Saturday, May 28, 2016

GOD'S KIND OF LOVE!

Most Christians are familiar with the verse in 1st John which speaks of the love of God:

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (emphasis added)

This does not merely tell us that God "is loving" or that "God loves" but that God IS love!

Theses verses certainly tell us that God is the very definition of love, and that love is of great importance in the sight of God.

There are also some false conclusions we can jump to concerning the principle that "God is love!"

1. God is ONLY love
Love is one of the attributes of God. These attributes are ALL part of God's very nature. For example, the Bible tells us also that "Our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29) The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the trinity and is called "The Spirit of Truth." (John 16:13)

Therefore God is not only love. He also is also an all-consuming fire and truth

We err when we try to separate God's attribute of love from His many other attributes!

2. Misguided Definitions of "love."
Is it wrong to love? Of course not! But attempting to love may be more problematic than we think!

The world is full of false ideas of what it means to love. We all have our own code that we live by concerning love. Yet God's thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Jesus taught that if we love only those who love us, we will not be rewarded by God and that "even the tax collectors do that." (Matthew 5:46)

Paul taught that we may even give all we have to feed the poor and give our bodies to be burned - and yet do so completely apart from love! (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3. Failing to Reverse the Truths Found in 1 John 4:8

If God is love - then it is equally true that "Love is God!"

This is not meant in the sense of that old Beatle song, "All you need is love," or that love is supreme above all, or all that love is all that matters to God. The sense is that genuine love must be defined by who God is. It cannot be defined on its own - as though we all had some common understanding of what love really is - because we do not!

Love is not what we humans say it is. Of course, we can agree on some of the most obvious elements of love. For example, if I walk up to someone, and knock them on the head with a baseball bat and/or steal their money - most would agree that would not be a loving act.

Yet even in such a presumably obvious example, things can become cloudy. For example, if a man is shooting innocent victims, we may need to hit him on the head with a baseball bat. In that case, stopping him would be an act of love toward future victims.

We do not all live by the same codes. Stealing from a wealthy corporation might seem acceptable to some. To others beating a person of a certain race might seem justified - because, after all, "all those people are the same."

Whether the Bible states that God is love or the reverse - that love is God, it means the same thing - that love can only be defined by who God is - by His Holy definitions and standards. The morals and standards of culture change regularly - almost daily it seems in our day. What was considered unacceptable and immoral  many years ago is now, not only acceptable - but considered moral!

Therefore, when we attempt to love, we cannot be successful unless we learn how God loves - and it is very different from the ways  that man loves. God hates certain sins. If we ignore or even, encourage those sins - we are in direct conflict with God's justice and therefore - with God's kind of love! Instead, we are living out our own personal definitions of love - which fall woefully short.

There is no way to love as God loves unless we sacrifice all of our preconceived ideas of love on the altar and allow God to burn them up!

If we humble ourselves in this way, He will teach us His new, infinitely greater and infinitely transcendent love!


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TO KNOW GOD INTIMATELY AND DILIGENTLY STUDY HIS WORD PAYS GREAT DIVIDENDS IN THE HUMAN HEART! 

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

THE WHOLE TRUTH!

Years ago, a pastor preached a message that he called, "Error by Overemphasis."

The crux of the message that theology can be in error if we do not preach the whole truth of God's Word - in its appropriate context and in perfect balance - never adding to, or subtracting from God's original intentions.

For example, Jesus taught us to remember Him through the Lord's supper. The vast majority of churches honor Jesus through communion. However if a church peaches nothing but messages about communion, they are in error - not because they are not preaching truth - but because they are overemphasizing one truth above its rightful place in God's Word!

Churches also fail when they preach only a part of the message - while holding back the rest. We certainly can't cover every aspect of the bible in every sermon. But if one particular truth is taught over and over to the neglect of complementary aspects of biblical truth - that truth becomes error. We may have heard the expression, "A half-truth is a whole lie!

