ONE VERSE PREFERENCE
If I could have in my possession only one verse of the Bible, which one would it be? Hands down, it would be John 3:16. It is so comprehensive that it pretty well covers all the bare essentials for fallen mankind. It is the key to evangelism. Think about it with me!
It begins, “For God.” Here is the presentation of the eternal, creator deity. There is no need to try to prove God. He doesn’t! He is, and it is literally the fool who does not know this.
It continues, “So loved.” Here is the essence of what God is. I John 4:8 says “God is love.” There is one God. He is the creator and eternal judge, and His essence is love. That draws me.
“God so loved the world.” Here is the object of His love: the inhabited world. It is unlimited to the world of men. As a part of that, I am then the object of His love. I am grateful, and I rejoice!
“That He gave.” Love is giving. Love is sacrifice by its own definition. God, the Creator is a giving God, not a taker. Rather than quake in fear, I run to Him in expectation.
“He gave His only begotten Son.” Love gives! It is not a trivial gift. It is not an expensive gift that would be trivial compared to His universal riches. It is His only begotten Son. The gift is the one and only expression of mankind who could pay the penalty of sin and did so from the depths of His essence of love and grace. It is as the scriptures put it, an “Unspeakable gift!”
“That whosoever.” What a wonderful word! Whosoever includes me! Whosoever excludes no one. The invitation to goodness, righteousness, life is indeed universal to the offspring of Adam.
“Believeth in Him.” The required prerequisite to everlasting life is to believe in Him. One might quibble about the degree of belief under consideration, but the term “believeth” is present tense, and means to trust for that which is eternal, and over which no mortal has control or authority in himself.
“Should not perish” Here is the opposite outcome for failure to believe in Him. Moreover, it is a divine statement that such belief produces the opposite of whatever ideas may be associated with “perish.” But for God, to perish is absolutely, universally certain!
“But have everlasting life.” Life: goodness in awareness minus any of the evils associated with present earthly life and sin. Life! Everlasting life! It is perfection, immortality, awareness in total righteousness without interruption or end. The very idea is overwhelming, but this is the greatest story ever told, the greatest gift ever given, the greatest hope of any human heart.
If I could have only one verse of scripture in my possession to love, live by, and share with others, it would be John3:16
Tag Archives: love
ONE VERSE PREFERENCE
1 Peter 4:7-9
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8.
Emergency! The end of all things is at hand! What does Peter advise us to do to get ready for the end of all things? Pay attention and pray, but above all things, love one another in sincerity.
Paul said that Jesus is coming back, and the most important thing he wants Jesus to find is church members who love each other(1 Thess. 3:12, 13). At the Judgment Seat of Christ, love will be the measuring stick to evaluate all our motives. Did we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind? Did we love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves?
Love is a supernatural, magnetic energy that draws the world to Jesus. The world knows we are His disciples if we love each other. Our love one to another helps us overlook the minor faults each of us have. This does not mean that love excuses and tolerates sin. It means we are all sinners and regardless of our sins, we love each other. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John4:20, 21).
God tells us that love is the fulfilling of the law and prophets. We should grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and that would cover a lot of bases as far as pleasing God is concerned.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
Author: William Andrew Dillard
From the living pages of ages past, comes the encapsulated foundation of acceptable life among men on earth. It is called the Ten Commandments. Some would say the commandments were a part of the Mosaic Law, which has been fulfilled, and no longer in force. Right, and wrong! Jesus did fulfill the Law and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, Col. 2:14-17, but what is removed from us today is the present penalty of the Law, not the principle. Think with me!
In the initial writing of the Law, the one governing neighborly relationship is stated: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor; Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s house, wife, servant, ox, ass, nor anything that thy neighbors. Exo. 20:16-17. Later, this was appropriately summarized as “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” First, to love God supremely, then to love one’s neighbor as one’s self is said to be the summation of all the law.
The question then arises from some who quibble over such things for self justification is: “who then is my neighbor?” This very question was posed to Jesus by a lawyer, and is recorded in Luke 10. It is here that the story of the good Samaritan is related. A man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed, beaten and left half dead in the road. It is ironic that a priest passed by and refused to help. Also a Levite, those who produced the priests, also observed and passed by without helping. It was the lowly Samaritan who took care of the unfortunate traveler, and paid for his medical care. When Jesus posed the question, which of these three was a neighbor to him who fell among thieves, the answer was obvious and so stated: he who showed mercy on him. Jesus’ pointed reply was that they, and us, should go and do likewise.
The position God’s people occupy on this planet is that of an ambassador. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20. Representatives of heaven on earth who are reconciled to God see others in need as their neighbor, and they respond accordingly. It is the right thing to do. It is the godly thing to do. It may not be one’s opportunity to help another who has fallen among thieves, but there are so many other areas of life that manifest a need for help. Chief among those is the obvious need to share the gospel, the great love of the Creator/Redeemer with those who have been wounded by sin. There is no shortage of them. Do you love your neighbor?
