This mainly will not be my writing, but what has this morning blessed me. And I think you will also want to share it. I think of the beauty and wonder of Christianity and the love of the one and true living God. I think of the poor deceived Muslims who don’t know our God, but those jihadists who more closely follow the example and teaching of Mohammad base their actions on cruelty. Mohammad had only a few followers until he changed his method of obtaining them through terror and cruelty. Now his male follows are promised immediate Paradise with 70 virgins if they will kill unbelievers for Allah. But Mohammad is the same leader that told his followers to wash out their noses every morning because the devil slept there at night. And he is the same one who at one time wondered and questioned whether his many visions or trances were from God or from Satan. The same one married a 9-year-old girl, making him a pedophile. But I am thankful to say that many Muslims are being converted, testifying that Jesus Christ has been revealed to them. Praise God for that!
Like you, I greatly enjoy our weekly breakfast time together. We are of one heart. That is another amazing thing about Christianity. One can become a Muslim by verbalizing a couple sentences expressing loyalty to Allah but Christians are taught by the Holy Spirit, and with no contact with others in other parts of the world, find that the Holy Spirit teaches them all the same thing—the love of Christ and love and fellowship with the Father. And that His love is shed abroad in our hearts for one another, even loving and having compassion on our enemies!
No other religion on earth has a LIVING Founder or a Savior from personal SIN! And no other religion combines eternal life with its followers forgetting themselves and self-interest, even denying self to SERVE others.
Now I feel I must share with you some of the beauties I read this morning. First is a quote from Dave Hunt from his book, “How Close Are We?” That is, how close are we to Christ’s Second Coming? So much that he says is blessedly true. Here is a sampling:
The law could never make us good. It could only tempt us, as Paul pointed out, to do what it forbids (Romans 7:7-11). Love alone is able to restrict our conduct and even cause us to fulfill the law. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (13:10)
Love forgets self and abandons self-interest in order to please the one who is loved. How incongruous, then, is the very term “self-love.” Where demands are made for self and complaints are voiced of not being treated fairly or not being “responded to,” one may be absolutely certain that true love is not present, for “love seeketh not her own.”
“Love suffers long and is kind; love envieth not, vaunteth not itself . . . Seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil . . . Beareth all t things . . . love never faileth.” (1 Cor. 13:1-8)
Our fallen hearts are not capable of such divine love. It can only be ours through the transformation of the new birth and the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
LOVE OF SELF OR LOVE OF GOD
Affectionate feelings and deep passions do not necessarily spring from genuine love. The words, “I love you,” though spoken with fervor, too often mean “I love me and WANT you.” Beware, for lust habitually masquerades as love and has deceived multitudes. When the mask at last has slipped, as it eventually does, the horrible truth is revealed—but so often too late.
Where love’s restrictions are not observed and self is not denied so that God can reign supreme, there is no love, no matter how eloquently it may be professed. Satan, being incapable of genuine love, knows not the difference between love and lust. Those who follow him become similarly blinded by their own sensual appetites. Self seeks nothing but its own desires and will protest its fervent and loyal affection to gain satisfaction for its cravings.
True love has no higher joy than pleasing the one who is loved. Jesus gave us the secret of victory in the Christian life when He declared, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. . . . If a man love Me, he will keep My words. . . . He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings.” (John 14:21-24) Love delights in obeying God—and in so doing brings blessing to those on earth who are loved as well.
It cannot be emphasized enough that the battle of the ages which began with Satan’s rebellion now rages in every human heart. The conflict is between self and God. It is whom one loves, self or God, that determines one’s behavior. The crucial choice we each face . . . is whether to love and serve self or to love and serve God and our neighbor as ourself.
. . . We must give ourselves to God and to others as He gave Himself for us. Even love between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbors and friends, must be selfless, or it is not genuine.
Yet “self-love” is taught as an essential good rather than the evil that it is. One hears the new psychological gospel of self-love, self-esteem, and the other selfisms proclaimed. . . . In “The City of God,” Augustine’s fourth century classic, we read:
There are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, ac- cording to the language of our Scriptures. . . . . These two cities were made by two loves: the earthly city by the love of self unto the con- tempt of God, and the heavenly city by the love of God unto the contempt of self.
—From, “How Close Are We?” published by The Berean Call.
