Radio Broadcast Wednesday 07/15/2020

Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P39 (07-15-20)

Synopsis

As we think through this triplicate, of faith, hope and love, let us focus in on love. What really is love? We read that God is love but can we comprehend that? We would not even know what love is until God first demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Someone might dare to die for a righteous man, but for a sinner (Romans 5:7)? That shows us that God’s love is not like our love. His love is unconditional, not dependent on what we do, but only on His character, of the one, Jesus Christ, who demonstrated His love to us. This is what, in the Greek language, is called Agape love.

The kind of love we are familiar with is called, in the Greek language, Phileo love. That is where we get the word philanthropy, giving to benefit the human race, or Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. But these are really not the pure kind of love as Agape love is. Most of the kind of love we have is conditional love. “If you do this, I will do this for you”. Even in philanthropy, there is often a motive to make yourself feel good about yourself, or to promote your company so it is known as an outstanding company to work for. When God gives, it is not because He gives to get something back. He gives because that is who He is. God does not need anything from us. Yes, He delights when we respond to His love, for that is how He designed us to be, to be dependent on Him, but with free will, to choose to do so. We are dependent on Him, and rightly so, because He is the Creator of all things.

Now, we try to imitate God’s love but we cannot produce that kind of love God is talking about, that Agape love. Now, in Christ, we can bear that love, but we can never produce it in the energy of our flesh. So we first need to come to understand God’s love for us before we can really begin to express that love to others, as we rely on Him to do so.

Oftentimes we think of love as saying “praise God”, or singing praise songs on a Sunday morning. Those can be expressions of gratitude to God, but love is an action. Romans 12:1 tells us what our spiritual act of worship should be, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Then, we can go to 1 Corinthians 13, and there we read action words describing love. This passage really is about who God is. Since God is love, you can replace everywhere the word, “love”, with the word, “God”. God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy. God does not boast. God is not proud. God does not dishonor others. God is not self-seeking. God is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If we were to match what we try to do with that definition of who God is, that God is love, we fall short. We find we cannot do that kind of love. We have to realize that we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We never could love like God loves. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, as we read in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is what God produces in us and through us, as Jesus explains to us in the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15. A branch does not produce fruit, but by being attached to the vine, the nutrients that the vine provides, the fruit is borne out on the branches. The branch just rests in the vine. That is a picture of Jesus as the vine and we as the branches in the spiritual realm, in how the Spirit of God, who lives in us, produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control in our lives, as we rest in Him and allow Him to.

Oftentimes, it is easy for us to see what love is not. That is common in the human experience to suffer hurt and pain and rejection. Even in the church world, there is this conditional love, as if someone is saying, “I will love you as long as you do not rock the boat, as long as you continue to believe what our denomination has told you what truth is”. If you have ever challenged what truth is, by saying that tithing is not for today, or that you do not have to keep asking God to forgive you so as to keep in fellowship with God, what kind of reaction have you experienced? We all need to analyze our response to see if what is coming out of me is of the flesh or the attitude of God, the love that God wants to produce in and through me.

God also said His people shall worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). So, where do you find truth? Is truth found in a denominational persuasion? A denomination could be telling you truth, but it could also be telling you error, whether intentional or out of ignorance, merely passing on what has been taught to him, generation after generation. How would you know? The wonderful news is that God wants us to know truth and He has given us His word, the scriptures, the 66 books of the bible, that we know of today, where we can test and affirm as to what any man says is true or not.

Acts 17:11
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

We do that by the Spirit of God living in us, whom we have come to put our faith in, in the promise that He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and that He has given us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), so as to discern spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:13-15). But in coming to know truth, be sure you treat others with gentleness and respect, with patience, when you explain the hope you have within you (1 Peter 3:15-17). If we have all knowledge and all wisdom, but do not have love, then we are nothing but a noisy, clanging gong (1 Corinthians 13:2).

