Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P72 (09-30-20)
As you ponder over the scriptures, the many things Jesus told us, and the writings of the apostles, who explain these things to us, our minds are renewed with truth as the Spirit reveals truth to us about who we are, about our flesh, and about who God is. Again, we love because God first loved us. We respond to that truth and those attitudes of heart in Christ Jesus are formed in us. Those attitudes of heart show up in our love for one another. That triplicate again of faith, hope and love is visible in us through the love of God worked in us and through us. Christ in us is our hope of glory. We place our faith, our dependency upon Christ, continually walking in that faith in Christ alone.
We come to realize that when Jesus walked on this earth, emptying himself of his divine attributes, while never ceasing to be God, showed us what it is like to live as a man and to live as He lived. How did Jesus live? In total dependency on His Father. So, He tells us, “as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
How has He loved you and me? When we answer that question, and know the answer to that question, not in your head, but in your heart, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is His love for you, that is what compels you and me to love one another. In Christ, with the Spirit of God living in you, you have all you need for life and godliness. So now abide in Him, so that the love of God, and God is perfect love, you can bear the fruit, of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
You can bear the fruit but you cannot produce it. The flesh is in conflict with the Spirit so you do not do what you want, but when you allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, to the full measure of God who is already in you, to walk in the Spirit, then you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. To walk in the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit, to be controlled by the fruit of the Spirit, to be controlled by the joy of the Lord, the peace of the Lord. This is a supernatural work of God. What you are called to live, this being sanctified, set apart, by God, is a supernatural life to be lived, not your life, for you never had any, but His life to be lived in you and through you.
So if you and I are going to be walking in the Spirit, we are going to be abiding in the Spirit of God. To be controlled by the Spirit is to be living in dependency upon the love of God and our dependence upon His love brings about the control of that in our lives. It brings about joy in our lives. It brings about peace in our lives. Someone says, “I do not know why I do not have peace?” It is because you are not depending on the prince of peace to get that peace. You are depending on something or someone else. We depend on people, places, and things instead of depending upon the Lord who alone can give you the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
We are learning that if we love one another, God lives in us as a result of that and His love is made complete in us. If we cannot love Him, we cannot love one another. The proof we are in Christ is our love for one another. The proof we love one another is that we love God. It is all a triplicate. It is our love for God, and not that we loved Him but He loved us first. We pass it on and that love is made complete.
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.
Again, you will notice there, that it does not say that whosoever does not know scripture does not know God. It does not say whosoever does not go to church does not know God. It does not say whosoever does not tithe does not know God, for sure. It says whoever does not love. Some of the meanest people that I have ever run into in my life are religious legalists, and many times, Christian religious legalists. The people who nailed Jesus to a cross were some of the most religious people. It would not make a difference if it were part of the Jewish religion or part of the Christian religion. It makes no difference. Legalism makes you mean. Legalism makes you critical, and makes you think you are better than someone else.
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
He has given us love as to how to know that you are in Christ. I know that I am in Christ by faith because I have accepted Him by faith. Again that is where James gets into. Faith without works is dead. What are the works of the Lord? To believe in Him. And to love your neighbor as yourself.
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
What John is very, very clearly saying to us is that love is the indicator as to whether you are in Christ Jesus or not. Now, again, what does that mean? And, we are talking about these kinds of things. It definitely is a love relationship you have with other people.
We went into Lancaster, PA. We did not know those people at all. They were affected by the book, Classic Christianity. They came out of an extreme Mennonite legalistic background and are now free from that. They came to understand their relationship with Christ, that Christ in them is their only hope of glory. A large number of people we spoke to. The instant you meet such a person, there is instant love you have. It is like you have a family reunion with a family you did not know you had.
You can go into Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany or France, it makes no difference. Even Japan and China. We have been to all of these places. When you meet born again people, it is like meeting your family. There is a love there. Does that mean when you spend time together that there might be times you might get irritated with each other. It happens with your wife. It happens to your children. You certainly love them. It happens from children to your parents. But there is a love there, a bond that is there.
