thing. I am not going to struggle back and forth, that when you are going to drive down that road and someone looks in the window and here you see two people striving for control of the steering wheel. I am not going to do that. I am either going to let go of the wheel and let you drive or I will take control of the wheel. When you bump down the hills, I am going to bump down the hills with you. I am never going to leave you or forsake you, but I am going to show you that you do not know how to drive even though you are observing Me. You cannot copy me. You are going to have to let Me do it.”
So after a while, after destroying ourselves and everything else and developing ulcers and getting burned out and religious sweats and everything else, we finally say, “Lord, I give up. Man, I have been driving this thing and I do not how you have been standing it, being in a car with me.” Sometimes along the line, why people tell you He is not there or that you just think He is there. So you wonder if He left you or had forsaken you, and all of this type of thing. But finally you let go. Finally you are able to say, “Lord, I take my hands off. I have been driving this thing long enough to realize I cannot do it. I thought I could, but I cannot. And, so I am going to sit back and enjoy the trip.” “Really.” “Yes, really, Lord. I am through trying to drive this car.” And God says, “Whew, at last.”
And He grabs a hold and off you go again on this marvelous trip. You begin to look around and notice that you can see scenery you could not see before. You were too busy looking at the road. You begin to see that every turn is a proper turn. His timing is perfect. Everything is perfect in this trip that you are taking. Every time you get hungry, He just says, “Reach in the back seat and there is the food for you. All of these provisions are already there. “What in the world was I doing with my hands on this wheel. What am I doing trying to run this thing.”
That is the Christian life. Every one of us, from when we first come to Christ, we get into that car. We do not want to drive, but after a while we get so wise. We sit there and read this “How to Drive” car manual, and we get so smart and so wise that after awhile we think, “I do not need Jesus any more.” Quite frankly, that is what the Christian maturity is perceived as. “I am going to get so good at driving that some day I will not even need Jesus. I am going to get so holy. I am going to be such a good prayer.”
I heard one guy the other day say, “I used to pray three hours and I upped it to four.” I felt like saying, “Big deal. What are you talking about? What is this inside of you that thinks that is so impressive to God? The issue is not how much you are praying. The issue is how much are you listening? How much are you praying? No. How much are you trusting?” That is the whole issue. It is not what you are doing, but how much faith and dependency are you having on what He is doing. That is what the Christian life is all about.
1 John 4:10
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation for our sins.
We are talking about our love for God. It is not how much we love Him, but how much He loved us, resulting in our dependence upon God that then results in our obedience to God. Now, what we have done is reversed that order and placed the emphasis on obedience instead of being in love, looking at obedience as the driving force instead of the result of His driving force. Once again, you hear people talking continually about obedience, not realizing that obedience is a by-product of dependency. Dependency is a by-product of love. So, it is not getting people obedient. It is getting people in love and that love will produce the dependency that then produces the obedience.
When you do not concentrate and put this in this order, you end up with legalistic, mean, vindictive obedience. That is what legalism is all about, obedience without dependency or love. Legalistic obedience is dependency upon myself and what I am doing, totally devoid of love, which is the reason that the Pharisees did what they did. We are always saying, “look at the Pharisees.” We are the same way.
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[Isaiah 8:14; 28:16]
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
We do not have to look over there in Israel. Just take a look at us. That legalistic viewpoint is, “I do not give a flip about this love stuff. I am just interested in obedience. And don’t bother me with this love stuff.” That was the mindset of a Pharisee that was so hung up on what to do that they ended up hanging Jesus on a cross for being the initiators of that, of being hung up on the fact of what the law, their law interpretation, said. “You cannot spit on the Sabbath, and Jesus spit on the Sabbath, made mud and made a blind man see. I do not care about that blind man. This guy spit on the Sabbath.” That is all you could think about?
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
Love is out of the picture and legalistic obedience is what guides your life. What causes that? Talking about obedience apart from dependency and love. Do we do the same thing in our churches today? Absolutely. We are not getting people in love with God. In fact, we try to create a perception of God, that if you do not mind your “P”s and “Q”s, He has His back turned on you and you have got some black marks up there that you had better get off with your confession of your sins for forgiveness and repentance and all of this other type of thing, because if you don’t, God is going to zap you. Now how do you pull that together, folks, with Titus that tells us it is the grace of God that teaches you to say “No” to unrighteousness and man in our stubborn egotism says ”no, it is the law of God that teaches you to say ‘no’ to unrighteousness.”
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ
1 John 4:10
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation for our sins.
Until you come to understand the fullness of God’s love for you, you are in no position to respond to Him in love. You are in no position to live in dependency upon Him because of His love. Therefore, you are absolutely in no position to think you are living in obedience to His love. Now here is exactly what Jesus talks about in regard to obedience.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What did Jesus say is what the world’s sin is? Unbelief in me.
John 16:9 (TLB)
The world’s sin is unbelief in me
What did He say is necessary in order to please God? Faith.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God
What did Jesus say the work of the ministry was? Believe in Me. Trust in Me. Rely upon Me. Depend upon Me.
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
We are looking at acts instead of our act of worship, which is making ourselves available to the living God, who lives in us to live through us. Make your body available to Him, who lives in you, to live His life in and through you. There are many of you who have tried to live the Christian life and find out that you cannot live it. You have got it. I have asked people, how many of you have found it hard to live the Christian life? Every hand in the room goes up. It is not hard to live the Christian life. It is impossible to live it. Only He can give it and only He can live it.
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
That is where we have to get out of the way, folks. Faithful is He who called you and will also do it. Who called you? Jesus. Who will do it? Jesus. We have to realize we cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. We are flesh people. The Spirit who lives in you must produce the fruit of the Spirit. If the Spirit of God does not live in you, there is no such thing as producing fruit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing
1 Timothy 1:5
5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
And so our role as a child of God is to live in dependency upon the one who loves you perfectly. That is your act of worship. It is not sitting in a service with your hands lifted up and your eyes rolled back in the top of your head or sitting piously with your hands folded and never uttering a peep or sound. That is just a tradition as to how you sit in church or stand in church or roll around in church. But that is not worship. We call that a worship service. Worship is not what you do inside of a collective building. Worship is how you live your life 24 hours a day.
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