Love

Love

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 John 3:1-24, 1 John 4:1-21
Date: 04/04/2009  Lesson: 1
Love is the most basic building block of the Christian life. We should model our love after the embodiment of love - the Almighty God.

Assurance: Justification Made Simple (PB) by Doug Batchelor

Assurance: Justification Made Simple (PB) by Doug Batchelor
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to sunny Sacramento, California this morning. Yesterday, it was spring and today it's winter.

So we are happy to be here this Sabbath morning and sharing our Sabbath school with you. I want to especially welcome those that are joining us from across the country and around the world, wherever you are this morning, live on the internet, through radio, television, however you're joining us, and also to those that are joining us right here in our sanctuary. Happy Sabbath. We are going to be singing for our first song this morning hymn number 296, "Lord, I'm coming home." And this comes as a request from lidija in australia, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy in florida, kondawani in ireland, heath in malaysia and joyann in New York. "Lord, I'm coming home, and we're gonna sing the first, the third, and the last stanza of 296.

[Music] I cannot wait for that day. I know that there are so many people across this world that are excited for that day. And we just here at central, and I know you watching us, want to do your part in spreading Jesus' love to those around us, to a dying world, and hasten his coming. If you have a special request that you'd like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, we'd love to sing it with you. So just go to our website at saccentral.

org, and click on the "contact us" link and there you can request any song in our hymnal that we'd love to sing or learn with you. And we will sing that on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn we're gonna sing is "when the roll is called up yonder," hymn number 216. And this is a request from tony in Alabama, althea and clinton in australia, jojo and lureen in Canada, courtney in england, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy in florida, emmanuel in ghana, marlynn and justine in guyana, bruce and Joel in honduras, Peter in Maine, helene in martinique, joyce in Minnesota, tina and adesh in Montana, tswana in the netherlands antilles, trevor in North Carolina, lewis and charlene in norway, Samuel and tina in New York, filomena and Christine in Oregon, andy, josie and muy in the Philippines, and lisa in Washington. All around the world people are waiting for their name to be called, "when the roll is called up yonder.

" Hymn number 216, we'll sing the first and the second and the third verse. [Music] Amen. Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for this beautiful Sabbath day, your holy day, that we can come to set aside the cares of this world. And there are so many of them.

But today we rest peacefully in your day, your holiness. We thank you for the gift of the Sabbath, that we can spend extra time with you and be refreshed and renewed for what you have ahead of us in the next week. Lord, we just ask you to be with us now as we listen to Your Words from Pastor Doug. And we ask you to please just infuse our hearts with your love and a burning desire to wrap up your message on this world so that we can go home with you and we will hear our names called. We pray these things in your name, precious Jesus.

Amen. This morning our study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you to our musicians and our singers. And want to welcome all of our friends who are here at central church, welcome. We have some visitors I see.

And want to welcome our extended class, our friends that are studying with us through either a satellite television broadcast right now or through the radio. And we know a lot of people are watching on the internet. And we just want to welcome you to this study time. This is kind of an exciting day, because we are beginning a new quarter's lesson dealing with, "the Christian life." And as always we have a free offer that we like to share with people for our study time. And we have a new offer today, offer number 729.

It's "love without an if," "love without an if," by jim hohnberger. And if you'd like a free copy of this, then just call that number on the screen, 866-788-3966. That number also plays out to the acronym 1-866-study-more. Maybe if you're driving in your car that'll help you remember it, 866-study-more. And we'll send you that book, "love without an if," just for asking.

During this last quarter, we've talked a little bit about ways that a church can plan to enhance and increase the harvest in evangelism. And we've talked about just a variety of different tools and practices that will help a church to succeed in evangelism. As I was thinking about it, I've left out probably the most effective means of preparing for successful evangelism. Know what that is? Prayer. If you leave everything else out, don't forget to pray.

