God is Love

Thursday, February 14, 2019

“…God is love… God is love… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:8b,16b,19 KJV).

The word “love” is used very flippantly in today’s world. Of the many who speak about “love,” few know what it is. On this Valentine’s Day, we offer sound doctrine from God’s Word to correct the misunderstandings of what love really is. What is love, according to God’s Word?

Today’s Scripture says that “God is love”—God does not simply love, but His very nature is love. What does that mean? In 1 John 3:16, we read: “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” Our Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s nature is love—selfless, self-sacrificing!

God’s Word defines love and charity in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Love is seeking the best interest of others, even if it costs you something (time, energy, resources, et cetera). Charity is love in deed (demonstrated, manifested in action). God loved us, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It cost God the Father His Son, and it cost God the Son His life. What a selfless act!

Our nature in Adam is selfish, but our nature in Christ is not. Paul declares, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our Christian lives are driven and motivated by Christ’s love for us, not our love for Him. It is this unselfish love of Christ working in us that causes us to look on the things of others, to seek their edification and their benefit, not ours (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:1-11). This will result in charity, our selfless actions reflecting that love of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15).

As the lost world observes our Christian service, they will see, “God is love.”

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

Striving, Not Striving #5

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 2 continues: “[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Here is the “mind” all Christians should have. It is a mental attitude of utter selflessness, total humility, and undivided dedication to Father God’s will. Dear brethren, if we would believe and obey these verses, then the inconsequential disagreements and stupid arguments would disappear from our local churches. We would set aside self and look to benefit others. If Euodias and Syntyche followed these Divine instructions, then they would “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Now, we turn back to Philippians chapter 1: “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Recall that “the gospel of Christ” focuses on Christ’s finished crosswork. Philippians 2:5-8 reports that a certain mentality drove Christ to Calvary. If we adopt His attitude, then we will “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Our passion will be the defense of sound Bible doctrine as opposed to trifling opinions and self-centeredness. Then, our efforts will make a positive impact in eternity—something well worth our time and effort! 🙂

Striving, Not Striving #4

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

As in every city, there were in Philippi “adversaries” or lost people contrary to the preaching of the Gospel (Philippians 1:28). They labored to frighten the Philippian saints into silence. Hence, verse 27 had exhorted these believers: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel….” All Christians are on the same team, and should (!) be with each other (in mind and action) in the work of the ministry.

However, our sinful flesh gets in the way. The work of the ministry breaks down when one or more Christians adopt an attitude or opinion the Scriptures do not support. Now, lost and saved, those within and without, are united in upsetting God’s work. Philippians chapter 2 corrects this sin of pride of selfishness: “[1] If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Like team sports, each member should be thinking about how to make the next point or goal. Inner conflicts are counterproductive: they do not compete against teammates. Likewise, we should not be vying against fellow members of the Body of Christ. It is not about us. We do not have to have the attention or recognition (what the flesh craves). For the sake of God’s work, Paul asks Euodias and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” God’s mind should unite all Christians….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt?’

Striving, Not Striving #3

Friday, February 8, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Of all the tens of thousands of “Christian” assemblies, many are simply specimens of denominationalists as opposed to members of the Church the Body of Christ. They have neither known the clear Grace Gospel nor believed it. Most of all, saved or lost, the vast majority are spiritually immature. To them, drapery colors, upholstery fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper are worth fighting over. They, ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, cannot contend for the more excellent. Envy and gossip, not Bible study and charity, pervade their services. They engage in philanthropy but not spirituality.

In today’s Scripture, two Christian women are striving with each other concerning some unspecified disagreement. Whatever the case, it was a petty issue causing major disruption. There is a running joke, with some basis, that these believers in Christ are “Odious” (as obnoxious or unbearable) and “Soon-touchy” (as grumpy or quarrelsome). Notice Paul—yea, the Holy Spirit—never bothered to say whether Euodias was right or Syntyche was right. Why? Ultimately, they were both wrong! They were reminiscent of the childish, schismatic saints at Corinth from years earlier: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The undisclosed issue between Euodias and Syntyche was not one of doctrine—for we should always contend for the faith, defend the doctrine—but something insignificant. It was not worth fighting over. Time and energy would continue to be wasted in pursuing this trivial matter that was hindering God’s ministry at Philippi. Rather than striving together for the Gospel, they were full of strife and thus contrary to the Gospel. Essentially, they were doing the Devil’s work for him! Satan does not have to labor, for even Christians, unfortunately, can (and often do) undermine God’s work….

Striving, Not Striving #2

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Back in Genesis chapter 17, the LORD God erected what Ephesians 2:14 calls “the middle wall of partition.” The term “the Circumcision” was synonymous with the nation Israel, Abraham’s seed; everyone else, the Gentile world, was “the Uncircumcision.” Abraham and his seed were to be physically circumcised to show themselves separate from the nations (see Genesis 17:9-14). This is Israel’s rise via the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Genesis 12:1-3). However, with the introduction of the Dispensation of Grace, Paul’s salvation and ministry, we see Israel’s fall—and “the middle wall of partition” being obliterated.

Ephesians chapter 2 again: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

“[14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Jew and Gentile—once hostile opponents—have been made one in the Church the Body of Christ because of Calvary. If God can join these two rival classes into one creature, then all other antagonism should be aside with respect to the Dispensation of Grace….

Striving, Not Striving #1

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 1 says, “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.” Like the Ephesians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, the Philippians are spiritually mature (yet not sinless). The Holy Spirit corrects their thinking: their lifestyle should reflect the Gospel of Christ. What is “the Gospel of Christ?” The Bible defines it for us.

First, Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Now, 1 Corinthians 1:17,18: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The Gospel of Christ is the Good News that Israel’s rejected Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is now become the fully-satisfying payment for all the sins of the world!

This issue of the world—“the Jew first, and also to the Greek”—is of prime importance. Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:….” Through Christ’s crosswork, bitter enemies have been united….

Unity in Diversity

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 KJV).

Despite the diversity in the Church the Body of Christ, behold the unity in the Church the Body of Christ!

The Corinthians were carnal, fleshly, selfish saints who were guilty of infighting (1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They had to be taught a lengthy lesson on charity, love in action (1 Corinthians chapter 13). At that time when God the Holy Spirit was still giving out spiritual gifts, the Corinthians used their “gifts” to help themselves and draw attention to themselves. However the Holy Spirit was being revealed to them was not a time for them individually to profit. Ministry at the local assembly was not for them to seek their own good but rather the advancement of those around them.

We should never view ministry as a competition between ourselves and other believers in Christ. If sound Bible doctrine, or grace, is working in us, and sound Bible doctrine is working in them, then we are working to the same end. There should be no envy, as it is the same Holy Spirit. The only reason we would feel covetous is if we were under the impression that it was all about us. We still have so much to learn about grace if we think that the Bible is all about us. We still have so much to learn about the Bible if we think that ministry is all about us. It is (should be) all about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Yes, we all play our own little part, our own unique role, in Father God’s grand scheme of things. He does not need us to participate but He does want us. He does not force us but He does invite us. If we do not have the right attitude, then it is best for us not to get involved in ministry at all. It will do far more damage than good. Saints, despite our diversity, we have unity in Jesus Christ!