The Bible explicitly states that ‘God is love’ but few realize God’s love is both nurturing and corrective. The corrective side of God is often underplayed in our society which exploits love as a vehicle for all kinds of immoral behavior. Yet, true love (or charity in the King James Bible), sets moral boundaries, being self-sacrificial, thinking of others before ourselves. In this podcast Carl shares a powerful illustration of the extent of God’s immeasurable love for us. If you’ve had a few ‘faith failures’ recently, then it’s time to check up on your love walk. Join Carl now for this liberating broadcast…
Here is a complete transcript of the podcast (below)…
Friend, I’m talking today about the love of God. Let me start out by reading from John’s Epistle in 1st John 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Friend, if love is not evident in our lives, then our relationship with God can be called into question because love is not only a fruit of the Spirit, but and a command at the same time. Now let me read you another verse 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” In the Old King James version, they translated the word love as charity, in this verse. If we think of charity, we think of goodwill, or an act of benevolence towards someone else or a love for humanity as a whole. But in the Greek, the word for charity here is ‘agape’ and it’s the same Greek word for love in 1 John 4:8 that I just read to you. Now this word, agape is a far richer word than we can conceive merely from the English language, because it’s talking about the love of God the Father. It’s especially characterized by a willing forfeiture of rights or privileges on another person’s behalf. Friend, this love is self sacrificial and to be honest, it’s difficult to properly describe the vast love that God the Father has for humanity because it’s beyond our full comprehension. Friend in order for me to effectively transmit the love of the Father to you, I’d like to start out by telling you a story about the bridge master and His son.
Once upon a time, there was a bridge master. It was his job to make sure that, when a tall ship came down the river, he would raise that bridge so the ship could pass through safely. It was also his responsibility to make sure that bridge was lowered again to allow trains to travel across the bridge. If he did not, an approaching train full of people would plunge into the icy river below. This bridge master had the life-and-death responsibility of raising and lowering the bridge in a timely manner otherwise the consequences would be dire. Now, the bridge master had a son. He loved his only son very much but boy did that little child loves trains as well. He was daddy’s little shadow. They would go to the train station; they would sit there and watch the people board the train – happy people, hurt people, lonely people, excited people, angry people, busy people, and lost people. And the little boy loved sitting there with his dad watching the trains go by every day. One day when the little boy was playing down by the river bank, he saw to his horror that the bridge was still raised and a fully laden train was bearing down quickly upon it. The little boy tried to yell to his dad to get him to lower the bridge in time but to no avail. Unfortunately, his dad couldn’t hear him as he was distracted in conversation.
So, the little boy went running toward the bridge to pull the red lever himself that would close this bridge. But as he ran, he lost his footing, tumbling down into a crevasse, which was the very the joint mechanism, that allowed the bridge to raise and lower. His father, the bridge master, just happened to look up and see his son fall into that joint. At that very moment, he saw the train coming rapidly, bearing down on the bridge, which was up at the time. The bridge master had to make a choice friend. Would he pull the lever and cause the bridge to close and crush his little boy, or would he leave it open and allow the train, carrying hundreds of men, women and children, to plunge into the icy river. That was the choice presented to him on that fateful day. Friend, the bridge master chose to pull the red lever that day. He chose to sacrifice his son for the people, people he’d never met, who didn’t even realize their near disastrous fate. As the train passed over the bridge, the searing cries of his son were drowned out by the train running along the tracks at high speed. Within the train people were laughing, drinking and carrying about their business; oblivious to what had just happened, not realizing the monumental sacrifice that just took place by the bridge master’s son. Friend, the bridge master is a type of our heavenly Father. He sent His only begotten Son Jesus. He sent Him for you and for me. The bridge in this story is a type of the cross friend, the Heavenly Father pulled the lever and appropriated a bridge between man and God paid for by His Son. The cross provided a bridge between a lost and hurting world who needed salvation without their knowledge and a loving God who desired reconciliation. The cross provided a means for man to traverse the vast chasm between God’s righteousness and of our sin condition. Therefore, we can now embrace our heavenly Father, without feeling judgment.
