All for Love

This post is part of the teaching series Truth Un-Mixed.  If you are new to this series I encourage you to start from the beginning and read all the way through as the teachings build one upon the other.  To Find all the posts in the series click here for the Table of Contents.  May you be blessed by His Truth alone!

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The goal of truth is love.  It always has been.  This is why Jesus said

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The truth is our vehicle to the Father, or more specifically, into the love of the Father.  We all know that God loves us, because as the famous song says, “The bible tells us so”. But the real question is do we love Him? And if so, how should we love Him? Do we love Him the way He desires to be loved? Or do we love Him the way we think He wants to be loved?

Our salvation is freely given, a gift of grace born out of unconditional love. But once we realize the depth of that love for us our response should be nothing short of worship. It is for this reason that Paul says that He is a bond slave to Christ. Because he understood the depth of love and sacrifice given on his behalf, and knew that the only appropriate response to this love is a life lived as worship unto the King. As bond slaves ourselves, how is that we express our love and gratitude to Him for such great a salvation?

The answer is often lost in translation because we often speak a different love language than our Father does. So, just like any other relationship we are a part of, we have to stop and ask ourselves do we seek to love Him through our love language or through His? Does it matter to Him?  Does He even have a love language?  To answer these questions let’s go back to scripture to seek out these fundamental truths that should be the building blocks of our lives if we are seeking to love and honor the one who gives us life.  First let’s look specifically at how He has asked us to love Him.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. John 14:15

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15:9-10

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 1 John 2:3

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 1 John 2:4

That may have seemed repetitive, but as you can see, the Father is very clear in His answer of how He desires to be loved. In fact, we see it repeated verbatim 6 times in 2 books of the bible, and if we look closely there are many more than just these. I would say, and I bet that you would agree, that these verses clearly communicate what the Father deems as love. In modern-day language we would call this love language “acts of service”. It is love expressed through action. Does this sound familiar?

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.  You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.   Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2: 14-26

To love the Father as He desires to be loved, is to follow His commands in how we live. These same actions of obedience can also be defined as the fruit of our faith. Faith is simply obedience to that which you believe. Following His commands is the language of His love,  but what commands is He talking about in John and 1 John? If we are seeking to love Him well, then we need to know what commands communicate love to Him.

If we go back up to John 15:9-10 He gives us a clue to help answer this question. The commands He is wanting us to follow are the same ones Jesus himself followed.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

He called them his “Father’s commands”, meaning they are from the Father. Everything given by the Father was given through and according to His words.  And we find His words given to His people throughout the bible.  More specifically, we find the commands that God gave to his people Israel at Mount Sinai, contained in the first 5 books of the bible. These are the same commands we see restated and summarized all throughout the New Testament, in the life, and teachings of Jesus. To love God is to follow all the commands He has given us in His scriptures from the beginning.

Today we often hear teaching that speaks contrary to this.  There are many arguments as to why God’s law is said to be done away with, but here are a few common ones. God’s commands are just for the Jewish people, We are now under grace not under the law, Didn’t Jesus come to do away with the law?   To address these lets go back to the source and look at scripture, specifically let’s look at what Jesus says regarding His Father’s commands otherwise known as God’s law given at Mt. Sinai.

 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19

Also, we see Paul, whom we mentioned above, the same Paul that is often attributed to teaching that the law is done away with, has this to say about God’s law.

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers,believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; Acts 24:14

So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:12

 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,  Romans 7:22

We also see God’s law described in other places throughout scripture.

