Have You Lost Your First Love?

You can listen to my teaching,

“Have You Lost Your First Love?” in the player below.

This was presented at Berean Baptist Church, Sunday July 25, 2010.

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Have You Lost Your First Love?

Matthew 7:21

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Again, we see an example of Jesus separating people 1 of 2 ways. There are those that go to heaven, and those that will not. this is the end of the sermon on the mount, the most famous sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher ever.

Jesus is speaking primarily to the Pharisees, and he has already explained to them that a man’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. He has just explained that true followers of Him will exhibit fruit in their lives in a way that displays a love for Him. Loving God will result in loving what He loves, and a believer is expected to bear good fruit. Mat 7:16-18 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Why is Jesus making this point? It think Matthew 7:21-23 makes that clear. In possibly the most chilling portion of scripture, there will be people in the last day who confess Jesus Christ with their mouths as Lord (Romans 10:9) but will not be true followers of Christ!

How can this be? There is an enormous amount of scripture that speaks of salvation:

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Don’t the above verses make it sound like all you have to do is believe, or even call on the name of Jesus? Yes they do, but this is the beauty of scripture. It is all TRUE. So how do we handle apparent contradictions like these? Well, it’s important to remember that, “All scripture is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. We must understand all of scripture as one book, one complete thought. We cannot ignore Jesus’ words, that many will say to Him “Lord Lord’ and His reply, “I never knew you.”

Romans 10:13 can be explained by reading it in context. Even in the same chapter (Romans 10:9) we are told we must confess Christ as Lord AND believe in our heart that God has raised him from the dead. Obviously, Paul implies that there is more to “being saved” than saying Jesus’s name, even if you think you’ve “called on it.” What does “believe in him” mean then in the other two verses? “We know that even the demons believe and they tremble,” James 2:19. And even Judas believed in Jesus, in a sense, Matthew 27:3-4, and knew he had sinned against an innocent man, but he certainly didn’t get saved.

Matthew 26:24 states, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”

So to be truly known by Christ requires far more than just calling His name, or in the case of the people in Matthew 7, it requires trust in Him alone for righteousness. According to our verse, only those of us that do His Father’s will in heaven will see the kingdom of Heaven, but Christ makes clear in the following verse (Matthew 7:22) and the preceding verses, that our good deeds are nothing but the outpouring of a heart that is totally submitted to Him, and that is trusting him alone for salvation. This is the overwhelming theme of the bible as it pertains to man (the overwhelming theme of the bible is the revelation of God’s glory). Man cannot do anything to please God, outside of faith. (Romans 14:23, Hebrews 11:6, Is 64:6)

Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

This is a warning from the King of kings and Lord of lords! My reader, please do not put your faith in your own works of righteousness for your salvation. Even the biblical practice of looking at the “fruit” in your life can be nothing more that trusting in yourself. Throw yourself fully upon Christ and cling to Him alone for salvation. You must be born again!

And I think the main problem here is, IN WHOM DO YOU TRUST? Do you trust in an image of Jesus created in your own mind, or one born from the devil? Those Jesus’s cannot save! They are powerless over sin and powerless over the power of God to punish sin. Trusting the Christ revealed in the Holy Scriptures is the only way! (John 14:6)

This is a great verse for witnessing because you will run into “christians” all the time who do not know the gospel. They won’t be able to communicate to you how they know they are saved. If you truly care for people you will realize they may be believing in a false Jesus. They have put their trust in a Jesus that cannot save, like the health and wealth Jesus, or the Jesus that is still being crucified in the Catholic church. I beg you to care about people and the gospel more than you treasure your own life!

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

1Timothy 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

For further reading on this important topic see my Ephesians post and What is the gospel?

Ephesians 2:8-9

Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.

Praise God for that! Hallelujah, Amen!

I could stop right there, but I won’t. 🙂 This verse is packed with implications for your theology. Soteriology is the study of salvation. How we are actually saved is an interesting thing to study. It is not the same as, what should we do once we are saved, or what must we do to be saved, but rather, the actual in depth search of what actually happens when a person truly puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and what must occur in order for that to be able to transpire.