And truth is important, for you have to worship in Spirit and in truth. If you think you have to keep asking God to forgive you, can you really experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life? No. Why not? You are operating in error, and are placing confidence in your flesh, in what you do, rather than what Christ says has already been done for you. How can you love someone when you yourself are wondering if God unconditionally loves you? After all, you think you are out of fellowship with God when you fall short. If you think you are out of fellowship with God, then there is error in your thinking in regards to how God is dealing with you, not as someone under the law, but under grace, as a child of God, who needs renewing of the mind, under Fatherly instruction. How can you freely give when you do not even realize what God has given you? In Him, you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. You do not get forgiven. You have forgiveness, if you are in Him. In Him, you have every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has said He will never leave you or forsake. True worship must be in Spirit and in truth.

Transcript

We have taught through the first two of that triplicate in regard to that faith, and then in regard to that hope. Now, we are going into the third, of love, which, of course, the apostle Paul talked about.

1 Corinthians 13:13
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is the criteria for the Christian life. It tells us in the scripture.

Galatians 5:6
6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So, we are going to be into a very, very important aspect of the Christian life, because apart from love, we really have nothing. So, I think one of the problems that we have mentioned before, that people try to do, is to realize that Jesus did emphasize love. So, we go out and try that in the energy of our own flesh and we find out our flesh is incapable of producing that kind of love. So, we begin to make substitutes for that. “I definitely want to be a loving person, and I want others to think I am a loving person. So I have to come up with something besides love”. So we come up with things like, “a loving person would go to church. I go to church and, therefore, I am a loving person”. “A loving person would say, ‘praise the Lord’ and say ‘Amen’ all the time. So I say, ‘praise the Lord’ and ‘Amen’ all the time, so I am a loving person”. “A loving person would have a smile on his face and hug people all the time when I see them. So I will hug people with a smile on my face, and, therefore, I will be a loving person. A loving person will share Christ. So I will share Christ and so I will be a loving person. A loving person will pray, so I will pray and, therefore, I will be a loving person.”

We have substituted all of these ideas as to what love is. You will have to look hard in scripture to find any of those things as a definition of God’s love. It is because we cannot experience that kind of love that we have to substitute something for it. The problem of that is, flesh is never going to produce that kind of love. Only the Christ who lives in you can produce that kind of love, giving us the privilege of bearing the fruit of it but we have no ability at all to produce it. So we hide behind everything else besides love. We really ignore those type of things. In Christianity today, you do not lead someone to Christ and start teaching them about what love is all about. It is what you do. You are now a born again believer, so now you need to be in church, every time the doors open. You need to read the bible and have a quiet time. All of those things are substitutes for love. You can be doing all those things, what the bible says, and have not love, then you do not have anything.

I think this study of love is the very thing that brings us to the absolute end of ourselves in regard to self effort. Remember a few weeks ago we talked about the characteristics of what the bible says of the true born again believer.

Romans 2:28-29
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

In Philippians, we read about the characteristics of love.

Philippians 3:3 (KJV)
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

You worship in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh. What is worshiping in the flesh? Calling attention to self effort rather than in those things produced by God, substituting what God says is true worship to what man thinks is true worship. We think we are worshiping in Spirit when praising God in the assembly, when raising hands and singing praise songs, and all of that type of thing, and nothing wrong with that, but that is not what worship is. Worship in Spirit is given in Romans 12.

Romans 12:1
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.

Worship in the New Testament, in contrast to the Old, where worship was really involved in man trying to reach up to God. In the New Covenant, God reached down to us. We are no longer trying to reach Him. He has reached us. Therefore, worship is changed from feeble man’s attempts to reach up to God to an awareness, by faith, God has reached down to us. That gives us the privilege, because He does live in us, to make our bodies available to Him to live in and through us. That is what the bible calls spiritual worship. Where do you ever hear that?

