Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P57 (08-26-20)
Ponder how God made man, that he is made as body, soul and spirit. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, what happened? Due to sin, and God being holy, the Spirit of God departed from Adam and Eve. They knew what God had said, that the day they decided for themselves right from wrong and good from evil, that they would surely die. They died spiritually that day, so that they were separated from God. They hid from God out of fear. So, being born in that nature of Adam, that fear is ingrained in us, which is a part of what is called sin-indwelling flesh.
So what did God do to restore fallen mankind back to Himself. Out of love for us, He sent His Son into this world to take away the cause of our death, that fear in us, that knows that we deserve death for sin, so that we may freely come to God. God reached out in love to us, to do something for us we could never do for ourselves.
God demonstrated His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. He did this in order that life might be given to us. New life, eternal life, is given through the resurrection of Christ Jesus. The same Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus and who raised Him from the dead, also lives in us, who put our faith in Him, so that we are called children of God.
Children look to their parents for their provision and protection, and most of us have experienced this kind of love from earthly parents. But now, in Christ Jesus, we have been adopted into the family of God. We have become a child of God and the Spirit of God in us testifies that we belong to Him, by who, we cry out, “Abba, Father”, or “Daddy, Father.”
All our lives, before we came to know Christ, we lived without the Spirit of God in us. We lived with an insatiable desire to be loved, but had no means to receive the unconditional love we craved. For that is a spiritual need that can only be met by God. So, instead we are held in slavery to fear all our lives, in this far of death, and in fear that we will never obtain he unconditonal love we need. We try to receive that love through people, places and things, and Satan keeps us busy searching for love in all the wrong places. Satan keeps us from the love of God by the weapon of fear. Fear keeps us from the love of God. But perfect love drives out fear. That is why God reaches out to us in love. He had pity and compassion for us who are dead spiritually.
Without God living in us, we are incomplete, unable to function in the way God intended us to function, in a loving, dependency upon God, who is perfect love. We see but a glimpse of a relationship with God as a young child to a mother or a child to a loving father. But Jesus came to show us who God is, that God is love. Otherwise, we would not know what love is.
We were designed to be living in total dependence upon God. Jesus came to show us how to live, in that although being God, and never ceasing to be God, but He chose to live not as God, but like us, as a man, in total dependency upon God, so that we, who are not God, can see how we were meant to live. As scripture says, the righteous shall live by faith. We have no righteousness of our own, so by Christ’s righteousness, we now have a life to live, His life given to us as a gift.
This love that God initiated to us, and we received, is what drives out fear. He lives in us and as we abide in Him and learn to trust Him and know His love, His perfect love drives out fear. Jesus, through His Spirit, who now lives in us, teaches us about Himself, that He is love, and He loves us unconditionally and accepts us unconditionally. That need of unconditional love is met in Christ Jesus.
While he walked this earth, he gave us a visual picture so that we might understand what it means to abide in Him. As you read the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15, ponder what Jesus is wanting you to understand in how to live as God intended you to live.
As a matter of review, turn to 1 John 4:18. We discussed earlier the difference between fear and love.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Why is the love of God so important to the heart of man? Why is it important to be loved? We all know it is. We all know that. That is the reason we like animals, something that will love us. Many times, if you had a dog like I had when I grew up, it was the closest thing to unconditional love you could find. We love to be loved. That is the way God made us. That is a God-given need to be loved.
When we are not loved, if that was a need God gave us, then there is a deficiency in our lives. There is no question about that. A person by themselves and lonely, there is a person with a deficiency in their life. Something is missing. It is love. You see people who are in nursing homes all by themselves who have just been tucked away and forgotten about. Those people go into deep, deep depression. There is no one around to love them. You can be a volunteer, for example, and go into these nursing homes, and some young people will sometimes do that. They will come in and sing to those people. My sister does that, to just put their arms around them to give them a hug. Their whole countenance returns because there is someone who loves them. They look forward to that all week long, for that person to come in and extend love to them.
People who have seen that loneliness in nursing homes, they went out and got a dog. There is someone there to love and someone there who loves you. It is a driving need of our life to be loved. We know that from human experience. The problem with that is that that ultimate need for unconditional love is a spiritual need that can only be met spiritually. When we do not understand that we are made up as a body and a soul, that is our human personality, and our spirit, then we do not realize that all three of those have individual needs that God intended to be met.