When a church gets together, if they dedicate time specifically set aside time, it might be your weekly prayer meeting or it might be a special prayer session, or bands that will pray, and pray for the evangelistic meetings. the Lord tells us the harvest is great; the laborers are few. And when he speaks about those who are laboring in evangelism, it's not just the ones who are going out and giving out handbills or books or final events dvds or something to get people's attention, but one of the ways we labor for the Lord is in prayer. And I'll tell you something I've seen that's really encouraged me in doing an evangelistic meeting, when the senior pastor will say, "now all of the time that you're preaching, Pastor Doug, we've got a group of x-number of people in this room, they're gonna be back there praying through the entire sermon." And I feel sorry for them, 'cause I preach a long time. But it always warms my heart to know that the whole time I'm preaching, that there are people back there praying for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of those that are attending, maybe hearing the word for the first time.

Now that's of course during the meeting. There should be a lot of prayer that goes on in preparation for the meeting. And I've seen, when churches get together and pray like this and then people show up at the meetings, you hear the most amazing stories of how these people ended up going to the meetings. I've heard stories where people showed up at an evangelistic meeting. And then afterward they came and said, "I heard this was a wedding reception and I came to the wrong building.

" But when the guy started talking it was really interesting; I stayed." And they kept coming to the meetings. And I think they were prayed on in. Or somebody else who says, "you know, I was walking down the street and this handbill blew up off the ground. And it was following me down the street, so I finally picked it up. As they walked it kept blowing and following 'em down the street.

And they said, "well, I wonder what this is?" They picked it up. They looked at it. They came to the meetings. I think someone was praying for them. And so you know, I could go on telling you a lot of little anecdotal stories, but prayer really does make a difference.

There are people who will be in the Kingdom because of prayer that was offered in connection with the evangelistic meetings, who otherwise would not be there if God's people had not prayed. So best evangelists in the world were the 12 apostles. And they found they were getting so busy with the practical needs of pentecost, they were neglecting prayer. And they said, "this is not meat that we leave the Word of God to serve tables." We're gonna get deacons that'll do that. We're gonna give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.

And so there is a special ministry of prayer. It's a priority. And I'd like to encourage these churches to pray as you enter into the front lines of evangelism. Amen? What shall I more say? Okay. I think we're ready to get into our lesson.

New lesson quarterly, dealing with "the Christian life." Once again I want to remind our friends who are watching, you can go to your neighborhood Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hopefully they'll have some extras, and you can just ask. And you can study along. Best thing is if you attend. If you do not live near a Seventh-day Adventist Church, as many don't, you can also get this online if you just type in Sabbath-school-lesson, or sda-Sabbath-school, a couple of different websites'll pop up.

And you can download and often study it, have the lesson right online, or you can print it out. I do most of my preparation through the online lesson. That makes it easy for me to take the different points. And I cut 'em and paste 'em into my personal notes. And again, if you're isolated from any church that you can attend, we don't want you to be out there by yourself.

If you would like to go to Sacramento central, we'll adopt you. We'd love to have you part of our online church membership that's been growing. And we actually have a pastor set aside just to minister to our online members. Getting into the lesson, number one lesson is on one of the most important words in the Bible; it's a four-letter word, "love." Love is lesson number one in "the Christian life." And we have a memory verse, Corinthians 13:13. You think that would be an unlucky verse, Corinthians 13:13, but it's a beautiful verse.

Would you say that with me? And I'm reading it out of your lesson here. It's the n.i.v version. Ready? "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love." Now you think about how important faith is. Can you be saved without faith? Without faith it's impossible to please God. The just shall live by faith.

Abraham had faith in God and it was counted to him for righteousness. So faith is a big word in the Christian success story. Then you've got the word, hope. A living dog is better than a dead lion. Where there's life; there's hope.

Hope is so important to our healing and our future. But the greatest of those is love. Now love is so important. I'm gonna make a disclaimer, confession, right here at the beginning of this lesson. I sometimes feel like I am the most unqualified person to talk about the love of God.

I don't know about you, but when I think about God and how good he is and how loving he is, I can't even comprehend it. And when I think about God and how loving he must be to put up with the abuse that he tolerates from this world, I don't understand it. And I figure I don't love him very well. I'm sure if I loved him better, I'd serve him better. And so when I serve up here and I talk about the love, I'm just letting you know right away, I'm not doing it because I feel I'm qualified.