Let’s look at this verse in detail…Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith…what does this mean? Let me use an extra-biblical analogy to try to convey the meaning in a way that may make it understandable. I could say,

To get to the fair you travel in your car using Main street.

You would know exactly what that means. Check this out:

The fair is your destination or end result, the goal, if you will.

Main street is the avenue that makes the goal reachable or attainable, it is the “way there” in a sense.

Your car is the mechanism by which you travel along the avenue or path to the goal, the fair.

So it is by car that you can make your way down Main Street to get to the fair. Reading into my analogy more we can see that the fair is representative of somewhere you are not. The fair is not a place you already are, thus, you must travel to go there. No one is at the fair except God (Romans 3:23).

The car is your tool, or mechanism, for getting there. Arriving at the fair requires that you operate the car. You must first desire to go to the fair, and then you must exercise your ability to make the car go, in order to get there.

You also need to know how to get there, in other words, you must know the right path. Thus, we have Main street. (notice there is only one way provided in my analogy) . Understand that you cannot create Main street. Main street must exist already, otherwise my car, and even knowledge of the fair, are useless to me. Main street must be provided for you to even be able to drive your car to the fair.

Let me apply this analogy to the scripture, what would that mean for our verse?

Saved, or salvation, is the destination, goal or end result like the fair.

Grace is the avenue that makes the goal reachable. Like Main Street, it’s the ONLY way to the end result, salvation.

Faith is the mechanism by which you travel to the goal, which is salvation. Faith is analogous to the car.

Just as I stated above, no one is “saved” by default, we are not “there.” Faith, like the car, is a tool that we use to meet the goal, and it must be exercised by us and we must desire to exercise it.

Grace is the right and only path. Grace is not something that we could effect ourselves, and knowledge of grace is useless without the exercise of faith. Knowing that grace is the way to salvation is not sufficient to be saved. Demons know that (James 2:19), and so do many cults and false religions that teach a grace that turns liberty into license to do whatever you desire! No, you must have faith, faith that overcomes. Faith that results in a changed life. Just as I will know you have a car when I see you drive somewhere, your faith will be known by the fruit it produces. (Mt 7:13-23)

“…and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” What is the gift of God? It seems that the gift of God must be either “salvation”, “grace” or “faith,” (faith in this verse is best described as “saving faith”). Can the gift be “grace”? Grace is the unmerited favor of God on sinners; yes, and since He is not compelled by any outside force to provide it, it is a gift in a sense, but that is not what Paul is describing here. Paul states “by grace.” Grace, as stated earlier is the path or avenue made available, not the gift itself. “Salvation” is definitely a gift, is it not? (Romans 6:23) The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. But is salvation the gift spoken of here? Let’s look at the faith you have if you are saved. According to the first 7 verses of chapter 2 of Ephesians (Eph 2:1-7), you were a slave to sin, controlled by the power of this world, a servant to your sin. Dead in trespasses and sin! Faith, the saving faith that brings a person in right standing through Christ is also a gift of God! What Paul is making clear is that saving faith is not of yourselves it is a gift from God to you. You could have no more mustered saving faith while a sinner than Lazarus could have raised himself from the dead. It required a life-giving power that we do not have!

It seems like being saved is the gift of God spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9. To read otherwise into the text, as tempting as it may be is putting something there that isn’t there, in my interpretation. But it is also clear, given the context, that the faith we exercise is also not of ourselves, that the heart regeneration that is necessary to be able to exercise saving faith (John 3:3, 6:63, 1 Cor 2:14) is also “of God.” That no man seeks God (Romans 3:10-12) and that saving faith must be a gift from God.

Notice that I did not say that your fruit IS your faith, or that you can create the faith by the fruit. Faith comes first. Just as the only way for me to see you driving the car is for you to get in and drive it, the only way for anyone to see your faith is for you to exercise it. And that brings us to the rest of the verse…Nor is it the result of a work that you could do. Our salvation is through faith, a gift from God, NOT of works, which would require payment. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord Romans 6:23.

