We have taken a series this week, 'The Revival We Need', and oh how we need a revival. On Sunday morning we looked at the subject, 'What Is Revival?'; Sunday night, we looked at the need for 'A Revival in Christ-Centred Gospel Preaching'; Monday night, the need for 'A Revival in the Bible'; Tuesday night, the need for 'A Revival in Prayer'. Last night we looked at how there is a great need for 'A Revival in Holiness', and tomorrow evening is going to be an important night - now every night is important, but tomorrow evening we're looking at the need for 'A Revival in the Holy Spirit'. I will be focusing in particularly on the doctrine of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. There's a great deal of confusion about these days concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Now I'm not going to iron out all the creases tomorrow evening, but one thing I'll seek to do is: get beyond all the debates and see our great need for the Holy Ghost. We want to seek to get to the root of our great need of divine power in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our land. We can't have that without the Holy Spirit. So come tomorrow night if you haven't planned to, and make it a date tomorrow evening.
Tonight, a very important subject, the need for 'A Revival in Love'. So we're turning to Matthew's gospel chapter 22, just as a launching pad, if you like, for this great subject: the need for a revival in love. Matthew chapter 22, please, and beginning to read at verse 34: "But when the Pharisees", that's the religious crowd, the sect of the Jews that were very strict and exclusive, and almost were trying to trip the Lord Jesus up and put Him to the test, "When the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence", the Sadducees were another crowd that didn't believe in miracles, the resurrection, didn't believe in the supernatural at all, and these two religious groups - among the same religion, the Jews - were fighting against one another. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? Well, the Pharisees thought: 'Oh, He's on our side now, because He shut the Sadducees up'. Then in verse 35, one of these Pharisees "which was a lawyer", and these men were skilled in the Old Testament law and the rabbinical laws of Judaism, they were experts. So this expert "Asked him a question, tempting", or testing, "him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him", now you've got to understand that this is something these boys would have debated to the middle of the night, they would have debated it to every jot and tittle of the law - what is the greatest commandment? Has it got to do with the Sabbath day? Has it got to do with rituals? Has it got to do with sacrifices? Has it got to do with cleanliness? Has it got to do with ceremony? What has it got to do with? "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind". Can I ask you tonight: do you love the Lord? Do you love the Lord? "This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets". We'll end our reading there.
Let us pray: Oh God of love, who has manifest love in the person of Your Son, oh come among us and display Your love in our midst. We know that the apostle Paul could say to the church at Galatia that they had witnessed crucified Christ among them, they saw and understood His love. Lord, may that be our experience tonight, may we see Christ crucified, may we see His love, may we have His love imparted to our souls, shed abroad in our hearts by faith. May we learn what it is to express that love to a world that so desperately needs it tonight. Oh God, pour out Your divine love on this gathering tonight. Fill our hearts with the love of Christ, and help us now by Your Spirit, we pray, Amen.
The love of God is an inexhaustible subject. Paul the apostle described God's love as four dimensional - it is past knowledge, it is past finding out, no human mind can fathom it, no human heart can hold it. The poet was right when he said that if all the oceans were filled with ink, and the sky above us was one enormous stretch of parchment, and every blade of grass was a quill pen, and every person on earth was a writer - to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. God is love, that's what John's first epistle teaches us. That's not defining God, it's describing God - it doesn't mean that we bow down and worship love, like many people do in our world today, but it means the God who made us, the God whom we seek to know, the God whom we love and seek to serve: He is, in His epitome and essence, a God who expresses love toward His creation. There is no greater demonstration of this than the fact that the God of heaven sent His only beloved Son into the world, and Romans 5 and verse 8 says that: 'God' manifested, demonstrated, 'commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners', while we were still knee deep, elbow deep in our filth and our rebellious sin against God, God sent His Son to die for us. Sure, there's no greater verse to describe it than John 3:16: 'For God so', that must be one of the smallest words in the English language, but with the greatest meaning in that context: 'so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever', and whosoever means you, my friend, 'whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'.