I'm doing it 'cause it's in the lesson; it's my job. So I'm gonna do my best to share the Scriptures with you, but it's not because I have my black belt in love. When I think about the love of God, you know, God is love. Right? And so the Bible tells us, and I'll be using this verse in the sermon later, "as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways above your ways." And so the love of God is so far out of this world from our understanding of love that it's a whole different realm. I remember a few times reading where people have had a vision of Jesus.

And one of the things they comment on is they've never seen a being that exuded such love. I remember william miller commenting on this. One of the epiphanies that has often changed a person's life--I've got a friend who might be watching, so I'm not gonna name him, but he stumbled along in his Christian experience and went through a lot of the same ups and downs, trying to do what was right because it was in the Bible. He believed it was right. He was converted cerebrally, mentally, but not in his heart.

Then he had an epiphany. He says he had this experience that I can't explain. You can't analyze it in a laboratory, but God did something to reveal his love to him; everything changed. His whole attitude changed. His whole motive of service changed.

And whenever he talks about that day, that experience, his eyes puddle up. And I'm mad. I'm jealous. I think I want that experience. It's just he's overwhelmed.

He was overwhelmed with the love of God. And it just totally transformed him. And others who have seen Christ or gotten a picture, is there a being, the supreme good all summed up in one being. That's God and the love of God. When you talk about love in the Bible and principally in the new testament, you've got four different words that are translated for love.

Now one of the words is eron. Sometimes it's eros, which is where you get the word, erotic. Now that kind of love, that definition for love, it's a selfish, pleasure-related type of love. And that's not the principal one that the new testament speaks of. But it is one that's used occasionally.

Then there's storge, which is kind of a natural, gravitational instinctive love like the love of a mother towards its child, which could also be a mother bear towards its cub. It's this drawn love, gravitational love. Then you got the word phileo, which is not like filet-o of fish. It's like in philadelphia. And it means--it's used about times in the new testament.

It's the love of a friend, a brotherly love, to have that affection and a personal attachment because of a character. It's a feeling of love that you have, because of who someone is. When you talk about philadelphia, it's known as the city of brotherly love, phileo. Then probably the supreme love in the way that you find the word loved used in Corinthians 13:13 is agape love or agapeo. And it's used 320 times in the new testament.

It's a love that's called out by an awakening, a sense of value, a recognizing of the character of somebody, that awakens within us this reciprocal respect and love. It's a disinterested love. You've heard about unconditional love, sacrificial love. That usually falls under the definition of agape, agape love. Someone--we've given out Genesis 22:2, first time the word love appears in the Bible.

Who has that for me? Genesis 22:2. "Then he said, 'take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'" What is the principle message of the Bible? Isn't it about God's love? And how did God demonstrate his love for us in the Bible? "God so loved the world, he sent-- his son." Is it just me or does it strike you as unusual that you don't find the word love until you get to the 22nd chapter in the Bible. But the first time the word love is used, it's mentioned with a father loving a son, but offering him as a sacrifice. First time you find the word love in the Bible. I think that in itself is prophetic.

And it ought to help us recognize the inspiration of the Bible. "Take your son who you love, your only son." Sounds like that verse, "God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son." And also when you read this verse, it reminds us of when Abraham said to Isaac, "God will provide himself a sacrifice." First time you find the word love in the Bible, it's connected with an allegory of God's love for humanity in giving his son. That is the supreme kind of love, that sacrificial love. Jesus said, "no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friend." I don't want to disagree with Jesus, but I think he would accept it if said you might have one notch greater. It's one thing to give your life, but one notch higher than that would be to give the life of your child.

And so when the Bible says, "God so loved the world he gave," his life, well, that's true. Jesus, God The Son, gave his life. But it even goes a notch higher. "God so loved the world, he gave," the life of the one he loves the most when he gives his son. So it is the supreme kind of love to sacrifice your life, which is surpassed only by sacrificing the life of one you love more than your own life.

Did you get that? That's pretty shocking when you think about it. Romans 13:8-10, Paul says, "owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there be any other commandment--" and Paul doesn't say that as though he had forgotten there were any other commandments. He's basically saying, "and all other commandments-- are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Now how many of you have heard it said before: "we don't need to keep the Ten Commandments. You just need to keep the two great commandments: to love the Lord and love your neighbor.

