Friday, June 26, 2015

Much obedience, much one can love

Preamble: This article will be preached as a sermon in a Divine Healing Fellowship Meeting/Service.  Although it is a sermon, it flows as a complete article.  The grey-highlighted portions may be NOT be preached due to constraint of time; and if you are using this article as a sermon, please take note that this particular sermon will be long (up to 40 mins).  I tried hard to cut short, but I felt the things said here are all so very important, not just in relation to the series that I am covering, but as core belief, and so, I decided NOT to cut any further.  If you are NOT doing a series, you could just preach it as exposition of the 3 verses of John (John 14:15, 21 & 15:10), in which case, you can drop some of the more outlying issues, making the sermon shorter.

This is a continuation of a series on the secret to well-being of a believer. 

But many could NOT get to the place of loving God (and, men, too). How do we get there?

Support the author: To author's cross catalogue
We have covered two of three channels to get our love capacity restored.  We have covered these two:

1.   The channel of receipt of forgiveness.  Much one isforgiven, much one can love; this, being gleaned from the Luke 7:36-48 – the account of the sinful woman at Simon’s house.

2.   The channel of receipt of grace and mercy. Much grace and mercy experienced and received in, much one can love; this being gleaned from Acts 9:1-20 - the account of The Road to Damascus, the story of the conversion of Saul (aka Apostle Paul).

Today, we will cover the third channel. Much one obeys God, much one is loving God, and is being restored of his capacity to love.

This channel can be gleaned from the words of Jesus, in John 14:15 & 21 & John 15:10.

John 14:15 - “If you love me, keep my commands
John 14:21 – Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.

Together, we can say it reads as “The one who loves me obeys my commands, and the one who obeys my commands is the one who loves me”.

John 15:10 - If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

But does the above imply, if we obey, our capacity to love God (and men, too), will be enlarged or restored? 

Without doubt, John 14:15 & 21 together, says if you love God, you obey His commands, and if you obey His commands you are one who loves Him, but is it implied in there, that if you obey His commands your love capacity for God is enlarged?

Firstly, John 15:10’s “remain in His love” means as you obey, God’s love, you would experience, and it would be impacting you and through you. Its key impact on you causes you to acknowledge it (His love) and receive it in.  In other words, obedience will help you, in acknowledging and receiving in, of God’s love.

Overall, it is God’s love changing us, causing us to love Him back, but we don’t say, “Much God loves, much one can love”?  No, we don’t say that, Why? Here are 2 reasons:

1.   The crux of the matter is NOT whether or NOT God loves you, for God does love you and I.  In fact, when we go deep into this subject, you will understand that God’s love for you and I, does NOT go yoyo-ing; God’s love is constant! 

We will NOT go into detailed discussion of this constancy of God’s love; it will take another sermon or preaching; nonetheless, it is still a question of whether you are in the position or positioning yourself to receive, the love of God, that the God’s love is flowing. (Analogy of the Sun and the sunflower).

2.   While God is center-ing (has His focus) on Man, we have a part to play. This posture is critical, so that we are always reminded that the Word must first be considered from the angle of, “What is it that it is telling me (you and I) to do”, and NOT God telling Himself what He must do. 

Can you name the group amongst us, Christian community, that has the inclination on the latter, that God is telling Himself what He must do, although they may deny it?

What is wrong with the phrase, in a nutshell, “Much God loves, much one can love”? 

Yes, it puts the onus on God; that is what is wrong with it.  The pleasing posture, to God is: We take care to do the part we are to do, and God will know how to do the part that is His.

Still, we may ask, “How does the logic go, that our love will grow as a result of us obeying God?” 

We should know this: love grows with knowing God more.  We can say this, “love grows with knowing God more” unreservedly, in the case of God (NOT necessarily so, for the case of men), because God is indeed holy, and God is good, all the time.

In obeying we get to know God more. Yes, in interaction with someone, we get to know him/her more, but in the case of our dealing with God, more often than NOT, it is through obedience that we get to know God more. 

It is NOT God does NOT want to interact in other ways, with us; but it is that His nature-attribute fundamentally is one of holiness.  It is through obedience, we are being made holy and remain holy.  Put it simply, God cannot play with you when you are NOT holy, but when you are holy, He can be “WITH YOU”, playing and all!

So, what about God, that if we know more and more, will help us to love God?  In another way of saying, what spiritual things about God that the Holy Spirit is to give us understanding, to enlarge or restore our love for God?  The answer is the righteousness of God.  Remember, in the above we mentioned, we will love God more on knowing Him more, for He is holy and good; righteousness is got to do with holiness and goodness.