What is faith? Faith is knowledge, belief and trust. Think about it, you cannot believe that which you do not know, and you cannot trust in that which you do not believe. James 2:19 makes it clear that there are those that “believe” but are not saved, so being born again includes implicity trusting Christ as redeemer.

Follow me along a thought process a moment…For a man to have the ability to exercise saving faith and NOT do it would be sin. And for a man to have the ability to exercise saving faith and to do so would be the opposite of sin! Well, let’s see here, if you are “not sinning,” would you not have some reason to boast? If you, unlike your neighbor who does not exercise his faith or use his ability to believe Christ, have now believed, then praise You! What a great job you’ve done turning from your sin and choosing to believe God instead of man and the devil himself! Why, when you preach, you should be making sure to tell people of how you converted yourself from an unbelieving sinner into a faithful disciple, for the ability was always there, you just finally chose it. And how much better you are than your neighbor or coworker, who, having sufficient knowledge and built-in ability to believe has rejected (not trusted) the Savior!

What I’ve done is show you that if FAITH is not a gift from God; that if men, by their nature, can believe and be saved, then saved men have reason to boast! Because the salvation they have acquired is the due result of the faith they’ve exercised of their own power. But Paul makes clear in Eph 2:9 that THERE IS NO ROOM FOR BOASTING. That if you are saved it is wholly and undeniably the work of God. Couple that with the understanding of man’s depraved state, Jeremiah 17:9, and the need to be born again (John 3:3-7), it is clear that even faith is a provision of God.

What does this mean? It means you can REST ASSURED that your faith will overcome! 1 John 5:4-5, Romans 8:28-30. You do not need to worry about whether you will “hold on” if you have been granted that faith. For it is secure and eternal and it is not a work you could do, and now that you have it, you cannot do otherwise. You can share the gospel and sleep well, for you know that it is not up to you to manipulate another person’s will to exercise saving faith for their life. You know that saving faith will be God’s gift to them, and that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). You do not need to water down God’s message, nor do you need to spice it up or make it more interesting or exciting. Nothing you can do will “stir up” saving faith in another, EXCEPT sharing God’s truth as meekly, temperately, boldly and lovingly as you can, and trusting that He can and will bring the increase. Pray that God will change you as you do this!

Maybe you’ve read this and you are thinking, “I don’t have this saving faith. How do I get it?” You may understand well enough that it is only up to God to grant it to you. And now you are mad or frustrated by this. Maybe you resent the God that hasn’t showered you with His unmerited favor. Instead dear fellow sinner, throw yourself before the throne of grace and beg for God’s mercy, ask Him to make you love Him and trust Christ alone, the invitation is open!

Luke 18:13-14

13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Hebrews 13:8

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Wow! How can our finite minds even begin to comprehend this? Let’s face it, we only understand things on a limited level. What a contrast to God whose understanding is infinite – Ps 147:5. Jesus Christ has never changed, and never will. While we are blown around by the latest wind, He is immutable, Is 64:6; Malachi 3:6 – I am the Lord, I change not!

But this verse is packed with more than Mal 3:6. This verse is another affirmation of the deity of Jesus Christ. Just as he himself declares in John 8:58 (before Abraham was, I am), and just as He is pictured throughout scripture as Lord of lords and King of kings, (Rev 19:6,16), and as He stated in Revelation 1, He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus is God, has always been God and always will be God. This is not easy to understand and many cults have obscured this view!

Let’s take a look at some of the confusing issues, taking the scripture and see if we can make some sense of things.

Some will say that according to John 3:16, if Jesus is God the Father’s son, then Jesus was “born” or that he is a created being. Jehovah’s Witnesses employ this strategy. But does this make any sense? Jesus as the firstborn among many brethren Romans 8:29…does this prove that He is created, rather than eternal? I think that people are applying human reasoning to scriptural things. The fact is that I no more made my own son than I make any cell in my body. That Jesus was begotten of the father doesn’t mean that he was created, but rather that he is of the same nature, cut from the same fabric to use a phrase we understand today. Contrary to declaring Christ as a creation, this emphatically declares Christ as one with the Father, fully God (John 10:30). We must always remember to get our view of scripture from scripture, not from human wisdom applied to scripture (Proverbs 14:12).

