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This is Christianity
Writer: Jack Van Impe | July 2006 | www.jvim.com
It is not sufficient to simply know the terminology of the Christian faith. Knowledge about and words concerning Christ do not save a soul. Instead, Christianity is Christ in you. When Christ enters one's mind, life, and heart, a change takes place. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5 verse 17).
One is neither saved nor kept by works. However, when a genuine conversion experience occurs, love, holiness, and good works are all resultant characteristics. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2 verse 10). In this chapter I want to prove that one of the evidences of salvation is love.
I am not talking about two people becoming involved in lustful sexual activities and labeling it as true love. The words of Jesus, Love thy neighbor as thyself, certainly have nothing to do with immorality and wife-swapping. This would be inconsistent with His holy nature and equally illogical with His statement in Matthew 15:19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.Matthew 15 verse 19, where He lumps fornication and adultery together with the vilest of sins.
He says, Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man. Instead He is talking about that pure, holy love which is actually God's love radiating through the life of the one in whom He dwells.
You see, when one is saved, regenerated, or born again, he immediately becomes a partaker of God's nature which includes God's attribute of love (see 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through LUST.2 Peter 1verse 4 ). The newly-saved individual now possesses a new nature capable of loving to the same degree that God loves. Why? It is the very nature of God transplanted within him, through the miraculous, divine operation of the Holy Spirit. His old nature could only hate, bicker, fuss, fight, fume, harp, criticize, and malign other beings. Now God's nature begins to change the past.
Don't misunderstand this simplistic truth, I am not saying that one will get into God's holy city by forcing himself to love others. But rather, the nature of God now within makes love the natural outflow of one's born-again experience. First John 4:7,8 says,
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Upon the authority of this text and others, I am going to dogmatically affirm that if one's heart is always full of bitterness toward others, it is undoubtedly the greatest sign that salvation is missing. Don't miss the utter simplicity of these words:
He that loveth not knoweth not God.
First John 3:14 states, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Notice it does not say that the one who hates is in danger of death, but that he abides in the state of death. John continues in the next verse, clarifying misunderstandings that could arise, by saying, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
The love of God or godly love
What is godly love? How does it manifest itself? What will it produce in the lives of the saved? Let's search the Scriptures.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. John 3:16
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
[Christ] gave himself for our sins. Galatians 1:4
[Christ] loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
[Christ] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8(verse 7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(verse 8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.Philippians 2 verses 7-8).
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.1 Peter 2 verse 21).
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.1 John 3 verse 16). Unto him [Christ] that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.Revelation 1 verse 5).
Notice in these selected texts that God's love has to do with sacrifice, even to the undeserving. Yea, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5 verse 8). Notice again that we are to follow His steps even in dying for others. Oh, if the world could see the true love of God manifested in those who call themselves Christians, the greatest revival in history would sweep the world. It is this love that's discussed in the following texts.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 19:19
The love of God makes one do for others what he would like others to do for him. This is not merely the Golden Rule but a command by the Lord Jesus Christ. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.John 15 verse 13). The Christ who spoke these words fulfilled them.
God's love radiates kindness, helpfulness, and forgiveness.