I can talk to people, sometimes, who claim to be Christian. There is no communication of spirit. I have gone on television programs that I try not to do anymore because I do not agree with the philosophy of those stations. I have gone on interviews with that. There was no more communication with Spirit as a fly on the moon. These people were praising God and those kinds of things but there was no communication with Spirit. So we have to realize that what God has said is this, “if you do not love, then you do not know God.”
1 John 4:8
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
That, to me, ties into the fact through the next verse.
1 John 4:19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
If it is not that we loved God but He loved us first, then that puts us back to the fact that we as believers are responders but not initiators. We cannot initiate love to God. That is what you are doing when you are practicing religion. Religion is man’s attempt to reach up to God to be loved and accepted by God by doing what they are doing. That is religion. “If I do this, if I ring these bells properly, if I crawl on my knees properly, or pray properly or go to church Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Tuesday and Thursday and all this, then that is pleasing God. If I worship on Saturday instead of Sunday then that really pleases God.” We have gone through every one of these things and that is all religion because religion is, “here is what I am doing God and I want you to look at what I am doing and tell me that you love me and accept me because of what I am doing”. That is the mindset of religion.
On the other hand, when talking about our relationship with Christ, it is not that we loved Him but He loved us first. We have to sit back and say, “if I was doing nothing, God demonstrated His love toward me in that while I was yet a sinner He died for me. He died for me so He can live inside me. He lives in me so He can live His life through me.” If that is the case, then I am responding to God’s love for me. I am not initiating so He will love me. I am responding to his love for me. That is exciting to realize that truth.
Now people will come down and say, “well, he is a legalist but he loves God.” I say, “nonsense.” How in the world can you love God when as a legalist you are trying to earn God’s love and acceptance when the bible says you cannot do that. So you are saying, “I love you God”, and saying that for the purpose of hoping God will say, “I love you too”. A legalist trying to earn cannot receive. You cannot earn God’s love. He will not let you. He loves you too much to say, “I will let you earn my love.” Not an ounce to it. “I will not let you earn my love.” While we are trying to do that, God is saying, “No, I will not let you do that. I love you too much for that.”
If it is not that we loved him but He loved me first, then I do not understand His love, do I? If I am trying to earn it, then I do not understand it. So if it says that we loved Him but He loved me first, then how can I say I am going to earn God’s love, but I love God? It is terms and vernacular but it is erroneous. The only way we are going to learn to love God is responding to His love for you.
That is precisely why the apostle Paul prayed that we come to know the height, the depth and the width of the love of God.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ
If we do not know that we cannot love Him. If we cannot love Him, we cannot love one another. The proof we are in Christ is our love for one another. The proof we love one another is that we love God. It is all a triplicate. It is our love for God, and not that we loved Him but He loved us first. We pass it on and that love is made complete.
1 John 4:20-21
For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Again, every command that the Lord Jesus Christ ever gave us, it is an impossibility for us. We need to come to realize that that is why Jesus said, ’I am the vine and you are branch. If you abide in me and I in you then you will be living out the desire of the vine through the branch, who will bear the fruit of the vine, but you cannot produce the fruit of the vine. When God, the Holy Spirit comes to live in you, it means you have a new mind and new desires and a new will.
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.”
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
God desires to express his love in forgiveness to others through you. When God’s love is expressed through His people, it crosses every boundary, it hurdles every obstacle and resolves every conflict among men. Our secret for continually giving love to others is to continually be receiving God’s love for us. It is only as we remain rooted and established in God’s love and grace that surpasses all knowledge will we be able to pass that love onto others.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Through the writings of the apostle Paul, we find him continuously commending and encouraging fellow Christians in their faith, hope and love. The Christian life is lived by faith. It is encouraged by hope and it is exemplified by love. These qualities are Christians’ criteria for evaluating his ongoing spiritual maturity and the evidence to an unbelieving world of a living Lord and a living truth. The measure and vitality of every Christian life is not how much Christian activity he or she is engaged in, but how we are progressing in learning to love one another.