Let’s look at scripture again. Scripture is quite clear that Jesus is worthy of all our praise and worship, that He alone deserves honor and praise and glory and that he will receive it for all eternity. Revelation 5:12-14

12Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

13And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

14And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

…That being said, for God to speak so disdainfully about worshipping the creature rather than the creator in Romans 1:25 would be contradictory to the plain fact that Christ (the lamb of God from John 1:29) is worshipped for eternity if Christ were a created being! Let me repeat that another way…God cannot and will not contradict Himself…In Romans 1, He is clearly calling men unrighteous who have worshipped “creatures” rather than the “Creator”, yet Christ is constantly worshipped in scripture! So Christ could not be created…if you believe the Bible!

Refer to Colossians 1:16 and John 1:1-3. Really…mouse over those references and read words! All things were made by Him and all things are held together by Him. Nothing that was made was not made by Him! It is so clear, He is the maker of all the earth (including all men!). Why do men insist on denying this? Romans 1:18 – so that men may continue to indulge in the sin they love. For if it is acknowledged that Christ is creator, then he is also the rightful judge and we are all accountable. And frankly, we are all in trouble, for we all have sinned. Our situation is hopeless except for the fact that he chose to save us by becoming a man and taking on the shame of the cross in order to satisfy the Holy Righteous judgment that is required for sin.

So how do I explain that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever, yet he became a man? This makes no sense to us in human terms! Because we live within and are constrained by the confines of this thing called time. Time is something that Jesus is not subject to and never has been subject to. Christ lives outside of time, and sacrificed himself before the foundations of the world. He elected to save us before he even created the world. (Eph 1:4) He was not surprised by Adam’s sin, nor by yours. Jesus is unchanging because He is God. God is unchanging because He cannot improve, He is already perfect, and He cannot degrade, as the result of His perfection. He became incarnate to reveal himself to us, but He is immutable, unchanging. His thoughts of you have never changed, His Word has never changed and will never pass away (Luke 16:17)

The fact that Jesus is God necessitates that He is immutable! If He was changeable, then He would be imperfect.

Dear Christian, this is a great comfort! When you sin as a Christian, (and you will, by the way), you can remember that God already knew you would sin after being saved. Oh, it is one thing to realize that he knew the evil you would do before you were saved and to be excited about the fact that He would save you by grace in spite of your enmity with him, but it is another level of joy to know that He saved you knowing the evil you would still commit in your heart and deeds AFTER giving you the promise of forgiveness. To know that he has provided you with the means to trample on His grace, to suffer the shame of seeing Christians everywhere drag his name into mud, but because of his great love and patience 2 Peter 3:9, and for His name’s sake would save you from your sin, and the consequence of that sin, what unspeakable mercy! What love. Oh how hard is it for us to forgive others in this world. And how impossible it would be for us to forgive someone if we knew they would “do it again!” But Jesus commanded that we do so continiously, and we can and should, because He does!

So Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever. Be comforted, brothers and sisters, the same God that spent His life on that cross for you is still your advocate (1 John 2:1), His intercession on your behalf is eternal (Heb 7:25, 9:24-25), and based in His great Love and His faithfulness. Now enjoy the fruit of this love and walk in obedience to Him, joyfully, for his yoke is not burdensome!

Matthew 11:28-30

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

1 John 5:3-4

3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Christian Haiku

Ok, this is a bit off the beaten path, but tonight during the adult prayer meeting, it was my privilege to work with the children. Normally I preach for 30-40 minutes (they are a great practice audience), but since they already sat through Pastor Cuenin’s “Wednesday mini,” I figured I’d cut them a break. We had two new girls there, so I made sure to present the plan of salvation in Christ alone, then we wrote “Bible Haiku.” Please enjoy!