This is a world in which we live that is dying for a lack of love. Children aren't experiencing it in the home, parents aren't experiencing it from their children, wives aren't experiencing it from their husbands, husbands from their wives. We're not experiencing love in our families, we're not experiencing true love among our friends - we are experiencing something called 'conditional love': 'I love you if you do this, if you do that, if you give me this, if you provide that'. But here is a love that, even when we are in the midst of rebellion and our back is toward God, loved us with a dying love, and yet an undying love. Do you know that love tonight? You have to go to God for it, you'll not find it in romance, you'll not find it with your nose in Mills and Boon or the People's Friend. You'll not find it on the TV screen, or the Hollywood culture that bombards us every day, or the ladies magazines - you'll not find it in there. You'll not find it anywhere, you'll not even find it in the love of your kith and kin - because you'll find out very quickly, if you haven't already, that they can hurt you with deep piercings in your heart. They can desert you, they can dishonour you and disrespect you - and what are you left with?
You must go to God. Poor women are deserted by their husbands; and men, it happens to them too - the love of their life, and their hearts are broken, and they don't know what love is any more. They think they'll never experience it: you need to go to God, my friend, if that's you tonight - go to God, get to Calvary, God is love, and Jesus died for love of you! Does it mean anything to you tonight? I remember meditating one day, just with a Bible and pen and bit of paper, and I just thought of the love of Christ and how so many dear sinful people turn their back on Him. I wrote down this wee verse:
'Nothing to me, love so painful,
Nothing to me that I see,
He the wrath of God Almighty
Drained of all its threat to me.
Can I spurn a love so costly?
Can I turn from Christ who died?
So I come for a full salvation
In the Saviour's bleeding side'.
Have you been there? Oh, you need to get there tonight. But you need to understand as well - all of us, whether we're saved or not - God had a plan in salvation, and it wasn't just to save our souls from hell. He wants us to enjoy Him, He wants us to experience His love. Now we see it at conversion at Calvary, and it ought to overwhelm us as we fall broken at the foot of the cross at such wonderful love. But He wants to take us on, He wants to actually impart into our lives His divine love shed abroad in our hearts. Now the reason for that is that we might enjoy Him in His fullness of love, but there's also a secondary reason, and that is that that imparted love should be expressed and outflow from us to a world of dying sinful people that need to know the love of God themselves.
Now, I don't know about you, but if we're honest I think we'd have to say that in our human flesh, just on our own, it's very hard to love some people in this world. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it's impossible to love some people - just in the flesh, in the natural realm, people that seem unlovable, and we just grate when we even think of trying to love them. This is where we have to stop, right away, believer in particular. I remind you of some of the things I said on Sunday morning - get the recording - one of the biggest obstacles for Christians knowing revival in the fullness of the Christian experience is that they are trying, trying in their own flesh to live the Christian life. Now listen: you cannot sanctify the flesh! The only thing the flesh is good for is crucifying, and it was crucified with the Lord Jesus - but we have to reckon it dead. You've got to understand that you can't work up some kind of love in your heart for people that are unlovable, and even for people that are likeable. You can't do it in and of yourself.
The goal of the gospel message is that God sent His Son to die for us, that we might be made like His Son. Do you know that now? It wasn't just to cleanse us from sin, but it was to conform us to the image of Christ. He wants to manifest His own life and love to others through us. He wants to replace the sin and the self in us with Jesus Himself. So don't you think this is some kind of religious charity or something we're talking about tonight, when we are speaking of love. We are talking about the very love of God that was expressed in Jesus Christ. In Galatians 5 we read of the fruit of the Spirit, now they are the opposite of the works of the flesh that we read there - but we'll not dwell on that - but the fruit of the Spirit starts with love. You find that love undergirds all that fruit of the Spirit - it's not fruits, it's fruit of the Spirit - and it's all really the fruit of love. What we're seeing there is that the fruit of the Spirit is actually the life and character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that's what God wants to do with us. Imagine, sinner in the meeting tonight, you're not saved, you're unregenerate, you're not born again, you're on the broad road to hell - and yet God tonight, you know what you've done, you know where you've been, but God wants to make you like Jesus!