We have everything substituted for what true worship is. True worship is, as God would say, “I live in you. You cannot do anything apart from me. He who has called you will also do it. I am the one who called you, so I am the one who will do it. So your role is to let me do it. So get out of the way and let me do an action on your behalf”. That is true worship.

Those who are true born again people are people who worship by the Spirit, not in your flesh, but by the Spirit of God, who glories in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit of God did not come to bring glory to the Holy Spirit. He did not come to give glory to the Father. He came to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. A person who is truly in Christ, their focus, emphasis and conversation and thoughts are going to be placed on who? Christ. You have people who think they are doing something spiritual by talking about the Spirit all the time. But the Holy Spirit says if you are going to talk about me, talk about what I came to do. What I came to do was to lead people to Christ, to bring things from Christ and make them known to you.

John 16:13-15
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

So one who is truly in Christ, of circumcision, is the one who will make his body available to Christ, who lives in him, to live through him. They will be bringing glory to Christ Jesus, no one else. Thirdly, and put no confidence in the flesh. What do you mean by that? Just what it says. I have no confidence that I can do anything apart from Christ.

Philippians 3:3-5
who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh – 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

So a person worshiping in Spirit is not going to be worshipping at the foot of the law but at the foot of Christ. Paul said, under law and legalistic righteousness, I was faultless. Can you improve on that? I do not think so.

Philippians 3:7-11
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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. 10 I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

If you are under the law, you have to have confidence in the flesh, and you have to be working with confidence in the flesh. Paul says a person who is truly born again, puts that aside, and puts no confidence in the flesh, and walks in a yielded position. “Lord Jesus, this is your deal, and I am available to you to live your life in and through me”.

Now, let us study what God’s love is all about. Realize this whole Christian life is about the subject of love. There are two words used in the original language of the New Testament for love. There are three, but two of them are only used in the New Testament.

One word, of course, is Phileo, and we take our word Phileo for friendship. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Philanthropic is the love of mankind. So Phileo is used continually as a friendship type of love, but it is a conditional love and is based on the actions and the character of the loveability of the object.

The other word that is used in the Greek language is Agape. Agape on the other hand is an unconditional love. It is not based on the character of the one being loved but upon the character of the one doing the loving or the one expressing love. Agape love, whether the person is deserving or not, is given to a person, not because he is deserving but because the person doing the loving has chosen to love. This is the kind of love God has for you and me. It is not predicated on us. It is predicated on the character of Him.

God is the author of Agape love. That word Agape was, quite frankly, was not used in other literary writings in the Greek language. It is a biblical, spiritual word. So by sending His only Son to die for sins and to give us life, God demonstrated His unconditional love towards you and me. He continues to love us unconditionally, regardless of our behavior or performance.

Folks, we have to take a look at that. We think through that. “Gee, that does not seem right”. Why does it not seem right? Because the only kind of love that we have available to us is Phileo love. That Phileo love is conditional. So, it says, “I love you if you act the way I want you to”. “I will love you if you do what I want you to do”. “I will love you if you believe what we believe in our denomination”. “We will love you after all of those things, but if you don’t we are through with you”.

The expression of that kind of love is all over and, unfortunately, is in the church, as prevalent as it is in the world. If you do not believe that, you just have a denominational persuasion about something, whether based on truth or not is irrelevant, but you have a denominational persuasion about something, and you let someone disagree with you on that denominational persuasion and you will see just how much love will come out of that person.

I have been in the Lord for thirty years. I have experienced almost all there is to experience. In my early days, when people were trying to recruit you to be involved in all the spiritual gifts that they had and thought you ought to have, they would come with smiling faces and glassy eyes, just like a recruitment program. It is like going out for recruiting to join a fraternity or something. All of a sudden, you would say, “I do not believe that is what the word of God says. My interpretation of scripture is totally in contrast to that. I am sorry, but that is where I am. You are not going to change my mind”. The smile on the face goes away. Eyes turn from glassy to a stare like somebody is going to put a knife in your back. All of a sudden they are gone. You say this is love. No, it is not love. That is Phileo love. That is conditional but that is not the kind of love God produces. That is the kind of love your flesh produces.

