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!