And if you love the Lord and love your neighbor, you don't need to keep the Ten Commandments anymore;" have you heard that said before? As though if you've got love for God and love for your neighbor, that you are disqualified from needing to keep-- your obligation for keeping the literal Ten Commandments is now satisfied because if you love God and you love your neighbor, you don't need to worry about the specific letter of the law. That's often used, especially when they hear the Sabbath truth, people say, "if you love the Lord and love your neighbor, you don't need to--that's the letter of the law of the Sabbath." That's a lot of bologna. I'm trying to find some way to say that. That's a big cover up. Because if you really love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and if you really love your neighbor, you'll really keep the first four commandments including the Sabbath.

If you love God, you're not gonna worship other Gods. You keep the letter of the law when you really keep the Spirit. If you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, you're not gonna worship images, right? You're not gonna use God's name in vain. And you're gonna want to spend that time with him that is reserved in the Sabbath, if you love the Lord with all your heart, if you really do. If you really love your neighbor, that's what Paul's talking about, you're not gonna steal his spouse or her spouse.

You're not gonna kill him. You're not going to rob from them. You're not going to dishonor them or covet what they have. So love is the fulfilling of the law. Love does not take away the law.

Love enables you to keep the law. And that's often been abused. So all of the law is really summed up in love. When you talk about the law, people call you a legalist. You're really a romantic.

Have you ever been accused of being a romantic for talking about the law? But isn't that what it really means? You know, if someone says-- you've heard this story before, some abusive husband. And they go through these cycles of, you know, they beat up their wife. And then they're remorseful. And they buy 'em little gifts, and say, "I love you. I love you.

I love you." And then they get upset about something again, they take it out on the wife, the kids, "oh, I'm sorry. I love you. I love you. I love you." And pretty soon you would think that that battered spouse would come to the place where they would say, "love doesn't act that way." Right? And so a lot of Christians are out there and they're singing these praise songs and repeating over and over again, "I love you. I love you.

I love you," when they're in church; they walk out the door and they break all God's laws. It's sort of like an abusive relationship. They don't really love him. They're breaking his heart and crucifying him six days a week. And then they go to church and say, "I love you.

I love you. I love you." It's hypocrisy. Alright, I gave out a Scripture. Galatians 5:14. "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

" We find that several places, don't we? That love is the fulfilling of the law. Alright. And I want to read for you Colossians 3:14. "But above all these things," everything that he says in Colossians, "put on love, which is the bond of perfection." So when Paul says in Corinthians 13, "the greatest of these is love," when John says, "God is love," and then Paul says again, "but above all these things put on love," what should be the supreme goal of the Christian, of all virtues? "The fruit of the Spirit is--" what's number one? "Love." It's gotta be the first thing. If you missed the first one, and you try to plug in all the others, you've got a handicapped experience with the Lord.

Alright, I think 1 Peter 4:8. Did you have that diane? I do. "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins." Alright, I want you to read that one more time from the start. "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins." "Above all things." Didn't I just say that? Paul said that. "Above--" now I wonder if Peter gave royalties to Paul for plagiarizing that verse.

Or is it a truth that resonated with all the apostles? "Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins." You know, when I did construction-- I've built some houses. I'm not bragging. I'm not very good at it, because whenever I cut boards and sheetrock and put 'em together, they often didn't fit perfectly. But I've learned that latex filler covers a multitude of sins. And if you just got a little bit of that latex filler or silicone that you can squeeze out, it covers--boy, you can make those seams look really good.

When you're doing sheetrock, a little bit of mud covers a lot of cracks, lot of bad cuts. You just gotta tape it and cover it. And you might have defects in your character. And by the grace of God, we all are looking for that perfect sanctification. Amen? Christ is our example; that's our goal.

But if you've got love, that covers a lot of things. When someone talks about what Christian perfection is, what is it that really creates Christian perfection? Is it having such self-control that you can prevent yourself from saying or doing or thinking anything you shouldn't say, do or think? Or is it loving the Lord so much that you don't want to say or do or think those things that are forbidden? And if you're going to err, don't err on the side of being unloving, 'cause love covers a multitude of sin. If a parent maybe is unfair with a child, the child is maybe being punished for something they didn't do or the punishment does not match the crime, if that child knows, "well, I know that mom really loves me," that covers a multitude of sin, doesn't it? That child can usually wink on those times when they think that mom or dad was unjust. You gotta let 'em know you love 'em. And that covers a lot of things.

