Christ's Love Compels Us

Friday, October 25, 2013, 8:02 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Love Must Be Genuine” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-6:2 (NIV).

Meanwhile We Groan

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, by his grace through our faith, we have the hope of eternal life with God in glory. Right now we must still live in earthly bodies (tents) which get sick, hurt, injured, sorrowful, tired, weak, and which are tempted to sin. Yet one day - Praise Jesus - we will get to trade in these earthly bodies for heavenly bodies which will no longer have pain, sorrow, and sickness, and which will never sin again. Amen! Oh, how I long for that day! I praise the Lord for this promise and hope of heaven, and for his Holy Spirit dwelling within me as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Away from the Lord

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Though it is true that while we still live in these earthly bodies that we are physically away from the Lord, I see another meaning here. I believe the Lord has quickened my heart here and has given me this understanding: As long as we feel “at home” in our earthly bodies, we are spiritually away from the Lord. In other words, as long as the “lord” of our lives is our own flesh and the sinful pleasures this world has to offer, we are spiritually away from the Lord, i.e. we cannot be in true fellowship with him. If we say we have fellowship with him, and yet we continue to walk in darkness, the Bible says we are liars (See 1 John 1).

If we believe we have come to faith in Jesus Christ, for instance, and thus we believe we have the hope of heaven, and yet our lives are never transformed by the Spirit of God, then we don’t have the hope we thought we did. We cannot enter into eternal life with God with dirty clothing - partying, playing with fire and with no thought or care in mind of being clothed with Christ’s righteousness and purity. Jesus Christ died for our sins, not just so we could go to heaven one day, but so we would be delivered from the bondage (slavery) of sin, and so we could walk in freedom day-to-day. Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny ourselves, die daily to sin and self and follow him in obedience. He said if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity, but if we die to our old lives of living for sin and self, by his grace through faith, we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25).

On the other side of this thought: Although heaven is promised to us, and it is our hope, yet for those of us still in these earthly bodies it is not yet a present and physical reality for us. We cannot physically see God or heaven, so we walk by faith and not by sight. We long for our heavenly dwelling, yet while we are still on the face of this earth we make it our goal to please our Lord. Again, we are not saved just so we have heaven to look forward to. We are saved so that we can walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness day-by-day while we still live here on this earth. So, if you are counting on heaven as your ultimate destiny, and yet your goal while still on this earth is not to please your Lord in every way, but it is to enjoy this earthly life while you can, being “at home” in your body, then maybe your life was not ever transformed by the Spirit of God from your old life of living in sin to a new life of walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Don’t play with fire! Judgment is sure!

The Fear of the Lord

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Do we truly know what it is to fear the Lord? I believe this is lost in today’s modern church movement. I see an entitlement mindset being catered to in today’s institutional church, instead of the fear (awe, respect and honor) of God. Much of today’s church leadership follow humanistic philosophy over the word of God; marketing schemes and gimmicks in place of the Holy Spirit power; and a diluted gospel created to appeal to the flesh of humans in order to make it more appealing and acceptable. The institution of church is a business run by humans rather than a spiritual entity with Christ as its head. Entertainment is often the focus of the church services and programs, in order to appeal to the sinful world. God is often reduced to a doting grandfather in the sky granting our every request, who only doles out blessings, but who never corrects, rebukes or disciplines his children. And, the flesh of man rules instead of the Spirit of God, and so the fear of God is lost in the shuffle.

Yet, to know the fear of the Lord means we see God for who he truly is and who scripture teaches he is. Jesus did not just go around giving nicey-nice feel-good messages, pat people on the back, and console them in their sin. He spoke the truth in love, confronted sin in sinful humans, called for humility and repentance (turning from sin to God), and he said we must die to sin if we want to live for eternity. He spoke such strong words that many of his “followers” deserted him never to follow him again. And many hated him, mostly the religious leaders of his day. Why did they hate him? Jesus said that he was hated because he told the sinful world that what they did was evil. He must not have taken marketing 101. He must not have read the right books. That is not the way to win people over and to get them in our churches! Yet, he didn’t come here to make people like him. He came to save them, and that meant telling them the truth about their sin and of his remedy for their sin.

Jesus Christ loved us so much that he told us the truth, and he was willing to be hated and killed because he told the truth. Jesus Christ died that those of us who live in him should no longer live for ourselves – being “at home” in our flesh bodies – but for him who died for us and who was raised again to give us NEW LIFE! This is the purpose of his grace, which teaches us to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (See Titus 2:12).

And, because of what Jesus Christ did for us in saving us from slavery to sin and in freeing us to walk in his righteousness, his love compels us to try to persuade others to turn from their lives of sin and to walk in Christ’s righteousness, all in the power and working of God within us. And, when we do that, the sinful world and the worldly church and its leaders will hate us, too, and think we are crazy, and they will discard us like garbage (See 1 Co. 4:9-13). Yet, we are to rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Be Reconciled to God

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Have you ever read a sentence, and then read it again with a different inflection or with putting emphasis on a different word and found the second time reading it you saw something you didn’t see the first time? Well, when I read v. 17 this time that happened to me. I think sometimes we get this backwards. We assume that if we prayed some prayer that we are now in Christ and thus positionally the old is no longer charged to our account because Jesus, by his Spirit, has made us new. While that is what happens when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, I think sometimes we read this backwards.

In other words, rather than making an assumption that we are in Christ, when we may not be, and so we presume our positional standing before Christ, I think that we should read this to say that IF we are in Christ, that there should be such a heart transformation of the Spirit of God within us that truly it should be apparent that the old has gone and that we have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. For instance, we read in scripture that the way we come to know Christ is by putting off our old lives of sin, by being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by putting on our new lives in Christ, created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24).

Yet, all this is from God, i.e. this is the work of the Spirit in our hearts as we cooperate fully with that work. We cannot earn our salvation nor have we done anything to deserve it. It is a free gift from God that must be received by faith; by receiving Christ Jesus to be LORD and SAVIOR of our lives, which involves us willingly giving up our old lives and allowing the Spirit of God to transform us and to make us new in Christ; changed in character and conduct. In other words, this receiving of this reconciliation means that we also receive into our lives - in thought, word, and deed - all that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross for us in saving us from our sins, so that we submit to his Lordship over our lives, and we surrender our wills to him, making him truly LORD of our lives. If we do not do this, then it is possible that we may have received (acknowledged) God’s grace to no effect (in vain) in our lives. Jesus Christ reconciled us to give us NEW LIVES, not cleaned up old lives. Make sure of your salvation today! Our love for Christ must be genuine, based on truth.

Love Must be Genuine / An Original Work

October 22, 2013 / Based off Romans 12:9-21

Love must be genuine.
Hate what’s evil; cling to good.
Love each other with affection.
Show respect for ev’ryone.
Never lack in your zeal.
Serve the Lord with diligence.

Rejoice in steadfast hope.
In affliction, patient be.
Keep on praying; share with others.
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute.
Feel with others sympathy.

Be not filled with conceit.
Daily sit at Jesus’ feet.
Live in harmony with others.
Live at peace with ev’ryone.
Repay not to someone
With the evil he begot.

Do not take your revenge;
Leave it to the wrath of God.
If your enemy is thirsty,
Give to him something to drink.
Do what’s right for mankind.
Evil: overcome with good.