Galatians 5:13, 14
“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.
In many countries, other than the United States, the cast social system still exists. In the Christian community equality must be taught among believers. Even in the Lord’s churches, the lower classes in these societies tend to serve the more affluent.
While the cast social system is not so obvious in our country, it does exist somewhat. Therefore, we must guard against its influence in the Lord’s churches. We do often have a problem with servanthood. It is not so much about being served as it is about serving. It seems our backs, necks and hearts are too stiff to bow in service to others. Because we are freed by grace, we are by love to serve one another. The Bible commands that we not only love in word but in deed also. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
What does Christian service look like? Serving may take many forms as long as we are putting others above ourselves. It can be as simple as praying for someone or picking up the phone and calling to check on the sick or shut-ins. Whatever our servanthood looks like, it must be done with love overflowing blessings onto others.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment,” Matthew 22:37, 38.
The religious elite gathered around Jesus, Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes. All of them were experts in their own eyes in one area or another in the Law of Moses. There, before them stood God in the flesh, the original giver of the Law. Foolishly, they thought they could trick Him.
The men of this religious club were responsible for dividing the Law into two categories, greater and smaller. But God assigned the importance when He gave the Law to Moses. It began with and where we all should begin recognizing that everything begins with God. Then, after He has been correctly seated on the throne of our hearts, we will love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, which is the précis (sum total) of our whole being.
Loving God first and foremost puts everything else in our lives in clear perspective. If we love God first, then loving our spouse, our children and others will be a much easier job. If we love God first, then obeying Him will not be a difficult task. If we love God first, then the financial restraints of God’s work will be removed. If we love God first, our faith will be strong and following Him will be an adventure and not a challenge.
Loving God first is the foundation of all other commandments. Let us love Him with all our being with the entire ardor possible as His children.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” Philippians 1:9.
Our key words here are ‘more and more’ in other words flourishing love. This is rich, full and overflowing love for others. We love them for God’s glory, not our own.
We love to hear stories about anonymous donors giving away their fortunes to unsuspecting people. God loves kindness but instead of donating money, He had rather, instead, we donate His love. Sometimes, in spite of our command to love God first and then our neighbor, we get caught up in our own little self-centered world. Suddenly, we become the most important person in it. That is dangerous. Soon, we will become our own worst enemy because love not shared will become stagnant and die. He wants our love for Him to grow and grow, and as it does, we will love Him like we should. Then, His love will overflow onto other people.
Finally, as love grows, it is not to be ignorant. It is to be wise and discerning. You cannot make a person accept your brotherly love if they meet you at the door with a gun or threaten you with harm. In that case, dust off your feet and move on. There are other people who need the love of God and will accept His love. As a result, they will accept the love of others.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you, (1 Thess. 3:12).
Romans 13: 8, 9
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law,” Romans 13:8.
Most of us enter into a contract with a finance company or bank when buying a new car or house, agreeing to make monthly payments. It is such a happy relief when we make the last payment on the purchase. The obligation (lawful contract) is satisfied. Even more satisfying is when we complete the contract ahead of schedule.
The Law had many “laws” that must be completed or fulfilled. The Jews were obligated to do their best to follow the Law. The Pharisees and other religious elite persons added extra details (their own interpretation) to the Mosaic Law. To their surprise, Jesus exposed all their extra details and simplified the Law down to two. They are love God and love your neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40).
Think of all the marriages that could have been and could be saved if the two adults practiced these two simple commands to love God and their spouse. How about all the church splits that could have been avoided if her members practiced love God and their fellow members? We could fulfill the whole Law with one word—Love. Love God, our neighbors, spouses, fellow church members and unbelievers so much that we are willing to put them first and our own preferences second.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love Is the fulfilling of the law ( Rom. 13:10).
“Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast,” Matthew 26:48.
A kiss is mainly connected with actions of endearment and in eastern countries, it is a common greeting. However, in our Scripture reading today it is a sickening sign of betrayal.
Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament explains the kiss of Judas like this: “and Judas chose that sign and actually ‘kissed him fervently’ (katephilesen, verse 49), though the compound verb sometimes in the papyri has lost its intensive force. Bruce thinks that Judas was prompted by the inconsistent motives of smoldering love and cowardice. At any rate this revolting ostentatious kiss is ‘the most terrible instance of the hekousia philemata echthrou (Prov. 27:6),’ the profuse kisses of an enemy (McNeile).”
The coward Judas went to Jesus and kissed Him, not the kiss of one who loved Him but in pretense because Judas loved his possessions and position (he kept the money bag) more than he loved Jesus. He flagrantly disregarded Jesus’ fatherly love and forgiveness for him and did not love in return.
