• Have Your Forsaken Your First Love? Questions to Help You Gauge Your Love for Christ

    by Shawn Merithew on July 26, 2016

    “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

    As God gives us one of the greatest assurances Christians have in the Bible, why does he choose the virtue of love as the main descriptive for His people? Why doesn’t he say, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?” Or, since the context of Romans 8 speaks much of suffering, why doesn’t He say, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who take up their cross and follow Jesus.” Why does God, through Paul, choose to elevate the virtue of love here in this verse?

    D. Martin Lloyd Jones gives us several reasons. First, love is the preeminent Christian virtue. When the religious leaders asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment, He said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Faith is the means of life in Christ, love is the motive of life in Christ, and they are inseparable gifts of God to the child He regenerates. However, one day our faith will give way to sight, but love will last eternally (1 Cor 13:13).

    Second, love for God is the virtue that most clearly distinguishes Christians from non-Christians. No matter what the world may profess to believe about Jesus Christ, the fact of the matter is they either hate Him or they are indifferent to Him. But the true child of God will love God, even when God tells him things that are hard to hear, even when life is full of tribulations. Third, the most absolute proof of God’s love for us IS our love for Him. Consider 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” If God had not loved us first, we would never love Him. Our love for Him is the spiritual fruit of Him first loving us, drawing us to Himself, and regenerating us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    All of these truths bring us to this most pertinent question: Do you love God? All good Christians say we love the Lord, but do we really walk in love for Him? More specifically, are the affections of your heart set first upon the perfections of God revealed in Christ? Here are six questions to help you gauge your love for Christ:

    1) Do you long for and seek personal communion with Christ? More precisely, do you desire to be with Him and take action to be with Him through the normal means of grace?

    2) Do you find your greatest sense of belonging and assurance in who Christ is and His expressions of love for you?

    3) Do the main priorities of your life demonstrate that Christ is foremost in your affections?

    4) Are the loves of your life derived from your love for Him? In other words, because you love Him, do you love what He loves and hate what He hates?

    5) Is there anything you desire more than Him and His presence?

    6) When you sense that your love for Christ is waning or faltering, do you pray for God’s help to love Christ more?

    I want to be careful to say that none of us will love Christ perfectly. Because we are still bound to our sinful flesh, our love will ebb and flow with times of weakness and times of intensity. Thus, none of us will love Christ perfectly; but if we belong to God, we will love Christ truly. I believe that the greatest spiritual struggles of our lives are most often traced back to this one thing: We are not cultivating love for Christ by drawing near to Him and knowing Him and treasuring Him. We say we love Him, but we have placed other things higher than Him in our affections. Remember what Jesus had to say to the church at Ephesus: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” (Rev 2:4-5)

    Have you left your first love? Are you focused more on right doctrine than upon loving God? Do you see yourself trusting in your own works rather than loving Christ and trusting in His work? Is your heart drawn more to the world and the things you want here rather than to Christ? Do you constantly make the excuse that you are too busy to pursue Christ the way you know you should? Are you bearing the shame of hidden sin so heavily that you feel Christ doesn’t want you?

    Remember, dear child of God, no matter how many steps you have taken away from Christ, it only takes one step to get back. Take that step of repentance. Lay yourself at His feet, and you will see that He never stopped holding you. He died in your place to secure you in His embrace. Look into your Savior’s eyes and see how fiercely He loves you. Then let the truth of His love for you renew your love for Him. Go to the Word, and be diligent to set Christ before yourself, and the Spirit within you WILL deepen your passion for Him.

    “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zeph 3:17)

  • Dear Christian: THINK Before You Jump On The Bandwagon Against Indiana

    by Shawn Merithew on April 1, 2015

    photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9 We are obligated by Scripture to serve, love, and even sacrifice for the sake of manifesting Christ and communicating His gospel to all persons, whether they be homosexuals, racists, liars, murderers, idolaters, fornicators, tyrants, or any other type of sinner. Christ has instructed us to love even those who are our personal enemies, even when they are persecuting us and pouring out hate upon us. (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27,35) We are to live this way because we ourselves were once murderers, liars, fornicators, racists, homosexuals, and persecutors of Christians (1 Cor 6:9-11). The only difference between us and any other sinner is the fact that we have been forgiven through faith in Christ. And because we now love Him, we are compelled to actively demonstrate His love and communicate the truth of His grace and forgiveness to all of our fellow sinners, without exception. (Titus 3:1-8) (more…)

  • WANTED: A New Denominational Metric

    by Shawn Merithew on March 23, 2015

    tEREUy1vSfuSu8LzTop3_IMG_2538The metric system never really caught on here in the United States. Most all of us learned it in school, and though we are reluctant to admit it, it is a much better system. A thousand millimeters makes a meter, and a thousand meters makes a kilometer. Could conversions be more simple? But using the metric system is like having to speak the Spanish I learned in high school — it’s difficult and unnatural for me. It doesn’t matter if I have a hard time remembering how many feet are in a mile; I like the ease and comfort of what I’ve always known.