If we do not understand that that unconditional love and acceptance is a spiritual need that can only be met spiritually, then until that need is met in Christ Jesus, that spiritual need, then we will be searching the rest of our lives to try to get that need met on the level of the soul and the body, which is how we live here on this earth. Satan knows that. He is not dumb. He knows that. So if he can keep people away from the unconditional love of God, then he will keep people searching for that love, that there is an insatiable need for. The only place they know to seek it, here on this level on the earth in which we live, is in people, places and things.
We seek that unconditional love from the world because we do not know we can receive it from God. That becomes the source of our ultimate frustration of humanity, going from person to person, from place to place, from things to things. After a while we begin thinking that I will reward myself and love myself by things. And that is why there is an insatiable appetite for things constantly, yet never satisfied, always wanting more and more and more. In essence, what we are doing is trying to satisfy that love need that is there.
Until we are able to rest in the unconditional love of God, Satan has a grip on us, to a degree, in the palm of his hand, because the weapon he uses to keep us from the love of God is fear. If he can keep us seeking love in all the wrong places, why has he got us. All he has to do is say, “Here is one you have not tried. Here is some place you have not been. So let us keep seeking. It is out there, so just keep seeking.” That is what happens. You have people constantly seeking to get that need fulfilled.
So people are living in fear that unconditional love is never going to happen. When you have a need that you know is a need then there is also the fear of not ever getting that fulfilled. You have people who say they will never get the love they are looking for.
We have to realize this contrast between the love of God and fear. Fear is the number one weapon Satan uses in order to keep us away from the love of God. Now, in 1 John 4:18, we studied that last week, there is no fear in love. So when you understand perfect love, then you understand there is no need for any fear. If God loves you perfectly then what do you have to fear? Perfect love is what drives out fear. Now if love is driving out something then it means that something is there. If something isn’t there, then how could it be driven out? So we have to realize fear lives in us. So that perfect love of God has to push and drive that fear out of us. It is not “let us get rid of fear” because you cannot get rid of fear. Fear has to be driven out by the love of God.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect, or complete, in love. We have to understand that fear is in our flesh. Fear is there. To find out about something, you go back to the origin. What was the condition of Adam and Eve after they sinned? What were they doing? They were living in fear. They got their own fig leaves together and were hiding from God. They were fearful.
So if we think fear is not in our flesh, we do not understand what indwelling sin is. A part of indwelling sin is fear. That has to be driven out and be replaced by the love of God. People sit around trying to get rid of fear. You cannot get rid of fear. It has to be replaced with perfect love. When it is replaced by perfect love, there is that delineation between natural fear, like a lion coming after you, and that indwelling fear. You better have some fear to get out of the way of a hungry lion. And also there is fear brought about by imagination.
That is what we will deal with, that imaginary fear, fear coming from fantasizing, and fear that you will never experience this love you are deeply looking for. God wants us to be free from fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in the love of God. In other words, you are not resting in the perfect love of God if you are still living in fear.
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
So, in other words, if the one who fears is not made perfect in love, then God says “I have made you perfect in love by that one sacrifice.” You are a perfectly loved person. That has been demonstrated in that while we were yet enemies God came to die for us.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So if God loved you enough to die for you, so don’t you think He loves you enough to live for you?” So we realize that being made perfect forever, complete forever, is that you are a completely loved person. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are perfectly loved. You are loved by God and you have recognized His love for you. Therefore, that love has been made complete in you. Now, he says, abide in God’s love and what that means is that you will continually be growing in your understanding of who you are in Christ Jesus.
