"What Is A Christian? Part 4"
Last week, I thought I concluded the three-part Series, “What Is A Christian?” I basically used The World's Bible Handbook by Robert Boyd, in its article titled “I Am What I Am,” in the section commenting on 1 Corinthians 15, to list many amazing, inspiring and wonderful adjectives and descriptions of what it is to be a Christian. I also utilized extensive excerpts from the footnotes in the Life Application Bible. In that list we learned that Christians are forgiven, justified, declared to be righteous, sanctified (set apart for Holy use). We are God's children by adoption. As such we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. We are a new creation, members of the Body of Christ, we are the Temple of the Living God, kings and priests, the people of God, a Holy nation, crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, buried with Christ, raised with Christ, seated in the Heavenlies, not of this world, delivered from this present evil world, in Christ's Kingdom, a child of light to the lost, co-laborers with God, and the servants of righteousness.
We are God's workmanship, like Christ, at peace with God, Heaven's Ambassadors, empowered witnesses, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, highly valued, Jesus' disciples, victorious, more than conquerors, Jesus' friends, and glorified. It is a wonderful and enriching list. Powerful and edifying. As I went through it last week, one person commented, “No wonder Christians are hated as they are.” I had never thought of that but it has much truth to it. Look, again, at that list! God has poured out His Blessings on us exceeding by far the riches of the wealthiest person on earth.
But during the week, it occurred to me that, as inspiring as that list was, it was missing something... It was missing what is, perhaps, the most marvelous aspect of being a Christian: We are loved. Without love, anything and everything else means nothing. In I Corinthians 13, which is sometimes referred to as “the love chapter,” Paul writes about the importance of "charity." Charity is translated from the original Greek word, "agape" meaning "Godly love." We read, beginning in Verse 1: “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.”
In order to better understand this particular dimension of being a Christian, we need to establish our spiritual roots. As Christians, few if any of us in this room, and few Christians in the world can trace themselves along bloodlines that go back to Abraham. We are, from a strictly Jewish standpoint, Gentiles. But we have been grafted into the nation of Israel. And, for the time being, we have, in a manner of speaking, supplanted physical descendants of the nation of Israel. This is something that Jesus, Himself, told His detractors would take place. We read in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
Notice, also, Paul's words in Romans 11:25: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Gentiles' supplanting physical descendants of Abraham, and becoming the people of God, was already taking place in Paul's day. But it was not to be a permanent replacement. Israel has not been foresaken. Paul reinforces that with these words found in Romans 11:1: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”
Matthew Henry writes comments: “The restoration of the Jews is, in the course of things, far less improbable than the call of the Gentiles to be the children of Abraham; and though others now possess these privileges, it will not hinder their being admitted again.”
Let's go back to the beginning, and get a clearer picture of the nation into which we have been grafted in:
Deuteronomy 7:6: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers...”
The Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible tells us, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God,.... Not sanctified in a spiritual sense, or having principles of grace and holiness in them, from whence holy actions sprang, at least not all of them; but they were separated from all other people in the world to the pure worship and service of God in an external manner, and therefore were to avoid all idolatry, and every appearance of it:
the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth; for special service and worship, and to enjoy special privileges and benefits, civil and religious; though they were not chosen to special grace here, and eternal glory hereafter; at least not all of them, only a remnant, according to the election of grace; yet they were typical of the chosen people of God in a special sense; who are chosen out of the world to be a peculiar people, to be holy here and happy hereafter; to enjoy communion with God in this life and that to come, as well as to serve and glorify him now and for evermore.”
Let's take this, again, a phrase at a time, to see how Gentiles, both in New Testament times, and today, factor into these descriptions of God's Chosen People:
Deuteronomy 7:6: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God:”
And Peter writes of us in 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible says,
“But ye are a chosen generation,.... The allusion is throughout to the people of Israel in general, who, in an external way, were all that is here said; but was only true in a spiritual sense of such as were chosen and called among the Jews: and who were a "generation or kindred"; being regenerate, or through abundant mercy begotten, and of an incorruptible seed born again; and were akin to God, he being their Father, and they his children by adopting grace, and which was made manifest by their new birth; and also akin to Christ, he being their head, husband, Father, and brother, and they his members, spouse, children, and brethren; and to the saints, being of the same household and family in heaven and in earth; having the same Father, Lord, Spirit, faith, baptism, and they all brethren: and they were a "chosen" generation or kindred; being famous, and in high esteem with God, and accounted by him for a generation; he having chosen them above all kindreds, tongues, people, and nations, and that from all eternity; and of his own sovereign good will and pleasure; and not on account of their faith, holiness, and good works; and to special benefits, to the relation and kindred they are in, to grace here, and glory hereafter; to regeneration and sanctification, and to salvation and eternal life; just as Israel, as a nation, were chosen above all others, because of the love of God to them, and for no other reason, to many external privileges and favours, which others did not enjoy: now the apostle mentions this character first, because God's eternal election is the source and spring of all spiritual blessings, which provides and secures them, and according to which they are bestowed, and with which they are inseparably connected:
a royal priesthood; referring to Exodus 19:6, where the Israelites are called a "kingdom of priests";
Let's see that reference beginning a verse early in Exodus 19:5: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Being a kingdom of priests is “a character which one of the Jewish commentators say shall return to the Jews , 'in time to come'; and well agrees with all the people of Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles, who are all of them kings, through their relation to Christ; and at the present time have a kingdom which cannot be moved, or taken away from them; being not only brought into the Gospel dispensation, the kingdom of the Messiah, and having a right to all the privileges and immunities of it, but have also the kingdom of grace set up within them, or grace, as a reigning principle, implanted in them... in righteousness and true holiness, in inward peace, and spiritual joy; and they have the power of kings over sin, Satan, and the world; and the riches of kings, being possessed of the riches of grace now, and entitled to the riches of glory in another world; they live like kings, they wear royal apparel, the robe of Christ's righteousness.
