Love of God: Not as Simple As You Might Think by Bryan and John Gibson
Good Works Related to Loving Our Brethren selected by Bryan Gibson
Do You Love God? by Bryan Gibson
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Please also: Click here for another article that defines Bible love.
Love of God: Not As Simple As You Might Think
by Bryan Gibson, based on a sermon by John Gibson
Editor’s note: Love, like faith, does not exist if there is no tangible evidence of its existence. Both faith and love are abstract terms, and while the concept of faith-only is widely accepted as a possibility in the denominational and evangelical worlds, James 2:14-26 essentially teaches that, if it does exist, it is useless and cannot save. Thus, it cannot exist in any meaningful way, and James was using the term “faith-only” accommodatively for the express purpose of showing that it is a worthless, vain concept. While we have never heard anyone proclaim that such a thing as love-only exists, there are many who must believe that it does. For, while they proclaim their love for God and their fellow man, there is no evidence of it. This article shows what the word love means in its Biblical sense.
Of all the commandments found in the New Testament, which one asks the most of us? It just might be the one found in Mark 12:30, “And you shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength.” Jesus calls this the “first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:38). There is much more to this commandment than most people think, evidenced by the fact that some people think they’re keeping it, when in reality they are not. Jesus very bluntly told some Pharisees in John 5:42, “You do not have the love of God in you.” They may have thought they loved God, but according to Jesus, they did not. To help us see whether or not we are keeping this commandment, let’s look at what the love of God requires of us.
Love for God requires love for others.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21; see also 1 John 3:10-18). You can tell those who love God by the way they treat their brethren.
Love for God requires obedience to His will.
Read carefully the following words from Jesus: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). Consider also 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” It cannot be stated any clearer than that.
Love for God requires the surrender of everything; a complete self-sacrifice.
Everything we are, and everything we have, must be completely devoted to serving God. Are you familiar with the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22? This man told Jesus about the commandments he had kept, but then Jesus gave him another one: “Sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” His response? It says: “He was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Did this young man love God? No, because there was something he was unwilling to give up for God—his money or possessions. Those who seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) will be willing to make that sacrifice.
Perhaps money is not the problem; maybe it’s time. Sometimes we’re unwilling to give up our time—and it does take time to do the things God want us to do. It could be any number of things, but this is the point. The life of a Christian is one of many sacrifices; those who are willing to make these sacrifices are the ones who truly love God.
Love for God requires putting Him even before family.
Family is certainly important. The Scriptures teach us to honor our parents, love our children, care for our grandparents, etc. But as important as family is, God must still come first. Jesus taught this in Matthew 10:37: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” What do we do if family is pulling us in one direction, but God is pulling us in another? If we truly love God, we will do what He says, even at the risk of alienating our family.
Can we begin to see now how far reaching this commandment to love God really is? So how do we develop the love for God that we should have? By learning more and more about His great love for us. After all, “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The more our love for Him increases, the more willing we become to do all that this love requires of us. Look at it this way. He certainly deserves our all, because that’s exactly what He has given us (Romans 8:32).
Good Works Related To Loving Our Brethren
(Galatians 6:9-10; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 3:16-18)
Selected by Bryan Gibson
Here are some ways that our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ can be demonstrated:
- We can attend services, including Bible classes. According to Hebrews 10:24-25, this is one way to “stir up love and good works.” We encourage our brethren when we’re here; we discourage them when we’re not.
- We can give words of encouragement to those who teach, who lead singing, who lead prayer—especially young people (or recent converts) who have just started doing these things.
- Whenever we see or hear of someone doing something good, we can commend him or her with a letter, phone call, e-mail, or we can do so in person. This can keep them from growing “weary while doing good” (Galatians 6:9).
- We can encourage those who have recently obeyed the gospel (note example of Barnabas--Acts 11:22-23).
- We can encourage those who seem to be discouraged—for whatever reason. This can be done in person, with a phone call, letter, e-mail, etc. We find out about such things by spending more time with each other—talking with them after services, going to get-togethers, having people in your home, inviting others out to eat, etc. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
- We can encourage those who are lonely, who maybe don’t have the companionship that some of us enjoy. Sometimes the best thing we can do for them is listen.
- We can visit those who are sick or shut-in, or we can call them or send them a card. If they need things done while they are sick, we can volunteer to do those things. Remember the words of Jesus: “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).
- We can “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). If someone loses a loved one, we need be there for them. Cards can be sent, food can be taken, and we can make sure we’re there for the funeral. “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6). How many times has God comforted you by the “coming” of one His people? Let’s be the one He uses next time to comfort someone else. Relieving the afflicted is one of the “good works” mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:10.
- We can obey James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Dorcas is a good example of someone who “visited” widows (Acts 9:36-39). In helping widows, we shouldn’t try to make them feel helpless, but we should keep in mind their situation and try to encourage them in any way we can.
- We need to understand the importance of doing the seemingly “small things.” “And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because He is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42, NIV).
- If any of our brethren should go astray, we should seek to restore them as soon as possible (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). Let’s not wait until they have completely fallen away before we take action.
“There are souls who linger on the brink of woe,
Lord, I must not, cannot bear to let them go;
Let me go and tell them, brother, turn and flee,
Master, I would save them, here am I, send me”
– “There Is Much To Do,” #693, Songs of the Church
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”—John Wesley.
“Each day I’ll do a golden deed,
by helping those who are in need,
My life on earth is but a span,
and so I’ll do the best I can”
– “A Beautiful Life,” #9, Songs of the Church
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
Do You Love God?
by Bryan Gibson
Editor’s note: I know we discussed this question above, but some things are worthy of re-visiting. This article is largely a summary checklist to the first article above.
Did you answer “yes” to our title question? Are you quite sure that you love God? If so, can you prove it? Can you prove by your actions that you love God? Yes, you can either prove it or disprove it; God has given us this capability in His word. Read carefully the following passages:
(John 14:15) “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
(John 14:21) “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.”
(John 14:23-24) “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…He who does not love Me does not keep My words.”
(1 John 5:3) “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”
Now, that’s pretty plain, isn’t it? Those who truly love God are the ones who keep His commandments. If you don’t keep His commandments, you can “say” that you love God, but you really do not. And as you know, only God can say something and make it reality. All of us have to actually do something.
Let’s ask the question again, “Do you love God?” Can you still answer “yes”?
Does God want us to test ourselves in this way? Let’s let John answer:
1 John 2:3-6
And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keeps his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him: he that say he abides in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.
We have actually heard one advocate of faith-only state that there is nothing in the Bible that says love of God is necessary for salvation. This is hard to believe since the entire Bible shouts that from cover to cover. But for those who insist upon an explicit statement of it, here it is:
1 Corinthians 16:22
If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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