What is the difference between holiness and righteousness?  Short and sharp reply (NOT to make this long) is: righteousness is the manifest of/from holiness.

What is righteousness? 

Again short and sharp, simply, righteousness is about being right.  God being always right; that is what I love about God.  If God is at times right, and at times, wrong, would you love Him, unreservedly; I mean if God sometimes can be evil and wicked (that is wrong, NOT right, and NOT good), would you love Him; would you hold Him in highest honor?  No, I won’t.

Why is it that, righteousness, is key to us, in our capacity to love God? 

Because He is holy, ……. and we, Man, had had the Fall, in the Garden of Eden. Because of the Fall, we have the knowledge of good and evil; that is why. And God knows that.

What is the connection between love and righteousness? It goes all the way back to ancient of times.

You and I must know, when God created Man, He created Man righteous; it has to be, for Gen 1:31 recorded for us, this: “God saw all that He had created, and it was very good”. 

In a moment, I will give you my take of the form of righteousness that Man had, then, which we know he lost it through the Fall; and along with that, men’s capacity to love God was also diminished or impaired. 

In that Fall, we see the first distortion to love – fear; fear crept in (Gen 3:8-10). 

Gen 3:8-10 (NIV84) - 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

How were men righteous before the Fall?

This is my belief and is the reasonable belief – men just tapped on the righteousness of God, for they then did NOT have knowledge of good and evil.  After the Fall, Man no longer just tapped on the righteousness of God.  When Man just tapped on or rode on, the righteousness of God, unquestioning, he was able to love God quite perfectly.

When Man gained the knowledge of good and evil; that was when troubles started; Man began NOT to (just) tap on or ride on, the righteousness of God, unquestioning.  Man began to use the knowledge of good and evil over the riding on, the righteousness of God.

When one just tap on or ride on, the righteousness of God, can he be wrong?  The answer is no; and when he is NOT wrong, could there be punishment?  Again the answer is no; and when there is no punishment, there would NOT be fear, would there?  No. Now, you know why the Apostle John talked about fear in connection with love.

1 John 4:18 reads, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What does this mean?
It means, in the matter of love, there is the issue of righteousness.

When righteousness was gone, love got impaired or distorted, fear came in (Gen 3:8-10).  Fear came in because of possible punishment, and punishment is possible when thing is NOT done according to the righteousness of God. 

Who has the perfect love?  God.  God’s love drives out fear?  Because God’s love is love unto righteousness – God loves men unto righteousness.  When you remain in this perfect love of God, you will NOT have fear.  How do you remain in God’s love? Yes, you obeys His commands (John 15:10).

What does it mean by God loves men unto righteousness (‘ahab love)?

It means God can only love you and I, in such a way as to foster greater or maintain, righteousness in us. When you and I still have fear, it means we have NOT been made perfect, yet.  Why?  Because we are NOT practising or living out the righteousness of God.

Do we have to practise or live out the righteousness of God?

Yes, 1 John 3:7 says, “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;” (NASB)

So, I hope we are clear that Man’s love became and was impaired, but NOT God’s. God’s love towards Man is always tied to the righteousness of God, and to His holiness. 

Many believers do NOT know that the love of God towards Man is fundamentally, love unto righteousness (‘ahab love, as revealed in the OT), and Man’s love needs to qualify the righteousness requirement as well.  Because of the Fall, with the loss of righteousness, there is no way Man could love God back, in an acceptable manner unless God deemed the person righteous, and we find that in the OT, there was the concept of God counting out righteousness to men, or deeming certain men righteous.

Finally, the way forward is provided by the Lord, Jesus; and God sent Him to restore the capacity for Man to be righteous, and so, the capacity for Man to love God.

Man broke love (righteousness) and faith, with God in the Garden of Eden; there was just no way Man can love God back ultimately, in an acceptable manner, without the lost righteousness restored; God allowed temporal aberrations, but everything including Man’s love must line up to the holiness of God, ultimately; and Jesus is the means to that.

So, the New Covenant is God’s offer to Man to re-love-covenant with Him.  And so, too, entering into the covenant is just the beginning of our returning to love God.  We must understand God cannot, at the ultimate, loves the unrighteous men, and the latter cannot love God rightly or in acceptable manner.  Until the ultimate, or the end of age, God is longsuffering, accommodating temporal aberrations of many against His very nature – holiness.

Now, knowing what God’s intent is, and what He is trying to do, we cannot just have a once-off loving Him back of mere signing the dotted line on the contract (New Covenant) with Him; we have to, actually be loving and continue to be loving Him, even as we are to continue to submit to Him in His Holy Spirit’s refining work in us, to align us to His righteousness. 

