Love

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

When we talk about love, we are talking about the greatest force in the world, for God is love (1 John 4:8).

So great is the love of God that it surpasses knowledge. Paul prayed that the saints at Ephesus might "know the love of Christ which passes knowledge" that they might "be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).

God is love. Although no man can fully comprehend God, we can learn more and more about the love of God, and we can become more loving.

Despite all the sin of man, God still loves him. God made man with the power of choice. In order for the love of God to benefit man, he must in turn love God.

How much are we to love God? "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

Would we have the benefit of God's love then we must believe in the Son of God and obey Him: "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).

We are not saved by faith alone, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

When we love God we shall be anxious to do the will of God, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

To do things for those we love is not burdensome. My wife and I have 27 grandchildren. My wife decided that she would make a quilt for each one of the grandchildren. Several of the members of the family tried to persuade her not to undertake such a task. Why is she doing it? She loves her grandchildren. It is a joy to her to thus work.

Even so, it is a joy for Christians to do the will of God: "For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:14,15).

So great is this matter of serving God through love that, though we have everything else, if we do not have love, we have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

God always operates according to well defined laws. Men learn natural laws by the study of nature. God made the laws; man uses them. God made moral and spiritual laws. These are revealed in the Bible.

We have in the world of today a terrible disease called AIDS. Why? Because man has broken certain moral laws of God. Men are spending millions of dollars to find a cure for AIDS. There is a cure, and only one proper cure. Let man obey the laws of God and this disease would soon perish from the earth.

God has made a spiritual law concerning the church. Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it (singular). He sanctified it (Ephesians 5:25,26). Just as God intended that one man would have one wife, He intended that Christ would have one church. There is but one body (Ephesians 4:4). What is that one body? "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22,23). See the law and the purpose of God? "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20,21).

In marriage there is a divine law: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31). Does not the whole Christian world recognize this fact that one man is to have one wife? Then we must recognize the fact that Christ has only one church.

Paul says it is a great mystery how a man leaves his father and mother, marries a wife and they become one flesh. I know how true this is for my wife and I have now been married for 63 years and we are truly one flesh. Listen to Holy Writ: "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32). We also read: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). Language could not be plainer. As man is to love one wife, so Christ loves the one church. Your New Testament knows no other church but this one body of Christ.

Christ loves the church. Christ gave Himself for the church. Love must be reciprocal. We love because He first loved us. Husbands are to love their wives and wives are to love their husbands. It is claimed that one wife out of every ten in Canada is beaten by her husband. Why? For some reason he does not love her. She may love him, but that doesn't do him any good if he does not love her. So Christ loved us and died for us. That does not avail anything for us if we do not love Christ, and if we love Him we keep His commandments. "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John 2:5).

God has one church. Christ loved that church. He died for that church. We are to love Him in return. This is true of the church in Canada. It is true of the church in the U.S.A. It is true of the church in India. It is true of the church in every country of the world. This was true of churches we read about in the New Testament.

Paul was thankful for the love of the Thessalonians: "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God" (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4). "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Let us try to get a picture of what great love truly is: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Colossians 3:12,13). After we have done this we have not yet reached the goal. "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:14).

So to build the New Testament Church we must love God, we must do the will of God. This is not the duty of a few preachers. This is the duty of every believer in Christ.

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect [mature] in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28).

J. C. Bailey


Published in The Old Paths Archive (http://www.oldpaths.com)