David’s coat was many colors
Moses was a good leader
Jesus died for our sins
Moriah age 7
Moses was a baby
3 wise men saw the baby
Jesus love babies
Luke age 7
Noah built an ark
he brought animals with him
there was a great storm
Bailey age 9
Jesus died for me
on the cross he bore my sins
suffering my shame
Michael age 34
Genesis is true
Adam and Eve walked with God
then disobeyed Him
Michael age 34
crucifixion time
Christ on the cross for sinners
and he rose again
Alexandra age 6
Jesus rose again
Jesus died on the cross for
our sins…Jesus loves us
Nicholas age 7
Jesus died for me
Jesus was nailed to a cross
Samson’s hair was cut
Samuel age 9
Noah brought a few animals
Jesus loves the little children
there was a big flood
Jayden age 9
Adam and Eve sinned
God created a Heaven
Noah built an ark
Taylor age 10
Abraham’s promise
fulfilled in his seed the Christ
Jesus, Sovereign Lord
Michael age 34
when Jesus was a
baby his mommy held him
and loved him so much
Nathan age 4
Proverbs has wisdom
Romans theological
prophetic is Psalms
Michael age 34
Moses a baby
Moses went to the Pharoah
lived in a basket
Caleb age 6
Elijah loves light
fears the command of the queen
laughs at their idols
Michael age 34
Jesus loves us lots
first he died on the cross
then he rose again
Nicholas age 7
Malachi is the
messenger of the Lord God
last O.T. prophet
Michael age 34
husbands love your wives
as Christ loves his church and gave
himself a ransom
Michael age 34

Proverbs 27:1-2

Proverbs 27:1-2
Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth, a stranger, not thine own lips.

Looking at Proverbs 27 is an excellent way to study the Bible! Although this is true of the entire content of God’s Word, I’ve noticed that Proverbs 27 is packed with wisdom. Again, this is not unique to this chapter of the Bible, but I believe that Proverbs 27 is a very readable, very understandable proverb which people can immediately apply to their lives.

But let’s just look at verse 1 for now. Proverbs 27:1…there is a parallel that comes immediately to mind in James 4:13-15. Our lives are but a vapor. We are here one minute and gone the next. Sure, we all know someone who has lived past an age we think of as very old…but don’t we all know someone…or at least have heard of someone who was gone too quickly from this life as well? Children die daily…there are automobile accidents that take people’s lives. I often think when driving by an accident scene, “I’m sure that person didn’t wake up today and think, ‘Maybe I’m going to get into an accident today.” I’d guess it is a RARE occurrence that someone knows the day they will die.

The point is that we do not know what may come…we ought not even plan for the future too pridefully without qualifying our plans with, as the Lord wills. But maybe the most practical application for the verse is to live each day in such a way so that if it were to be your last, you would not regret it. Please don’t accuse me of a “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” attitude which is clearly looked upon with disdain in scripture. I’m talking about living each day here on Earth for Jesus. Living each day with the realizatioin that He has put you here for a reason, and you ought to be fulfilling that, as grace allows, through your life! I mean acknowledging that the people around you, as well as you, may not be around tomorrow.

Who in your life have you not shared the gospel with yet? How would you feel if tomorrow it was too late? If it was you who died…would the legacy you leave be Christ honoring and Christ proclaiming? Oh that we all might strive for that in our Christian walk, resting on Christ alone for the needed power and grace.

Now onto verse 2. Another verse that forces us to fully trust in God as sovereign. Not only are we NOT to boast of our own future, for we know not what the future holds, but we are not to boast of ourselves at all! In fact, we are commanded to allow a stranger to do our boasting. “But how will people know how great I am if I don’t tell them!” you ask. Oh dear Christian, I am guilty of the same. I don’t know how! How would you cross a sea to escape angry Egyptians, or how would you have a child after your wife is past the age? How can any man get into Heaven? All of these are questions of which the answer is simple, I don’t know, but God will make a way if it is His will. And if it is not, then nevermind it anyway! So should you tell people honestly what you’ve accomplished at work in a job interview, sure, I don’t think this is an admonition against truthfully sharing, especially if asked. But does my wife need to know I emptied the dishwasher, or that it was me that finished the laundry? No, not from my lips. But what if she never finds out? That’s ok…the Lord knows.

