LOVE AS COMMANDED

Originally posted on OPEN BOOK :

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you
must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another.”

This new commandment speaks the truth in love. Loving one another as Jesus
loved us is the gospel, because it communicates that we are His, that He is
worthy, and that we are changed because He first loved us. Loving someone
begins with selflessness and surrender. We surrender to God because we know
we cannot love others like this without His help, without being loved this
way by Him. It is selfless because to love others like this, we must set
ourselves aside and deny ourselves daily. This is like Jesus laying down
His authority and power and choosing to die on a cross so that we may truly
live because of that…

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Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

Originally posted on A Ruby In The Rough:

LoveCover

The Short Review: Buy this book!

The Long Review:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (Hosea 4:6).

 ~

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

 ~

  Modern Christianity is in the process of reliving history before a watching world. Like the Israelites of old, many of today’s Christians have tired of hearing the Word of God and following its instructions. Professing Christians don’t want mere Christianity any more: they want ”Christianity And” – a Christianity that is blended with popular yet ungodly ideas and practices. This syncretism, which…

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Romans 8:28, Faithful Suffering

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And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)

Here is a familiar verse that is often left to stand on its own without context in our midst, and even that may be shortened to part of the first phrase (“All things work together for good”)! I have even heard Christians use this to support their disobedience to God’s commands, like going ahead to divorce one’s spouse. But, of course, in the larger context of Scripture, “those who love God” also  “… will obey my teaching” (John 14).

Some versions or footnotes read “in all things God works for the good” which relates to issues of text and translation. C. E. B. Cranfield, in his magisterial work (ICC), works through those issues and concludes that the interpretation, as quoted above (in NKJV, AV, RV, Vulgate), “is to be accepted as almost certainly right.” [“Dodd's objection seems to have no cogency, and we can see no other objection.”]

What is expressed is a truly biblical confidence in the sovereignty of God.”

The obvious limit placed on this, is the knowledge that this confidence is for “those who love God.”

The primary reference of ['all things'] is, no doubt, to ‘the sufferings of the present time’ (v. 18), to what Calvin in his comment calls ‘adversities’ or ‘the cross’. That this is so is confirmed by vv. 35-39.”

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s meaning is that all things, even those which seem most adverse and hurtful, such as persecution or death itself, are profitable for those who truly love God.”

“. . . such grievous things as are mentioned in v. 35, must serve to help them on their way to salvation, confirming their faith and drawing them closer to their Master, Jesus Christ.  But the reason why all things thus assist believers is, of course, that God is in control of all things. The faith expressed here is faith not in things but in God.”

C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans (ICC)

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I John 5:16, Sin Unto Death

Ichthys If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that1 John 5:16 NKJV

 

This passage is puzzling for many and, again, illustrates the importance of reading verses in context rather than isolating them from the whole which is a particular problem of the Christian habit of ‘proof-texting.’

Our first step, in the study of any of the epistles, should be to read the whole letter through.  As we do that in 1 John, we come to the key clue, which clarifies the context,“They went out from us…”(2:19). See introduction to 1 John 

 

The most plausible interpretation of this verse is that the “sin unto death” is like the apostasy of those who had been the brethren of these believers to whom John was writing, and who had followed new teaching that rejected the Incarnation.

“In that case, he [John] does not encourage prayer for the restoration of those who, like the teachers of 2. 18-23, had manifested the spirit of the Antichrist and shown where they properly belonged by quitting the fellowship [the Church] in which alone eternal life was to be found. With regard to such men John may have felt much as the writer of Hebrews did in another situation, that it was ‘impossible to renew them to repentance’; renunciation of the apostolic witness to Christ and His saving power was indeed a ‘sin unto death.’”—F. F. Bruce, Epistles…

“The person who consciously and deliberately chooses the way of death shall surely die. Sin that leads to death is deliberate refusal to believe in Jesus Christ, to follow God’s commands, and to love one’s brothers. It leads to death because it includes a deliberate refusal to believe in the One who alone can give life, Jesus Christ the Son of God. By contrast, sins that do not lead to death are those which are committed unwittingly and which do not involve rejection of God and his way of salvation.”—I. Howard Marshall NICNT

We can be distracted by such details and miss the important point: When we see a fellow Christian struggling with sin, it is urgent that we pray for him.

And we see the power of this as we read this verse in the context of Chapter 5: “. . . Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. . . .”

 

 

 

Good Friday–Dying for the Ungodly

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Romans 5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We, as Christians, need to hold onto a keen awareness of the facts to which Paul points us in Romans 5.

Christ died for the ungodly (v. 6).

While we were sinners, Christ died for us (v. 8).

Even while we were enemies, . . . (v. 10)!

Accepting this sharpens our hearing as we listen to the words of our Lord:  “ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Matthew 5

Christ tells us to imitate our Father.

 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . .  and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”–Luke 6

What resources do we have to obey? The gift given when we were reconciled. Romans 5 tells us that   “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Adolf Schlatter writes, “The ungodly were loved by the one who did the will of God.  The act of love by which he unites the ungodly with himself, at the same time is the act of obedience by which he does the will of God. Hence his love originates from God’s love. He has demonstrated the extent to which God values the person and intently unites him with himself, in that Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans, p. 123f)

Thus, we (who were loved even as enemies) trust and obey and praise God for Good Friday! You might like to read Charles Spurgeon’s reflections on this day. See April 10 in his Morning and Evening book and read some of the days before and after. (You can find this to read on-line.) Spurgeon truly understood the effects and implications of Good Friday, both in what Christ did for us, and what He calls us to do for others.  Spurgeon Quotes Here

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Holy Week, Beware Idle Conjecture

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Amidst the joy that begins Holy Week, someone always dredges up an unfounded conjecture [today's example here] which says, “Apples are oranges.” That is this—that the crowds who shouted, “Hosanna!” were the same crowd that cried, “Crucify him!”

Such an idle charge has no foundation in the text, and bears false witness akin to that at Jesus’ trial. It is like saying that Peter not only denied Jesus, but also joined the mob that called for crucifixion.

We are told that Jesus, “six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised from the dead” (John 12:1).

Jesus, with the once-dead Lazarus, attracted a large crowd (v. 9). The next day, with pilgrims streaming into Jerusalem from every direction, some throngs on the east side who hear of Jesus’ approach, come and join the procession of Jesus and his disciples (remember, Jesus had more than twelve; he once sent out seventy). “As soon as He was approaching…the whole crowd of the disciples began…shouting:
‘BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD…’” (Luke 19:37f).

(Note: those who had earthly expectations of a King would not have expected fulfillment until after Passover. Israel was freed from bondage following Passover, not before.)

Days later, the chief priests and elders completed their stealthy plot to kill Jesus, but “not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people” (Matt. 26:5).

Remember, the Teachers of the Law all had their own disciples. A very different entourage accompanied the Jewish leaders as they held their night trial and then proceeded to Pilate’s judgment seat. It was the chief priests and elders, encouraging the crowd that they attracted, who together shouted, “Crucify him!” (Matt. 27:22).

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