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Love School

Love School

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Published by Katherine Bell
Love School includes keen insights from the New Testament and deeper life writers such as T. Austin-Sparks and Gwen Shaw about the absolute necessity of the fruit of love. I cover keys to the practice of love and the overcoming life available in Christ. And I point the believer to the riches of the love walk. I conclude with the changes wrought by the Holy Spirit in my own heart as I've come more fully into this walk.
Love School includes keen insights from the New Testament and deeper life writers such as T. Austin-Sparks and Gwen Shaw about the absolute necessity of the fruit of love. I cover keys to the practice of love and the overcoming life available in Christ. And I point the believer to the riches of the love walk. I conclude with the changes wrought by the Holy Spirit in my own heart as I've come more fully into this walk.

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Published by: Katherine Bell on Mar 13, 2009
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LoveSchoolbyKatherineBellIntroductionThehumanheartlongstoloveandbeloved.Lovefillsman’sdeepestneedaccordingtotheBible.Andthisisaradicalideainaconsumerculturethatscreamsatustoliveforoverachievementinordertoattainstatusandpurchasingpower.Sensualappetitesshouldbekingourworldtellsus.Prominenceandimportanceinthepeckingordermakeonesignificant.Sowecompeteandpitourselvesagainsteachother.EnterJesustoshowusawhollyoppositeway–thewayofself-denialandlayingourlivesdownforotherswhichleadstotherichexperienceofGod’slovewithinandthroughus.Itisthisheavenlywayofloveknownasthewayofthecrossthatwewillexplore.DefinitionofLoveWhatexactlyislove?Thedictionarydefinesitseveralways:(1)strongaffectionforanotherarisingoutofkinshiporpersonalties(2)theaffectionandtendernessfeltbylovers(3)affectionbasedonadmiration,benevolence,orcommoninterests(4)warmattachment,enthusiasmordevotionand(5)unselfishloyalandbenevolentconcernforthegoodofanother(a)thefatherlyconcernofGodforhumankind(b)brotherlyconcernforothers.1Itisloveinitsunselfishandunconditionaldimensionsthatwewilllookat.HowdoestheBibledefinelove?ThelovethattheBibledescribesissomuchofdivinenatureandoriginthattheNewTestamentwritershadtocoinanewwordtocaptureit:agape.AgapeisnotfoundinclassicalGreekbutonlyintheChristianrevelation.ZodhiatesinhisKeywordStudyBiblesaysofagapelove,“Itisthatself-givingdivinelovewhichemanatesfromGodandistobeseenreflectedinbelievers.”2TheKingJamestranslatesitcharitymeaningbenevolentloveorlovethatwillsthegoodofitsrecipient.Zodhiates’lexiconadds,“Itsbenevolence,however,isnotshownbydoingwhatthepersonloveddesiresbutwhattheonewholovesdeemsasneededbytheoneloved.”3John3:16sumsupthepictureofGod’slove:“ForGodsogreatlylovedanddearlyprizedtheworldthatHe[even]gaveupHisonlybegotten(unique)Son,sothatwhoeverbelievesin(trustsin,clingsto,relieson)Himshallnotperish(cometodestruction,belost)buthaveeternal(everlasting)life.”4Zodhiatesadds,“WhatdidHegive?NotwhatmanwantedbutwhatmanneededasGodperceivedHisneed.HisSontobringforgivenesstoman.God’sloveformanisGoddoingwhatHethinksbestformanandnotwhathedesires.ItisGod’swillfuldirectiontowardman.ButformantoshowlovetoGod,hemustfirstappropriateGod’sagape,foronlyGodhassuchanunselfishlove.”5AndwemightaddaswelookatloveinGod’sWordthatitisonlyasweappropriateagapethatwecantrulyloveoneanotheronanunselfishplane.Whenweloveeachotherwithagapelove,wefurtherexperienceakinshiporfamiliallove(phileoinGreek)becauseofthiscommonspiritualbond.Thusasupernaturalbrotherhoodisborn.WeseehowforeignthisloveistothenaturalhumanheartaswereadaboutitsnatureinICorinthians13:“Loveisverypatientandkind,neverjealousorenvious,neverboastfulnorproud,neverhaughtynorselfishnorrude.Lovedoesnotdemanditsownway.Itisnotirritableortouchy.Itdoesnotholdgrudgesandwillhardlyevennoticewhenothersdoitwrong.Itisnevergladaboutinjustice,butrejoiceswhenevertruthwinsout.Ifyoulovesomeoneyouwillbeloyaltohimnomatterwhatthecost.Youwillbelieveinhim,alwaysexpectthebesto
 
