God is Love

Friday, February 14, 2020

“…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.

You can see our archived Bible Q&A study: “Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Job 32:8?

Sin Divides #13

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

Doctrine does not divide; doctrine is not the problem. Sin divides; sin is the problem. False doctrine resulting from sin is to blame. True, if we gather around mere sentiments—so-called “love” instead of sound Bible doctrine—we have a semblance of harmony. Alas, such human efforts will not successfully substitute true unity (God’s life). That shallowness will eventually fail because true love—God’s life—is absent. Unless we maintain sound Bible doctrine, we can never have meaningful, permanent concord!

We do not create harmony using “love.” Genuine love—seeking another person’s highest good—is accomplished via sound Bible doctrine. Once we trust the doctrine that defines Almighty God’s life, then we experience in and among ourselves the selflessness that exists among the Members of the Godhead. Looking at Calvary, we see God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you appreciate the unselfishness here? The sinless Son of God dying a cruel death to pay for ournot His!—sins? Nowhere else will we find such self-sacrifice! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

When we trust the Gospel of the Grace of God, then God the Holy Spirit will create in us His nature and attitude. Here is how man gets along with fellow man—and woman! “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7—the verse following today’s Scripture). While sin has caused divisions in Israel, Micah understood that the LORD would take care of it! 🙂

Sin Divides #12

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

The God of creation designed human life to function the same way life operates within the Godhead. As God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost (unselfishly) seek each other’s benefit and glory rather than their own, so creation was intended to reflect those relationships. Adam was created in God’s image and likeness to be the manifestation of Divine living. The Creator issued parameters—doctrine, or teaching to be believed and obeyed—within which Adam (mankind) was to conduct himself. Harmony existed between God and man, and man and woman, until that Divine revelation was ignored in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered by Adam’s unbelief and disobedience. The doctrine that unifies was intentionally forsaken. Accordingly, selfishness and disharmony permeate human civilization.

When we reflect upon all the world’s problems—and there are more than we can fathom—let us remember that it was sin that caused (and still causes) them. Think of those suffering tremendously with sickness and disease. Creation is cursed because of Adam. Consider the endless wars, crimes, divorces, poverty, ignorance, homelessness, and so on. These are the results of poor decisions. We are stuck in a perpetual cycle of operating outside of God’s will for human existence.

Try as hard as we might, we will not eliminate the selfishness (evil) that resides in every human heart. Legislations, incarcerations, hospitalizations, denominations, conversations, proclamations, denunciations, corporations, approbations, aspirations, ordinations, educations, sensations, and orations cannot eliminate sin. What we need is expiation (payment for sin). What we need is salvation (deliverance from sin). What we need is sanctification (set apart for God’s purposes). What we need is justification (righteousness of God).

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Scrooges and Christians

Monday, December 16, 2019

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

One Another

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Grace living is living for othersnot for self.

A dear sister in Christ shared her distresses with me regarding appalling posts she had seen on social media from fellow “Christians” (?). The wife of a “grace” pastor wrote something highly inappropriate. On another website, the sister saw a video where members of another assembly acted like fools with their “contemporary Christian music.” Here, their pastor had joined them in the entertainment! Most disastrous!!!

It is lamentable, but Christians often have no one to blame but themselves when lost people refuse to hear them talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Unsaved souls see right through hypocrisy—especially in places where “righteousness” is proclaimed loudly and proudly. We have far too many individuals in denominational churches—and that number, sadly, is growing among “grace” circles—engaging in flagrant (open!) misconduct. Have they no shame? The church members? Not even the preachers and teachers? No wonder the complaint is lodged (and certainly with merit): “You Christians use grace as a license to sin!”

In contrast to Judaism, Christianity is certainly not a list of “dos” and “don’ts.” Yet, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 declares: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

We are free in Christ—to serve others (not self!).

Liberated to Serve

Thursday, July 4, 2019

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today, as we in the United States celebrate the 243rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, we invite our Christian brethren worldwide to rejoice with us concerning our freedom in Jesus Christ.

When we proclaim Romans 6:14—“Ye are not under the law, but under grace”—people tend to assume “loose living.” Does “grace living” really mean we can now live any way we want? Lest anyone be misled in that regard, God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write in the next verse, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:15). Grace living is not Law-keeping, but it certainly is not Law-breaking either.

God still cares how we live, albeit He is not operating the “weak and beggarly” system of “bondage” (Law) that He once did with Israel (Galatians 4:9). God proved to the entire world that since Israel could not keep His commandments perfectly, no other sons of Adam (the Gentiles) could either: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Gentiles] may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

We sinners cannot keep the Law. However, God in His grace provided us a way to escape that condemnation by sending Jesus Christ to offer Himself on Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins, we can now be “made the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and the power of sin (flesh-walking).

Why are we Christians free? To selfishly live any way we want? NO! Today’s Scripture says we are liberated to now serve others, especially our Christian brethren, just as Jesus Christ selflessly served His Father and selflessly died on our behalf. That is grace living!!!!

Please see our 2011 Fourth of July Bible study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.

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.