and are atended on as kings, angels being their life guards, and ministering spirits to them; and hereafter they shall reign with Christ on earth, and that for the space of a thousand years, and, after that, for ever:being raised up from a low estate, to inherit the crown of glory, to wear the crown of life and righteousness, and possess the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, of which they are now heirs: and they are "priests", as well as kings; being made so by Christ, and through his priestly office; are anointed with the Holy Ghost, and sanctified by his grace, and allowed to draw near to God, and offer up by Christ their spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise;
an holy nation; referring to the same place in Exodus 19:6 where the Israelites are so called, being separated by God from other nations, and legally and externally sanctified by him; as all the true Israel of God are sanctified, or set apart by God the Father, in eternal election, to real and perfect holiness; and are sanctified or cleansed from sin, by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; and are internally sanctified by the Spirit of God; have principles of holiness wrought in them, from whence they live holy lives and conversations:
a peculiar people; as the Israelites are called a 'peculiar treasure': God's elect are a peculiar people, to whom he bears a peculiar love; they are chosen by him to be a special people above all others, and have peculiar blessings bestowed on them, and peculiar care is taken of them; they are the Lord's, his treasure, his jewels, his portion and inheritance, and therefore he will preserve and save them; they are a people for acquisition, purchase, and possession, as the words may be rendered; whom God has obtained, procured, and purchased for himself, with the precious blood of his Son; hence the Syriac version renders them, , "a redeemed company":
the same with the church God has purchased with his blood, (as Acts 20:28 tells us,) and the purchased possession, (as Ephesians 1:14 tells us,) and which are redeemed and purified to be, and appear to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, (as Titus 2:14 tells us) the end of all which grace being bestowed upon them in election, redemption, and regeneration.
that ye should show forth the praises of him; that is, God, who has chosen them into a spiritual kindred and relation, made them kings and priests, sanctified them by his Spirit, and redeemed them by his Son, as a peculiar people; all which laid them under obligation to show forth with their lips, and in their lives and conversations, his 'virtues'... that is, the power, wisdom, goodness, love, grace, and mercy of God, and the commendations of them, displayed in the above instances:”
who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
which is to be understood, not of an external call by the ministry of the word only; for many are called in this sense, who are not chosen, redeemed, and sanctified; but of an internal, special, powerful, holy, and heavenly calling, by the Spirit and grace of God: and this is, "out of darkness"; out of the darkness of the law, under the former dispensation, which was as night, in comparison of the Gospel day; and out of that darkness which the Jews were particularly in, in and about the coming of Christ, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and the spirituality of the law; having lost all right notions of the Messiah, and the true sense of the Scriptures, and were carried away with the traditions of the elders, and led by blind guides, the Scribes and Pharisees;
out of this darkness, as well as what is common to men, in a state of unregeneracy, having no sight of themselves, their sin, and misery, nor knowledge of divine things, of God in Christ, and of salvation by him, and of the work of the Spirit upon the heart, they were called,
into his marvellous light: by which they saw the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the insufficiency of their righteousness, their need of Christ, and salvation by him; and astonishing it was to them, that they who were born blind, and were brought up in darkness, and were darkness itself, should be made light in the Lord; and the objects they saw were amazing to them; everything in a spiritual way was marvellous in their eyes; especially the sun of righteousness, the light of the world, and also the wonderful things out of the law, or doctrine of Christ, the Gospel, and the surprising love and grace of God, in the whole, and in the several parts of their salvation:
it was with them, as if a child, from the moment of its birth, was shut up in a dungeon, where there was not the least crevice to let in the least degree of light, and should continue here till at years of maturity, and then be brought out at once, at noonday, the sun shining in its full strength and glory, when that particularly, and all objects about him, must strike him with wonder and surprise.”