fhim,andalwaysstandyourgroundindefendinghim.”6TheAmplifiedtranslationaddsthehelpfulphrase“God’sloveinus”toclarifyhowallthesetraitsareactuallylivedout.AbsoluteNecessityofLoveLoveissomuchthewholethingthatGodisafterthattheHolySpiritspeakingthroughPaulgoesontosay,“IfIhadthegiftofbeingabletospeakinotherlanguageswithoutlearningthem,andcouldspeakineverylanguagethereisinallofheavenandearth,butdidn’tloveothers,Iwouldonlybemakingnoise.IfIhadthegiftofprophecyandknewallaboutwhatisgoingtohappeninthefuture,kneweverythingabouteverything,butdidn’tloveothers,whatgoodwoulditdo?EvenifIhadthegiftoffaithsothatIcouldspeaktoamountainandmakeitmove,Iwouldstillbeworthnothingatallwithoutlove.IfIgaveeverythingIhavetopoorpeople,andifIwereburnedaliveforpreachingtheGospelbutdidn’tloveothers,itwouldbeofnovaluewhatever.”7LoveisthesinequanonoftheChristianlife.Tounderstandsomethingfurtherabouttheabsolutenecessityofaradicalpracticeoflove,itishelpfultolookathowtheFatherhassetupthesituationwithforgiveness.Godhassoarrangeditthatwithholdingforgivenesswhenwehavebeenwrongedisnotanoption.Thoughitmaybeveryhardtoforgive,ifweholdback,GodHimselfwillnotreleaseusfromourmanydebtsagainstHim.Matthew6:14-15statesunequivocally,“YourheavenlyFatherwillforgiveyouifyouforgivethosewhosinagainstyou,butifyourefusetoforgivethem,Hewillnotforgiveyou.”8God’sloveforusisunchanging.WecanbankonthetruththatHeneverwithholdsHislove.“Godislove.”9GodevenlovedusbeforeweeverenteredintoarelationshipwithHimasRomans5:8testifies:“ButGod…clearlyprovesHis[own]loveforusbythefactthatwhilewewerestillsinners,Christ(theMessiah,theAnointedOne)diedforus.”10NonethelessT.Austin-SparkswritinginHisGreatLovemakesthecasethatinasenseasimilarrelationshipholdstrueforlove.OurexperienceofGod’sloveischokedwhenwesaynotogivinglovetoothers.Austin-Sparkspensthisprimarytruthaboutlovesuchthatwereallyseeit:“…ifyoushouldhavereservationoflovetowardanotherchildorotherchildrenofGod,someattitudeofcriticism,suspicion,orprejudice,withinyousomethingdiesorseemstodie.Yourjoygoes,youfeelsomethinghasgonewrong,andwithinyouthereisasenseofgrief….Butinthiscaseitisnotyouatallwhoisgrievingoverthatunlove,butthereisSomeonewithinyouwhoisgrieving:thereisasobatthecenterofyourbeing.”11HenamestheHolySpiritbyHisnature,“TheSpiritis…pre-eminentlytheSpiritofDivinelove,andassuchHeisverysensitiveandeasilygrieved.‘GrievenottheHolySpiritofGod’istheexhortation.”12WhatistheSpirit’sresponsetoabeliever’sblockedheart?“Whenwegrievethatlove,weknowthatinustheSpiritsays,‘Icannotgooninhappyfellowshipwithyou,Iamgrieved,Iampained.’”13ThusAustin-Sparksinstructsus,“WeneedtobemadesensitivetotheSpiritoflovesothatourlipsandheartsarepurgedbythefireoflove,andsothatitisnoteasyforustobesuperiorandpasssuperiorjudgmentsandtobeofacriticizingandsuspiciousspirit.WeshallnevergetanywherewithGodifthereisanythinglikethat.”14Thecostofablockedheartispronounced.ItshutsdowntheverylifeflowfromtheindwellingHolySpirit.Fruitisruined.T.Austin-Sparksdeclarestheconsequencesthus,“Paulsaid‘ThefruitoftheSpiritis–love’andthenhewentontotell…whatloveis–‘joy,peace,longsuffering,kindness,goodness,faithfulness,meekness,self-control.’Killloveandyoukillalltherest;injureloveandyouinjurealltherest.Youcannothavealltheothers,without…--love.”15AndtheblockedheartcutsoffcommunicationwiththeGodhead.Sparkssays,“Weshallneverbeableto...praythrough…(be)led…intothepresenceofGod,andtakerightholdonHim,andgetasituationestablishedbyprayer…unlessthisbasicrelationshipwithGodisestablished,expressingitselfinloveforallthosewhomHeloves,nomatterwh
 