Friend, I hope this illustration gave you a glimpse into the vast treasure of the Father’s love, that He would be willing to sacrifice His own son for people who even hated Him. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Now, few people would sacrifice themselves for someone they loved dearly, let alone for someone who hated them, but that’s what Christ did for us friend. We were even hostile toward God because of our sin issue and at enmity with Him. So, why is God’s love so important to our everyday faith? Because the scripture makes it clear that our faith won’t work without it. Let’s read, Galatians 5:6 “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Friend, we can readily see that love would have to be greater if faith won’t work without it. It takes love to make faith work, and when we step out of love and get in the flesh, this can hinder our faith from working effectively in our lives. In Hebrews 11:1, the New English translation says, “Faith gives substance to our hope.” So, you have to have hope first before your faith can give substance to it. So, we can clearly see that faith is also dependent on hope as well.
When we study this word, love in the NT there are some interesting findings. There is phileō, which is another Greek word for love and expresses spontaneous natural affection we have for one another, with more feeling than reason and it occurs some 25 times. Then we have Philadelphia (or brotherly love) occurring 5 times, and finally philia (which means friendship) is found only once in James 4:4. The meaning of the word Agapē is unique in many regards because it really means to love the undeserving, despite encountering disappointment and rejection from those who are loved. Friend, it’s a love that never quits, just like the love that the Father expressed toward the prodigal son in Luke 15, who forgot who he was and the Father embraced Him anyway, regardless of his reckless behavior and mistreatment of His father. In Galatians 6:2, the Apostle Paul calls love, the law of Christ which is supreme and sufficient, he says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Indeed, Paul’s description of God’s love in action through the law of Christ includes liberality, acts of mercy, hospitality; avoidance of revenge; rejoicing with others; sharing of weakness, restoring, supporting, and building up other people, giving them all honor, kindness, forgiveness, encouragement and finally restraining criticism. In fact, the list is almost endless when it comes to describing the demands of love. And for all you super spiritual folks out there who claim to operate in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit but care not for your love walk, I have a scripture for you in 1 Corinthians 13-1-3,” Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (or love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.“
Friend, God cares immensely about our love walk, the Bible says that even if all the Gifts of the Spirit are manifested through us, without God’s love, it wouldn’t profit us anything! Anything is a strong word friend. Think about that for a minute. Even if we give to the poor and our measure of giving is through the roof, if we are not motivated by love, but trying to show off instead, it is worth nothing to God friend! The motivation of the heart is something that man cannot see, but God can. We may never really know why some people do the things they do, but God sees their motive and will judge the person accordingly for their intentions.
So, what did Jesus have to say about love specifically? Well in one sentence he provided the measuring stick by which people may know that we are His followers in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Friend the love of God is patient and kind and it takes no account of the evil done to it, it pays no attention to a suffered wrong. I urge you friend to read the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, in your own devotional time to fully comprehend the breadth, depth and length of the fathers love for us. Let me read to you now another passage regarding the Father’s love and I’m reading from, 1st John 4:16-20: “16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 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 xwhom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Friend, it’s clear from this scripture that quite simply it’s God’s love for us which has empowered us to love both other human beings and even God himself. It’s an equipping work of love and it even enables us to love our enemies. In other words, to demonstrate God’s love properly as He desires, it’s not something we can do in and of ourselves, but God equips us to do so. Friend, love reaches out for those who are hurt and takes bold steps without self-interest. It can accomplish unbelievable things because it’s so void of self-interest. Let me give you a quick story about God’s equipping power to love others who are hurt. Some time ago, a teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a 3,000-pound tractor with bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his friend, Lloyd Bachelder, 18yrs old, was pinned under a tractor on a farm near Rome, Maine. Hearing Lloyd scream, Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out. Love was the real motivation here to lift this 3-ton machine and this is a true story friend, where God equipped Arthur to help his friend out but I’m pretty sure there were some angels involved in this account also.
Yet God does not give us some power or ability apart from his own presence that motivates us to love. The gift cannot be separated from the Giver. For His love is an enabling supernatural power. Love is a life-giving force, and a gift that flows from God into us with His vitality and energy. Consequently, if God’s love empowers us to love others, no one can claim to love God while hating a fellow Christian. Often the words anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen are taken to mean that it’s much harder to love an invisible God than it is to love a brother or sister whom one can see. But the Apostle John does not say that love for God is more difficult than love for others. Rather, love for God without love for others is simply impossible to imagine, because God is love and it equips us to love other as He desires us to.
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