|From the Pastors Desk||†|
|Redemption||Essence of God||Lesson 19|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|3 April 2005||Bible Lessons
In any study of the Word of God, we must study the Word of God. Thatís deep theology. Right?
Yes, it is deep theology. Sad to say, much, even most Bible study today is not the study of the Bible. It is instead, the study of books written about the Bible, and those can be interesting, enlightening and we need many of them, BUT they are not the Bible.
As a result, Christendom is divided by whose book or theology each group is following. Christendom should be united in what we know of the truths from the Word of God, itself.
This was a basic and devastating problem, even in the early Churches. Look at what the Holy Spirit had to say on this matter, through the Apostle Paul inÖ
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal.
As you remember, in the last lesson, we established, from the Word of God, that there are two main aspects to the truths in the Word of God.
We also saw that if we donít have the "basic" things of the Word of God, we can never gain the "deep" things. However, if we donít use the "deep" truths weíve gained, we will regress in our understanding of BOTH the "basic" and "deep" things, and will find ourselves starting over again.
If you missed the last lesson or the mind is a little fuzzy on these things, may I recommend you reread lesson #18 that you receive this past week.
1 Corinthians 3 :3b For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
We can and should gain insights into the truths of Godís Word through the many "ministers" provided by God. However, we must keep in mind that they are only ministers, not the Holy Spirit, and their writing or sermons about the Word are only human writing and not the Holy Scriptures.
If we can maintain that balance, THEN these many ministers can "water" and "plant", BUT it is still God that gives the increase. However, if we let these many ministers become, in our minds, anything but ministers who "water" and "plant".., we bring devastation to the church, and apostasy to the teaching from the Word.
Please note, in this case at Corinth, it was not the ministers who were creating the division, it was the hearers. That is not always the case, sometime it is the ministers that cause the division, either deliberately or inadvertently.
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
There is ONLY one foundation upon which to build, and that is Jesus Christ, and the ONLY place we can access that foundation, is the Word of God.
If there is only one foundation (and there is only one foundation) upon which we can build our Christian life and only one access to that foundation, THEN it is pretty important that we have a very good understanding of that foundation, BOTH of its basic and deep things.
Each one of us are responsible for how we build on that foundation! Others, such as ministers, can be helpful by giving instructions, BUT they can not do your building for you. NOR should your foundation be based on what these ministers have said and written.
Just for the record, that includes me. I will not deliberately give you improper building instructions, BUT nonetheless you are responsible to search the Scriptures to make sure that what I say is founded solidly in the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
I donít want to take the time away from our present subject to review the Judgment Seat of Christ, BUT it is important to remind ourselves of the importance of HOW we build, BOTH for time and eternity.
We have those who say that our actions, during this life, have no consequences in eternity. That evaluation comes from NOT harmonizing all Scripture with itself, OR simply ignoring vast portions of Scripture. I would say that "suffering loss ( 1 Corinthians 3:15) and only being saved as though by fire" would be consequences and bad ones, at that.
1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; 20 and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." 21 Therefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come - all are yours. 23 And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. 4:1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Paul is not knocking human knowledge and wisdom. He was one of the best educated and worldly wise men of his day. Notice what he said in other passagesÖ
Philippians 3:4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Back to our passage in 1 Cor 3:18 . It is not that we should be lacking in human knowledge or wisdom, BUT when it comes to understanding the Word of God and using that Word to build our lives, the wisdom and knowledge of the world is like foolishness, compared to what we need. Instead, we must approach the Word of God from a "higher" perspective, one of faith, based wholly on the totality of the Word of God.
With those things in mind, letís review some other facts from the last lesson. There is only one God. "In the beginning God" not Gods but God. Yet, in personality God is three. I use the term "personality" not is the sense that is said of some, that they have multiple personalities.
God in personality is three. These three are separate entities, yet one in essence. The three persons of the Trinity are God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
These are descriptive titles taken by the persons of the Trinity, as to their role in the plan of redemption. The "Son", the second person of the Godhead, the Lord Jesus Christ, was not procreated by the "Father", both were equal in Their eternal existence. However, within the plan of redemption there was a relationship similar to a "proper" father son relationship of humans.