And in relationships, sometimes, you know, a friend might confide in you, and you betray that. And you say, "oh, I shouldn't have repeated that." Or you get angry with them and irritated. But if they know you love 'em, you can put up with all kinds of things 'cause love covers a multitude of sin. The reason shadrach, meshach, and abednego were willing-- and Daniel--to die rather than disobey God is 'cause they had perfect love. They loved God more than their own lives.

The next day talks about love--oh, actually I'm getting into the first day, "love, the fabric of life." And I'm gonna read now for you Corinthians 13. We don't have time to read the whole chapter. I hope you do. You were supposed to if you did your homework. Corinthians 13:1, "though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I've become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so I could remove mountains, and do not have love, I'm nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." Is it possible for a person to be an eloquent teacher, preacher without love? Yes! Sorry, I disagree. Can a person be an eloquent teacher, preacher without love? Have you ever heard people and you thought, "man, boy, they just got a way with words." And they can preach, and they're eloquent. And then later you find out that it was all a sham. Sure! Can the devil preach? Does he have God's love? No.

Can he be eloquent? Yes. So that helps answer that question. Can a person have a lot of biblical knowledge; they can quote chapter and verse, they can recite them from memory, and still not have love? Yeah, that's possible. They can even have an element of faith that it's all true. They can believe the Bible and still not have love.

As I said, some people are converted mentally in their brains, but their hearts are not converted. Is it possible for a person to be involved in a lot of sacrifice and service? Can people set up foundations for the church and make great, big generous donations, blow the trumpet and drop a pile of gold on the plate and not have love? Can they do unselfish things from a selfish heart? Sure, people can do--Martha was busy and about much serving, but mary loved. So this is what Paul is saying. Notice here. He contrasts love with eloquence of preaching and teaching.

He contrasts it with knowledge and faith. He contrasts it with service and sacrifice. The pharisees had all of those things. But they didn't have love. So Paul is saying if you've got all those things-- and by the way, Paul is not saying he preached with the tongue of angels.

That's--there is no tongue of angel that he's talking about. He's saying "even if I could preach with a tongue of angels, if I don't have love, it's nothing." That's 'cause the early church was putting such an emphasis on tongues. Now when you jump to the old testament, how many of you have heard it said before, "I like the God of the new testament. He's a God of love. The God of the old testament is a God of vengeance and wrath and anger and judgment.

" Have you heard that or something like that before? That's a myth. That's not true. When you think of the most severe plagues in the Bible, you find them in the new testament. Go to Revelation. Read about those seven plagues.

It'll make you shudder. The most fierce judgments, the wrath of God's indignation poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation--tormented day and night forever and ever. That's new testament. I mean there's some--Paul says we will all stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account for the things done in the body. And Jesus said, "these will go away into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

" And I don't know. It's selective reading when people say that. It's because I think that they get stuck reading through Kings somewhere about the judgments. And I don't know. But you read Isaiah and there's a lot of love in Isaiah.

There's a lot of love--Moses had a lot to say about love. Genesis 29:20, "so Jacob served years for rachel, and they seemed like only a few days to him because of the love he had for her." Your service for God, is it a drudgery or is it a pleasure? Well it depends. You can often gauge it by how much do you love him? The more you love him, the lighter the service. When Jesus said, "take my yoke upon you." And when he invites us to serve with him, he says, "my yoke is easy. My burden is light.

" Why? Because when we fall in love with him, serving him is a joy. I love that example there in the Bible, "Jacob served 7 years for rachel, but it seemed as a few days to him." Why? Because of the love that he had for her. And that's the way it should be for us and the Lord. Alright, Jeremiah 31:3, do you have that? Um hmm. "the Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

" Now, who is God speaking to? He's talking there to the church. He's talking there to you. He loves us with an everlasting love. You know, when Moses said, "Lord, show me your face," and God revealed his face to Moses, how was that demonstrated? God then declared his character to Moses. And it was a character of love.