The law of the Lord (YHWH) is perfect… Psalms 19:7

So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. Psalm 119:44-45

And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Psalm 119:47

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25

As you can see from His own words in Matthew 17, Jesus did not do away with the law and nothing shall pass away from the law of God until heaven and earth pass away. Jesus came to restore us back to our Father, and part of this ministry to us was to fulfill the law.  He fulfilled it by living it perfectly, bringing a fullness not yet known or seen before in order to give us an example .  He came as the living word of God, the same word of God that contained His loving commands and laws for His people to live by.  Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection can not in any way be in opposition to His Father, His laws, or His ways because He and His Father are one. In fact when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered in this way,

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

This is why it is so important to study scripture as a whole. Because not only are the Father and Son one, but so is His word one. We see this miraculously displayed in Jesus actually becoming the living Word of God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

The whole of the word is rich, deep, and useful for our sanctification and edification, even the parts that may feel foreign to us.  The truth is, that the law was never in question by anyone who wrote scripture.   It was and has always been perfect, this is stated and reconfirmed by every author in the bible.  Jesus came to live the perfect example of what it was to love the Father by obeying His law or commands. He gives us that which to strive for, not as unto salvation but as unto love.  And then He gives us the Holy spirit to aid us in our pursuit of the Father’s heart through obedience.  What the flesh could not do alone, it is now impowered to do supernaturally through the spirit living inside the born again believer.

The problem was never the law, but rather people’s mis-use of the law. The law can’t save us, it never could. It was designed by the Father to be our path to walk after we put our faith in the Father through the Son. But just because the law can’t save us doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its proper place and function in the life of every follower of Christ.  It is our instruction manual on how to live in order to please the heart of our King.  It covers in detail all the things that the Father desires of his children, the things He loves and the things He hates.

Think about your children for a minute and how one day you will stand at the end of a long aisle and give them away to a spouse in marriage. I bet you have an idea of some of the qualities that you would like your child’s spouse to have. Some things you would hope that they do and others that you hope they do not do. It is the same with the Father. He is preparing a bride for His son and cares deeply about every detail of His brides life. He cares about how she honors God, what she says, whom she submits to, what kind of food she eats, what holidays she celebrates, how she treats others and many more. He cares about these things because He loves His son and wants for Him a pure bride. He has always desired for His people to be a peculiar people, set apart to Him. And His instructions, when followed to the best of our ability, do just that, they set us apart as unto Him and unite with all those who have gone before.  We are to be one united people, just like our God is one.

So the question we are left with is how are you loving your Father and King? Are you willing to be set apart unto Him? Are you willing to discover His commands in the word and seek to live by them, not for salvation, but to draw nearer to His heart? Will you risk standing out from amongst family, friends, school, and culture in order to give Him the desires of His heart? Or, is asking you to live in the truth, be of a pure heart and mind, rest on His sabbath, and eat only what He intended for food going too far for you and asking too much?

I realize that this is not a popular message or one that draws a crowd because it draws a line in the sand. It separates those who seek the Father simply to save their own lives from those who seek Him out of a desire to love and know Him. These are two very different groups of people. Two groups that are walking on two very different paths, one wide and the other narrow. One seeking to save self and the other seeking to glorify the one who gives life.

In Matthew 16:25 Jesus describes these two groups of people this way.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I don’t know about you, but willingly laying my life down is a moment to moment battle. Dying to self, giving my life away, standing for Him when it risks the things I hold dear is not a place that I can stand on my own. In fact, if left to my own I would run, cower, and avoid suffering for Him at all costs.

But, when I, through the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to walk in His commands, pursuing His heart through His ways something miraculous happens. He draws me in. He holds me close, teaches me intimately, empowers me graciously, and releases in me a hounding passion for nothing short of His glory.

Oh dear friends, I know that this is not easy, because those who really follow Him, those who are driven by love, risk loosing everything. But we don’t get to determine the path that leads to life, we can only ask directions and commit to walking it one slow step at a time.

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The choice is clear.  In the end, we will either lose our life or find it. He forged the path, set it’s narrow borders, unleashed it’s miraculous eternal direction, and set the standard for how he desired His sojourners to walk it. Those things are not negotiable, they are the ancient paths established from the beginning of time that beckon us still today. The question is will we or won’t we take the path of love that leads to life?

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