Into Godís Fullness through Love Ė (Consummation of love)
1John 2:4-11 "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." 1John 5:1-3 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
The call of love of Jesus Christ to His children is to follow Him closely. The Bible says that the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked. Walking in the same manner as Jesus walked is the ultimate in discipleship, for the Lord Jesus said, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lordÖ It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." (Matthew 10:24-25). In John 13:14 Jesus said he was their Lord and Master - "If I then, your Lord and MasterÖ" But this life is characterized by love, the essence of His Masterís life. Hence Jesus exhorted His disciples just before he left this world (in John 13: 34-35): "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jesus placed utmost emphasis on love. Speaking to His disciples on the eve of His departure from the world, Jesus made an impassioned appeal to them to abide in His love. That appeal expressed His deep inner desire concerning the type of lives He expected them to live. Those words contain both a manifesto and formula of love. John 15:9-10: "Just as the Father loved me I have also loved you. Abide ye in my love.If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love. Just as I have kept my Fatherís commandments and abide in His love."
John 15:12: "This is my commandment that you love one another just as I love you." It is clear without any shadow of ambiguity that Godís children love one another. They are abiding in the love of Christ. The proof of our love for God is our love towards others. It is clear then that no one who refuses to love his brother can claim to love God. In 1John 4:20 the apostle John emphasized this truth in these words, "If some one says I love God but hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this is the commandment from Him that one who loves God should love his brother also." Although evangelical Christendom has generally given a mental assent to these important commands by their own precepts rules and practives. Most Christians all over world are guilty of refusing to love fellow believers. They have a host of excuses. It is said that these lame excuses are becoming more acceptable in Christendom than the commands of Jesus Christ. The champions of racial segregation (among Christians) stubbornly refuse to love other brothers in Jesus (who will be co-heirs with them in the future) because of some weak excuses for what is obviously racial prejudice. How we wish they would realize that God is preparing only one heaven for all races and that there are no segregating compartments there. Denominational die-hards not only fail to love believers belonging to other denominations but also maintain sinful spirits of denominational untouchability. They fail to realize that the unity of the Spirit in the Body of Christ can and must be maintained despite denominational differences. Advocates of "doctrinal purity" never seem to think that they are to love other Christians despite their doctrinal impurity. They should now wake up to the reality that disobeying the commands of Jesus is more damaging and dangerous than loving brothers in Christ not having the "doctrinal purity" prescribed by them. Besides they should clearly understand that God is sovereign and therefore they cannot limit God to the framework of doctrines they have carefully learnt and interpreted.
Some people refuse to love other members of Christsí body because of pride in their experiences. They look down on others as "dead and stony" and glory in their experiences. But can their experiences annul the clear commands of Jesus to love others? They should also realize that it is dangerous to formulate doctrines out of their experiences however glorious and genuine those experiences are. People claiming to have theological superiority often fail to love others of a lesser standing in theology. How sad it is that those who stand for correct formulations of the study of Godís Word dare to disobey Godís command to love fellow-heirs of the covenant of love.
Economic inequalities and differences in status and position are the reasons for many for not loving other members of Christís body. What an affront to the one who left the glories of heaven, emptied himself and came down to the world to lift us up from the abyss of sin. Ethnic pride and cultural superiority stops some Christians from loving members of the body of Christ from other cultures and ethnic groups. Have they conveniently forgot that there is no distinction between Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freemen in them who have been created anew in Christ Jesus? Colossians 3:10-11 "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Let us face the facts boldly: If we love Jesus we must love other members of his body, not withstanding differences of any kind. All of us have been united in Him as one body. It is his life that we all share. He loves us and fellowships with us, and we should be able to have fellowship with and love those who are members of Christís body, of His flesh, of His bones.
God began His work within us in love. He causes us to grow in love and mature in love, but it is a very sad thing that His people very often do not care to stay within the fold of His love. For many flimsy reasons they isolate themselves from the love of God and from the love of fellow believers. We cannot grow in love unless we love one another and grow together in love with fellow saints. Love is the completed and finished product of what God is doing in the lives of His people. All that will be in heaven is Godís love and all that will be in hell is hate. All that will be in heaven will be filled with the love of God, for Him and for all redeemed mankind. All in hell will hate all that are in hell and God who is in heaven. It is as if God has put us all together in a pond filled with Godís love. We are expected to live within this pond. Just as fish cannot live outside water we cannot also grow spiritually if we position ourselves outside of this pond of love. In eternity God planned to express Himself in love, by loving humankind, by designing the chief object of his love Ė man Ė to receive His love and to respond to it and to reciprocate it Ė something far beyond the understanding of human intellect. Ephesians 2:7 "That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Godís intent was to receive love that sprang from a free heart out of free will. But creation of a love object that would respond to and reciprocate true love by choice was fraught with the great danger that a truly free human being could opt not to reciprocate Godís love and become self-centered and sinfully fleshly.
God was aware of this danger, in His omniscience he foresaw that man engineered by Satan would spurn His love. Yet God loved man with an everlasting love. Thus began the flow of Godís love from eternity to eternity through Christ in the precious process of making men and women to be like Him, to be co-heirs with Him. It was a process akin to the one in which an ugly looking piece of coal becomes a bright and shining diamond through chemical transformation of the ages. A similar transformation was taking place by continuous application of Godís love through which sinful man was being cleansed from sin and transformed to shine like His Son and to be His co-heir. Even as God proposed to love humanity before the foundation of the world, He had also determined to pay the highest price for love Ė the very life of His eternal Son in a sacrificial death of atonement. These truths are mysterious for human intellect to comprehend but God has graciously revealed these in His Word.