God summed all this up in this passage.
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The key to live the Christian life is learning how to love or how to walk in the Spirit of love. We have passages that, many times in scripture, we look at and we memorize passages of scripture and you will hear people talking about the importance of biblical memory. I have to say that is important if you memorize scripture in context.
That is one of the problems of memorizing verse by verse without putting the verse in context. One passage that comes to my mind is Ephesians 5:18.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit
If you do not know what the context of it is, then being filled by the Spirit will mean whatever your bias happens to be. If you are in a charismatic church that will mean speaking in some utterance, or rolling on the floor to some people and barking like a dog to others. To someone else it might be, if his bias is evangelism, that what it means to be filled with the Spirit is that you will always be sharing Christ to someone and every appointment you have over 2 minutes long is a divine appointment. To somebody else, it means that you are dedicated to your church attendance. To someone else it means to sit quietly and reverently in your church.
Why are all those things all over the place? Quite frankly, those are the kind of things that cause denominations because this is how we do something. I do not like the way you do it, so we separate ourselves and start our own separate group. So if you do not know the context then you do not know what it means.
So let us get into what it means, for it ties into what we are talking about, loving one another. To be filled means to be continually being controlled by the Spirit. In the Greek language, to be filled means to be controlled by. You learn something in life that whatever you are depending on for your meaning and purpose to life, then that thing will control you. We talked before that a misplaced dependency is the root of depression. So we have to understand that God made man in such a way where the dependence upon God is, quite frankly, the whole key to learn how to walk as a man on this earth. God in the man is indispensable to the humanity of the man. Living in dependence upon God is indispensable to the function of man. We have to realize that when we refuse to be controlled by who God created us to be controlled by, then we are going to turn to all these other things in the world and they will end up controlling us. That dependency on those things is what brings about the control of those things.
As an example, people know that. They call it alcohol dependency. They call it drug dependency. We do not realize it, but there is job control dependency. It was a real dependency upon the part of the Sadduccees and Pharisees. They killed Jesus for job security. Popularity of crowds, which starts at a young age, and certainly more susceptible to at a young age, but also carries on into adulthood.
But as a teenager, your meaning and purpose in life is based on being popular with the so-called in-crowd, whoever named them in-crowd, but whoever that is. But if you are dependent upon them and your meaning and purpose is dependent upon being accepted by them, that crowd controls you. They do not want to necessarily. They are not trying to. They do not need to. It is your dependency upon them is what brings about your control of them. So if the group is going to be at a potluck party Saturday night, guess where you are going to be. Because if not, you will not be popular with the in-crowd and my meaning and purpose to life is dependent upon acceptance of the group.
The same thing can take place in adulthood, if your meaning and purpose is dependent upon being accepted in your denomination, in your church. Then that church is going to control you. We get mad, later on, and when we get free, we say that the church controlled me. No, your church did not control you. Your dependency upon them brought about that control. They were trying to control you and your meaning and purpose to life was predicated of being accepted by them, so you were a sitting duck to be controlled anyway by those who wanted to control you.
So if my meaning and purpose to life is based on being accepted by this group and this group knows this and this group is a bunch of control freaks to begin with, they will take you to any place they want to take you. That is why, a lot of times, people have difficulty leaving some place even though they know it is wrong because their meaning and purpose was dependent upon being accepted there.
Your job. For years, my meaning and purpose in life was dependent on my success in business. So guess what controlled me? My business. The dumb thing did not even know me but it controlled me. So you see that principle. So whatever you are depending upon for meaning and purpose to life, it controls you.
So what is the meaning of being controlled by the Spirit. It is living in dependency on the Spirit of God for your meaning and purpose to life. My meaning and purpose to life is Jesus. My dependency upon Him is what brings about control of him. It is a little bit nebulous to say being controlled by the Spirit. We do not understand it a hundred percent. The apostle Paul explains exactly what that means. We do not have to sit around anymore, sitting around, depending on a bias for wherever you are going. Forget the bias. Forget the tradition. Let us go to the word and figure out what it means to be filled by the Spirit. What does it mean to be controlled by the Spirit of God?