GOD'S LOVE
One example is a phrase that I have seen on billboards and church signs or banners, it says, "God is not mad at you." One church near my home added, "He's madly in love with you."

This is a good example of a half-truth. Yes, there is some truth in what these churches are saying. In one sense, God's wrath was poured out on Jesus when He suffered and died on the cross. But the whole truth is that Jesus substitutionary death only applies to those who have been born again!

To be perfectly frank, telling all people that "God is not mad at them," without qualifying that kind of statement, amounts to a lie!

I do not judge the churches who promote such things because I do not know their hearts and motives. I do know that a person or group can be sincerely wrong! Their motives may be right but what they are teaching can still be in error.

My intention is not to point out some insignificant error - similar to a person who points out to to that someone, "missed a spot." Telling the world that "God is not mad at them" can be an error with eternal consequences.

Why? Because it is simply not true! Psalm 7, verse 11 is just one verse which declares the opposite:

God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Psalms 7:11 (emphasis added)

Both the Old and New Testaments warn of the coming wrath of God on sinners. Yet many boldly declare the opposite!

Yes, God is loving and willing to forgive - IF, AND ONLY IF, WE REPENT! We cannot continue in sin and believe that God will not judge us!

Love vs. Relationship
Certainly God loves each and every person in the world. Yet the Bible makes it clear that all are not right with God. In fact, Jesus made it even more clear, when He taught about the path which leads to life:

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:14 (emphasis added)

Notice the three words which Jesus used to describe the path to life:
1. Narrow
2. Difficult
3. Few

In contrast, He used three different words to describe the path to destruction:
1. Wide
2. Broad
3. Many

As harsh as it may sound, it is clear that the majority of people in the world will not be saved. They are headed toward destruction by default and must repent if they are to be saved!*
* (Please do not reject this truth - look into it. Many are angry at God because they do not understand Him. It is of vital importance that we all turn to God if we are to be saved!)

Can you see how important it is to preach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

We can be loved by someone and not be in right relationship with them!

For example, we may need to imprison a violent person or he may have to be drugged to stop him from hurting innocent people. We may genuinely love that man - i.e. have warm feelings toward him, wish him the best, pray for him or try to help him. Yet he cannot be in right relationship with society (free to hurt again) until a way is found to control him or change him!

A mother may love her child and a woman love her husband. Yet often, they know that they must separate from them for a variety of reasons! In a similar way, God can love someone - and yet send them to hell. What? Quite true!

Of course, He does not want us to go there. He strongly desires ALL to repent:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

We often preach only half of this verse - that God does not will [want] anyone to perish. But we leave out the second part - that God wants us to come to repentance!  

In other words, God loves us and wants us to be saved - but He cannot save us unless we repent! It is as though He were cheering us on saying, "Come on [insert your name]; please repent so I can save you; I do not want you to perish!" but I cannot help you unless you use your free will to repent.

We cannot truly help those who reject our help. God has given each of us such power to choose that we can even reject His help if we so desire! God gives us a choice - but He even goes a step further and tells us which choice to make!

This is evidenced by God's plea to Israel in the book of Deuteronomy:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE, that both you and your descendants may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (emphasis added)

We should not try to reason this through. Our thinking is too limited to understand the thoughts and ways of God. His thoughts and ways are as high above us as the heavens are above the earth! (See Isaiah 55:8-9)

What a tragedy when God offers salvation and eternal life to us as a free gift to us - and we choose, instead, to reject His help and refuse to repent!

With such high eternal stakes, should we not preach the whole truth to this lost and dying world of people?

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AS ALWAYS, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO DILIGENTLY AND HUMBLY STUDY THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF - TO PERSONALLY VERIFY THE TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD IN YOUR OWN HEART!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW GOD PERSONALLY - FOLLOW THIS LINK...

IF YOU ALREADY ACCEPTED  JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR - CLICK HERE...