Boy, that's mighty! He can, because He is God, and His Son bled to purchase it. Don't you doubt He can do it, He can turn your life around in a way that you have never imagined. This is God we're talking about tonight, He is the God of all flesh, and He has said: 'Is anything too hard for me?'. You're not too hard for Him, I can tell you - but you've got to understand that the reason for saving us is that we should be changed into the same image of the Lord, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Let me show you this please, I want to take time over this. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 13 please, 1 Corinthians 13 - now you probably had this read at your marriage, you maybe need to read it again. This is the great purple passage on love. A man was reading it at a marriage recently, I think it was Henry Berry of CEF - it just came to mind - and a very educated fellow who was at the wedding came over to him and said: 'You must be a great philosopher or something like that, what were those words that you were reading about love? They were wonderful, could you get me a copy of them?'. He says: 'It's the word of God!'. This is where we are now today, educated people don't even know this brilliant passage on what love is. Now 'charity' here could be replaced by 'love'. Verse 4: 'Charity' or love, 'suffers long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth'.
Now let's do something here, go back to verse 4 and replace the word 'charity' with 'Jesus': 'Jesus suffereth long, and is kind; Jesus envies not; Jesus vaunteth not itself, is not' proud or 'puffed up. Jesus does not behave himself unseemly, does not seek his own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but Jesus rejoices in the truth. Jesus beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Jesus never fails'. Do you understand? It's the same thing, it's the life of Christ in us!
Right, now go back to verse 4 again: 'David suffereth long...', you put your name in there, 'David is kind...' - I can't go any further, I have to stop at the first one. But keep going: 'David is not proud, not puffed up, does not behave unseemly, does not seek his own, is not easily provoked, David doesn't think any evil. David does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. David bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endured all things. David never fails'. Does that make sense? No, it does not! It's making a lie out of God's word, and yet it ought to be what we long for, because it ought to be our right - it is our blood right in Christ to know the life of Christ in us! Now we will never know that perfection until we see Him as He is, and we shall be like Him - wonder of wonders - but you know the Holy Ghost is meant to be in us, if we're Christians, and this is what the Holy Spirit wants to make me. He wants to produce the love of Christ in the life of Christ in me. So we're not talking about great gifts here, we're not even talking about great service, what we're talking about is character, the character of Jesus in the life of the child of God. Oh, dear child of God tonight:
'If of Jesus Christ their only view,
May be what they see of Him in you,
My soul, what do they see?'
What do they see? Robert C. Chapman was an early pioneer missionary, and he had one great aim and goal in life, he said: 'Seeing so many preach Christ, and so few live Christ, I aim to live Christ'. Later John Nelson Darby said of Chapman: 'He lives what I teach'. What about that? We talk about Christ, and we talk about love, and we talk about compassion - but are we living it? We can't work it up, we must know it by a Holy Ghost manifestation of supernatural agape love, the love of God - nothing else will do! Our paltry pathetic love could never come close to God's love. But you see what we're talking about here tonight is Christ, Christ-likeness. It was said, and this staggers me, of Robert Murray M'Cheyne - and he died younger than I am now - it's said one man remarked of him, having witnessed his character, 'Oh, that is the most Jesus-like man I ever saw'. What a statement!
Ephesians 5:1 says that we are to be imitators of God, we are to copy God. Now we can't do it through the way we copy in pattern, like a son copies a father, this is a supernatural thing - but we can know this. Richard Sibbes, the puritan, said: 'We are as we love, not as we know'. On Tuesday night we saw M'Cheyne saying: 'A man is what he is on his knees, and no more', and the great puritan is saying, 'We are as we love, not as we know'. It's not how much knowledge you've got in your head, in fact in 1 Corinthians 13 doesn't it say that we can have all knowledge, all service dedicated to the Lord, we can even have all zeal and go, and let our body be burned and martyred for the cause - but it will all be nothing because we've no love. Now that's serious stuff, isn't it?