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp
What do we need power for? To grasp something? What does he want us to grasp?
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
We have to ask ourselves a question? Would it be possible to be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God and not be filled with the Spirit? The answer to that is no because of God is Spirit. So for me to be filled to the measure with all of the fullness of God is no different than being filled with the Spirit of God. So I can say, “be not be drunk with wine, wherein it is in excess, but be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God.” I could substitute the one with the other. I could say, “be not be drunk with wine, wherein it is in excess, but be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God” or I could say, “be not be drunk with wine, wherein it is in excess, but be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God.” I would be saying the same thing in two different ways.
So now we do not have to ponder what it means to be filled with the Spirit. It means to be filled to the measure with all the measure of God. Now we ask, “What does it mean to be filled to the measure with all the measure of God?” He just told us. To be filled means to be controlled by. It means to be controlled by the love of God, to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. That is experientially. You know what we are talking about. I have this supernatural love for the Jew. I have supernatural love for my brother. I do not understand it. It is there. It surpasses my knowledge, but it is what it means to be controlled by the fullness of God. It is what it means to be controlled by the Spirit. What controlled Paul?
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
What controlled Jesus?
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
What are we to be controlled by? The love of God.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
To be controlled by the love of God is the goal of the Christian life. To abide in Him is the way that is accomplished. That is what Jesus said to John 15.
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.”
The love that God has for you is supernatural. The love that you pass on to others is also supernatural. Until you have become a supernatural person, that is an impossible deal.
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.
When we look at the definition of 1 Corinthians 13 love and put “I am always“ to it, what can you conclude? “I am always patient”, “I am always kind”, “I am never easily angered”, “I keep no record of wrongs” and we read that and say that has nothing to do with me and this flesh of mine. That can only be produced by God, the Spirit, abiding in Christ, abiding in His love, to be abiding in His grace and abiding in His truth. God loves you unconditionally. God accepts you unconditionally. We are told this in Ephesians 1:6.
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
He made you acceptable in the Beloved. Always remember that God is the initiator. We love because He loved us first. We are the responders.
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
10 This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
We begin to recognize or identify with what the apostle Paul said in Romans 8.
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.
To walk in the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit, to be controlled by the fruit of the Spirit, to be controlled by the joy of the Lord, the peace of the Lord.
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.
Again, who am I dependent upon to give me joy? The Lord. What is the result of that dependency upon what is there? You can have joy. Who are you going to depend upon for your peace? A mountain stream or the Lord? The Lord gives you the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. The world’s peace is very understandable.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So if you and I are going to be walking in the Spirit, we are going to be abiding in the Spirit of God. To be controlled by the Spirit is to be living in dependency upon the love of God and our dependence upon His love brings about the control of that in our lives. It brings about joy in our lives. It brings about peace in our lives. Someone says, “I do not know why I do not have peace?” It is because you are not depending on the prince of peace to get that peace. You are depending on something or someone else. We depend on people, places and things instead of depending upon the Lord who alone can give you the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. As I said we are also learning that if we love one another God lives in us as a result of that and His love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:12
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
When you and I are being controlled by the Spirit of God we are controlled by the love of God. It says we will not be gratifying the desires of our flesh.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The desires of our flesh, for example, does not want to serve others. The desires of our flesh wants to get from others.
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
You are going to have a different attitude when you are in Christ Jesus. Our attitude should be like that of Christ Jesus.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
You and I are going to be learning how to live with peace with people.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
When you are walking and being controlled by the Spirit of God, being controlled by love, we will have toward one another an attitude of restoration, not condemnation. One way you know you are walking in the flesh is when you are condemning people instead of restoring people.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Never ever, folks, do we ever look at somebody with any other attitude except there for the grace of God go I. If we ever have an idea that I would never do what they are doing we have missed it.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Do you have an attitude of condemnation or of salvation?
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