Love Wins


agape

Love Wins is a headline proclaimed across the nation following a recent Supreme Court decision that judicially alters the fundamental precept of marriage. (See our post, Marriage.)

Frankly, I am stunned — even disoriented — at the course of events that have transpired in our generation. God has been expelled from our public schools … millions of babies have been sacrificed upon the altar of choice … and, now, the bedrock of our society — marriage and family — has been discarded or, at least, redefined. I submit that mortal man, while he has the right to choose this course of action, will do so under condemnation and judgement.

So, the man who was elected will say that ours is not a Christian nation; and (because of the Court ruling on marriage) that we have become a more perfect union. Well, I would agree in the one sense we are not a Christian nation, but there are a present remnant as the LORD spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:18).

In that vein please allow me one other digression. 1 Samuel 8 is an interesting study how man attempts to exert his will over God. The prophet was aged, and the people clamored for a king to rule over them. I won’t spoil your study except to say that sometimes God releases you to the desires of your own self-will even to your unintended detriment.

If this were a truly Christian nation would it not reflect the will of God?

Today, people are celebrating the victory of love. But the love they are confessing is a romantic or desirous kind of love — eros as it was understood by the ancient Greeks. Biblical love, however, is expressed by these Greek words — agapē (ἀγάπη), a Godly love; and philadelphia (φιλαδελφίᾳ), a brotherly love.

It is critical to understand that Biblical love is not a sentiment or a feeling, but an action. (It is not the clammy hands of a teenager on her first date.) The action taken is a selfless act done for the benefit of another.

In Mark Dever’s acclaimed study The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept the author states that, more than an action, love is a disposition of the heart toward God and others which then shows itself in our actions. [1]

Dever then characterizes Biblical love with some of the most treasured words in Scripture — from Paul’s letter to the assembly at Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is the missionary doctor who flies to Africa to help save those who are suffering and dying from Ebola. Love is not marching in a colorful parade loudly proclaiming the fruit of  flamboyant, self-willed pride.

Dever queries his readers:

Could this be more clear? Love is not self-seeking.

John MacArthur expounds on this distinction between the Biblical and worldview of love:

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians may be, from a literary viewpoint, the greatest passage Paul ever penned.

Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape.

The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire.

Self–giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is as rare in much of the church today as it was in Corinth. The reason, of course, is that agape love is so unnatural to human nature. Our world has defined love as “romantic feeling” or “attraction,” which has nothing to do with true love in God’s terms.

The supreme measure and example of agape love is God’s love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Love is above all sacrificial. It is sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who may care nothing at all for us and who may even hate us. It is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self–giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own. It leaves no place for pride, vanity, arrogance, self–seeking, or self–glory. It is an act of choice we are commanded to exercise even in behalf of our enemies: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). If God so loved us that, even “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:4–7), how much more should we love those who are our enemies. [2]

The Holy Spirit has been pressing me to love more like Christ. If I say, love is … the Spirit replies, love does … 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Notes:

1. The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept, by Mark Dever, Crossway Publishing, (November 16, 2005).

2. Is Biblical Love a Feeling or an Action?, COPYRIGHT ©2015 Grace to You, All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Credits:

Scripture — New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995. Used by permission.

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13 thoughts on “Love Wins”

  1. Many Christians have supported marriage equality because of this agape love.

    Many gays have exhibited agape love when they took care of their dying partners. Some can’t even attend their partner’s funerals because they were classified as nobodies under the law.

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  2. @ humblefisher101:

    And, in love, Jesus points out our sins (the woman caught in adultery, John 8:11) with a command to go and sin no more. Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

    A problem in the church are Christians who condone any particular behavior as they are deceived by liberal persuasion, and not led by the Spirit of truth. Not unlike Eve in the garden. Love is not permissive, but corrective.

    One might perform a thousand compassionate acts as you describe, but if not in obedience it will profit them nothing when Jesus says, Depart from me, I never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23).

    Sexual immorality is clearly defined in God’s word whether we like it, or not. This applies to people of all orientations. I am unmarried and have lived a celibate life because God has given me the grace to do so in obedience, and with the understanding that those who don’t will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    His rules … not ours.

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  3. Ok. However Matthews 12 also says the Scripture should not be used to destroy people of God. God does not need gay people’s lives as a burning sacrifice; just kindness is enough.

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  4. @ humblefisher101:

    Neither babies nor gays should be sacrificed though babies are the most innocent of all to be sure.