It's right, you know, when people say - though it's a cliche - 'People don't care how much you know, till they know how much you care'. But Christian, you better believe that's the case out there in the world - they don't care how much of this book you know, unless you're a walking epistle. There is - we have to concur, we can't do anything else - a lack of love among believers, among themselves; and there's a lack of love from believers to the lost. I touched on this on the Missionary Weekend, and I'm not going to cover it again, but this is a great obstacle to revival, and it's a great obstacle to the salvation of lost souls - because people out there, they might be unregenerate, but they're not stupid! They know when you love them, and when you really care.
Now I want to speak of four loves tonight that are enjoined in the Scripture for the believer. First of all we saw tonight in Matthew 22, Jesus said 'Love your neighbour', love your neighbour - we've got to love our neighbours. Now in Luke chapter 10 another lawyer, one of these religious clever-clogs, came to the Lord Jesus and thought they would pin Him down: 'Who is my neighbour?', he asked. Who is my neighbour then? Then we get the great parable of the Good Samaritan, now you know that, I'm sure - even if you're not a Christian tonight. The story went that the Good Samaritan, though he was an enemy by nationality and creed, he loved that poor man who was mugged along the way on the road to Jericho. He loved him more than his acquaintances in his religious system, he loved him more than his kinsmen of nationality, he loved over all those prejudices and barriers. He loved his neighbour.
Now Moses - this isn't something new, the Lord said - Moses, when he was given the Old Testament law way back in the book of Deuteronomy, said that the Jews were to love the stranger or the alien in the land: 'For ye were strangers in the land of Egypt'. Believer, how do we react toward immigrants? How do we react to people of different nationalities, different religions, different cultures than us? We are to love them, we are to love them! Oswald Chambers said: 'If my heart is right with God, every human being is my neighbour'. Who's your neighbour? Everybody, everybody you brush shoulders with, you bump into day by day - and the command is: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'! Boy oh boy, that's dynamite - as yourself! That's the standard you've to love them by, as you love yourself. Now I'm preaching into my own heart, because we all know what it's like at times to have neighbours that are not too neighbourly. The easiest thing that we do, and I have done it, is just to avoid them, give them a wide berth because it's more hassle than it's worth, it seems. Yet here in God's word, what we are seeing is that since we are basically selfish beings, Jesus is wanting us to look at our selfishness and use that as a degree of concern for our neighbour, use it as a measure of love for others.
Didn't Paul say in Ephesians 5 concerning husbands and wives: 'No man yet hated his own flesh'. We all look after ourselves, and you only have to watch the advertisements now to see that men are even putting moisturiser on their face nowadays - it's ridiculous. This is what it says: we take good care of our bodies, don't we? Pristine care, more than ever these days, and that selfishness that we lavish on ourselves, we are to display toward others. The golden rule - now it'll not get you into heaven - but what a rule it is, and you'll not find it anywhere else in any other religion, faith, or cult, or system: 'Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you'.
Now, that is love that goes beyond safety, it goes outside the comfort zone. We often hear when we lay loved ones to rest that pain is the price of love, isn't it? You loved them, and so when you part from them there is pain - but that is across the board, that's a general principle. Anything that was ever worth anything cost something! How much is our love for our neighbour costing us? How do you love your neighbour, dear Christian friend? How do you love your lost neighbour?
Let me turn the tables around here a wee bit, because I know there's people here that maybe aren't Christians. This is something that is supremely relevant to you, because as I go around preaching and talking to people about their salvation, I have realised very very quickly a long time ago that one of the greatest barriers to people coming to Jesus Christ in our province is hypocrites that call themselves Christians. People that don't love the way they should. Now I'm not saying they are not Christians, God knows those that are His, but there's one thing that is absolutely sure: people who are unloving towards non-Christians, and call themselves Christians, are one of the greatest hurdles to people coming to Christ in our province. There are folk I love very dearly, and have been praying for for years, and I believe this is the reason why they are not coming to Christ - bad Christians.
