As we go through life, we only know the next step we are taking. But as we look back, there is more clarity as the Lord starts to reveal things. The past few months, the Lord has been leading us through different parts of the Bible and we see three things the Lord has been emphasizing to us lately as a Church.
1. Create your own pulpit. This is the call-to-action for the men and women of the church even if you’re not in full- time ministry, whatever your vocation and calling is. You’re still pursuing and doing your part, creating your own pulpit.
2. Cultivate a biblical worldview. If the Church doesn’t do this, who’s going to do it? The world isn’t going to do it, the school isn’t going to do it. The Church and parents have to lead the charge in cultivating a biblical worldview.
3. Understand the biblical definition of God’s love. Our tendency is to take our cultural understanding of love and apply it to God’s love. The problem here is that they are very different things. This is why many Christians get offended at the true representation of God’s message.
Truth will become harder to discern, both for those in the world and those in the body of Christ. These three things will become more important as we get closer to the return of the Lord whether it’s in two years or twenty years. This will be a time of great deception and difficulty. If Christians don’t understand these things, it will be very easy to misinterpret things as we get closer to the Second Coming of Christ.
There will be confusion over what God permits and what He initiates. If you don’t understand the true love of God, what the Bible says about His love, it will be so easy to live in deception and offense. This is why many will fall away. They’ll misunderstand and misinterpret. You don’t want to wait until the pressure comes to get ready. He said this is going to happen so we have to get ready.
This is true, biblical Godly love, when we present the problem (the sin), present the solution (faith in Jesus, the Cross, and repentance), and then warn of the dangers of neglecting the truth but also share the promises of salvation. This is how Jesus and the apostles preached the Gospel. If you hear another message that leaves out one or all of these parts, this is not the Gospel.
Culture says love is affirmation. The Bible says love is sacrifice, truth, and righteousness. Culture says “grace, grace. No need to repent.” But that’s not the gospel message of Christ. That’s the message of Satan himself. This is not what we see in the Scripture. If we want to be Bible-based, we have to call it what it is and this message is not the truth.
We can emulate His love and receive His love but our love is not God’s love in our own natural condition. If we judge God’s love by our standards in our flesh, we will live in offense and we won’t understand.
Genesis 22:2 is the first place love is mentioned. “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”
God was giving Abraham a picture of the Gospel message. He was making a Covenant that He would provide the real thing at the right time. Because of his faith, He counted Abraham as righteous. He gave him a demonstration of the gospel and demonstrated the price of sin (the wages of sin is death). He showed that the emotion Abraham was feeling towards his son was exactly what He felt in sacrificing His son. He demonstrated the characteristics of His love, not our earthly idea of love.
God’s love looks like sacrifice, righteousness, and truth. If you leave out one of these things, it is not God’s love. The truth was, Abraham was a sinner. The righteousness was that God would not relate to him outside of making atonement to his sin. “First, we must deal with this sin.” The sacrifice was that God wouldn’t require Abraham to give his son’s life, God was willing to give His son’s life. This is absolute selflessness.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There are four Greek words that can be translated as love: eros, stergo, phileo and agape. Our language is limited so when we see the word “love” in the Scriptures, there are four different meanings that it could present.
Eros: erotic. It’s very self-centered, a physical desire. “I love you because of what I get from you.”
Stergo: family dynamic. “I love you because we’re family.”
Phileo: friends, very human love. “I love you because you love me.” There’s a mutual, interdependence here.
Agape: divine. Reserved for the Lord. It is transcendent above the human heart. It’s a perfect love, love that is eternal, sacrificial. This love goes any distance for that other person.
Right now, there are certain phrases going across the nation. These phrases are inspirational and at first glance, they seem good. The phrases themselves can be redeemed but we have to understand the underlying message of our culture. This takes wisdom and discernment.
Here are the phrases and the underlying messages behind these statements.
- “Love wins.” The underlying message here is that love has been suppressed by biblical morality. However, we have released love from the bounds of morality.
- “Love is love.” The underlying message here is that all forms of human love are good and equal and that nothing done in the name of love could ever be wrong or simple. This says “If I feel it, it must be true.”
You can acknowledge you have feelings, they may not necessarily be true. Don’t follow your heart, follow the Lord. His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our paths. God’s word is true, our hearts will deceive us.
This also says “If I feel it, I must respond”. You don’t express every urge you have, you take those to the altar and to the cross. We are to be transformed to the image of Christ. We can’t give expression to everything we feel. We are awful and we deserve hell. God poured His wrath out on Jesus and the cross so that we could have eternal life.
- “He would love first.” Yes, this is true according to God’s definition of love. The underlying message here is bound to our earthly definition of love, that we should only express affirmation, not His definition of love. But He won’t disconnect from sacrifice and truth. He loved everyone in Noah’s flood. He warned them but no one listened. So God redeemed humanity through one man. God loved everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. He loved Pharoah. God can only be motivated by love. Even God’s judgements are motivated by His love.
None of these worldly definitions are godly, agape love. It’s false love. This is false grace. True love is when God took on human flesh so that He could have a body to offer as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus died in our place so that we could have eternal life. He calls us into repentance, never to experience His wrath because it was already poured out on the body of Christ. We owe God nothing because He poured it out on Jesus. This is true love and everything God does is motivated by this love.
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