Sadly, we, too, at times, have Judas’ tendencies. We betray Him by singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” but do not do the things He asks us to do. We inconsistently attend His churches and haphazardly follow His leadership not by faith but by sight.
Are you a friend or foe of Jesus? Do you honestly love Him with all your heart, soul and mind? Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Prov. 27:6).
As noted the other day, ’āhaḇ (H157) speaks generally of desire, affection, or inclination, but the real issue is the object of that love, desire, affection, or inclination. Let us conclude today by examining two objects of love:
First, and most important, is God’s love for His people. Several times we read of God’s love for His chosen people Israel. He declared, for example, He “loved Israel for ever” (1Ki_10:9). He loved them, in fact, in spite of their spiritual adultery and loving other gods (Hos_3:1; cf. Mal_1:2; Mal_2:11). Further, what is the basis of God’s choosing (or electing) Israel? “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you” (Deu_7:7-8; cf. Deu_4:37). Not only did God love and choose Israel, He loved and chose His elect before the foundation of the world (Eph_1:4-5).
Second, let us consider carefully our love for God. Perhaps the key text here is Deu_6:5 (cf. Mat_22:37-38): “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Heart is lēḇāḇ (H3824), referring not only to the physical organ, but figuratively to the whole of the inner person and personality. Soul is nepeš (H5315), meaning “breath, the act of breathing, and figuratively the inner being with its thoughts and emotions.” “Might,” then, is me’ōḏ (H3966), indicating might, power, will, or even “muchness.” While the world tells us that love is feelings (which often amounts simply to lust), real love is an act of the will.
While we respect writers who maintain that these three should not be considered individually, rather as a whole, as in loving God with “all that is within [us]” (Psa_103:1), we respectfully disagree. Words mean things, and by considering each of these words, we discover the true depth of God’s command. Let us each ask ourselves: Does my heart beat with God’s, does my personality reflect Him, do I live and breathe Him and His Word, and is all my might and will set upon Him?
Oh, let there be no other “objects” in our lives that we love as we love Him!
Scriptures for Study: One of the great themes of Deuteronomy is our love of God. Read the following verses and reflect on your love for Him: Deu_4:29; Deu_10:12; Deu_11:13; Deu_13:4; Deu_26:16; Deu_30:2; Deu_30:6; Deu_30:10.
The most often-used Hebrew word for love in the OT is ’āhaḇ (H157), which speaks generally of desire, affection, or inclination, “a strong emotional attachment to and desire either to possess or to be in the presence of the object.” ’āhaḇ has an extremely wide range of meanings, so wide, in fact, that its some 250 occurrences cover just about everything from “God’s infinite affection for his people to the carnal appetites of a lazy glutton.”
Unlike the Greek words philos (G5384, “esteem, tender affection”) and agapē (G26, “selfless, sacrificial love”), which differentiate kinds of love, Hebrew does not do this quite as clearly. While other words do show somewhat differing ideas—dôḏ (H1730), for example, speaks strongly of sexual affection (Pro_7:18; Son_1:2; Son_1:4; Son_7:12)—for the most part Hebrew words for love are general.
Like the word faith, therefore, the real crux of love (’āhaḇ) lies in its object. A man can love “pleasure” and “wine,” for example, but these will bring him to poverty (Pro_21:17). Likewise, it can refer to sexual lust, as Absalom had for his sister Tamar (2Sa_13:1). The prophets spoke of the wrong object of love when God’s people committed spiritual adultery with pagan gods (Jer_22:20; Jer_22:22; Eze_16:36; Eze_23:5; Hos_2:5-13).
On the positive side, examples of good love and affection include: a father for his son, such as Abraham had for Isaac (Gen_22:2); a husband for his wife, such as Elkanah’s love for Hannah (1Sa_1:5); and one friend for another, as was true of David and Jonathan (1Sa_20:17). Certainly one of the greatest objects of love in our lives should be wisdom: “Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee” (Pro_4:6). Another is truth coupled with peace (Zec_8:19).
Still another, and most notably, is God’s Word. ’Āhaḇ appears no less than twelve times in Psalms 119 to demonstrate the psalmist’s love for the Word (Psa_119:140). It was his “meditation all the day” (Psa_119:97) because he loved its commandments (Psa_119:47-48; Psa_119:127), law (Psa_119:97; Psa_119:113; Psa_119:163; Psa_119:165), testimonies (Psa_119:119; Psa_119:167), and precepts (Psa_119:159). We should also interject that He loved God’s name (Psa_119:132).
This should encourage us to be conscious of the objects of our love.
Scriptures for Study: What are the objects of love (positive or negative) in the following verses: Psa_4:2; Psa_11:5; Psa_26:8; Psa_40:16; Pro_22:11?