God is Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“…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.

Silly, Selfish Saints

Friday, February 3, 2017

And he [the Lord Jesus] came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest (Mark 9:33,34 KJV).

Today’s Scripture shows us just how human the 12 Apostles were!

If Jesus was the all-knowing God in human flesh, why did He ask them the nature of their argument? It was to bring them to the point of accountability, to force them to see their frivolity. Having behaved childishly, they were ashamed and did not answer Jesus. They knew they had not been saved to serve or glorify themselves. Rather, they were God’s servants, and should have been submitting to Him and glorifying His Son. Actually, they had argued to the point where they eventually asked Jesus (Matthew 18:1), “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Luke 9:46-48 reports: “[46] Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. [47] And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, [48] And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Later, the mother of James and John sons of Zebedee asked Jesus if they could be the two highest officials in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28—be sure to read Christ’s answer). She meant well—wanting what she thought was best for her sons—but God disapproved.

While Christ trained these men, He tolerated their sinfulness. They did not always pay attention to His preaching and miracles. Sometimes they argued about the dumbest things, insignificant distractions. We should not be hard on them. Why? We Christians today often fall into the same traps. Churches split over the stupidest issues, ministers argue about petty matters, and church members often try to outdo everyone to gain the most recognition. As the Apostles learned, Christian living is not prideful living. If we wanted to live for self, we should have stayed lost, for it does not make sense for saints to live in such sin, selfishness, and silliness!

Scrooges and Christians

Friday, December 16, 2016

“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.

Our final Bible Q&A for 2016, article #335: “What is true forgiveness?

We Are Not Our Own

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20 KJV).

We belong to God, not to ourselves!

Nearly one-dozen specific problems existed in the Christian assembly at Corinth. Troubles! Troubles! Troubles! If you look closely at today’s professing “Church,” every last one of them still plagues the Body of Christ—deep divisions, deceived by philosophy, puffed up with pride, engaging in fornication, lawsuits amongst brethren, living selfishly and tearing down Christian brethren in the process, rampant idolatry, abuse of the Lord’s Supper, misuse of spiritual gifts (especially tongues), and denying Christ’s bodily resurrection. While more technologically sophisticated today, we still have not learned the lessons from the Book of 1 Corinthians. In fact, the primary theme of the Book of 2 Corinthians is Paul defending his apostleship against Christians who were rejecting it. Friend, do you know any “Christians” today who hate Paul’s apostleship? (See, it is the “same old, same old!”)

Today’s Scripture sits in the context of fornication, or sexual relations involving the unmarried. Verse 18 says: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Today’s Scripture continues: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Notice how Paul began today’s Scripture with, “What?” You can sense his shock. He is appalled that these Corinthians, despite him being with them and teaching them for over a year, do not know the most basic truth of Christian living. The Holy Spirit lives in us Christians! Our physical bodies are His “temple,” His dwellingplace. Wherever we go physically, we take Him with us! Have we been taking Him where He would have us go? Are we taking Him where He would want to go?

Bible Q&A #315: “Why are there Christians who persistently live like lost people?

Hated But Humble

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19 KJV).

We are hated but humble!

A new Christian emailed me in exasperation. Tired of how people had treated him, he wanted to go to heaven and leave this planet of such great evils! He explained he did not care how he lived anymore—even if those frivolous actions made other Christians or lost people stumble! Thankfully, the Bible truths I shared with him helped him recover himself out of the snare of the Devil.

That brother needed to be reminded Jesus Christ was treated most horribly. He was hated without a cause(John 15:25). People have various reasons for hating us. Some are justified. Perhaps we lied to or about them, or stole from them, or cursed them out! However, they had no reason to hate Jesus Christ. He did nothing wrong—to them or anyone else. All Christ did was preach God’s truth and love, and they demanded His crucifixion!! Despite how they treated Him, He still lived righteously for the sake of His Heavenly Father whom He represented. Brethren, let us do the same, remembering not to live unto ourselves, but unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Philippians chapter 2 exhorts us: “[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. [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.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do we suffer?

When the Brethren Need

Thursday, August 4, 2016

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15,16 KJV).

How can Israel’s Scripture during the seven-year Tribulation help us understand how to serve our Christian brethren?

We should help other Christians as often as possible. Remember, Christ lived His earthly life serving others (Philippians 2:3-8). He did not live selfishly, demanding others serve Him. Matthew 20:28 declares, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The Lord Jesus told His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Christ came firstly to save the nation Israel, His covenant people, from their sins (Matthew 1:21). From Paul’s epistles, we learn that not only did Jesus’ crosswork apply to Israel, but that it is now available to all people by grace through faith without works (1 Timothy 2:4-7).

Believing Israelites living during the (future) seven-year Tribulation are exhorted to help their fellow Messianic Jews (today’s Scripture). When they see them suffering privation—no food, shelter, or clothes—they should be considerate and support them in their time of great need. After all, their attitude towards God’s people is their attitude toward God. What would they do if Jesus Himself stood at their door hungry, wearing rags, and homeless?

Sadly, there is far too much selfish living today—even among professing Christians! They live only for self and only for the here and now. They are not being taught any sound Bible doctrine so they have no reason to act in accordance with it. They need to heed Galatians 6:8-10: “[8] For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. [9] And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. [10] As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Liberated to Serve

Monday, July 4, 2016

“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 240th 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.