God's Word Transforms||
`Love of God' Bible Study Course
Back: Basic Gospel|
In the time of Christ, what was taught to the people?
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy." Matthew 5:43.
Notes: The word "neighbor" here refers to fellow Jews and the word "enemy" refers to Gentiles. This scripture wants to say that human beings know how to love one of their own, but it is difficult to love our enemies. |
In contrast to this human love, how did Jesus describe Christian love?|
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew 5:44.
Notes: It is this kind of love that demonstrates true Christianity to the world. Such love reflects the love of God has for sinners. It is the greatest proof of the power of the gospel and the fact that we are followers of Christ (see John 13:34,35).|
|3.||How far reaching is God's love? "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45.||Answer:|
Notes: God's love extends beyond all barriers. It is the opposite of human love. God even loves and cares for those who hate Him. God's love is therefore unconditional; it does not depend on our goodness.|
According to Jeremiah, what draws us to God?|
"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3.
Notes: Most people are running away from God because they think He is out to punish them. But the truth is God loves each one of us unconditionally and gave us already His only Son so that none should be lost. This is what draws us to God. It is "the goodness of God that leads us to repentance." Romans 2:4.|
It is God's great, unconditional love (1.John 3:1,2) which makes us believers in His Son so we become adopted sons and daughters of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (see Romans 8:16,17)
On what should we humans rely for our salvation?|
"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1.John 4:16.
Notes: Once we know and believe that God's love for us is unconditional, we can rely on Him for the assurance of salvation. And His love for us never fails, 1.Cor. 13:8.|
In fact God's love casts out all fear, 1.Jh. 4:17,18.
Fear is the result of the sin problem. Because all have sinned, we are all victims to the fear of death, the wages of sin. Only the knowledge of God's redeeming love can cast out this fear. Once we appreciate God's great love, nothing can separate us from it: Not death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, nor any other creature - See Romans 8:38,39.
True Christians know there will never come a time when God will stop loving us, because His love is unconditional and everlasting. This love, was shown to the world and was manifested in Christ when He was crucified to the cross as our eternal hope of salvation.
The world has perverted God's unconditional (agape) love and made it into conditional (eros) love which depends on our beauty and goodness and therefore needs arousing, while God's love is spontaneous, uncaused, and independent of our goodness, Romans 5:6-10.
Human love fluctuates and is unreliable, God's love is unchangeable and everlasting, Romans 8:35-39.
Human love is self-seeking, egocentric, and therefore always wants to climb socially, politically, academically, economically, and even religiously.
God's (agape) love is self-emptying, selfless, and therefore will step down for the benefit of others (1.Cor. 13:5; 2.Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-8).
The battle between God's `agape' love and man's unregenrated `eros' love in church history, resulted in `caritas' love, a mixture of truth and error for
(1) `Eros' love is salvation by works alone, the foundation of all paganism;
(2) `Caritas' love is salvation by faith plus works, a perverted gospel, Galatians 1:6,7.
(3) `Agape' love is salvation by God's grace alone (Eph. 2:8,10), the true gospel.
In the following section we digress a bit and learn of the Holy Spirit's work among man.
What is the work of the Holy Ghost or Spirit?
"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come." John 16:8,13.
Notes: The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict me of sin and to guide me into all truth. The Holy Spirit is God's agency for conversion. Without the Holy Spirit, no one feels sorrow for sin, nor is anyone ever converted. |
When the Holy Spirit convinces me of sin, what does the Bible say to do to be forgiven?|
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1.John 1:9.
Notes: When convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, I must confess my sins to God (humans/priests cannot forgive sins) in order to be forgiven, we may confess only our faults to each other, James 5:16. When I confess them, God not only forgives me but He also miraculously cleanses me from all unrighteousness. God is seeking sinners and is always ready to forgive every sin ever committed (Psalm 86:5) if we confess and forsake it. |
Though God's love draws us toward Him, what happens if I do not confess my sins when convicted by the Holy Spirit?|
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13.
Notes: We chose God's selfless `agape' love and want to live for Him to be saved. Since we trust now in the living God who is the `Saviour of all sorts of men all around the world' (1.Tim. 4:10) we learn about how to leave the life of sin. We know the Bible teaches that we must confess our sins to God alone, 1.Tim. 2:5. |
If I do not confess my sins, Jesus cannot forgive my sins. Thus, any sin that I do not confess is unpardonable until I confess it, because forgiveness always follows confession. It never precedes it.
When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin or leads me to new truth, when should I respond to that?|
Answers: The Bible says,
A: "As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me." Psalm 18:44.
B: "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." Psalm 119:60.
C: "... behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2.Corinthians 6:2b.
D: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16.
|Answer: The Bible repeatedly says that when I am convicted of sin, I must confess it at once. And when I learn new truth, I must accept it without delay.|
While God's love is unconditional and His mercy knows no limits, persistent rejection is not how we should respond.|
Therefore we are made aware of God's solemn warning about the pleading of His Holy Spirit.
"My spirit shall not always strife with man." Genesis 6:3.
So are there limits to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
Notes: God solemnly warns that the Holy Spirit does not indefinitely continue pleading with a person to turn from sin and obey God. The example given is from the time of Noah.