All this is so needful, necessary and essential for every-day Christian living. Now let us turn our eyes upward to the heavenlies. The following is from Adoph Saphir’s exposition of “The Epistle to the Hebrews.”
If Christ is in heaven, we must lift up our eyes and hearts to heaven. There are things above. The things above are the spiritual blessings in heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3) “Seek those things which are above” (Col. 3:1); faith and love, hope and patience, meekness, righteousness, and strength. The things above are also the future things for which we wait, seeing that our inheritance is not here upon earth. All that is pertaining unto the inheritance “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” belongs unto those things which Christ has now to minister in the tabernacle which God has made, and not man. (Compare 1 Peter 1.) Our transfigured body, our perfectly enlightened mind, our soul entirely filled with the love of God, all the strength and gifts for government (for we shall be called to reign), all those powers and blessings which we have now only by faith and in germ, are in the heavenly places with Christ, who shall bring them to us when He comes again at the command of the Father.
Let us pause here to examine the character of our faith and of our walk in the light of this truth. Our High Priest is in Heaven. The New Covenant Scripture explains to us that there are two kingdoms, two realms, two atmospheres or methods of life. The one shall pass away, and the other shall remain for ever. The one is the world and the earth in its present condition; the other is heavenly, and shall abide for evermore. The one belongs to the first creation, and the power of sin and death; the other belongs to the second creation, to the power of redemption and life through righteousness. To believe is to see the things which are unseen and eternal. It is to behold the land that is afar off, and to take possession of it. (“Faith is the discovery and conquest of a new country.”—J. Muller) It is to cherish the lively, animating, and purifying hope of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and unfading, even the heavenly kingdom. It is to
to be translated into this unseen and yet most real world of blessing and power. It is to mind no longer earthly things (Phil. 3:19) and to have the affections set upon the things above. It is to be intrusted with the true riches (Luke 16:11). Such is the nature of faith (Heb. 11:1; 2 Cor. 4:18). It is to prefer spiritual things to carnal; eternal things to temporal; real things to things which are mere shadows.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Hence the whole aim and purpose of our existence here below, all our endeavors, all our works, all our diligence, ought to be given to this one thing, the kingdom of God, which remains for ever. So, while we are occupied with earthly duties, our great object should always be to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven; to have our affections set upon the things which are above, that thus we may learn Christ in the occupations and discipline of our present life; to be filled with the mind which was in Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself, and obeyed the Father in love; to be heavenly-minded, as they who have a lively hope, and whose citizenship is in heaven. Such is the Christian life—other-worldly, heavenly.
A spurious or superficial conversion dwells rather on the peace of God than on the God of peace, contemplates the cross of Christ and not the Christ of the cross, rejoices prematurely in deliverance from punishment, instead of cleaving in repentance and faith in Jesus, who delivers us from this present evil world, and raises us unto newness of life; heavenly in its character and hope. Wretched and fatal self-deception, to imagine that after a worldly, selfish, self-centered life upon earth we shall be transplanted into the kingdom of glory, into a blessedness of which we have had no foretaste, into an inheritance of which we have received no earnest in the gift of the indwelling Spirit.
Jesus, who died on the cross, is now in heaven; it is only from heaven that the blessings of redemption, forgiveness, and the eternal love of God, are now bestowed by Him. He never delivers from the wrath to come without drawing us unto Himself, without separating us by His cross from the dominion of sin and the tyranny of self, without sending into our hearts the Spirit, as the Spirit of life. If our life is now hid with Christ in God, then, when Christ who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory. Our citizenship is in heaven, and Jesus, whom we now love and serve, will come to receive us unto Himself.
From the lowest depth of sin and guilt, of weakness and fear, look up to heaven, and behold there the great High Priest. It is because He finished the transgression, and made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness, that Jesus is on the throne of God. Behold in Him the forgiveness of sin, righteousness everlasting, perfect access to the Father, the fountain of renewing grace, of upholding strength, and of endless blessedness.
. . . Our works and merit are of no avail. Into this height none can ascend. Jesus, who went to the Father, is the way. Faith beholds the great High Priest who died for sinners on the cross, and who as the sinner’s righteousness is now before God. Faith beholds Jesus at the right hand of the Majesty on high; and faith can rest, and worship, and say, “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is my God and my Father.”