You see that today. We have been ostracized in some instances, by denominations, and ostracized by some radio programs, because of our teaching in regard to forgiveness. Now, as we have said before, in the New Covenant, in which we live today, we have to first of all clarify that. In the New Covenant, there is no passage of scripture that tells you to ask God to forgive you of your sins, except in 1 John 1:9. It is not dealing with the saved person, but is dealing with a lost person. I can prove that. All you have to do is go see what it says in 1 John, and then go to 2 John and read the opening remarks, and the case that you are talking about is Christ not living in you. It is something that is either there or is not there.

There is nothing in the bible about being in and out of fellowship. It is not there. In scripture, you are in fellowship, saved, or out of fellowship, lost. But there is no such thing as bouncing in and out of fellowship. I can back that up in scripture. That is not some hair-brained idea I came up with. All you have to do is read the New Testament. You will see, as you read the New Testament, and the bulk of it written by the apostle Paul, and there is not a doctrine the evangelical church believes in that is not amplified by Paul’s writing.

The truth is not in the other writings, but all of the truth is in Paul’s writings in regard to how we live in the New Covenant today. There is not one mention in any of Paul’s writings that every time you sin, you are out of fellowship, that you have to confess sin to get it forgiven all over again and then to get back into fellowship with God. There is no such thing in all of his writings. It would seem to me that that should be a clue to biblical interpretation to somebody and especially to someone who knows scripture. That would be a clue that maybe what you had been teaching is not correct. If you do not find it there, then it has to come there from tradition. It certainly did not come there by the New Testament teaching. It might have come from the Old Covenant, but there is nothing in the covenant saying that.

There is nothing in the New Covenant about continual forgiveness. What is taught in regard to that is the totality of forgiveness.

Ephesians 1:7
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

The issue is, are you in Him or are you in Adam? Are you in Adam, dead, or are you in Christ, alive? If you are in Christ, alive, then you possess something. It is not something you get. It is something you have. What you have, redemption, the forgiveness of sins. You and I do not ask God to redeem us every day. Why? We are redeemed. Do you, as a born again Christian, ask God to give you eternal life? If you do, you probably do not have it because you do not know you have it.

1 John 5:12
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

When you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you have it, why ask for it again, unless you did not believe you had it. Would you say, “Lord Jesus, I am justified but please justify me”. Again, you could say that, but you would not be walking by faith saying that. It is not that you could not say that but it is an indicator that your faith has not been placed in the finality of the work of God. You are still involved in what we are talking about earlier, that is confidence in your own flesh. Confidence to keep short accounts with God, confidence to have a quiet time, to do this, that and the other. That is confidence in the flesh. I do not need confidence in the flesh if I realize that has already been done, and I can walk by faith in that, resting in that truth, which is called the Sabbath rest. Confidence in the flesh is how you live in the desert. No confidence in the flesh is how you live in the promised land because it is already there. You do not plant trees because they are already planted. You do not dig wells because they are already dug. You jump in the water and enjoy the fruit of the tree.

What I am saying, theologically, it ought to tell somebody something. You better look at your denominational persuasion and what have you been taught and passed on without thinking it through. All I am trying to do is help somebody to think this through. If you can find in Paul’s writings or in the New Covenant today that you are bouncing in and out of fellowship. Find a place where you ask God to forgive you so He will forgive you. You show that to me. Again, I say in the New Covenant, the only place you will find that is not in Paul’s writings but stuck in John’s writings, around 95 A.D. So you wonder how those poor people kept in fellowship with God for 90 years until that was written, then misapply that to a believer and rob us of the joy of realizing we are new creatures in Christ, and as such, we are forgiven people. So I ask people to challenge that.