At what point does the Holy Spirit stop pleading with a person?|
"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." Matthew 13:13.
|Answer: The Holy Spirit stops talking to a person when that individual becomes deaf to His voice. The Bible describes it as hearing, but hearing not. There is no point in setting the alarm on a clock in a deaf person's room. He will not hear it. Likewise, a person can condition himself to not hear an alarm clock ring by repeatedly shutting it off and not getting up and go. The day finally comes when the alarm goes off and he does not hear it.|
Notes: Do not shut off the Holy Spirit. If I keep shutting Him off, one day He will speak to me and I will not hear Him. When that day comes, the Spirit sadly turns away from me because I have become deaf to His pleadings. I have passed the point of no return.|
What serious, weighty command did Paul give to the church in Thessalonica?|
"Quench not the Spirit." 1.Thessalonians 5:19.
|Answer: The Holy Spirit's pleading is like a fire that burns in a person's mind and heart. Sin has the same effect on the Holy Spirit as water has upon fire. As I ignore the Holy Spirit and continue in sin, I pour water on the fire of the Holy Spirit. Paul's awesome words to the Thessalonians also apply to us today. Do not quench the fire of the Holy Spirit by repeatedly refusing to heed the Spirit's voice. If the fire goes out, I have passed the point of no return.|
Notes: Any unconfessed or unforsaken sin can ultimately snuff out the fire of the Holy Spirit. It could be refusal to keep God's holy seventh-day Sabbath. It could be use of tobacco. It could be failure to forgive one who has betrayed or otherwise injured you. It could be immorality. It could be keeping God's tithe. Refusal to obey the Holy Spirit's voice in any area pours water on the fire of the Holy Spirit. Do not put out the fire. No greater tragedy could take place.|
What other shocking, almost inconceivable statement did Paul make to the Thessalonian believers?|
"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2.Thessalonians 2:10-12.
Notes: What powerful, shocking words! God says that those who refuse to receive the truth and conviction brought by the Holy Spirit will (after the Spirit departs from them) receive a strong delusion that error is truth. That are truly sobering thoughts.|
What wrenching experience will some who have been sent these strong delusions face in the judgment day?|
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:22,23.
Notes: Those who are crying "Lord, Lord" will be shocked and stunned that they are shut out. They will be absolutely positive that they are saved. Jesus will then doubtless remind them of that crucial time in their lives when the Holy Spirit brought new truth and conviction. It was crystal clear and obviously true. It kept them awake at nights, troubled and wrestling over a decision. How their hearts burned within them! Finally, they said, "No!" And they refused to listen further to the Holy Spirit. Then came a strong delusion that caused them to feel saved when they were lost. Could a human being face any greater tragedy?|
What special words of warning does Jesus give to help us avoid believing we are saved when we are actually lost?|
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21.
|Answer: Assurance that disobeys God is a false assurance that will doom many.|
Notes: Jesus solemnly warned that not all who have the feeling of assurance will enter His kingdom, but rather, only those who do His will. All of us desire assurance of salvation. It is a divine imperative. However, there is a false offer of assurance sweeping Christendom today that promises people salvation while they continue living in sin and manifest no changed lifestyle whatever.|
Pastors are Alarmed
More and more prominent church leaders are alarmed that so many church buildings are packed with people who have the feeling of "assurance," yet really have not been changed by Jesus Christ. Nor do they obey Him.
Jesus clears the air
Fabulous Assurance vs Counterfeit Assurance
How can the Lord say "I never knew you" to the people He is addressing in Matthew 7:21-23? I thought God knew everybody and everything?|
God is referring here to knowing someone as a personal friend. We get to know Him as a friend when we commune with Him daily, follow Him gladly, and freely share with Him our joys and sorrows as with an earthly friend.
Since our life has changed us 180 degrees we no longer spent time with frivolous things which keep us away from communicating with Him (when at home, in the car, at work, at church). Jesus says also, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." (Jh. 15:14). The people being addressed in Matthew 7 have rejected His Holy Spirit. They have embraced a theology of salvation in sin (eros) or salvation by works (caritas) - neither of which needs Jesus. They are self-made people who did not take time to become acquainted with Jesus. Hence, He explains that He did not really get acquainted with them or know them as His personal friends.
Is there ever a time when prayer is not helpful?|
Yes. If a person knowingly disobeys God (Psalm 68:18; 66:18; Luke 16:15) and yet asks God to bless him (though he does not plan to change), that person's prayer is not only worthless, but God says it is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9; Psalm 109:6-8).
In the parabel of the sower (Luke 8:5-18), what is meant by the seed that fell by the wayside and was eaten by fowls?|
The Bible says, "The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." Luke 8:11,12.
Jesus is pointing out that when we understand what the Holy Spirit as asking us to do regarding some new light from Scripture, we must act at once. Otherwise, the devil has the opportunity to remove that truth from our minds.
I am deeply concerned that I may have rejected the Holy Spirit and cannot be forgiven. Can you help me?|
You have not rejected the Holy Spirit. You can know that because you feel concerned or convicted. It is only the Holy Spirit who brings you concern and conviction (John 16:8-13). If the Holy Spirit had left you, there would be no concern or conviction in your heart. Rejoice and praise God! Give Him your life now! And prayerfully follow and obey Him in the days ahead. He will give you victory (1.Cor. 15:57), uphold you (Phil. 2:13), and keep you until His second advent (Phil. 1:6). ** End of Study **
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