Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
-- John 14:15
"To Him Is To Love Him" is the title of a song written by Phil Specter, who died this year in prison while serving a life sentence for murder. Perhaps the song needs a little reformation.
God has made Himself known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some take this to mean there are three separate and distinct beings, each lesser than the other. But Scripture teaches there is one supreme being, one true and living God, revealed in three persons, acting in tri-unity to accomplish God's ultimate purposes and plans.
We must know the Father, immortal, invisible, who has ordained and chosen a people for Himself to live with Him eternally. We must know the Son, incarnate, not invisible, who came to earth to make an atonement for the people of God, forgiving our sins and giving everlasting life. We must know the Holy Spirit, who regenerates and indwells the people of God, remaining with us and in us to enable us to know, love, and obey the Lord our God.
This is the doctrine of the Trinity. This is how God makes Himself known: the Father has chosen to make Himself known in the Son through the power of the Spirit. This is how we know the Lord: the Spirit enables us to believe in the Son, who unites us in relationship with the Father. Once we know Him, we cannot help but to love Him.
One of the ways to know if someone loves you is to address them in a conditional sentence, then lower the boom. "If you love me," can precede almost any request, major or minor. It can come before a marriage proposal, the purchase of an expensive gift, or summon a beverage out of the refrigerator when you're too lazy to get up from the couch.
Jesus used the phrase quite seriously as He lingered in the upper room with His disciples. All of the Gospel of John up to now has recorded the heights, depths, and lengths of Christ's love for His disciples. Now for the first time, He questions and commands their love for Him.
Most people think they love the Lord if they just say so, but no. Some believe joining a church, irrespective of any involvement with the church, is enough, but not by a long shot. Others feel no matter what they say or do, God loves everybody and everybody loves God so we are all going to be all right in the end. This is a massive misunderstanding of the love of God.
Jesus clearly said that true love for Him is not based upon what you say, or how you feel, but what you do, namely, obey Him, His word, His commandments. Jesus spoke important imperatives, like "repent," "believe," "follow Me," and "love one another" in the Gospels alone.
The one you love the most is the one you disobey the least. If you love yourself supremely, you will keep your own commandments at the expense of God's. If you love someone or something more than God, you will disobey God to please them for temporary gain or pleasure. But if you truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will keep God's commandments, first and foremost, no matter what the cost.
Not all confessing Christians are true Christians. John MacArthur wrote in his watershed book, "The Gospel According to Jesus," "Obedience is the only possible proof that person really knows Jesus Christ." Only true believers know Him, and love Him, and obey Him, in three-part harmony.
Let's go back and look at God. It is the Father who grants saving faith. It is the Son who died to make faith save. It is the Spirit who enables and empowers faith and its subsequent obedience. Take away any one of the three -- Father, Son, Holy Spirit -- and you don't have God, you don't know God.
Let's take a good look at ourselves. We know God by faith, we serve Him in love, and we prove it by obedience. Take away any one of these three -- faith, love, obedience -- and you do not have a Christian, you do not love God.
To know the Lord is to love the Lord. To love the Lord is to obey the Lord. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email him at [email protected]