God is Love

by Mike Ratliff

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16 ESV)

As the elect draw closer and closer to Christ in obedience and fellowship the more and more they will be seen to be identified with Him and will, therefore, be hated by the world, just as He was and just as He said would happen (John 15:18-25). If the visible church has invited the world in and has become so conformed to it that there is no difference, what will happen within these “churches” when the elect within become conformed to Christ as I shared above? It will be the same result. They will be seen as outsiders and troublemakers. They will be seen as people needing “sensitivity training” or as intolerable and close-minded. They will be seen uncompromising and will, therefore, have to be driven out or, at least, ostracized. Not every church is in this sad shape, thank the Lord, but the number is growing, and intolerance for true Christian exclusivity and doctrinal purity in our countries are starting to contaminate our churches. 

How should we respond? We must remain in the mode of drawing closer and closer to Christ, becoming more and more like Him. Our obedience to our Lord is foremost. We are to reflect to all the love of God that has become manifest in us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12 ESV)

This love for one another is a description of our Christian fellowship. It is a consequence of being truly born of God. Those who claim to be Christians, but exclude the brethren who are not ecumenical, political, or liberal enough fail this test. With whom do we fellowship here? Is it all professing believers? No, it is those who are born of the same spirit as us. We can discern the apostasy and the disingenuousness in those who refuse to repent when they are confronted. No, that is not who John is talking about. We are to love and fellowship with  God’s people, those born of the Spirit like us. They will reflect the same love as us and we will see it being manifest amongst us. Also, we will know those not born of this spirit who will have a huge problem with our walk on the narrow path of obedience rather than the broad way of tolerance and ecumenicalism. Those professing Christians who demand tolerance for the ways of the world and ecumenicalism we rebuke. We tell them the truth, but they prove through their worldliness and refusal to repent  that they are disingenuous so we do not call them “brethren.”

Some may say that to walk this way of obedience is not loving. Sorry, but those would say that have it backward. We who walk this way do so because we love God and this is  how He wills that we walk. In this walk we express His love to one another and to all those He calls to Himself through us. This is indeed loving. Here is C.H. Spurgeon’s take on this.

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is his confidence in the love of Christ, and the yielding of his affections to Christ in return.  First, faith sets her seal upon the man by enabling the soul to say with the apostle, “Christ loved me and gave Himself for me.” Then love gives the countersign, and stamps upon the heart gratitude and love to Jesus in return. “We love Him because He first loved us.” In those grand old ages, which are the heroic period of the Christian religion, this double mark was clearly to be seen in all believers in Jesus; they were men who knew the love of Christ, and rested upon it as a man leaneth upon a staff whose trustiness he has tried. The love which they felt towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion which they hid within themselves in the secret chamber of their souls, and which they only spake of in their private assemblies when they met on the first day of the week, and sang hymns in honour of Christ Jesus the crucified, but it was a passion with them of such a vehement and all-consuming energy, that it was visible in all their actions, spoke in their common talk, and looked out of their eyes even in their commonest glances. Love to Jesus was a flame which fed upon the core and heart of their being; and, therefore, from its own force burned its way into the outer man, and shone there. Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine Christians. Because of their dependence upon Christ’s love they dared much, and because of their love to Christ they did much, and it is the same now. The children of God are ruled in their inmost powers by love-the love of Christ constraineth them; they rejoice that divine love is set upon them, they feel it shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them, and then by force of gratitude they love the Saviour with a pure heart, fervently. My reader, do you love Him? Ere you sleep give an honest answer to a weighty question! – C.H Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for Jun 5th.

Do you love Him or are you simply being religious? Are you truly regenerate and a new creation who has this love of God in you or are you just trying hard? These are important questions to ask oneself.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

16 thoughts on “God is Love

  1. Such truth, brother. So much truth, in fact, you would be ostracized from one of these churches for writing it. God bless you as you continue to contend for the faith and exhort the true Church to draw closer to God through the renewing of our minds unto holiness.

