True vs. False (VIII)
TRUE AND FALSE LOVE (1)
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 1/14/01 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 13. I'll be reading the entire chapter:
1 Corinthians 13: (1) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I have become [as] sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have prophecies, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) And if I give out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I be burned, but I do not have love, I am not profited anything. (4) Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love is not vain, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. (7) [Love] quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never fails. But if [there are] prophecies, they will be caused to cease; if tongues, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be caused to cease. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; (10) but when the perfect thing comes, then that [which is] in part will be caused to cease. (11) When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. But when I became a man, I caused to cease the things of the infant. (12) For now we see through a mirror in dimness, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will fully know even as I also was fully known. (13) And now faith, hope, and love, these three things remain; but the greatest of these [is] love.
Today, in our continuing series on the true versus the false, I will be speaking of true and false love. This topic is very much needed to be preached, because everyone is talking about love, from the atheist to the Buddhist to the Jehovah's Witness to the Arminian to the Calvinist to the Christian. Everybody has their own concept of what love is, but very few get their concept of love from God's Word. This is another topic that could be a series in and of itself, but I hope to give you some of the main points that at least will give us the essentials.
Love is both a noun and a verb. It is used as a noun, for example, in this sentence: "I know of your love." It is used as a verb, for example, in this sentence: "I love you." In the New Testament, there are two main Greek verbs that are translated "love." The first Greek verb is a-ga-PAH-o, and its noun form is a-GAH-pay. This is the most common word for "love" in the New Testament. This is what is translated "love" in 1 Corinthians 13. This kind of love is an assent of the mind of good will, and it is an action demonstrating this good will. It has a moral sense to it. The second Greek verb is fil-EH-o. It is an affectionate love. It is a love of attachment or fondness or friendship. The root of this word is used in many other words, such as fil-a-del-FEE-a, which is brotherly love, fil-AN-dross, which is love to one's husband, fil-ar-goo-REE-ah, which is love of money, fil-OW-toss, which is self-love, and fil-AY-don-oss, which is love of pleasure. An example of fil-EH-o is in Titus 3:15:
Titus 3: (15) All those with me greet you. Greet those who love us in [the] faith. Grace [be] with you all. Amen.
Some of the so-called Bible scholars make the distinction between a-ga-PAH-o and fil-EH-o by saying that the former is a head-love, and the latter is a heart-love. But this is nothing but foolishness. The Bible makes no such distinction between head and heart. In the Bible, the heart includes the intellect, and, as we have seen before, the heart is what thinks, ponders, and imagines. And of course, what do these so-called theologians think is the most important kind of love? It's the HEART love. They say things like, "It doesn't matter if you have love in your head; it's the love from the heart that counts." Well, let's see some places where that supposed "head love" comes up in Scripture.
John 10: (17) For this reason My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again.
God the Father has what they call a head-love for God the Son.
John 13: (23) But there was one of His disciples reclining at the bosom of Jesus, whom Jesus loved.
So Jesus had what they call a head-love for John.
John 13: (34) I give a new commandment to you, that you should love one another; according as I loved you, you should also love one another.
So Jesus commands His people to have what they call a head-love for each other, just as Jesus has what they call a head-love for them. And I could go on and on. The main kind of love in Scripture is what these people call "head love." It is an assent of the intellect and actions that proceed from that assent. Now let's see some examples of what they call "heart-love." Matthew 6:5 and 23:6 say that the Pharisees LOVE to pray out in the open to be seen of men and LOVE the first couch in the suppers and the first seats in the synagogues. THIS is that so-called "heart-love." In John 15:19, the world LOVES its own with that so-called "heart-love." Rarely is the so-called "heart-love" used as a love that Christians have. So the heart love that Spurgeon and others like him so highly esteem in contrast with the head love might sound good to the silly women who love romance, but the love that is the main emphasis of Scripture is a moral love that stems from an assent of the mind.
When it comes to spiritual things, there are four ways which love can be shown. There can be love from one person to another, love from a person to God, love from God to a person, and love from God to Himself. We are going to be focusing today on the love between humans. We know that there is a true love that God shows that is consistent with His law and justice, and this love is only shown toward His people, and we know that unbelievers talk about a love of God toward all without exception at the expense of His law and justice. But for today, I'll be talking about love to other people.
