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Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God

Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God

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By: Pastor R. W. Glenn
May 23, 2004
Selected Scriptures

More messages in this series:
http://www.solidfoodmedia.com/messages/seriesview.php?id=4
By: Pastor R. W. Glenn
May 23, 2004
Selected Scriptures

More messages in this series:
http://www.solidfoodmedia.com/messages/seriesview.php?id=4

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Published by: Redeemer Bible Church/Solid Food Media on Jan 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God
 
 © 2004 by R W Glenn
1
 
Redeemer Bible Church
Unreserved Accountability to Christ.
Undeserved Acceptance from Christ 
.
Loving God, Part Two:The Impediment to Loving God
Selected Scriptures
Introduction
During his earthly ministry, Jesus accepted an invitation to dine with a Phariseenamed Simon. Since it was a time in which Jesus’ popularity was high, hiswhereabouts had become known to the people of Simon’s city.Among those who knew that Jesus was eating with him was a woman who wasconsidered a “sinner” (probably a prostitute). Upon finding out that Jesus was nearby,“she brought an alabaster vile of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet,weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and keeping wiping them with thehair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume” (Luke 7:37-38).The gospel writer tells us that this act was not at all well received by Jesus’ host.In fact, Jesus’ willingness to accept such a gift resulted in Simon concluding that Jesuscould not have been a prophet, since he was so closely associating with a “sinner.”Knowing Simon’s thoughts, Jesus offered a response in terms of a parable. He said, “Amoneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii [about a year and a half’sworth of wages], and the other fifty [about a month and a half’s worth of wages]. Whenthey were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.” (Luke 7:41-42a).
With this, Jesus turned to Simon and asked, “So which of [the debtors] will love himmore?” (Luke 7:42b).“Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’“And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly’” (Luke 7:43).And then Jesus said something truly astonishing:He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; yougave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wipedthem with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, hasnot ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointedMy feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many,have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little”(Luke 7:44-47).
What I want you to see here is that this woman’s totally unnecessary, totallygratuitous, totally extravagant act is called an act of love. Since she has been forgiven
 
 
Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God
 
 © 2004 by R W Glenn
2
 
much she loves much. And her love expressed itself not in obedience; Jesus did notcommand her to do what she did. On the contrary, the text from which we read is veryclear that this woman acted on her own initiative—standing and weeping and wipingand kissing and anointing. As soon as she learned that Jesus was at Simon’s house,she immediately got her costly perfume and began anointing Jesus with it along with herown tears.If, as it is often asserted, love has no emotional content; if it is really the case thatlove to Christ is merely obedience, then what Jesus says about this woman’s act wouldbe absurd. She wouldn’t really have been expressing love for Christ since she wasn’tresponding in obedience to any command. And so Christ would have defined loveerroneously.But love cannot be reduced to acts of obedience alone. It is wrong to concludethat love is not what you feel, but what you do. Though love is certainly more thanfeelings, it is not less than feelings either. This woman’s love manifested itself in atotally gratuitous sacrificial
act 
, yes, but it
wasn’t 
her duty to do it and it
was 
performedwith delight. This act was loaded with spontaneity and emotion and Jesus calls it love.Even Jesus’ illustration about the forgiveness of a great debt indicates thatbiblical love includes our affections. When the men in his story were unable to repaytheir lender, the lender forgave their debts. Then Jesus asks, “So which of them willlove him more?” Is Jesus talking about obedience? Is he talking about the coldcarrying out of duty? No, he is talking about the emotional response of those forgiven oftheir debts. I will love the man who forgives my debt. And, says Jesus, the more debtyou have been forgiven, the more love you will have for one who cancels it.So then, love for God is not simply expressed through the performance ofreligious duty. On the contrary, you can perform all kinds of acts of obedience, everymanner of sacrificial deed, and be bereft of love. As the Apostle Paul has said, “And if Igive all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, butdo not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). The unavoidable implicationhere is that love cannot be reduced to duty—love is more than duty—it is not less thanduty, but it
is 
more than duty.And this is the love that the Lord demands from us. He obligates us not simply tolove him with our volition (with our wills), or with our action (with our deeds), but we arecommanded to love him with our emotion (with our hearts) as well. “You shall love theLord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and withall your strength” (Mark 12:30).Heart, soul, mind, and strength—there is no component of your humanity, thereis not a single faculty that the Lord can abide outside of the orb of complete devotion tohim. He demands all of you—he wants your emotions and your choices and everyounce of your strength. Your love for him, in order for it to be love that honors him,must therefore be more than your acts of obedience; it must include your affections.
 
 
Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God
 
 © 2004 by R W Glenn
3
 
As Jonathan Edwards has rightly said, “That religion which God requires, and willaccept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above astate of indifference: God, in His word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in goodearnest, ‘fervent in spirit,’ and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion.”
1
 The reason why Edwards’ assessment is correct is because it is what the Bibleteaches. Turn in your Bibles with me to
1 Peter 1:8:
And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do notsee Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible andfull of glory.
What is so remarkable about this passage is that the Apostle Peter is settingforth joy and love to the Lord as proof of the genuineness of his audience’s faith. Theupshot of this is that holy affections like joy and love are essential components of trueChristianity. In other words, love
for 
Christ and inexpressible joy
in 
Christ arecharacteristics of the genuine believer.Now for our purposes it is our love for Christ that is significant here. If biblicallove has emotional content
and 
if biblical love is what is characteristic of the genuinebeliever, then if we do not feel love for Christ we cannot be believers.And even though true believers are
characterized 
as those with love for God, weare also
commanded 
to love him. We have quoted the great commandment already:“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all yourmind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). And Psalm 31:23 says, “O love theLORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful And fully recompensesthe proud doer.”Since, then, we are both
characterized 
by love for God and
commanded 
to loveGod, then we should expect to find ourselves in a condition in which we both alreadylove the Lord and at the same time need to love him more. The fact that God wouldcommand us to love him implies at the very least that our love for him can wane. Andwe all know by experience that it
does 
wane. I have shared with you how there is not aday that goes by that I do not find myself literally begging the Lord for more love to him.Daily my prayers express the same sentiment as Elizabeth Prentiss’ “More Love toThee”:
More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee! Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee; This is my earnest plea,More love, O Christ, to thee,More love to thee, more love to thee! 
Daily I am saying something to the Lord like these lyrics with which you’re all familiar:
1
Jonathan Edwards, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections” in
The Works of Jonathan Edwards 
, Vol1, edited by Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998 reprint of the 1834 edition), 237.

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