The Holy Spirit’s work is needed because, unlike previously, before the Fall, where Man just tapped on or rode on, the righteousness of God, unquestioning, now, Man has to will to just tap on or ride on, the righteousness of God.  And so, too, Man has to will to love God on a continual basis; and so, my common saying to us all, that love is first, a choice and then a commitment.

It is NOT right to think you are NOT needing to grow in righteousness or holiness, on the excuse of you are already having the (imputed) righteousness of Christ Jesus.

We were impaired of our capacity to love God, from the Fall, firstly; and then, through our own falling into sins, and coming under bondages. 

After you have become a believer, you have to will continually to live righteous or practise righteousness (His righteousness); only by so doing, (that is obeying God or His commands) can you possibly be loving God in an acceptable manner, and when you are so doing (which is living-obedience), over time, you will have, through the help of the Holy Spirit, a greater knowing of God, through greater knowing of His righteousness, and in the process, our capacity to love Him, God, is enlarged.  If you have a life of disobedience, and so, are living unrighteous, it sure would NOT help, in the restoration of your capacity to love God.  When you go down that path, all the 3 channels through which the Spirit of God works, to restore your love for Him, get choked.

Now, Jesus tied it, the obeying of commands to loving Him (John 14:15 & 21), why?  Because His commands reflect His righteousness, without which our love is NOT love, to God.  Jesus was in fact saying, if you want to love Him, you obey His commands.  If you increase your obedience to His commands, you increase your love towards Him.  And when you take all the 3 John verses (above) together, Jesus was also in fact saying, if you love God, you will remain in God’s love (obeying God’s commands=loving Him).  Do you have to love God, continually?  Yes, that’s what John 15:10 is implying – keeping commands, and so, is loving God, is continual affair. Jesus said He did that – kept God’s command until the very end of His life.

What we are to take away with this message, today, is that in practising obedience to God and His commands, the Holy Spirit gets to work on increasing our capacity to love God, through our knowing of God more - more of His righteousness. 

It really isn’t difficult to perceive, if we just think of the situation of a child, of he is NOT going to grow into one who is loving his father, if he was NOT practising obedience to his father’s instructions, bit by bit, over time. 

Such a child, can he ever come to be loving his earthly father, nonetheless?  Can, usually only after he has gone through one or all of the channels we have covered in this series. 

Any shortcut?  Yes, but that goes into the subject of sovereignty and prerogative of God.  Such sovereignty and prerogative are His business NOT ours; rather we are to be of this pleasing posture: We take care to do the part we are to do, and God will know how to do the part that is His. We leave God to His sovereignty and prerogative.

I hope you are convinced that you have to practice obedience to God if you want to increase your readiness to love God. If you have been disobedient, you need to work through channel 1 again – be in receipt of forgiveness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @:  Do follow this blog site. To go back to blog main page, click here 

Much obedience much one can love (one page sermon note)
(By Anthony Chia on 27/06/2015 at TradeHub 21)

John 14:15, 21, John 15:10
Loving God=obeying God, & so, the importance of obedience in love. 

In obeying God, the HS could work on us in enlarging our capacity to love God, because in obeying we get to know God more and more. 
What do we get to know? His righteousness. Righteousness is the manifest of His holiness. Righteousness is God being right & good, all the time. 

Obedience is about righteousness, being about, being in agreement with God as to what is to be done & when it is to be done, & actually doing it.

Loving God=obeying God’s commands à connection between love & righteousness, consistent with ‘ahab love (love unto righteousness).  The love of God is dictated by the very fundamental nature of God, holiness.  That is why the love of God for men is love unto righteousness. And you cannot love Him back, unless you are loving Him back in righteousness.

Original righteousness of Man – the righteousness without the knowledge of good & evil, righteousness that just tapped on or rode on, the righteousness of God.

The Fall – Man lost his righteousness, with disobedience, & knowledge of good and evil; Man’s capacity to love was diminished or impaired from it.

God’s solution to right the inability of Man to love God back in acceptable manner - Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Entering into salvation is just the beginning.  We need to live righteous, just as He was righteous, in order to love God back, and be restored of our capacity to love Him, more and more.

We need to continue to obey God to continue in our journey of being restored of our capacity to love God (and men, too).

If we want to love God, we need to live a life of obedience.  So that we remain in His love, that it may be well for us, & we may bear fruit.
We need to repent, confess, & be determined to live in obedience to Him, hereafter (if we sin, we have to come into receiving forgiveness, again [practise 1 John 1:9] – what the first channel was about.
We have to keep letting the 3 channels work on us, in our journey.

I hope you are convinced that you have to practice obedience to God if you want to increase your readiness to love God.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @:  Do follow this blog site. To go back to blog main page, click here 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments.