“Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I might have eternal life?” (Mark 19:16)
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Sunday, February 14, 2021
"Love" is one of those words in the English language that can leave us easily confused.
This imprecise definition didn’t exist in the oldest manuscripts of the words of our Master, Jesus, which were preserved in Greek.
Love most often was conveyed with a word, agape [agapaō] which means a pure, all-consuming love.
It’s this word that is used when Jesus calls us to, "Love Yahweh, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." And, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
It was not limited to our friends, or to those who love us, because it’s agape that is used when Jesus says “Love your enemies.” (Matt. 5:43)
The Fourth Gospel records, “For God so loved the world,” using that same word, agape, showing that God has deep, abiding and unlimited love for us. God chose and sent out Jesus as our special example to us, so that we might not live in darkness, but in light.
But it’s not just God than can show this love, however. We are called by Jesus to “Love one another; JUST as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
The fact that we are to love “JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” is a powerful calling to us. We are told by Jesus that we may indeed love just as he loved; act just as he acted; serve just as he served. Our love is to have no bounds, just as Jesus’ love had no bounds.
This is all important to understand, given the many misconceptions about “love” – even among those who attend the churches of Christendom today – and even among those who do not.
"Love" having so many meanings, many today believe the love we are called to show is the shallow love we have for food, movies and other things with which we have a strong emotional attachment.
It would be a serious mistake, however, to assume that ALL we must do is express a light, shallow Love towards God and towards others. "Love is All You Need" is the name of an awesome Beatles song about emotional attachment between two lovers, not the imperative that Jesus calls us to embrace.
The Power of Love, the kind of Love that God shows us through His son, Jesus, is the kind of Love that is deep, unattached to emotions. It’s not an erotic love, or a shallow love, or a "love" that has no meaning or caring behind it, but it is instead the deepest and most pure Love there is.
This kind of Love must be the cornerstone of our faith. Love of God and love of our neighbors is what Jesus calls us to actively show in our daily lives.
The faith that Jesus teaches challenges us to love God so much that we love others just as God does, and show it by doing Good Works in the service of others.
And we are called to love and obey God and serve others, using Jesus' perfect example as our guide, and then we are to accept that GOD ALONE is our judge, and our God is a God of mercy, if we ask for it.
"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me." (John 14:21)
"If you keep my commandments," says Jesus, "you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." (John 15:10)
Sunday, February 7, 2021
“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33)
Is there a sincere Christian on earth who would knowingly deny Jesus? No. I cannot think there is a true believer, in any denomination, who would designedly be guilty of such exceeding sinfulness.
But, my friends, are we in no danger of ignorantly denying him?
I fear we are. When I observe the weakness, and ignorance of humanity, when I witness the mighty influence of prejudice, and when the powerful effects of my early instruction, and early impressions, and early associations, I am compelled to fear we are in great danger of unintentionally denying Jesus.
You may deny Jesus in two different ways, either in word, or in deed. If you contradict his words and teachings, you deny him in word. If you disobey his commands, you deny him in deed.
An instance of the first kind of denial is found in the tenth chapter of John's Gospel. The Jews accused Jesus of making himself God! In so doing they contradicted his declarations; and consequently, denied the Lord Jesus.
He instantly denied the truth of their charge, in his usual mild and reasoning manner.
“Is it not written in your law, I said ‘you are Gods?’ If he called them gods to whom the word of God came - and Scripture cannot be broken - do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:22-39.)
In refuting their accusation, notice three things. First, he denied calling himself God. He had merely called God his Father, and asserted that his Father was greater than all, and then added, “I and my Father are one,” not one person, not one God, for he had spoken of receiving sheep from the Father, and not one equal being with God.
Secondly, he denied being God. He asserted that he was sanctified and sent into the world by the Father.
If he was dependent on his Father for his commission and ability to execute it, he could not be the almighty God.
And thirdly, he refuted the charge of blasphemy, from the scriptures. He had called himself the son of God. The scriptures had called men gods, merely because they received the word of God.
If you say Jesus is God, you contradict his own declarations. Speaking of God, he said, “The Lord our God is one Lord.” Did he declare himself to be this one Lord?
He said, “Why do you call me good; there is no one good but one, that is God.” He clearly separates himself from God.
Speaking of his knowledge, he said, “Of that day, and that hour, knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father.”
Do you believe his own words?
God cannot be tempted; but Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. God cannot receive assistance from any being; but an angel strengthened Jesus. God cannot suffer pain; but Jesus suffered exceeding agony. God cannot be sent by anyone; but Jesus was sent by the Father. God cannot be anointed; but Jesus was anointed by God.
God cannot be murdered; but Jesus was crucified and slain by wicked hands. God cannot ascend to any place; but Jesus ascended to his God and Father.
God cannot sit at his own right hand; but Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. God cannot pray to anyone; but Jesus prayed to his Father.
Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I,” I dare not accuse him of uttering falsehood. For I would not knowingly deny the Jesus.
If you worship Jesus as God, you disobey his own instruction.
His disciples wished to know the precise time when Jerusalem would be destroyed. He said, “Of that day, and that hour, knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the FATHER.”
He either did know the day and hour when this event would take place, or he did not. Was he the all-knowing God?
You can place no dependence on his declarations. But if I cannot believe every word Jesus uttered, he is no Savior for me.
I believe he had but one nature. And believing this, I receive his instructions as true.
My Friends, on this infinitely important subject, are you disposed to receive the plain, current, unembarrassed doctrine of Jesus’ revelation?
Will you compare passage with passage, and exercise your common sense in their interpretation, to obtain their true meaning? You have your choice.
But remember, my friends, you are to be judged by a plain rule of Jesus: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day,”
Yes, you are to be judged by the very words Jesus has spoken, and which are recorded in the Gospels.
Could you produce one passage in which he commanded anyone to worship him as God?
At that solemn tribunal, it will be of no use to say that you were otherwise taught by your parents, your instructors, your creeds, your ministers. But not to any of these but to God alone are you answerable.
Remember the words of Jesus. “Whosoever shall be ashamed of my words, of him also shall the son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father.” (John 7:50, Mark 8:38.)
(Adapted and condensed from an 1827 sermon by Rev. Bernard Whitman)