Even though I use these 11 qualities to describe the essence of God throughout this study, please, remember there are not enough words in the English language to adequately describe God and His work. These are descriptive terms to be used as handles so that we can more easily grasp the un-fathomless Spiritual truths of Godís person. I will try to remind you of this fact often, because the human mind "loves" to attach itself to terms. Once the term is established, it often becomes the end of all things.
This is true in almost all phases of life, such as politics. Once dubbed as "right-wing" or "left-wing", no matter what the facts may be, those handles stick. I certainly do not want that to happen in our study of the God of all gods. Our God supersedes all terms collectively.
In todayís lesson, we want to begin our study of the aspect of Godís essence we have called "Love". However, to have a clear understanding of Godís "Love", we must have firm grip on His "JUSTICE".
Too many people have the idea that love is getting what they want, and justice is changing everyone to be like themselves
Charles Schultz in his cartoon, "Peanuts," gave us a pretty good picture of such distorted opinions.
In the first frame, Lucy said to Charlie Brown, "If I was in charge of the world, Iíd change
God is not just because He acts justly.
God IS justice!!
Therefore, all His actions are just.
We must look at the actions of God, to establish what Biblical justice is. We can not establish a human definition for justice, and then try to shove Godís actions into that definition.
If we really believe that God is the apex of justice, it will make a world of difference how we respond to the events of life. A proper belief of Godís Justice will also make a vast difference how and what we do in life. In the last lesson, I pointed to one aspect of our lives that would change dramatically, if we really believed and had confidence in the Justice of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
If we truly believe that God is totally Just, we will demonstrate an attitude of thanksgiving, instead of bitterness to the events of life.
Romans 2:3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with (justice) your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": (justice)
Please note! These are actions of God. It is from these and many other actions of God, recorded in His Word, that we can know Who God is.
One problem we humans have with the Justice of God, is that our interest seems more directed to the "manner" in which justice is carried out, RATHER than justice being carried out to its proper end.
This attitude is demonstrated in criminal court cases, because most are decided on technicalities rather that the fact of criminal action. This attitude towards true justice is totally natural. It is at the very center of humanity. A fact we will see as we study the human soul. Refresh your thinking about that first human sin, and their response to Godís Justice, even back when mankind was fresh from the creative hand of God.
Genesis 3:11 And He (God) said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Both, Adam and Eve, acted on the basis of their volition given by God, BUT God did not coerce, force and even influence them to act in this manner. They acted contrary to the direct command of God, therefore God must act in justice.
In Genesis 3:11 , God asked a simple question. "Who told you?" Adam did not answer properly, he answer as humans normally do. Adam tried to deflect the results of justice for the action of his sin, to the messenger who pointed out the failing.
Letís move on in our study of the Essence of God to the aspect of Godís Essence called "LOVE". First we must establish what we mean by love. We live in a world where the term "love" can mean almost any thing, like:
Of course, we evangelicals have the Greek! Therefore, we know what the term "love" means. Right?? Well, letís look at the lexicon definition of love. The Old Testament speaks often of love. An example isÖ
Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.
In the old Testament, the main Hebrew word translated to English as "love" isÖ
The New Testament has a great deal to say about love. Look at some of those references.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
There are two main Greek words in the New Testament translated to the English word "love". There are several different structures of these two Greek words, but the base meaning is the same.
This base Greed word is used in other forms such asÖ
Of course, there is the Greek word weíre all familiar with and is the standard bearer of Biblical love. That Greek word isÖ
The definition of "agape" or "agapao" is kind of a let down, isnít it? You would think that the word we put on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and as part of church names, etc., would have more pizzazz!
It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit uses common words of human language to explain very uncommon Biblical truths. The Holy Spirit takes common words, and by the Biblical use and actions connected with those words, He establishes a far greater and deeper meaning than their common use in human language.