You know how many times Moses talks about the love of God? Deuteronomy 6:4. This is that great mishna. "Hear, o Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord! And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might. And these words I command you this day shall be in your heart." We're commanded to love. How do you like when someone orders you to love? Would you like it if someone stormed into your home with a squad of police, armed, machine guns cocked, leveled 'em at you and said, "love us.

" Would that work? So when you think about how big God is, and God thunders into your life and he stands there towering over you with his hands on his hips. Then he takes one hand and he makes a fist and he shakes it at you. And he says, "thou shall love me." Can you love him?" Does that--you get the picture? So when God commands us to love him, is that the way he's commanding us to love him? Or, another picture, you're in the doctor's office. He's finished with the exam and he's reading the lab report. And he looks at you.

He takes off his glasses and his eyes puddle up. And he says, "you got diabetes. You gotta give up the donuts. It's an order." Is it a little easier for you then to say, "okay, I'll do it?" Because he's caring about you. So when God commands us to love him, don't picture the jolly green giant shaking his fist at you, saying, "love me or else! If you don't love me, I'm gonna burn you.

" I mean can you love someone like that? Anyone here like the idea of forced love? There's other words for that. The idea of love is God is telling us, "you've got a deadly disease. The only cure is to love. The only way you're gonna be happy is to love me." Who was it that said, "we've got this God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that is only satisfied by the love of God." So he commands us to love him. Then you go to the new test--so do you see the love of God in the old testament? What are some other examples in the old testament before we jump on that pop into your mind that talk about the love of God? I talked about when Abraham offered Isaac.

Do you remember when Isaac told the philistines, "no, Rebekah's just my sister." But he loved--the Bible says, "Isaac loved Rebekah." And so when he thought no one was looking, we don't know what exactly was happening, but he was sporting with her somehow. And abimelech the King looked out the window and saw it and said, "surely, she's your wife. I see how you're touching her. You don't touch your sister like that. That's your wife.

" He couldn't stop but show that love for her. And a lot of examples in the Bible about the love of God. Hosea has this wife that runs off, goes to another man, but he loves her so much, he takes her back even though she's been unfaithful. When you think about David going up the steps of the watchtower and crying with a broken heart, "oh absalom, my son, my son, absalom my son, would God I had died for thee." Was that love? I mean you look through the old testament, story after story after story. You know the book of Judges, you got that story where this priest goes after his wife that's been unfaithful.

And he brings her back. The love of-- elkanah loved hannah, gave her a double portion. I mean you just go on and on through the Bible. There's all these old testament stories of love. And so I take issue with those who say, "there's no love in the old testament.

It's just vengeance and wrath and judgment." Now go to the new testament. In the Gospel of John 21:15, you remember when Jesus rose from the dead. Peter's gotten into trouble. Why did Peter get into trouble? He denied Christ three times. If a husband denies to his business associates that he's married, would that hurt the wife? Would that worry her? When Peter three times told the enemies of Jesus, "I don't know who he is," did that hurt Jesus? Did Jesus look at Peter with a broken heart then and that broke Peter's heart as a result? The Bible says that when Christ rose from the dead and he met with them there by the sea of Galilee, after breakfast he talked to Peter.

And Jesus said to Simon, I'm in John 21:15, "Simon son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" You know why he said it that way? 'Cause at the last supper, Peter said, "though all men should forsake thee, though all these guys forsake thee, I'll not betray you." That's when Jesus said, "you don't know yourself very well." He was comparing his love to being superior to the love of the other disciples. And he said, "yes Lord, you know that I love you." He said, "feed my lambs." Three times Jesus asked him, "do you love me?" "Do you love me?" "Do you love me?" Why was that the big question that Jesus posed to Peter? What is the ultimate preparation and qualification to serve Jesus? You gotta love him. Matter of fact, especially if you're gonna be an apostle, because out of 12 apostles, at least 10 of them died for their faith. Judas killed himself. If you count Paul as an apostle, that would be 11.