attheyare.Prayerlifewillbeinterferedwith,andtheWordofGodwillbeclosedtous.TheLordwillnotgoonifthefoundationishurt.”16ThelovewalkisnotsomeadvancedstageofspiritualattainmentbutitistheverymeasureofallgrowthinGod.ItisthemeasureofouryieldednesstotheHolySpirit’spromptingscommandedinRomans6:13,“ButofferandyieldyourselvestoGod…asimplementsofrighteousness.”17TheLivingBibleemploysthephrase“toolsinthehandsofGod”18forthissameverse.ThepromisedlivingwaterofJohn14flowingcontinuallyfromone’sbellyorinmostmanisaflowoflove.Andthepromiseisifweletitflowwewillneverthirst;wewillbecarriedintoeternallifebyit.Austin-Sparkswordsgiveinsight,“’Welove,becauseHefirstlovedus.’Thechallengeisthere.ThemeasureofmyloveforothersisthemeasureofmyapprehensionofGod’sloveforme....ItishereinthatweknowtheloveofGod,inthatwelovethebrethren.Thereisthetestofourapprehension,thetestofourrelationship,anditisthebasisofeverythingforthechildofGod.”19T.Austin-Sparkscontinueswithhiscasethatallgrowthisgrowthinlove:“IfIamgoingtogrowspiritually,Ishallonlydosoonthebasisoflove.IshallnevergrowbecauseIgetalotmoreteaching.Youdonotgrowbyteaching.Thatisthetragedyofattendingconferences–thatyoumayattendthemforyearsandyearsandstillbeofthesamemeasureafterward,andnevergrow:stillmakingnogreatercontributiontothemeasureofChristinthechurch,stillnotcountinganymorethanyoudidyearsagointhespiritualbattle.”20Lovemustinformministry.“…NothingofusefulnesstotheLordispossibleexceptonthebasisofGod’sloveshedabroadinourhearts.ItmustbethisHolyGhostloveforthepeopletowhomwewouldminister:loveforthemeventothelayingdownofourlivesforthem,sufferinguntodeathfortheirsakes:lovetothepointofbeingbrokenhearted…overpeopleforwhomyouhavespiritualconcernandinwhomyouhavespiritualinterest;lovelikethat.NoministrywillbeministrytotheLordthatisnotbornofthat;notestimony,nolife,exceptasrootedandgroundedintheloveofGod.Youcanhavealltherest,amassofBibleknowledge,awealthofBiblicalinstructionanddoctrinalinformation...butitisallwithoutanyvalueunlessitsexerciseisinalove,apassion,aheartbeatingwiththeheartofGodforHisgreatlovewherewithHelovedus.”21SowenowunderstandPaul’swordstotheCorinthians,“Eagerlypursueandseektoacquire[this]love[makeityouraim,yourgreatquest]”22AllThatHingesonLoveWehaveseenthenecessityofloveandthatloveisthemeasureofallprogressinChrist.WenowturntothemanydimensionsoftheChristianlifethathingeongrowthinlove.It’saswelovethatwecometoknowGodexperientially.Colossians1:10correlatesouractsoflovewithourknowledgeofGod,“ThatthewayyoulivewillalwayspleasetheLordandhonorHim,thatyouwillalwaysbedoinggood,kindthingsforothers,allthetimelearningtoknowGodbetterandbetter.”23It’sseenaswellin2:2,“Thatyouwillbeencouragedandknittogetherbystrongtiesoflove,andthatyouwillhavetherichexperienceofknowingChristwithrealcertaintyandclearunderstanding.”24Johnwroteofthistruth,too.“Dearfriends,letuspracticelovingeachother,forlovecomesfromGodandthosewhoarelovingandkindshowthattheyarethechildrenofGod,andthattheyaregettingtoknowHimbetter....forGodislove.”25ItcanevenbesaidthatreleasinglovetoothersisakeytoactuallylovingandbeinglovedbyGod.John,whosostayedclosetoJesus’heart,said,“ButthosewhodowhatChristtellsthemtowilllearntoloveGodmoreandmore.ThatisthewaytoknowwhetherornotyouareaChristian.”26God,inHispredominantdesirethatHislifeflowoutfromus,openlyinfusesuswiththeSpiritwhenwefullyactasconduits.AccordingtoJohn,“ForthoughwehaveneveryetseenGod,when

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