Let's first go over love toward unbelievers. Let's turn to Luke 6:27-36:
Luke 6: (27) But I say to you, Those hearing: Love the [ones] hostile to you, do good to those hating you, (28) bless those cursing you and pray for those insulting you. (29) To those striking you on the cheek, turn the other also. And from those taking your garment, do not keep back the tunic also. (30) And to everyone asking you, give. And do not ask back from those taking your things. (31) And according as you desire that men should do to you, you also do the same to them. (32) And if you love those who love you, what thanks is there to you? For even sinners love those who love them. (33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks is there to you? For even the sinners do the same. (34) And if you lend [to those] from whom you hope to receive, what thanks is there to you? For the sinners lend to sinners so that they may receive the equal things. (35) But love the [ones] hostile [to] you, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing [in return]; and your reward will be much; and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the unthankful and evil ones. (36) Therefore, be merciful, even as your Father also is merciful.
The Greek word for "bless" means "speak well of." So how are Christians to conduct themselves toward the ones who hate them? Are they to be mean to them? Are they to strike back physically or verbally? No. We are to be kind, even at our own expense. We are to give. We are not to retaliate. Loving ones who love you isn't difficult - God calls us to love the ones who HATE us! We are to have their well-being in mind. THAT is true Christian love. Whenever we do something toward an unbeliever, we need to ask ourselves, "Am I doing this for the person's good?"
Thus far, all of those who call themselves Christians would say they agree. But let's look at some examples of love for the ungodly. Before we get into some examples, we need to remind ourselves that whatever the apostles wrote in the epistles was inspired of God the Holy Spirit. These words are perfect words, putting forth perfect doctrines and perfect attitudes. For example, in Philippians 1:18, when Paul rejoiced that Christ is preached by some who are insincere, that attitude was not sinful; in fact, it shows a GODLY attitude. If we said that Paul was mistaken when he rejoiced in this, we would have to say that the Holy Spirit who inspired him was mistaken, and we then destroy the infallibility of Scripture. Okay? Do we have that concept? This is important as we see some examples we see in the epistles of love for the ungodly.
Let's first look at Romans 10:1:
Romans 10: (1) Brothers, truly my heart's pleasure and supplication to God on behalf of Israel is for [it] to be saved.
Paul is showing love for Israel here. First of all, he desires and prays for their salvation. If he is desiring and praying for their salvation, how does he judge their spiritual state? Well, he wouldn't be desiring and praying for the salvation of someone who's already saved, would he? Paul is here judging them to be LOST. And he goes on to make it very clear that they are lost in the following verses. He says that they are lacking knowledge of the righteousness of God. They do not believe in the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. Now I ask you: When Paul judges Israel lost because they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, is he showing love for them? Well, he MUST be, because the Holy Spirit would not inspire Paul to put forth a sinful attitude! So Paul is LOVING these people WHILE he is declaring that they are lost.
Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 11:13:
2 Corinthians 11: (13) For such ones [are] false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
Was Paul showing love toward the false apostles by saying such things? Let's turn to Galatians 2:4-5:
Galatians 2: (4) But [it was] because of those false brothers stealing in, who stole in to spy on our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, they desiring to enslave us, (5) to whom not even for an hour did we yield in subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Was Paul showing love to the false brothers by calling them false brothers and not yielding to them for even an hour? Now over to chapter 5 verse 12:
Galatians 5: (12) O that the [ones] causing you to doubt will sever themselves.
Was Paul showing love to the ones whom he wished would emasculate themselves? The answers to all these questions is YES! Paul was showing LOVE by judging them LOST.
And what about the commands for believers to separate from unbelievers, like we went over in last week's sermon? Is the Holy Spirit commanding Christians to do something that is unloving? Of course not. God never commands His people to sin. Let's look at Romans 16:17:
Romans 16: (17) And brothers I exhort you to watch those making divisions and causes of stumbling contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them.
Is Paul commanding the people to do something that is unloving? Now over to 1 Timothy 6:3-5:
1 Timothy 6: (3) If anyone teaches differently, and does not consent to sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching according to godliness, (4) he has been puffed up, understanding nothing, but [is] sick concerning doubts and arguments, out of which comes envy, strife, evil-speakings, evil suspicions, (5) meddling, of men whose mind has been corrupted and deprived of the truth, supposing gain to be godliness. Withdraw from such [persons].