William MacDonald tells a story, and you might think its coarse, but I have to tell you it because it's true - about a boss, and he was a big preacher fellow, a big businessman. He had a great staff around him, and he was trying to get his secretary along to the meeting on a Sunday night, when he was preaching the gospel. He genuinely wanted to see the girl getting saved - but she couldn't come. She went in on Monday morning to work as usual, and for some reason he got out of the wrong side of the bed, and he snapped erratically at her when she said something. She stormed out of the office, and closed the door behind her, and she was heard to say: 'Aye, that's it, isn't it? Come to heaven on Sunday night, and go to hell on Monday morning!'.
Now that's the way it is, that's the way it is, friends, with many a person. That's the way many feel: that people don't care. Now you might be offended at what I said, but let me tell you: that's the way they feel - that we don't care that they're on the road to hell, and that's not cursing, that's reality! People are lost if we believe this book, and if we are unloving towards them, that's the only thing that is being communicated: 'You can go to hell, I don't care!'. It's serious, but here's the problem unsaved soul: you need to beware, because if this is your hurdle to coming to Christ - we have a saying, you know it, 'You need to be careful you don't cut off your nose to spite your face', or another one, 'Shoot yourself in the foot'. What am I talking about? Well, you're missing the seriousness of the position you are in now before a holy God as a sinner.
What do I mean? Well, you need to realise that the Bible teaches that every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. So, you see that boy that's a big hypocrite that's stopping you coming to Christ: he is going to stand before God, and it'll not be eyeball-to-eyeball, his head will be bowed, maybe his face will be prostrate on the ground, and he'll have to answer for what he did. So don't you worry about it, there will be justice one day - but what you need to focus on is: you are guilty of the same sins and greater than the one you're pointing the finger at. 'Oh', you say, 'You're wrong there now'. Paul said in Romans 2 verse 1: 'For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things' - this happens all the time.
Now I know Christians claim to have a greater life than you, and they should live up to it - I'm not excusing what bad Christians do - but you're as big a hypocrite, if you're pointing the finger at them and you're doing the same things. Do you think God is going to ignore that? Dear friend, you've got to understand that there is a principle in God's word, and that is this: the judgement you judge others with, is the judgement that you will be judged with. Aye, but you're guilty perhaps of the same things that they are doing - 'Oh aye, but I don't claim to be a Christian' - listen: you're guilty of worse. 'What do you mean worse?', you've rejected the Christ of God. If there was ever an unpardonable sin, that's it! To turn your back on the bleeding Lamb who came all the way from the splendour of heaven, and went to the rugged cross, and poured out His soul, and went through your hell that you may be saved - and you point the finger at a Christian for taking into you one day? For doing you out of a bit of money? Well, that's serious stuff, and they shouldn't do it, in fact they should be on their face before the cross in repentance, and God will deal with them for that - don't you worry about that - but what you're doing is worse! Trampling underfoot the blood of Christ!
So, you see where I'm coming from now, do you? There's a legend, and it is only a legend, about a Hindu god in India who enchanted an arrow to fly around killing people, and it killed everyone and left no victims. Do you know what happened after that? It then chased him, it tried to destroy him! He spent the rest of his life running from the arrow that he had sent against others. That could happen to you if you're using other Christians as a reason for not coming to Christ, it'll come back to bite you one day, you can be sure of it.
Not only are we enjoined to love our neighbour, but secondly we are commanded to love our brother. I'm not talking about brothers in the flesh, though we're meant to do that - but Galatians 6 verse 10 exhorts believers to do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household faith. Jesus gave what was called a new command, that believers were to love one another as He had loved them. He said: 'If you do that, love each other as I have loved you, by this shall men know that ye are my disciples'. Now you know from what I've already said that to love one another was not a new command, but this was the new aspect to it: that we are to love one another as Christ loved us. That was different.