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  2. Amen again Mike! For so long now we have felt like square pegs trying to fit into a round hole – and began to wonder was it US who had the problem? God IS love – so for not wanting to offend those in authority over us, we kept quiet!
    I now believe for years we had been “programmed” that it is wrong to question the leadership about the direction a church was heading (“touch not the annointed of god” etc). So we sat under that belief – and grew more and more discontented UNTIL the Lord opened our eyes – that YES, we need to be discerning, and if something doesn’t line up with scripture, then we need to speak out – no matter what the cost!

    I remember that as a worship leader in a previous church, I questioned the music director (who was the pastor’s son) about the decision he had made to use “worldly” guitar lead licks to introduce worship songs – so as to make a worldly newcomer feel more at home! One of the worship choruses he introduced had an ACDC intro!!!! I was quietly/softly bullied that I was “old in my ways” – I was in my 30’s – he was in his 20’s!!!

    I’m reminded of Romans 12:2 – “But do NOT be conformed to this world…”
    As you said above, we need doctrinal purity in EVERY aspect of our lives. But my heart grieves for the churches we have been involved with through the years, who desperately need purity/purifying!

    And now we too wonder if a small group meeting in a home where everyone has input might be more appropriate – if we could find one! We depend on the internet at the moment!

    I sorry for digressing here, but I have always wondered where did the modern format of “how we do church today” came from?
    (ie. Church starts with a fast chorus or 2, then a greeting, then a few medium tempo, then announcements, then a childrens talk, then kids off to sunday school, then a scripture reading/prayer/ then slow worship choruses, then the message, the end!) – not that any of this is bad by the way!
    And how long has this format been like this? Who introduced this style of service? Could be another topic for you to expand for us!

    Your sister in Christ,
    Sandra

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  3. When the going gets hard, I remember that I belong to Jesus Christ:
    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
    Matt. 6:24
    The churchman who feels his job prevents him from sharing the Gospel of our Lord with unsaved people, has made his choice to serve mammon.
    Pastors, Deacons, and Christians of all types who have “sold out” the Lord for the tawdry approval of the world, have made their choice also. It hasn’t escaped notice the extent to which “ministries” must be funded by sales of books, tapes, CDs, and speakers’ fees.
    The Holy Scriptures also reveal:
    “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
    1 Timothy 6:10

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  4. ” ……..true Christian exclusivity…….and doctrinal purity”

    I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that I was too narrow minded, that I “excluded” people, that I was to harsh and intolerant. Spoken to me by those closest. Oh, how it cuts and hurts. You become very tempted to drop the standard a bit, just a bit to become more accepted. But, when I even contemplate it, the Spirit fire of God Almighty burns within my heart, and says “NO”. The stand must be maintained. The truth must be lived and defended without fear or favor.
    Praise Jesus for the precious balm of the Spirit to my tattered, wounded soul!
    His coming is so near, I will not put my hand to the plow and look back!
    Thank you for this post.

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  5. Sandra, what you have described was a “Compromised Church.” It is all flesh driven with no dependency on the Holy Spirit at all for He is not there. I have been in countless churches just like this. They are cultural, therefore, they have already been contextulized to a degree and, therefore, they are flesh driven. That is why you fee like a square peg in a round hole. We must go to God with these concerns and do as He directs.

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  6. Been in that kind of church Sandra. I do play guitar as the Lord has blessed me with that ability. I play electric (tastefully I might add) with an orchestra (sitting down) and choir in our church that doesn’t really follow the format you describe above. I have seen many churches take secular songs and try to “Christianize” the lyrics, but that is only taking a wolf and putting sheep’s clothing on it. I do see a time coming where we will need to retreat into homes. Thanks for the post Mike and the comments from all. On another note Mike, I am finishing my school year this week and could use prayer as it is REALLY busy and people need me to lead with patience and conviction.