He died for his faith. John died of old age. They had to have a lot of love. And so part of the final exam was three questions: "do you love me?" "Do you love me?" "Do you love me?" So if you're taking your final exam in the judgment, what's gonna be the big question? If you get that right, if you really love the Lord, then you will love your neighbor, 'cause he died to save your neighbor. And if you love the Lord, you'll love what God loves.

Got me? So if you really love the Lord, you love your neighbor. That's why John says, "how can you say you love God who you can't see and you can't love your neighbor who you do see? And the God that you can't see loves your neighbor so much he died for them. How come you don't love him?" If you really love somebody, you make up your mind to love what they love. There's a lot of wives out there that have learned to love football. Not that they would ever really normally care about football, but they love somebody that does.

You know what I'm saying? And so the big question was, "do you love me?" "Do you love me?" "Do you love me?" Alright, I haven't forgotten. John 3:1 and are we ready for that? Go ahead. "Behold what manner of love The Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him." This love is foreign. Matter of fact it's so big that when John is trying to describe it, he says, "you know, I just, I can't find words to describe it, so instead I'm just gonna hold it up and let you look at it." "Behold, what manner of love The Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called sons of God!" And you think about how far we've fallen from God's original plan. Would you normally think of the murderers of Christ being called the children of God? And yet that's what we're all guilty of, our sins have crucified him.

And he calls us his children. "Behold what manner of love." He can't find any words for it. I remember one time reading about a hospital visitor in one of these mission hospitals in africa saw a nurse treating a patient with leprosy. And without thinking they just uttered out loud, "I couldn't do that for a million dollars." And the nurse said, "I wouldn't do it for a million dollars either, but for Jesus I do it for free." So when you love somebody, it makes a difference. Peter 1:22-23, "since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God that lives and abides forever.

" "Love of the brethren, love one another fervently." Now it's one thing to say, "love each other." What is fervent love? It's a love that's ignited. It's a love that is glowing and warm. It's a hot love. It's alive. It's combustible.

To love each other not passively, but fervently. You know--you know what our problem is? Love. Everything you go through, God is trying to teach us to love him and love each other. Every experience that you go through. When people mistreat you, when people aggravate you, praise the Lord, because you know why? God is trying to teach you to love better.

Do you develop muscle through rest or do you develop muscle through resistance? You don't develop muscle by reclining. You develop muscle by running. You do not develop love by being surrounded by sappy, lovey people. If everybody's lovable around you, you don't develop any love at all. There's no challenge to your love muscles.

The way that you develop love is through trial. You are around people that are unlovable, very difficult to love. And God is not telling you to just love the lovable. He's saying, "I want you to love your enemies. I want you to love the difficult people to love.

" And you're going, [sighs] that's when you really learn to love. And God says, "I want you to love me even when you're going through trials you don't understand, I want you to still love me. Even when obeying seems impossible I want you to love me then." And how do we show our love? Jesus said, "if you love me, keep my commandments." So doing God's will, doing what pleases him, because you love him, even though it doesn't please you. So you develop that love for God by choosing to love your neighbor and choosing to obey God when it doesn't-- you don't even feel like it. See if love is God and love is giving, "God so loved the world, he gave," the opposite of love is what? Selfishness.

Yeah, love is an expression of selflessness. Selfishness is the antithesis of love. If Jesus is love, then what is the devil? The spring of action for everything God does is what? Love. The foundation, motive, for all that God does is love. What is the foundation, motive, for everything the devil does? Selfishness, pride, which is selfishness.

What generally drives us? Without the sanctifying influence of God's Spirit, we're selfish creatures. So when we subdue, through God's Spirit, our natural selfishness, you are strengthening your love muscles. Does that make sense? That was very--that just struck me as very profound. I hope it struck you that way too. That's very important foundational truth is that when we choose to go against our selfish inclinations and the way we deal with each other and in the way we deal with God, if we choose to love each other and obey him, you are squashing your selfishness and growing your love muscles.

So love is not gonna necessarily fall on you. Well you know it's--the kind of love we think of like when a person fell in love, that's how we think love happens with God. You just fall into it. That, you know, all of the sudden there she was across a crowded room. Love at first sight.