You go up and talk to somebody about that and they do not want to hear the truth or examine the bible. It is like saying, “do not confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up”. They get mad at you. That love that is expressed to you is certainly not Agape love because it is conditional. “Unless you believe what my denomination teaches, I am not going to like you.”

There is no place in the New Covenant about tithing. Free will giving is in the New Testament but tithing is not. Tithing is Old Covenant. You go into some denominations and tell them that you will be as popular as the Titanic sinking. We think nothing of that unloving response. Nothing of love. That is where it ought to be. “This is what our denomination believes. This guy does not believe this way and he is going to change people. So, I am going to hate him. I am just going to get rid of him.” That is what takes place. “We think nothing of that as an unloving response. That unloving reaction. We think nothing of that. It has no bearing on my Christian life at all. The only thing is I have got my persuasion. Brother, you better go along with it and not make any waves”. The priority of love is out of the Christian world. It is out of that. “I say on that, compromise”. We never compromise on truths of scripture. But on the other hand, I am commissioned by God to love those who do not agree. The beauty of it is, you have the bible to confirm what you believe is true or not.

I tried to give some examples of instances in our lives where we can sit back to just judge ourselves. If we do not judge ourselves, then others will judge for us. And I judge myself to see how I am responding. Am I this way? Am I responding in an unloving way? If that is not, the best I am doing is loving someone with Phileo love. Am I drawing upon the love of Jesus Christ in my relationships with people? So we have to realize, again, that Agape love was always a kind of love that was initiated by God. Agape love has to be initiated by God in order for me to bear fruit of love.

Romans 5:8
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Again, you do not get life and lose it again, but you have eternal life. You will never perish and you will have eternal life. I have come to Christ by His Son one and only Son and through faith in Him. I realize something, that I will never perish and I have eternal life. That life began with the Son. We are told that.

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

Why not? The world is already under the condemnation of sin. The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is life.

John 3:17-18
but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

He did not need to condemn. Sin has already condemned men. The wages of sin is death. That was a truth.

Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God did not initiate when sin came into the world. That was truth before sin came into the world, that sin brings about death. That is a principle just like jumping without a parachute. You are going to come under gravity. That is a law. You do not have to jump out of it for it to come into effect. It is in effect. So that is the same thing. The whole truth that sin will bring death is in effect before sin ever entered into the world. When sin entered into the world through Satan then it did just what God said it would. Death resulted from that. He did not need to condemn the world because sin already condemned the world to death. But He came to save people from that spiritual death. That is what Christ Jesus came to do. That is the total expression of His love.

John 3:19
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

It is love without reservation. It is love not dependent upon us as an object of love but dependent upon Him as the origin of love.

We listen to this and say, “Praise God for that”. But I think we have to know more and more and more and more about the love of God. That is the ultimate goal of biblical study. It is to get to know the love of the God that you know you have living in you. To find out what that love is to the point where as the apostle Paul was able to come to, not only through knowledge but through experiential knowledge, that nothing can separate me from the love of God. It is there.

Romans 8:35-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[Psalm 44:22]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think the best definition of love is in 1 Corinthians 13, and we use that to say how we ought to live. We tend to read that, and hear somebody dramatize on that on television.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.

Love is patient. Love is kind. We go through all that drama as if that is a part of our lives. But this passage does not need drama. This passage needs truth. First and foremost, you have to realize that even though this is a recording of how God wants us to live our lives, and that is dependent upon the one who can produce this love in us. First and foremost, we have to know that is how God loves me.

1 John 4:19
19 We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:8
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

When I read 1 Corinthians 13, I can say that because God is love, God is patient with me. That is good news. You look at history on that. Was God patient and is he patient with Israel. The whole of the Old Testament, 400 years and beyond that even to this day, for 6000 years of what we know of, the years since creation, He has been patient with Israel. Yes, right to this day. Is he patient with you and me? Absolutely. Even as He cried out from the cross, he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” That is His kind of patience.

Luke 23:34
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

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