THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-4-06
LESSON TITLE: "PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE: LOVE"
"If God is for us, who can be against us," Romans 8:31! Is God on your side on this wondrous Lord's day?
It is my hope and prayer that He is, as I welcome you to our program. We are glad that you have chosen to assemble before the almighty God today. Furthermore, as those who love and desire to serve Christ, what a privilege and opportunity this is to worship His glorious name. I hope and pray that we will each do our best to participate in this worship to God and to offer those sacrifices which are acceptable in His sight.
So, as we begin our reverence to God the Creator of all, won't you bow with me before His throne at this time.
Now let's join right into our song of praise with the first hymn of the day. Won't you do your part in praising God at this time, as we sing together, "God Is Calling The Prodigal!"
(SONG # 1)
Isn't it great to have God on your side and to know that He will always do what is best for those whom He loves. This is exactly what Paul was talking about in the passage which we read earlier. In fact, a few verses back proves this very point. Let's read verse 28, there it says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." You see we serve a God who cares enough to give us all we need, to work all things to our benefit, and to be on our side as long as we are faithful.
However, I want us also to notice that these verses not only deal with what God has promised, but what is required of us as well. Paul says we must be among the "called" of God. This means that we have obeyed God and become a child of His. Secondly, notice that to which we are called, the verse says, "His purpose!" You see, our lives and service must be about God and His will. Now when God's Will is evident in our lives then we see that He is there, caring for us and extending His love to us in every way. We are certainly blessed as those who love God to have a God who is so active and involved in our lives!
Finally, I want us to notice the pattern of Paul's life as we read from 2 Timothy 2:10. There he says, "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." This good man of God was willing to endure all things for who, "the elect." No doubt he learned this loving lesson and example from Jesus Christ, who was willing to go so far as to even die for our sins. But ultimately, Paul mentions what all things are about as well. He said, "that they also may obtain the salvation!" God wants all men to be saved. And to those who obey His will and live the commanded life He will reward them with eternal life.
So when Jesus comes again to judge the world, where will you be in your life of service for Him? Will you stand waiting, ready and prepared to ever be with God? Or will you be cast away from His presence and be told that "he never knew you!" the choice is ours and we are making the decision every day in the lives that we live. Just what will you do for Jesus?
As far as our main lesson of the day, we will be continuing our discussion entitled, "Partakers of The Divine Nature!" Our specific topic of the day focuses on, "Love!" So please stay with us for this study from God's Word, and I will be leading our thoughts at the appropriate time. Now let's join together in our next song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Hark The Gentle Voice Of Jesus."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
In 2 Peter the Christian virtues challenge us that we might be diligent to add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. Today we want to look at the last of these Christian virtues - love. As we consider still yet again another lesson considering the idea of being partakers of God's Divine Nature.
Thus far we have seen so many wondrous attributes that certainly are examples given to us by God through Jesus Christ that we must ourselves also follow and strive to accomplish if we are to be like God, if we are to be partaking in His nature who are striving to be like Him and by striving to be like Him and identified as His children and as His children bringing glory and honor to Him that others might know Him through us.
When we think about love here, this characteristic certainly a beautiful idea. In fact, isn't it 1 John chapter 4 and verse 8 that we read that "God is love." Fittingly here, we find that Peter ends with probably one of the most important, if not the most important of all of these attributes because he tells us here to challenge ourselves, to love, to love as God loved. Now certainly if we know again God loved, and the very idea, essence and concept of God is love, then you and I as those who are striving to partake of His nature must do what? We must love. And so in the same way we must believe and act and have the virtue that we need or the moral excellence, the knowledge, the perseverance, the brotherly kindness and all these wondrous things, the same way we must have these things from God, we must love for God is love.
And then when we think about the idea of love and God giving us love and how He has demonstrated that love so well by creating us and giving us life and as well not only giving us life, but giving us a plan of salvation and giving us that plan based on the sacrifice of His own son and the shedding of His blood through the painful death that He paid on the cross. Well then again we learn and begin to really see what this love is all about. So then in turn when we are challenged to love, to add to our brotherly kindness love as a Christian virtue to have the characteristic of love as God loved that we love. Then we begin to ask the question, "What then must love mean in my life?" And so certainly that's what we want to consider this morning.
Well certainly then love is required for God. Probably one of the most familiar verses and best verses that challenge us in our idea of understanding our love for God is found there in the answer Jesus gave in Matthew 22. There in Matthew 22 when he was asked what is the greatest of all commands, verse 37 tells us that he says, "You shall love the Lord your God." Well there we have it. Love God. Love the Lord and how should we love Him? He goes on to say, "With all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind." Love God with the whole of man, inside and out. Everything we do is about what? God, about striving to be like Him. As He loved, we love. And the first person that we demonstrate or being that we demonstrate our love to is God because it is the first and greatest commandment. It is the most important commandment because it is us reciprocating the love that God gave us that we might in turn as well show how much we love Him through our obedience, our care and really our reality of being able to accept His Word in being able to know exactly what He has asked us to do. So yes, we see that we must love God with the whole of man.
But it is also interesting what Jesus goes on to clarify as the second greatest commandment. He says to, "Love your neighbor as yourself." There are two aspects to the idea of loving the neighbor that I would like to look at at this time. Certainly a clear idea and aspect is the neighbor who is a brother, the neighbor who is one such as among Israel who lived next door in a tent who was also an Israelite and he was my brethren. Well here we have the idea of loving your neighbor, loving your neighbor. And who is my neighbor? Well certainly my brethren would be my neighbor.