    Re: Matthew 12 — Can you cite the verse so we’re on the same page?

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  5. This is what I have in draft form.

    In Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus’ follows picked grains on the Sabbath and and Pharisees accused them of breaking the Law. Jesus answered that David’s men ate bread offered to God so they will not starve. This is saying the needs of the Children of God takes higher priority than purity laws. Jesus also quoted a scripture reference, “It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.” Scripture should not be used to kill God’s people, but kindness should be offered. Lastly Jesus said the Pharisees should not condemn people who are not guilty because Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath; Jesus is Lord.

    This has a parallel for the gay Christians. Their same-sex attractions last for an entire lifetime for them. They are accused of violations of the purity laws. Gay Christians’ lives are being sacrificed through the persecutions from a few condemning Bible verses. Gay Christians would like to follow Jesus, but they need loving companions for life as well. According to Matthew 12:1-8, the Gay Christians’ need take higher priority compared to these condemning verses. Look up to Jesus before trying to do harm to these gay Christians. What’s harming? Kicking them out, excluding them to make them disappear, making them illegal or even non-person.

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  6. @ humblefisher101

    Our comments got crossed and posted simultaneously — those comments will follow — but I will say that you can be an abstinent gay and follow Jesus. A single heterosexual, who abstains from fornication, can be a follower of Christ. Jesus does not exclude anyone who is repentant and obedient. That person will not live in sin. They might stumble along the way, but their new nature demands that they conform to the Spirit, and not the world.

    As for “needing companions” I can only relate my own experience — single and celibate for 62 years. This has been the life journey God has called me to lead. I wanted to have children, but the Lord called me out to serve Him. I had a “Road to Damascus” experience early on in life, and this is the path He has led me.

    My journey has been difficult and not always faithful, but I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than to take up the cross He has given you (straight or gay), set aside your will, deny self and follow Him.

    — Original comment follows —

    Matthew 12, where the disciples are condemned for gleaning corn on the Sabbath; and in verse 7 our Lord quotes Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” thus suggesting that the Pharisees might — out of love — overlook, or be tolerant of the need of the disciples to eat.

    The lawyers would have known what Jesus left unsaid that the LORD commanded mercy and acknowledgment, or (as Samuel presents) obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).

    Our moral obligation supersedes ceremonial ritual. If I pray five times a day, but ignore the homeless beggar, what does it profit me? This is the context of these passages.

    Obedience and mercy do not translate to tolerance and acquiescence. Paul commanded that we not even associate with a brother who is immoral (1 Corinthians 5:11).

    In context, the gleaning of corn was not even a moral violation; and the Pharisees were nitpicking the law. And when Jesus told us not to judge, He meant with hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5). If a brother drinks every night but condemns you for going to a bar, well … upon whom is the greater sin?

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  7. retiredday posted this on Messiah Gate @Blogspot:

    The slogan, “love wins”, as it has been applied to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex “marriage”, perverts the meaning of love, just as court’s decision perverts the law and the Constitution. How has love been perverted? you may ask. “Now we can marry whomever we love”, you may affirm. If that were true principle of law, (that you may marry whomever you love) then brother could marry sister, parent could marry child, you could marry your beloved pet (“He’s a person, too.”) or you could even marry yourself, or a deceased person. And if “love” is the legal basis for marriage, then what should prevent you from marrying multiple spouses? No. Love didn’t win. Rebellion against God’s authority “won”. Our federal government has presumed to supersede God’s design. One day, in God’s timing, there will be consequences for that act of rebellion against God.

    For some (lack of) reason, many Christians go along with the “love wins” sentiment, denying the very nature of agape love, which is so well described here. These professing believers claim that because God loves homosexuals, he also condones homosexual sin. But in order to adopt that heresy, they ignore the Scriptures that specify homosexuality as one of the sins that prevent people from entering the kingdom of heaven.

    The fact that God loves us can never justify our sins. He doesn’t want us to “keep sinning that grace would abound”. He wants us to clean up our acts and live according to his standards — not ours. Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commands. The Torah (the Old Testament “law”) was not abolished by Jesus. He fulfills it. Jesus Christ did not make any changes in sexual morality. What was morally wrong then is still morally wrong now. He also did not say you have to become a Jew (follow all the Jewish laws and regulations) to be saved. So trying to equate sexual morality laws with eating restrictions or other ancient Jewish requirements is complete nonsense.

    The Supreme Court’s decision is silent on the issue of love. What it shouts to the world is that law in America approves of sin.

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