The Impossibility of Loving People without the Scriptures
The world talks an impressive amount about the subject of love. Even false teachers within the church of Jesus Christ present love as their primary subject. With all this love rhetoric, we would expect to see more love in the world. The problem is that what the world and even some in the church view as love is no love at all. In fact, our proposition must be that it is impossible to love people without the Scriptures.
God is love (1 Jn 4:8). We only know that because it is revealed to us in the Bible. The other attributes of God, some of which are known in part by the light of nature, are clarified in holy Writ. Theologians call this, “the necessity of Scripture.”
If God is love, we cannot possibly love others without God as the currency of exchange. True love emanates from one divine source. If God the Father was equated with the sun, and Christ represents the emanating rays of the sun, then it is the Spirit who positions the objects of God’s love in the direct path of His light and love. The love of God reaches the heart of God’s elect people only by the Spirit’s baptism and regeneration (Mt 3:11; Acts 2:38; 11:16; Rom 5:5; 1 Pet 1:3). Thus, we can also say, “It is impossible to love without the Holy Spirit.”
Apart from Christ, a man cannot love God, nor can he love his neighbor (Jn 15:5). A person’s self-love, of course, is idolatry. This cheap imitation act is apart from God, so it is not love. It is a perverted version of love. Men try to impress others with their works, and they claim they are just being their “good” self in doing so. This is fake love for one’s neighbor.
God is Spirit (Jn 4:24), and the grace of God comes with the Word of God (Jn 1:17). To know God, in the sense of intimate love, one must receive the indwelling Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 5:5; 8:9, 11). In other words, God must love you, first (1 Jn 4:19). The Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son to the heart of each elect, redeemed soul (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor 4:6; 5:5). With the circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit (Ezek 36:26; Rom 2:29), the love of God is poured out within our hearts (Rom 5:5).
The Spirit-filled Christian has received the love of God, and she has become a lover of God as a consequence. Christ is not a promiscuous lover of all; but rather, His love is for His bride, the church (Eph 5:25). He exclusively gives His beloved a token of His love (2 Cor 5:5). God demonstrated His love for His elect by sending Christ to die for His beloved people (Rom 5:8; Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 2:2), a remnant from every nation in the whole world (Rev 5:9). Again, we only know this exclusive love by learning it in God’s Word, the Bible.
Some preachers have a low view of the Bible but insist Christians love others in ways that exclude the Scriptures. The result is good works attributed to the person, not attributed to the Spirit of God (Is 26:12; Ps 57:2; 138:8), who wills and does God’s good pleasure (Phil 2:13). If Jesus Christ is not credited with a good work, then it is not a good work (Eph 2:10).
When God does a gracious work for the benefit of His chosen people, His motive is always love. When God does a gracious work through His beloved (Eph 2:10), then they claim it is the love of Christ controlling them (2 Cor 5:14). Love never boasts in itself (1 Cor 13:5), but it never fails to accomplish its will (1 Cor 13:8). It is the will of God, at work, in all grace toward believers.
Love rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13:6). God is love, and Jesus Christ is the truth (Jn 14:6). The Word of truth in the flesh is Christ Jesus (Jn 1:14). Heaven and earth and all works of men will pass away, but the Word of Christ will never pass away (Mt 24:35; 2 Pet 3:10). Therefore, so-called good works of men, even when self-interpreted as “love” are filthy rags in God’s judgment (Is 64:6).
Christian, beware of men who mock your love of and ministry of God’s Word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19). There is no power in the social gospel, severed from the evangel. There is much labor in vain, by men who do their imagined good works with no reference to the Christ of Scripture. Far better is the Word of life and blessing, than a free bowl of pottage apart from Christ’s kitchen.
The real famine in the world is the famine for the Word of God (Amos 8:11). The Word-starved souls of poor men are in need of the bread of life (Jn 6:35). Who will love Christ’s sheep? Who will feed Christ’s sheep? It is he who has been entrusted with the oracles of God (Jn 21:15–17). The bread of life is the Word of life, and it is good food for the soul.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases to visit, help, comfort, and grace the adopted children of God. These know love, personally and intimately, because it has been revealed and preached to them. In this alone are they satisfied. It is true love, revealed in the Scripture and preached to us in love.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 16, 2022