The next phrase in Deuteronomy 7:6 says: “... the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Peter writes: “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
Deuteronomy goes on to say: “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers...”
But where is our bloodline, as Gentiles, going back to the Patriarchs? Does God also include us as coming under promises He had sworn unto Abraham? We read beginning in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Yes. We have been grafted into Israel. We are considered an Holy Nation, the people of God, who have obtained Mercy, but God also regards us as “Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
But I would like to go back to the introductory portion of the reason that God tells Israel is the reason why He chose them to be His people. He told them that they were not more in number than any people but rather because they were the fewest in number.
And why were we chosen? Because we were among the mighty, the noblest and the wisest? Just the opposite: we read of ourselves beginning in1 Corinthians 1:26: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
But then God told Israel one other reason why He chose them. He said He did not choose them “because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you...” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
God loved Israel.
Of all the things that differentiated Israel from the nations that lived at the time, and that surrounded them, the fact that the God Whom they worshiped loved them, stands out, to me as a most outstanding difference. While their neighbors were worshiping the rivers and the moon and the cattle and bugs... while their neighbors were sacrificing their own children to serve their gods, Jehovah was telling them to be a holy people.
Just as they were about to enter the Promised Land, God made this statement to them: It is found in Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Matthew Henry: “What could be said more moving, and more likely to make deep and lasting impressions? Every man wishes to obtain life and good, and to escape death and evil; he desires happiness, and dreads misery. So great is the compassion of the Lord, that he has favoured men, by his word, with such a knowledge of good and evil as will make them for ever happy, if it be not their own fault. Let us hear the sum of the whole matter. If they and theirs would love God, and serve him, they should live and be happy. If they or theirs should turn from God, desert his service, and worship other gods, that would certainly be their ruin. There never was, since the fall of man, more than one way to heaven; which is marked out in both Testaments, though not with equal clearness. Moses meant that same way of acceptance, which Paul more plainly described; and Paul's words mean the same obedience, on which Moses more fully treated. In both Testaments the good and right way is brought near, and plainly revealed to us.”
Yes, “In both Testaments the good and right way is brought near, and plainly revealed to us.”
We read in the Old Testament in Psalms 36:7: “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
With that in mind, Jesus lamented over the stiffnecked and rebellious resistance of the Israelities. We read in Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”
God wanted them to trust Him, to believe Him and to obey Him, not merely that He might be worshiped and glorified, but for their good, as well: Notice in Deuteronomy 5:29: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Those are words that are spoken to someone who is loved, whose well-being is a priority. What kind of love did God love Israel with? We are told in Jeremiah 31:3: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
God's love for His people is an everlasting love. Yes, as I said earlier, at the present time Gentiles have supplanted the descendants of Jacob as the people of God. But God's love is an everlasting love. In the Verses immediately following His declaration of lovingkindness and an everlasting love for Israel, we read a Prophecy of Israel's return from their exile which God, Himself will bring about:
Beginning in Isaiah 31:8: “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.” His everlasting love will be made manifest.
As Christians, we are also in a love relationship with God. And these Psalms that were written in songs of praise to God, apply every bit to us as they did to Old Covenant Israel: We read in Psalms 143:8: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” The psalmist wrote: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning...” But then we are to respond: We read in Psalms 69:16: “Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.”
Notice, also, Psalms 146:8: “The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:” Our eyes, as New Testament Christians have been opened to see, to recognize, to understand, and to accept the Truth of the Word of God. And we can say, as Israel was able to say, that the love for His people was God's motivating factor.
What is the reason given in, what may be, the most well-known Verse, about why God gave His only begotten Son? John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned:”
God loved us. God loves us. God is love. Notice 1 John 4:16: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
1 John 4:10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And, again in 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us.”
John 15:9: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” And then the next verse continues in verse 10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” God's love for us is as a Father to His children:
We read in Proverbs 3:12: “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Matthew Henry writes, “Should the Lord visit us with trials and sickness, let us not forget that the exhortation speaks to us as to children, for our good. We must not faint under an affliction, be it ever so heavy and long, not be driven to despair, or use wrong means for relief. The father corrects the son whom he loves, because he loves him, and desires that he may be wise and good. Afflictions are so far from doing God's children any hurt, that, by the grace of God, they promote their holiness.”
I would like to flesh out through the remainder of tonight's Discussion exactly how God's love is made manifest to us. I give full credit to Torrey's Topical Textbook for the lists and headings provided there as I wrote this Evening's Discussion:
It is manifested in His coming to seek the lost:
Luke 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus' love is manifest by His praying for His enemies:
We read, beginning in Luke 23:33: “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.”