Therefore, to have an understanding of Divine Love, we must establish a definition based on the actions of God, throughout the entire Word of God. Even searching Greek literature throws very little light on the distinctive meaning and use of agape in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit uses agape to express ideas previously unknown. IllustrationÖ
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
A great Greek scholar of generations past gave us some insights into the use of the Greek words for love in the New Testament. Please allow me to give a summary with some edits and additions of what W.E. Vine wrote in his Word Studies of New Testament Greed Words.
Agape and agapao are used in the NT to:
(1) Describe the attitude of God toward--
(a) His Son -- John 17:26 "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
(b) The human race -- John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
(c) Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ -- John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
(2) Convey His will to His children concerning their attitude--
(a) Toward one another -- John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
(b) Toward all men -- 1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
(3) Express the essential nature of God -- 1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
We can only know what Divine love is by observing the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His son.
1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
This was obviously not a love spawned from some emotional feelings or from a desire for self-satisfaction. This was not a love awakened because of some quality of excellence in the ones (us) to whom that love was directed.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This divine love was an action of God because of a deliberate choice. This choice of God to love was made without any condition of proper response from the ones who were loved. This divine love was not motivated by some benefit God might receive, but simply because it is Godís nature to love.
Remember, God cannot act according to one aspect of His nature (such as love) without that aspect being in perfect harmony with all other aspects of His nature (such as justice). Divine Love had its perfect expression among men in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us
Well, look at that! Donít miss it!! God can only act in "mercy" because of His great "love".
We have already seen that God canít act in "love" until His "justice" has been satisfied.
Remember, God can not act in one aspect of His essence without being in perfect harmony with all other aspect of His essence. Have you heard that before? That fact is one of the highest hurdles that must be cleared to have an understanding of Godís person and His actions. This will become clearer and clearer the further we move into this study.
Ephesians 3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
True Christian love is not an emotion, it is instead the fruit of His Spirit. True Christian love is not spawned in the nature of mankind, BUT IS the nature of God and becomes a reality in the life of Believer through the Holy Spirit, as we obey the Word of God and Worship the person of God.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
1 John 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Christian love must have God as its primary object and that love is first expressed in implicit obedience to Godís Word.
John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
2 John 1:6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
Self-centeredness is the negation of our love for God and the negation of the expression of Godís love, through us, to others. We looked at that subject in our last lesson on Sunday Night.
A true story illustrates this sacrificial love, on a human plane. A father took his eight year daughter and his five year old son, weíll call Brad, to the mall because he needed to buy some tools at Sears. When they pulled into the mall parking lot, there was a big sign that said, "Petting Zoo."
Immediately the kids started bouncing up and down and asked, "Can we go, Daddy? Can we? Please!"
Seeing that it would be no trouble at all, and concluding that it might even make his trip quicker, the father said, "Sure", and handed both of his kids a quarter. They bolted away, as he headed for Sears.
A few minutes later, he was making his way down an aisle when he spotted his daughter slowly walking up behind him.
She looked up at him and said, "Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brad my
quarter". Then she said the most beautiful thing of all. She repeated their family motto,
"Love is action!"
They stood by the fence watching Brad go crazy petting and feeding the animals. His daughter stood with her chin in her hands resting on the fence, just watching. Daddy could feel fifty cents in his pocket, almost burning a hole, but he never offered it, and she never asked for it. She was following through with the family lesson. Love is not just an action. Love is a sacrificial action. By the way, one reason we AND our children do not walk according to what we are taught, is LACK of consistency.
Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, Its benefits enhances anotherís account. My love is for you, not for me. Love gives, it doesnít grab.
There was another day and another Father Who allowed His Son to go to anything but a petting zoo. God the Father allowed His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to go to Calvary.
There His Son cried out, "My God! My God! Why have your forsaken me?" The answer was simply put in John 3:16 "Because God so love the world that He gaveÖ" Our Heavenly Father gave His Son that we might have Eternal Life, by simply believing.
Will you respond or spurn this Divine love?
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005|