As always, we are talking about the heart. The contents of your heart will determine what comes out your mouth. Love of self and pride will result in vain attempts to boost other’s perceptions of you. A love of Christ and desire to glorify God will result in a “He must increase, I must decrease” attitude. Turn to God in prayer if you find that you struggle with this. I don’t think you are unique if you know you need help in this area. I think you will find that the most mature Christians you know, and some of the greatest theologians and preachers you ever heard of also had to wrestle with God and allow Him to replace their pride with an earnest desire to see Him glorified. Please memorize these verses and keep them with you. Read and reread the 27th Proverb. And remember, God is sovereign and He can be trusted with your entire life!

Deuteronomy 6:5

Deuteronomy 6:5 – And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy strength, and with all thy might.

I know all scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16), and thus, it is all the words of Jesus Christ because He is GOD (John 10:30, John 8:58). But for some reason, and maybe it’s a good reason, the fact that He actually referred to this verse while walking as a man seems significant. If you are a red-letter Bible reader, you’ll see this verse quoted loosely, by the King himself in Matthew 22:37.

In context (Matthew 22:35-40), Jesus was responding to questions concering the law. The law of God is an exhibition of His perfection. Let me note for you, dear reader, that God DOES NOT OBEY THE LAW. God is not subject to anything…the law is, rather, a manifestion of that which He essentially is. His perfect standard is not arbitrary either; it emanates from His perfect attributes of faithfulness, love, mercy, grace, justice, humility and righteousness to name a few…all controlled by His incomprehensible holiness, His altogether “different-from-everythingness,” if you will.

Nevertheless, Christ says the whole law of God can be summed up in two phrases, love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, strength and might and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Taking just the verse at hand for this week, we can see how the first 4 of the 10 commandments very clearly are encapsulated by this simple phrase. Having no other gods, not worhshipping idols, using God’s name with respect (see my blog about commandment #3 Exodus 20:7) and honoring the sabbath (resting in God’s provision and not the works of our own hands); these are all examples of loving God as commanded in Deuteronomy 6:5.

In fact, the rest of the commandments all show a love for God as well, for without Love for Him, how would you love and obey His law anyway? His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3-5) BECAUSE regenerate hearts LOVE the law, because the law reflects His glory and perfection. Loving God means loving the things He loves, taking delights in the things in which He takes delight and, contrary to much of the teaching of today, hating that which He also hates.

Dear Christian reader, do not fall into the “God is love so he cannot hate” trap set by wolves and the devil himself. Humans have made a mess of everything that God has made, hate included. The fact that we hate with a self-centered self-righteous hatred makes it so ugly that we cannot imagine a God that acts as we do. And He does not! He hates, as we do, but with a perfect hatred, a Holy hatred. A hatred that gives us hope that the wrath poured out on Christ is actually effectual for the souls of His dear elect. A hatred that gives us hope in this life that there is redemption and vindication for His children who suffer. (1 Corinthians 15:19 ) Oh yes, God hates, thank God for that! Ps 7:11, Ps 5:5, Proverbs 6:16

Finally, dear brother or sister, I want you to be encouraged. If God has saved you, you do love Him, not as much as you will tomorrow, I hope, but you do. And as hard as it is to see through your own sin, you must know that your imperfect love for him is perfect in Christ, where you rest today (in obedience to the 4th commandment, mind you!) So pray the prayer I prayed for a week straight a few years ago. It is not a magic prayer, but it was answered for me. I was listening to a teaching on Revelation and the preacher was discussing the church at Ephesus, in chapter 2. The preacher was teaching that the “first love” which had been lost in that church was a love for the Savior, that the people of the church were too busy doing the work of God, and had lost their love for God. He encouraged us to pray daily that God would cause us to love Him more. I prayed that prayer for a week straight. I meant it. And God answered it. Praise His Holy name today for answering prayers according to His perfect will. I trust He will answer that prayer for you too.