We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, but this is telling us we are to love our brother as Christ loves us. In 1 John, John again elaborated this love, and he said: 'One who doesn't love his brother, cannot love God'. Now get that into your mind tonight: that epistle is all about fellowship and communion with God, and you can't say 'Oh, I'm full of the love of God', and you have venom against your brother - because you're a liar. Your love for your brother displays your love for God. Your love for your brother or sister in Christ was a dominant theme in the early church, and it was meant to be evidence to the world that they were truly the disciples of Christ. If you like, it was the badge that said on them: 'We are Christians' - they didn't need a 'Jesus Saves' badge, or some fish on their lapel, the love that they had showed what they were.
Describing first century Christians to the Roman emperor, Hadrian, Aristides said: 'They love one another, they never fail to help widows, they save orphans from those who will hurt them. If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing. If they see a stranger, they take him home and are happy as though he were a real brother. They don't consider themselves brothers and sisters in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit of God'. How do we measure up to that early Christianity? Vance Havner said: 'Tertullian writes that it was said of early Christians, 'How those Christians love one another!', today the world might sometimes be more inclined to say, 'How those Christians hate each other!''. Is that true? Is that true?
I said to you on Sunday morning, in Genesis 3 communion and fellowship broke down between God and man, and in Genesis 4 communion and fellowship broke down between man and his brother and there was the first murder. It has always been the same, and the only reason for trouble and strife, and personality clashes, and splits and schisms in churches these days - I don't care where it is or what denominational name it is - the only reason for it is the flesh and sin, pride and a lack of fellowship with God. Unity comes in revival, and one of the greatest tests of love to our brother is how we behave toward them, even though perhaps we disagree with them, even though they maybe don't measure up to our standards. This comes home to me, I'm telling you. Someone said: 'Perfect love is slow to suspect' - is that what we are? - 'Quick to trust. Slow to condemn, quick to justify. Slow to offend, quick to defend. Slow to expose, quick to shield. Slow to reprimand, quick to forbear. Slow to demand, quick to give. Slow to provoke, quick to conciliate. Slow to hinder, quick to help. Slow to resent, quick to forgive'. That's the way we should be.
Amy Carmichael, that famous missionary, in her poem 'If' wrote these words:
'If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting 'Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?' then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I feel bitterly toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love'.
Do we seek to minimise the faults of others? 'Hatred stirreth up strife, but love covereth all sins'. Could it be that there is a backslider in our meeting tonight, or there is some Christian that has grown cold in their faith - and the reason for it is because bitterness has taken root in your heart, something has been done on you by another brother in Christ - or a Christian, for that matter, maybe you're not saved - and it's your bitterness that's eating you up. It's your bitterness that's crowding out God's love that He wants to pour into your heart. Can I give you a wee lesson that I learned not so long ago, and it helped me immensely: if you look at yourself you're going to despair, that's why you should never look to yourself for salvation or love; if you look to others you'll be disappointed, and I don't care who they are, they will disappoint you one day; but if you look to Christ, you'll be delivered and you'll be delighted - for:
'He is not a disappointment.
Jesus is far more to me
Than in all my glowing daydreams
I had fancied He could be.
And the more I get to know Him
So the more I find Him true
And the more I long that others
Would come to know Him too'.
He's not a disappointment. Will you look to Him tonight? Don't look to me, whatever you do, don't you look to me - because after a couple of hours looking to me, boy, you'll see something you don't like; you will! Don't look to any man, look to the Son of Man, the Son of God - and I'll tell you: Pilate could find no fault in Him; these Jewish boys that wanted to get Him to death, they got all the trumped up charges they could imagine, but none of the mud stuck because He was blameless, and everybody knew He was blameless. He will not disappoint you, my friend. Are you looking to Christ?