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
Have you ever known somebody who is a slave to fear, just giving into fear? You are enslaved to it. You are going to fear everything. When I look back at Amy’s life, and people growing up in that generation, and especially where Amy grew up in Russia. They were plagued with fear, and rightfully so, because everything was a fearful situation, almost to the point that people became paranoid with fear. If you are talking with two people in those days, one of them could be a spy. Amy, when she was a little girl, someone had given her brother a book. They did not have enough money to buy books for school. They had given this book to Thomas. He had it there at home as a study book. He had left it there going some place. Amy picked that book up, thumbing through it and saw this picture. She scribbled on this picture and thought nothing of it and closed the book back up as a child will do. Thomas returned that book to the people who loaned it to him. All of a sudden they were visited by the Commandant who could throw them in prison, because it happened that the picture Amy was so fond of was Stalin. “See you are anti-Communist and anti-Stalin and you have defamed this picture.” Her mom almost went into a total panic because they were threatening to put them into Siberia over that issue. With that kind of thing going on how could you not live in fear? If you were a Jewish person living in the forties, with Nazi Germany doing what they were doing, how could you not live in a state of fear? The answer to that is, “I do not know how you would do that.” There are many circumstances of life that will feed that fear factor.
Now, as we begin to see, after Amy was out of there and was in Germany and the war was over, and she began going to church there, she began learning about the love of God. That fear started diminishing, but it is always there lurking, very suspicious, always wondering if someone is for you or against you. Those things do not leave early. Even though you are in freedom, you still have that residue from that time, asking, “is this person going to bring harm to me?”
There was a long time of learning how to trust in the love of God, and allow that to push out this fear. When you are in that fear situation, you are a slave to it. You have given into it and you have become a slave to fear. Now you have received a Spirit of Sonship. God didn ’ t give you that spirit of fear. We know where that fear is coming from when it is imaginary. You did not receive that but the Spirit of Sonship.
And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
That is why it is so important for us to understand our identity in Christ. I realize that there are some children who have grown up with pitiful examples of parents, but for the average person they have grown up with parental love. Not all people, but the majority of us have. We at least knew that our father was going to be a protector of ours.
I have told this story before, but it was so much an example in our early days of being a Christian. In those days, we would live in California and would love to go to Yosemite in the summers, and view the beautiful landscape. We would go up with our small children. Sometimes I would take little Bobby rock climbing. In some instances there would be some rather dangerous places that we would be moving. It would not have entered my mind to say to Bobby, “come and grab a hold of my hand and we will go rock climbing.” The reason for that is that if he was holding onto me, and his little foot slipped, the first thing you do is let go. He could have fallen to injury or to death. But I would say to him, “Come, Bob, and I will hold onto your hand and we will go rock climbing.” The difference between those two, as a father and a protector, is that I would have gone to my own death or my own injury rather than allowing him to go to his. There is an instance of protection.
If you were a child and there was a burglar or something that was trying to get into your house, most parents would not send their young children to engage the burglar. The parents would go and do that. If you were driving along in those days and had a flat tire on a highway, you would not send your four year old to change the tire because it is dangerous. The father would go out and do that. Time after time we have examples of a father being a protector of a child.
That is what God wants us to see here. It is because we have received this Spirit of Sonship and we see Him as daddy Father, the most intimate of Hebrew terms. If you go over to Israel today and walk down the streets, you will hear little children following along beside their parents and you will hear the children say “Abba. Abba.” They are crying out “Daddy, Daddy.” This is how we approach God, calling him “Daddy, Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
If you are in Christ, then you are indwelt by that Spirit that is testifying to the fact you are a child of God. As this child you are an heir to all that belongs to your father and mother. As a child of God, you are co-heirs with God and co-heirs with Christ.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ
What that means is, whether you are a natural child or adopted into the family of God, which is what we as Gentiles have, then we are joint heirs with Christ Jesus. We need to understand that truth. Everything that belongs to Him belongs to us, as an heir in Christ Jesus. So that is a wonderful thing for us to know.
We are under the protective hand of God. We have nothing to fear. If God is for us then who can be against us? Ultimately on this earth, we are only here for a short brief period of time at the best. If we live a long life, that one day we are going to be with the Lord. If you lived a long life and you look back, it seems like a short one. Or if you die early in an accident or an illness, in either of those cases, there is nothing to fear. I do not have to fear death, and therefore, I do not have to fear life.
I think what we fear is suffering. I say, just do not maim me. We do fear suffering. On the other hand, it says we share in those sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
There are times in life where we are going to share in those sufferings of Christ Jesus. The suffering, of course, we know are some of those physical sufferings at the cross and in his death and the heartaches that went along with that. It is not that we will be free from those suffering, but when we go through them we are sharing in those sufferings and we are also going to share in His glory. As a child of God, do we have anything to lose? The answer to that is we have nothing to lose. There is nothing on this life down here to lose.