Again in the book of John we find the idea given to us about who is our neighbor and really more clearly why we should love our neighbor or more here specifically in the book of John why we should love our brethren. If you'll notice in that text with me clearly God tells us in verse 9 that you and I as those of the light must do what? Love our brethren. Why? Because verse 9 says, "He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in darkness even until now." You can't love God and hate your brother and claim to be of the light. Now if you look at the whole context which we don't have time this morning, we see that the light is God. God is light and perfection is found in God, the God of love. And so if God is light and God loves, then we must love. So how can we say we love God but we hate and we do not love our brother? He says it can't be so. In fact, verse 10 goes on to say, "He who loves his brother abides in the..." What? "The light." That's who God is and that's where God is and there is no cause for Him to stumble. But verse 11, "But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going." You cannot hate a brother. You cannot hate someone whom you are challenged by God to love because we are told to love our neighbor, to love those whom God loves. And who does God love? Everyone. God doesn't want anyone to perish. God created all of mankind. Certainly He loves every one of His creations. How can you or I hate that which God created and that which God loves? Now certainly we might be upset or not like what someone does. We might dislike or hate a sin in someone's life because they choose sin rather than God, but yet we cannot hate that which God made, that which God created, that which God loves because we are brethren and because we are created by the same maker. Therefore as God has loved, we must as well love our brethren.
Back up to verse 5 for a minute. We learn another idea of this love as he states there. "But whoever keeps the Word truly the love of God is perfected in him." Well, notice here we have an idea of not only loving God and loving our brethren but when we love our brethren and we love God and we love the Word and we keep the commandments, then it says here God's love is perfected in me. God is love. How do I perfect the love of God in me? I love God. I love others and I love His Word unto obedience. It makes us think of what Jesus said in John 14:15. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." There again we have it. Love is demonstrated by doing what God has asked us to do and exemplifying in our lives that which God Himself exemplified through Jesus Christ.
Not only our brother who is a neighbor, but I want you also to notice our enemy who is a neighbor. You remember there even the great story that we have about the one who assisted the Samaritan, the good Samaritan as we read it, the one who helped someone that normally would not have been able to be helped by many of those that were hypocrites. But here we have the story of the good Samaritan where the neighbor is the one who was willing to help someone although society, although his class, although his background says to not help that kind of person. Well that was the neighbor. In his day, the one he helped was his enemy. Well Jesus said to us there in the great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 44, He said, "Love your enemy." Why? Because God is love and God says love the Lord your God and with all your heart and the second commandment is likened to it, love your neighbor, your neighbor whether he is your brother or whether your brother is your enemy, love him. Love him anyway and when he does wrong against you, verse goes on to say, to do good. When he does spiteful things to you, don't revile in return. When he smacks you or he is ugly or he says ugly things, don't return evil for evil. But do what? Love him. Love him. When he asks for a drink of water, give him a drink anyway although maybe he is not worthy. Why? Because you are striving to show forth God in you the life that God asked you to live is a life of love. Do we love God that much? Do we strive to accomplish His Will in us?
There is a verse that I want us to look at that I think really helps us with the idea of love and it is there given to us by Paul in the Ephesian letter. Certainly the church that he wrote to the Ephesian brethren in Ephesians chapter 3. There is a description of love here that I think really takes us to an understanding that really brings us back to our ignorance because really we can't understand love. When we think about the love that God has demonstrated and what he asked of us, it is really impossible for us to fathom it because we are human and it is hard for us to love our enemy. It is hard for us want to die for someone who is against us. But that is exactly what God did. That's exactly what Jesus did. If you'll notice there in that text we learn clearly what love is all about. In fact, if you'll notice there in verse 17 of Ephesians chapter 3 the Bible says that, "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you being rooted and grounded in love..." Rooted, the foundation is what? Love. "May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width, the length, the depth, and the height..." Of what? "To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now I want you to notice how close this is to our discussion in 2 Peter. We are partakers of the Divine Nature and here it says that we might be what? It says that we might demonstrate the fullness of God in us. What's required? Love. That we understand, he says here, the breath of love, the ability to understand that God embraces all men that we might understand, as he states, the length of love, as we understand again how far God was willing to go in even allowing His son to die, as we understand as well the depth of love, how deep it is and how much He was willing to do for my sins and your sins and as He was willing to demonstrate to us the height of love to lift us up as His children although we were but sinners. You see our God has loved us and He has allowed us by love to show forth His fullness in us and to be partakers of His Divine Nature. How wonderful that is. And how wonderful it is to know that here that as we are rooted and grounded in that love that God is going to work in us and give us an abundance as he states in verses 19-20, that we are going to be a glory unto His name and unto the church and as we read back in our text of 2 Peter chapter 1 that He is going to be one who sees us as fruitful, as fruit, as a partaker of the Divine Nature who has learned to love unto fruitfulness, that people see the love of God in me. Not my love, but the love of God in me.
Have you responded to the love of God? We know you have got to obey His commands. Have you done what He has asked that you might become a child of God? Have you confessed His name that He is the Christ? Have you repented and turned from sin that you might no longer serve sin but serve Christ? And have you been buried with your Lord and Savior in baptism? It is there that you meet the cleansing blood of Jesus that your sins are washed away and the full love, the uncomprehendable, the un-understandable, that which surpasses understanding, that love of God is brought to fruition. And then we see that love demonstrated as we are made His children in the act through our obedience and then He adds us to the church. Then the ultimate love as well is not completed because we know eventually we'll have eternal life.
Do you today need to love your God and respond to His love in such a way that you'll receive all the blessings of this life and the blessings of eternal life as well?
(SONG # 3 - "How Great Thou Art!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to us all. We invite you to join us every First day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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God has proclaimed through His Word that Love is the foundation and greatest of all things! Do you have the type of love which God requires of you in your service for Him?