But I hasten to add, Jesus' love was manifest in His praying for His enemies. When we read that, it is so easy to limit that list of enemies to the Pharisees and chief priests who had Him arrested, and to the soldiers who mocked and beat Him. But all of our names would appear on a list of the enemies of Christ, if such a list existed.
Yes, Jesus said in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
But we have not always done whatsoever He commanded us. So Jesus did not lay down His life for those who obeyed Him, for His friends...
We read in Romans 5:8 and 10: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And Verse 10, “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.”
The Love of Christ is manifest to us by His giving Himself for us:
Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The Love of Christ is manifest to us by His dying for us:
1 John 3:16: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Jesus' Love is manifest in His bearing our sins:
Hebrews 9:28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
The Love of Christ is manifest to us by His washing away our sins:
Revelation 1:5: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood...”
Jesus manifests His Love for us by Interceding for us:
Hebrews 7:25: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Notice, now, the incredibly beautiful summary statement that Matthew Henry penned about Christ as our High Priest and Intercessor, and then our proper response to Him: “The law which made the Levitical priesthood, showed that the priests were frail, dying creatures, not able to save their own lives, much less could they save the souls of those who came to them. But the High Priest of our profession holds his office by the power of endless life in himself; not only to keep himself alive, but to give spiritual and eternal life to all who rely upon his sacrifice and intercession. The better covenant, of which Jesus was the Surety, is not here contrasted with the covenant of works, by which every transgressor is shut up under the curse. It is distinguished from the Sinai covenant with Israel, and the legal dispensation under which the church so long remained. The better covenant brought the church and every believer into clearer light, more perfect liberty, and more abundant privileges. In the order of Aaron there was a multitude of priests, of high priests one after another; but in the priesthood of Christ there is only one and the same. This is the believer's safety and happiness, that this everlasting High Priest is able to save to the uttermost, in all times, in all cases. Surely then it becomes us to desire a spirituality and holiness, as much beyond those of the Old Testament believers, as our advantages exceed theirs.”
Jesus' Love is manifest to us by His sending the Holy Spirit:
John 16:7 and 13: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
The Love of Christ is manifest to us by His rebukes and chastisements:
Revelation 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Notice also these words found beginning in Hebrews 12:6: “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?”
Matthew Henry writes of this chastisement: “Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory.”
To His saints, the Love of Christ is unchangeable:
John 13:1: “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
And, a Christian is also one who receives and reflects the Love of God:
John 15:12: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Notice also: Romans 5:5: “... the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” To me, Paul is not merely saying that God's love is shed abroad to our hearts, but rather through our hearts as He loves through us, all those who come into contact with us. This understanding is confirmed beginning in 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
What is a Christian?
In addition to the three previous installments which detailed all that God gave, is giving us and will continue to provide for us, a Christian is one who is Loved by our Almighty Creator God, and who, through the Power of His indwelling Holy Spirit, accepts His Love, cherishes His Love, and returns His Love through obeying His Commands:
Jesus said in John 15:10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
Do you see what Jesus just said? “Keep my Commandments that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” It is the very same Love desire for blessing that God expressed for Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land, when He said in Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live...”
A Christian is one who never has to fear being rejected by his Savior:
We read in John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Lastly, a Christian is one who never has to fear being separated from the Love of Christ:
Paul asked in Romans 8:35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I will close with Matthew Henry's thoughts: “All things whatever, in heaven and earth, are not so great a display of God's free love, as the gift of his coequal Son to be the atonement on the cross for the sin of man; and all the rest follows upon union with him, and interest in him. All things, all which can be the causes or means of any real good to the faithful Christian. He that has prepared a crown and a kingdom for us, will give us what we need in the way to it. Men may justify themselves, though the accusations are in full force against them; but if God justifies, that answers all. By Christ we are thus secured. By the merit of his death he paid our debt. Yea, rather that is risen again. This is convincing evidence that Divine justice was satisfied.
We have such a Friend at the right hand of God; all power is given to him. He is there, making intercession. Believer! does your soul say within you, Oh that he were mine! and oh that I were his; that I could please him and live to him! Then do not toss your spirit and perplex your thoughts in fruitless, endless doubtings, but as you are convinced of ungodliness, believe on Him who justifies the ungodly. You are condemned, yet Christ is dead and risen. Flee to Him as such. God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do away that love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of his love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough.”
This concludes this Evening's Discussion: “What Is A Christian? Part 4”
This Discussion was originally presented “live” on August 23rd, 2017
Some of you may recall a Series I presented on "The Lord's Prayer" several years ago. My original notes have been greatly revised and expanded, and are now available as both a Kindle eBook, and a paperback book. If you read my book, I would greatly appreciate a review on Amazon!
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