In these truths we see the reality and greatness of Godís love. The Bible says that God chose to love them who never deserved His love, who in fact were enemies and objects of His wrath. Romans 5:9-10 "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Colossians 1:20-21 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." Colossians 3:6 "For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." So Godís love remains much beyond the understanding and analysis of the human mind. The simple truth is that God loved humanity in His sovereign mercy. It was an expression of His great grace by which he would pull out human kind from out of the slough of sin and despair, clothe it with beautiful flowers having color, fragrance and nectar, and finally with fruits of righteousness. Man being the object of Godís love. The Bible tells us that God deals with man through the medium of love. The Bible tells us that God chose mankind before the foundation of the world in love (Ephesians 1:4). God also predestined us as sons through Jesus Christ and this also was done in love. It was in love that Jesus called us. He poured this love into us to enable us to love Him and walk after him in love. It is in love that we follow Him and grow in Him. It is also in love that He disciplines us to share in His holiness. Hebrews 12:6-7 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" In love he bestows upon us all the heavenly blessings. Romans 8:29-32 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Ephesians 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."
When God chose us in love, God knew the nature of man; He knew that the intent of his heart would be evil continually. Yet God loved us. This is a deliberate act, which shows how great Godís love is. God has testified: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3 It was this deliberate act of love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven to this sin-cursed world. The Bible says Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of man. Philippians 2:6-7 It was a demonstration of love. In Romans 5:8, the Bible says: "God demonstrated His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Having accomplished an eternal salvation for mankind. God calls man in love to turn to Him and accept by faith the free gifts of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Christ Jesus. As we have already seen, discipleship is a response to Godís love. It is also love God uses as a means of spiritual growth for His children. Godís people are exhorted to grow in the love of God and to be rooted and grounded in it. They are challenged to grow in it to be able to comprehend with all saints what is the length, breadth, and height of Godís love and to know the love of God which surpasses knowledge. The Bible says that it is through this kind of growth in love that we are to be filled with the "fullness of Christ." Ephesians 3:17-19 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Ephesians 4:13-16 "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
We also read that growth in Godís love provides that knowledge and discernment that enables us to be sincere and blameless. It is noteworthy that we comprehend the love of God with all the saints. This means that it is only when we love one another and abide in the love of God that we will be really able to fathom the love of God. Our love for God is microscopically small compared to the vastness of Godís love. Godís love is vast like an ocean. As we have already noted most of Godís people who claim to know the love of God are like children who play on the sea-shore. They have seen the sea, touched it and even played in it but they know nothing of its vastness or of its depth and the wonderful things that are within it. Even a ship captain who has a life long experience of regularly sailing ships in the great oceans cannot say with much confidence that he really knows the oceans. Needless to say that we have a long way to go in growing in the love of God, in fathoming it and experiencing the wonders of it.
To know the love of God is to know the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in intimacy and in depth. To have this intimate knowledge we need a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. As the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers as in Ephesians 1:17-19 "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."
The Bible reveals that God has an inheritance in us, His saints. Colossians 1:12 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." We who are redeemed by Jesus Christ are His, first because he created us for Himself, and secondly because he brought us with a great price. Revelation 4:11 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." 1Peter 1:18-19 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." For these two weighty reasons the Lordship of Jesus Christ among us is natural and absolute. They exist for his pleasure and glory. When we realize these truths and subject ourselves to Him, we are his inheritance. And the Bible calls it a glorious relationship. No wonder Godís great power works for such people. God is a God of miracles. He works miracles for the sake of those who are His inheritance, those who grow in love into the fullness of God. There are likely to be differences of opinion as to what this fullness means but the words of the Lord Jesus Christ I believe, reveal the secret to us. Speaking to His disciples just before His departure from the world Jesus said: "If anyone love me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). In verse 24 Jesus added "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." The Bible tells us that when a person is born again the Holy Spirit begins to reside with him. Jesus promised that He and His Father would come and abide in those who love Him and keep His word. That is those who mature in love - fathom the love of God and obey Him in love. It is totally a comprehensive and mind-blowing concept: the blessed trinity. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit coming to reside in us frail human beings! However it is the promise of Jesus to us and therefore it is ours to be taken by faith. Godís people who love Him, fathom and mature in His love and who keep His commandments experience His fullness. It is difficult to explain Godís fullness in theological terms, but His fullness will express itself as Christ Ė likeness, as we are conformed to His image. Oh! That we might grow into His fullness Ė the consummation of love.
The reality of being in Christ and knowing Him is life. The singular fruit of the one who is in Christ is being Spirit filled in love! God is love and those who truly know God are filled in His love. Itís not whether you speak in tongues, work miracles and have great faith, but if you love the brethren fervently out of a pure heart. That is the most important thing for a disciple Ė love Ė being filled with the love of God for others. That is what God is after and desires for all His people and the proof that we are in Him and have His life and are maturing in Him. 1Corinthians 12:31-13:13 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
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