Thirdly: love your family. Love your neighbour, love your brother, love your family. In this book, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church - what a love! But what might surprise you is that only once - now wives, don't you run away here and say 'David Legge gave me a pretext to not love my husband' - but only once are wives commanded to love their husbands. Further to that: wives are spoken more as to be needing to obey their husbands than love them. That's what God's Word says - you might think: 'Well, that's very strange', well what it is saying is: submission between a husband and a wife, on the side of the wife, is evidence of her love for her husband. Do you understand that? Wait till I tell you ladies: if your husband loves you like Christ loved the church, there will be no trouble submitting.
Then we find that there is a command only once for parents to love children, only once in Titus 2 - isn't that remarkable? But there are several illustrations of that throughout the Scripture: Abraham loved Isaac, Isaac loved Esau, Rebekah loved Jacob, Jacob loved Joseph - and so it's seen more personified in action, and that is the message. What's more important than saying 'I love you', and being told to love, is to show it, to manifest it, to submit and obey and do it! You see, there's a pattern here, and it's interesting again to see that there is no command or injunction given to children to love their parents - it's not there. What children are told, oft repeated, commanded to honour and obey their parents - why? Because that would be the evidence that they loved their parents. So what's the message here? It's not that you don't love, it says there that we should be loving everybody - but what it's getting across is: love is service rather than sentiment.
The best thing I could do for you is to point you to the Master. Just before He was going to die for His disciples and the rest of us, in an Upper Room He took off His outer garment, He girded himself with a towel, He took a basin of water and He washed the dirty stinking feet of those twelve sinful men. He says: 'As I have done to you, so do ye to one another' - service. Do you think that was an easy job, doing that? Do you think loving unlovable people at times is easy? You see, you're understanding now what this biblical love is: it's more volitional than emotional. It's not just having this bubbly feeling in our heart, and then we go out and throw our arms around everybody, and hug them and kiss them, that's not this love: it's more to do with actions than feelings. I tell you: actions are more powerful than feelings, and the feelings will come after the actions - they will come, but the actions have to come first.
You see, this is what Paul meant in Philippians chapter 2, he said: 'Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus' - then he goes on to talk about how He left heaven, and became a man, and went to the cross, and bled and died, and took our sin. That's what we're meant to do: it's a choice that we make, even in family, when we deny ourselves and put the family first.
But here's the last love: love your enemy. Love your neighbour, love your brother, love your family, and love your enemy. Loving one another, family and neighbours, is not necessarily of the Spirit of God - did you hear that? Loving your neighbour, your brother, and your family is not necessarily of the Spirit of God - what do I mean? Well, in Matthew 5 the Lord Jesus said: 'If if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?'. So if you love your neighbour, and you love your brother, and you love your family, you'd make a good publican - that's a tax collector, they were the despised of the despised in Jesus' day. That's powerful, isn't it? What the Lord is saying here is: 'Look, you can love people that have things in common with you, it's easy to love people in your own denomination, or in your own church'. It's easy to love people who support Manchester United if you support Manchester United. It's easy for people in the world to love folk who go to their bingo hall, because they go to their bingo hall; or go to their local pub, because they go to their local pub - that's something that's right throughout humanity, that's a natural love to love those who love you and like you. But this supernatural love we're talking about tonight goes beyond divisions, it goes beyond tastes, it goes beyond hate, it's the hardest love of all: 'Love your enemies', Jesus said!
He said it will be demonstrated when you bless those who curse you, when you pray for those who mistreat you, when you give generously to those that hate you. You see, love is more than friendship based on mutual admiration, it's more than that. It's loving people that don't like you, and maybe you even feel are hard to like yourself. Do you know something? This is what is tragic, believers: this is the very thing that was meant to mark out the child of God as distinctive, different than anybody else, different than the publicans, different than the sinners - love for their enemies! Now here we are on very touchy ground: we have come through 30 or 40 years of troubles in this land, and many a believer needs to repent that they never loved their enemies. We are in trouble if that's the way we are: how do we stand? This is God's grace personified: 'While we were still sinners', while we were cursing Him, while we were condemning Him, while we were abusing Him, while we were blaspheming Him, God lavished His grace. It was unconditional. A W. Tozer said: 'Perfect love knows no 'because'' - 'I love you because of this, that and the other'.