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. That is a win-win situation. We have people who live in fear. We fear the elements. We fear all kinds of things. We lived in a place, when I was in California, where we had earthquakes. In other places, you have tornadoes. A lot of natural disasters that take place. We had the Y2K where everybody had fear over. Those are not fun things to go through. Earthquakes and tornadoes are not fun to go through. You see the images and those things are devastating. But the worst thing that could happen to you and me is the best thing that can happen to us, to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. Although we may fear the event, we do not have to fear the outcome. There is the secret to walking in a lack of fear. We do not have to fear the outcome, the event, but not the outcome.
Abiding in love is abiding in the vine or abiding in God.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The reality of humanity and the human experience relies on this simple, yet profound statement made by Christ. Christianity does not become practical to us through ceremony, tradition, or even personal moral reform. It is only through abiding in the vine, the person, the life of Christ Jesus, that we begin to experience a new quality of life, of God doing something in us and through us rather than us bringing it about.
We talked about the fact that it is the Spirit that testifies with our spirit that we are a child of God. To remember the fact that that fear has to be pushed out by the love of God.
Let us take this illustration in John 15:5 for a moment and think about it. Jesus said “I am the vine. You are the branch.” Now, a branch cannot produce fruit. It was never intended to produce fruit. God did not make a branch to produce fruit. He made it to abide and to bear fruit. The only way that a branch is going to bear the fruit of the vine is if first the branch is attached to the vine. If the branch depends, therefore, upon the vine, to produce that fruit, it will bear fruit. The branch is dependent upon the source, which is the vine. The branch is not the source. The vine is the source. The branch is the result. Fruit, therefore, comes out of the branch.
So He tells us to remain in Him. He will remain in us just like the life of the vine is in the branch and the branch is in the vine and, therefore, He says, “I will produce the fruit and you will bear the fruit. But apart from me you can do nothing.” In the life of Christ Jesus, himself, is how fruit comes about.
Here, as Jesus Christ, who was never ever anything less than God, yet He came to this earth, took upon himself our humanity, entered into our humanity with us, put on our earth suit. He walked on this earth for some 33 years, showing us how to live as a man. Now he was God but He came to show us how to live as a man. He did not come to show us how to live as God. We are not God. He is God. If He had come to show us how to live as God, we would have to say, “That is very impressive, Lord but what does that have to do with me?”
He showed us how to live as a man was intended to be just as He created Adam to live in total dependency upon his creator. That was the plan of God whereby God in the man is indispensable to the humanity of the man. For a man to function properly, he has to be plugged in, abiding in the source of His life. A man is physical and spiritual. Mom and dad is the source of our physical. God is the source of our spirituality. Until we are plugged into the spiritual, how in the world can we access the spiritual? How can we bear the fruit of the spiritual?
You take a light bulb and that light bulb is finely made. It is a finely made instrument. You could look at it and say it is a pretty light bulb, a finely made light bulb. You could admire the intricacies of that light bulb. But until that light bulb is plugged into an electrical socket, it is useless. Electricity in the bulb is indispensable to the function of the bulb. You might as well have a potato hanging from the ceiling for all the light you will get out of it until the light buld is plugged into electricity. Why? It is made that way. It is not a complicated thing at all. When Thomas Edison was working to discover electricity, and all of its function, light bulbs were made in such a way that unless connected to electricity, they would not give out light.
Think also about oil in an oil lamp. Why does an oil lamp need oil in it? In order to function. It was made that way. It is not complicated at all. If you take oil out of an oil lamp, what do you have? You have got a lamp on your hands, but it cannot behave like one. It just sits there. It is there, finely made, pretty to look at, but it just sits there. There is no life in it.
Think also about gasoline in a car. Why do you need gasoline in a car for a car to function? It was made that way.
Folks, there comes a time when we have to realize that babies are cute, but there is a time to grow up. He says it is time for us to grow up and to know that this Christian life is based upon truth and it is the truth of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is not in what we are doing but it is a knowledge of what He has done.
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