    When we talk about how we measure health or success in our Southern Baptist Convention, we also have a system of measurement that we find quite comfortable. Amidst all the information we record on our annual church profiles, there are three main measurements that seem to define church health: number of members, number of baptisms, and number of dollars given to the Cooperative Program. Any church with an upward trajectory in these three units of measure is labeled ‘Missional’ and the pastor is automatically qualified for upper echelon leadership in the SBC. This is just how we think. It doesn’t matter that this system isn’t exactly biblical and that it frequently hides an underlying pandemic of unregenerate membership. These units of measurement are comfortable, easy to track, and they are what we’ve always known. (more…)

  • Back to the Question of Situational ethics

    by Shawn Merithew on January 18, 2013

    This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to consider the story of the Hebrew midwives in Exodus, chapter one.  They were commanded by Pharaoh to kill the boy infants born to the Hebrew women.  Because they feared God, they refused to obey Pharaoh’s command.  When called to account for their failure to heed his command, they lied and said that the Hebrew women were vigorous and gave birth before they arrived.

    We find a similar story in Joshua, chapter two.  Joshua sent spies into the land to discern the strength of Jericho.  The two spies were hidden by Rahab the harlot on the roof of her house.  When the authorities came to her seeking to arrest the spies, she lied to them; she sent them out on a false report and continued (more…)

  • Law and Grace in "Les Miserables"

    by Shawn Merithew on January 10, 2013

    Lisa and I recently had the opportunity to view the latest movie release of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.”  I am always very cautious of commending any product of Hollywood, but I found the layered story of human suffering and the juxtaposition of law and grace very moving (more…)

  • Great Questions for the New Year

    by Shawn Merithew on January 2, 2013

    So how are you doing on your New Years Resolutions?  By the time you receive this, you will have already had 3 or 4 days to work on them.  Are you still watching what you eat?  Are you still exercising?  Are you still keeping up with your Bible reading and study?  Are you still (more…)

  • HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE TRAGEDY AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY

    by Shawn Merithew on December 20, 2012

    It is very hard to process a tragedy like the one that took place in Newton, Connecticut this past Friday.  Murder of even one person is appalling.  Mass murder is exceedingly horrific.  The mass murder of children is inconceivable.  We must continue to be in prayer for the families affected by this tragedy, especially this week, as so many funerals are conducted and as the town reels in emotional trauma.  Pray specifically that the gospel of Christ would be lifted up (more…)

  • SPIRITUAL WARFARE — THE BELIEVER'S RESPONSE

    by Shawn Merithew on December 4, 2012

    Last week, I wrote an article on the biblical reality of Spiritual Warfare.  Near the end of that article, I noted that Satan is a created being who fell from heaven because he rebelled against God.  Though he is powerful, God is still completely sovereign over him.  He is nothing (more…)

  • SPIRITUAL WARFARE

    by Shawn Merithew on November 28, 2012

    I believe that most of us have had the experience before of sensing a severe spiritual attack.  Perhaps it was through personal adversity, marital or family difficulties, or even through challenges faced by a church, but it was clear that demonic forces were at work to create discord and bring destruction.  Despite what many might think, spiritual warfare (more…)

  • Taking Up the Call to Social Gospel Ministry

    by Shawn Merithew on November 8, 2012

    We were blessed this past Lord’s Day to observe Orphan Care Sunday here at Morningview.  The testimonies were excellent, the worship was very meaningful, and it was a joy to explore with you the theological basis and practical outworking of Christian adoption through the sermons.

    During my Sunday evening sermon, one of the points of application I made for us regarded the importance of raising up the next generation to be responsible for caring for those in need.  During the last century, the church has surrendered numerous aspects of social ministry to the secular state, thereby divorcing itself from ministry opportunities where the gospel is critically needed.  In specific regards to orphan care, we often see unwanted, abused, or neglected children as the problem of the state rather than (more…)

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