“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)
Child abuse is not merely an act of immorality, but also an act of violence and an abuse of power. It’s not only a sin, but also a crime, which calls for immediate reporting to the civil authorities. The Bible gives civil government the power of the sword to visit justice upon criminals (Rom 13:1-7), but denies it to the church (Matt 26:51-53). Therefore, child abuse can never be settled within the church alone, but must always involve the civil authorities.
It is with this understanding that Morningview has had the following Child Abuse Prevention Policy in place for the past five years. We publish it here again for two reasons. First, we want everyone in the church to know our policy, to understand what child abuse is, and how to respond to it. Second, we hope that any would-be predators might read this and choose not to victimize our children. (more…)
The following post is a “pastoral position paper,” prepared and unanimously approved by the pastors body at Morningview Baptist Church. We offer it here so Morningview members may review it. We’ll be providing hard copies for the whole church on Sunday.
In 1 Peter 1:22, Christ commands us to “love one another fervently, from the heart.” One of the crucial ways we love one another is by holding one another accountable. Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches us that God’s discipline of His children is a crucial aspect of His grace and love for us, and therefore, the exercise of church discipline is an exercise of His grace of love for the church as well as for the member who persists in unrepentant sin. Church attendance and involvement is one of the most central expressions of our faith in Christ. The idea of a believer who does not identify with a local church is completely foreign to the New Testament. So, when we allow members of our church to forsake all fellowship and participation with God’s people, we are not demonstrating love. We are demonstrating an extreme indifference and disregard for their souls. Because we love Christ, love His Word, and love one another, when one of our brothers or sisters refuses our admonishment to obedience in this area and persists in unrepentance, we must move through the steps of Matthew 18:15-17 to address their sin of church abandonment. (more…)
Sin sometimes grows silently and unconsciously in the hearts of believers, but we must repent when we become conscious of it. Believers must continually turn from self-righteous pride, sinful anger, lust, covetousness, worldliness, prayerlessness, neglect of the Bible, and selfishness of every kind. According to the Bible, repentance is godly sorrow for sin and turning away from all known sin to Christ. According to the Baptist Catechism:
Q 92. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace (Acts 11:28), whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin (Acts 2:37, 38), and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ (Joel 2:12; Jer 3:22), doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God (Jer 31:18, 19; Ez. 36:3 1), with full purpose of and endeavour after new obedience (2 Cor. 7: 1 1; Is. 1: 16, 17).
If we don’t repent, we will not be saved. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3). Here are some of the steps involved in the biblical process of repentance. (more…)
1. Your spouse is your most important relationship in this world. Don’t forget that the most important relationship in your life, under God, is your relationship with your husband or wife. Your children will only be in your home for a season, but your spouse will be there for life. You and your spouse are the relational center of the home. So nurture your relationship with your spouse above all else. Putting your spouse above your children, teaches them two very important lessons. First, it teaches the kids that they are not at the center of the world, which is a very important lesson for them to learn before they actually get out into the world. Second, it teaches them to look for spouses that will cherish them before any other relationship. If you want your children to marry well, then you must model love and devotion to your spouse above any other relationship. Malachi 2:15 says, “And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So, guard yourselves in your spirit and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” Notice the logic of that verse. God wants godly offspring; so, be faithful to your spouse. (more…)
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the redefinition of marriage, and many Christians wonder whether or not the government has any business setting the limits of marriage at all.
I don’t believe the institutional church should generally try to formulate specific public policy or identify herself with particular political issues or candidates. But the church is charged with preaching the whole counsel of God and seeking to form Christian conscience around God’s Word. The purpose of this post is briefly to survey what Scripture has to say about the government’s role in legislating the definition of marriage. (more…)
Occasionally, when discussions of church discipline arise, some people worry that discipline might be applied to every kind of sin. If we discipline people who persist unrepentantly in adultery, does that mean that we should also discipline people for not giving faithfully, for not reading their Bibles and praying faithfully, for marital conflict, etc.? Where do we draw the line? (more…)
In his excellent book, Repentance, John Colquhoun gives 8 distinctions between true and counterfeit repentance. For ease of reading, I’ll put his points in my own words and provide summaries and quotations under each point, though I haven’t distinguished between quotations and summaries.
1. False repentance flows from faith in the law (as a covenant) and is legal; but true repentance flows from true faith in the law and the gospel.
False repentance comes from a temporary faith in the commands and curses of the broken law which a falsely repentant man fears. When the holy law strikes his conscience, he is forced to believe that it requires perfect obedience and its curse for disobedience stands against him. The only refuges he has from the curse of the law to pacify his guilty conscience and to satisfy Divine justice and to give himself hope include verbal resolutions, reformations, renewed duties, and other self-righteous schemes. He does not actually become righteous because he seeks it by works (Rom 9:31-32). He may pretend some regard to Christ in this legal progress. He may hope that God, for the sake of Christ, will accept his repentance and forgive his sins.
True repentance, however, flows from humble belief in the law and gospel. Godly sorrow for sin and turning from the love and practice of sin to the love and practice of holiness issue from reliance on the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all our title to pardon and sanctification and from trusting in Him for pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. True repentance has a humbling, self-condemning, broken, whole-hearted longing for God’s pardoning mercy. (more…)
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…)
The 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…)