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  7. I agree with you Mike! (and sorry for the length of this)
    However, as you know, the latest church we have just left (after hanging in there for 3 years) WAS preaching the Word. Our pastor was a gifted communicator – and did preach God’s Word uncompromisingly – apart from the “add-on’s”!
    However (another one!), it was the leadership’s desire to be VERY culturally relevant, and so they physically went to the USA to visit Mark Driscoll’s church/Acts 29/Tim Keller’s church – and began to push being missional that we finally felt enough was enough (as I have already said in previous posts that they recently tailored the entire night church service to a “17 year old unchurched male demographic”).
    That being said – we were seeing the fruit (young people being saved – through getting into the local high schools through “younglife” programs etc)

    So this is where I have trouble in writing off the whole “missional” push (even though we have left!!!)
    1. Our pastor preached an uncompromised gospel – but with the culturally relevant add-on’s.
    2. The worship songs chosen were not I/me – they were doctrinally meaty!
    3. They are getting into the schools – and preaching an uncompromised gospel message (in a state high school!)

    BUT – the exceptionally loud music with “disco” lights on stage, the tailoring of services could long term “dumb down” a generation of young/new believers, the frustrating practice of incorporating witty cultural relevant stories/movie synopsis to explain a passage of scripture/a bookshop full of suspect teachings etc etc was the last straw for us.

    So Mike, in one way this church IS compromising – but in another – the purity of the gospel message being preached from the pulpit, they’re not! It is SO frustrating! They’re SO close, and yet so FAR away at the same time! But we have learnt that when we depend on Him 100% – all this will fade away – as long as we stand firm and true on His Word alone! (Sola Scriptura/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia/Solus Christus/Soli Deo Gloria)

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  8. Yes Sandra, that is it. That is the point. Some take the excesses even further of course and mess the gospel message up even more, but even so, how can we mix the world in with the Gospel? If you get these kids in with the appeal to their flesh then that is how you will have to keep them and that is all they will know. It is not right. If find it incredible that pastors like Rick Warren can say this or that person is saved and transformed. How can he know that? Jesus said that the only way we can tell a sheep from a goat is by their fruit and that means their adherence to His Gospel and His Doctrine. In other words, their faithfulness. How are they doing there? Appealing to the flesh is not going to cut it in the long term as you shared.

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  9. Found this quote and wanted to share it:

    “When the Gospel we preach is no longer scandalous, when it no longer offends, when it no longer creates enemies, it no longer has the power to save!” ~Paul Washer~

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  10. HHMMMM, it is very interesting isn’t it and very confusing……the Gospel AND something else…… The MIX!!! On the one hand a “doctinally sound gospel of salvation”, yet…relevancy, worldlines, fleshliness, accepted, touted, practiced and adhered to as “worship”. I heard a sermon one time on Baal Worhip/Idolatry. The teaching was that people had a very wrong idea of Baal Worship/Idolatry. believeing that it was DISTINCTLY different than Judaism and the general religious practices of Israel. The children of Israel did everything “unto the Lord” Baal means Lord. The groves, the wild, loud religious services, the extra-Biblical incenses, cake-baking, child sacrifice, prostitution and sexual frenzy…….ALL “unto the Lord”. IT WAS A MIX!!!! They added other things, things their flesh craved, things other countries practiced, OTHER THINGS……THE MIX!!! Isn’t that what we have today????? Sure, some “churches” are just totally, flat-out APOSTATE…..THEN you have these other churches, they are mixed…on one hand, not so bad, on the other hand……..HHHMMMM. That’s why it is SO IMPERATIVE that we “earnestly contend for THE FAITH once delieverd to the saints.” THE FAITH, THE GOSPEL…..NOT the gospel AND, not the FAith AND…… You can compromise something by taking away from it or by adding to it. Most would quickly recognize the herecy of salvation by grace plus doing this or that, but it takes longer for us to recognize the doctrine of the gospel plus…….. fill-in-the -blank. It is particuarly hard when we are in it….seems like we have to distance ourselves to see it sometimes. One drop of water changes a glass of grape juice, but it takes many drops for it to be evident that the juice has changed…… I think that is why the Lord seems to be calling so many out of these “Institutions of Religious Activities”
    “But we have learnt that when we depend on Him 100% – all this will fade away – as long as we stand firm and true on His Word alone!” AMEN!!!!

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  11. Amen, Amen, Amen Stella Marie!!! Yes, this is it. This is exactly the message God has given to us for this horrible, dark time. We are in a time of deep, dark apostasy that most people have no problem with. Isn’t it amazing?

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