"I was smitten." And usually that's infatuation. It's not how love for God happens. I think sometimes a person will see the cross. They see the sacrifice of God and it inspires them with this supernatural love. But that's from a Revelation of God that he evokes those emotions.

More times than not, that love grows through strain. It develops. Have you ever met a couple-- my grandparents used to tell me this--you ever met a couple that says, "you know? When we first got married, not sure we really loved each other. But we grew to love each other." I've heard that many times. Have you? How do you think that happened? It was first an infatuation, but then later through the trials of life they grew a real, real love.

And that's the way it's supposed to be. Well, you hope you have it at the beginning. But it often is not a perfect love in the beginning. Alright, where am i? Oh, I read that. Okay.

Moving right along here. Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, "but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." That's pretty hard, isn't it? You know, I think it's interesting that God said you're to love your enemies. And he said you're to love your neighbor. And someone one time said that it's often true your neighbor is your enemy. And the word nigh-brother, neighbor means nigh-brother, it's often true that it's people in the family or people near you.

Most of us are not troubled with enemies that are 12,000 miles away in some foreign country, are we? We don't stay awake at night worrying about the enemies that are far away. We worry about the ones that are near us. And that sometimes, it's friendly fire. You look in the Bible and the enemies often were their neighbor, people among them. Loving them was a challenge.

Matthew 22:36, "teacher," they asked, "which is the great commandment in the law? And Jesus said to them," quoting Moses--God doesn't have a new plan in the old testament and the new testament-- "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all of the law and the prophets." It's not just the Ten Commandments, but the entire Word of God. The new and the old testament hang upon loving the Lord and loving your neighbor.

And I've said this so often I'm almost reluctant to say it again, but I said almost reluctant, 'cause I am gonna say it again. The whole Gospel is summarized in these two commandments: "love the Lord; love your neighbor." It's this love relationship and this love relationship which is what forms a cross. That's the essence of what the great commandments are all about. First four commandments, love to God; last six commandments, love to your fellow man. Just about everything you do--no, not just about--everything you do every day can somehow be summarized in those great mandates to love the Lord.

Now, first you come to the Lord through the vertical love relationship. "Come unto me." That's the great invitation. Then because you love the Lord, you go for the Lord horizontally, "tell your neighbor," in the great commission. So everything you do in life is revolved around inhaling and exhaling. Your heart beats in; it beats out.

You come to the Lord, then you go for the Lord. You come to the Lord every day, and then you go for the Lord. This is what Christian life is summed up in. It's this pulse of continually coming to God for strength. Your love grows.

You show it then horizontally to your neighbor. And if you don't have this happening, you won't have this happening. And whenever I do this, I always feel like the pope. But you know, you understand, it's the cross. Isn't it? Love personified--in whom is the love of God personified? Jesus.

But is it supposed to stop with Jesus? Or is the goal for every Christian to have Christ recreated within us so the love of God is personified in us? Luke 17:12, "he entered a certain village, and there met him ten men who were lepers, that stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, 'master, have mercy on us!' So when he saw them, he said, 'go and show yourself to the priests.' And so it was as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, he returned, and with a loud voice he glorified God, and fell down on his face, giving thanks. And he was a samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, 'were not ten cleansed? But where are the other nine? Were there not found any who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And he said to him, 'arise, and go your way.

Your faith has made you whole.'" This is an example in the Bible of when a person is moved by God's goodness to us, he responds by coming back and showing his love and his gratitude. What brings us to repentance? The goodness of God, the love of God. Why do we love him? "Because he first loved us." As we behold his love for us, that he's willing to cleanse us from our leprosy, it makes us want to come back and say, "Lord, I want to serve you, not because you're ordering me to love you, but because you have already loved me first." And when we see God's love for us, then he wants us to demonstrate that. Even in the Ten Commandments, it says, "showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." It's all about love. Oh, we've run out of time.

I want to remind our friends who may have missed the first announcement. We have a free offer. It's "love without an if," number 729. And we're going through our new quarterly dealing with "the Christian life." Today's lesson was on love. If you'd like a free copy of that book, "love without an if," -866-788-3966.

And we are out of time. God bless you, friends, until we study again next Sabbath. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs including "Amazing Facts presents." One location, so many possibilities. Amazingfacts.org.

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