Is Paul commanding Timothy to do something that is unloving? NO! Judging someone to be lost and not fellowshipping with them is the only LOVING thing to do!
This is TRUE LOVE toward our enemies. We are to be kind to them and to seek their good by telling them that they are lost and their deeds are evil and separating from them. Yet religionists who come in the name of Christianity say that this is the most UNLOVING thing to do! They say that it is mean and harsh to judge someone lost based on their false doctrine. Hardly a week goes by without someone telling us that it is unloving to judge people lost. And that's were we get into FALSE love for unbelievers.
What is it that religious people do or think that show a FALSE love for an unbeliever? Well, of course, at the top of the list is SPEAKING PEACE to them. Like the false prophets in the Old Testament, they say, "Peace, peace" when there really is no peace. They say, "Everything's okay between you and God," when everything is NOT okay between them and God. They say, "You're not under the wrath of God," when they ARE under the wrath of God. They say, "Let's all rejoice together in Christ," when they don't know Christ. Now don't all these things sound so loving and compassionate to the natural ear? What can be more loving than to say, "You're okay, and I love you, brother"? Yet to say this to an unbeliever is actually HATRED! Think about it! It is HATRED! It is MEAN, UNLOVING, UNCOMPASSIONATE, and HATEFUL. What they call love, we call hate! And what we call hate, they call love!
Now how can it be unloving to say that someone is a brother in Christ who is not? It's because the person who says it is PROMOTING THE PERSON'S ETERNAL DESTRUCTION. Remember what it is to show love? It is to have someone's well-being in mind. When someone lets a person be comfortable in his lostness and even says that he's not really lost and doesn't have anything to be concerned about, is this a concern for the good of the person? No! It is to say to a person whose house is on fire that he should stay in the burning house because everything is okay. Paul, in Romans 10, said that he desired and prayed for the salvation of his kinsmen according to the flesh. THIS is LOVE. He said that they were LOST because they were ignorantly going about to establish a righteousness of their own. He didn't say this to be mean or unloving; he said this and then told them about the only righteousness whereby a sinner is justified!
So all you Calvinists or Sovereign-Gracers out there who are telling your Arminian friends that they are your brothers in Christ - you are pushing your Arminian friends into hell. You're not loving them. You're hating them. And as 2 John 11 plainly declares, not only are you pushing them into hell, but you are headed there as well. You are a participant in their evil deeds. And I say this out of love for you that you are a disgusting, rotten, wretched unbeliever who is without a righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice, and you are to repent and believe the gospel.
Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13 again. This is something you may have never seen before. Look at verse 3:
1 Corinthians 13: (3) And if I give out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I be burned, but I do not have love, I am not profited anything.
Notice - if we GIVE OUT ALL OUR GOODS. The KJV says, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor," with "the poor" in parenthesis. If we GIVE OUT ALL OUR GOODS, and DO NOT HAVE LOVE - wait a minute! Isn't giving out all our goods a sure sign of love? How can it be that someone can give out all their goods and not have love? Well, it is only love if it comes from a person who believes the truth. Good deeds are an abomination to God if they come from an unbeliever. And if one does a ton of good things for someone who confesses a false gospel and then calls him a brother in Christ, it is not truly love. Look down at verse 6:
1 Corinthians 13: (6) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.
TRUE love DOES NOT rejoice in unrighteousness. To say that one who believes in universal atonement believes the true gospel is to rejoice in unrighteousness. TRUE love only rejoices in the TRUTH. And you know what? This passage strongly implies that those who show true love KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between unrighteousness and the truth. They JUDGE the difference, and they REJOICE in the truth and REJECT unrighteousness.
I'll have to stop here and preach a separate sermon on love for the brethren. Let us remember from this message that TRUE LOVE of unbelievers promotes their good and well-being, which includes telling them that they are lost and presenting the gospel to them. FALSE LOVE promotes their destruction by telling them that they already believe the gospel and are at peace with God. Let us speak the truth to unbelievers in love, desiring and praying for their salvation. Amen.