Christ loved His enemies when they had no intention of returning it, and we are called upon to do the same. Now answer me a question: why is it that believers are among some of the most begrudging and vengeful people on the face of the earth? Why is that? You answer it for me. Don't tell me they're not, I've come up against them time and time again. You know, if God would deal with us the way we deal with other people, where would we be? The only aggressiveness that the child of God should show is aggressive love, and the punch line of this message would well be the punch line of the Good Samaritan parable: Jesus said, 'Go thou and do likewise'.
Charles Price tells a story of being invited to speak at a conference in Boston several years ago when other speakers were there. Juan Carlos Ortiz was there, and his church is in Buenos Aires, and it started at 300 people and within three to five years there were 3000. It was known as the fastest growing church in Buenos Aires. One day driving past a local cemetery he saw that the cemetery was growing too. Then he realised that they weren't growing, they were just getting fat. He realised that 'We had', he said, '300 largely average unloving Christians, and now we had grown to 3000 largely average unloving Christians - that isn't growth, that's just getting fat'. He was so concerned that he decided to preach a series on love. He went to church for the first Sunday, for the first message, and he was going to look at the different Greek words for love. During the worship service the Lord said to him, 'Don't preach your sermon'. The worship finished, and he said: 'Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is, 'Love one another'', and then he sat down for two minutes.
The worship leader said: 'Are we supposed to sing another song?'. Then he got up again and he said: 'Brothers and sisters, love one another'. His wife in the balcony thought he'd flipped his lid, and the people obviously were uncomfortable with this. He got up again, and a fourth time said: 'Love one another'. As he went back to his seat, someone on the far side of the church turned to the next person and said: 'Is there any way I could love you?'. Then another did it, and then another, until the whole church erupted. He said that they had 28 unemployed people in the church that Sunday, and every one of them went home with a job. There were single mums, and every one was adopted by a family who said: 'You come and have dinner with us twice a week, and we will look after you'. Many others' needs were met, and he said: 'If I had preached my message on love, at the end people would have come saying, 'Thank you for the way that you preached, I now know the distinction between agape love and filio love' - but 28 people would have went home unemployed, and probably most of the church couldn't have cared less'.
Next week he had the same text, and the same thing happened again. For three months he preached on the same text - do you know what happened? 300 people left the church, they came to the elders: 'We employed this man to feed us, anyone can stand up there and say 'Love one another''. The pastor said: 'The problem is, I've been preaching to you for years and you don't do anything'. At the end of three months, he got up and he said: 'I've a new text today', and they all clapped! 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. People left, got into their cars, drove home, went to their neighbour: 'I am a Christian', they said, 'Is there anything I can do to help you, or pray for?'. There were needs that they couldn't imagine, and do you know what happened? The church office was bombarded with phone calls of unconverted people ringing up and saying: 'Is that the church that's willing to help me, because I've got problems?'.
Do you know the love of God? Has the love of God been imparted to your soul? Are you expressing the love of God to other souls?
Let us pray. Is God speaking to you tonight, unsaved person? Well, all you must do is say: 'Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me. Save me now, I come to You, I accept Your love, I accept Your grace, by faith I just take it'. Just do that, my friend, and that's you, that's you in, that's it - simple faith. Believer, it's no different for you: this isn't to be worked up, this isn't to be a job of going home and starting to do a love workout in your heart, and trying to pluck up the courage to love that unlovable person. You have to get to the foot of the cross, like any sinner, and just be broken and accept it, and let Him live through you. Do it tonight, and God will get the glory - and my, you will get the joy to His glory. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Mission in Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixth recording in his 'The Revival We Need' series, entitled "A Revival In Love" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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