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"That Love Which Is Of God"

Chapter XIX

LOVE'S RECAP

The Blessed Holy Spirit wants us to know this truth. He wants our joy to be full, therefore, it is believed without apol-ogy that He is able to help me to say some things, perhaps deeper than ever understood, that God wants said.

It is my hope that thus far, this book has been a blessing to the reader. It would be wrong not to insert an article here by Bill Stephens in our final chapters of love.

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LOVE: Has its meaning been changed?

"To our everlasting sorrow, the TV and movie industries over the years have taken the word 'love' and changed its entire meaning. Soap operas are obsessed with it. It's love in marriage, love in the morning, love in the evening, and love in the bathroom. The tragedy in all of this is: there is almost no love in anything they portray - only lust.

"Love and lust may be similar in appearance, but they're very different in nature. Lust is concerned with 'me;' love is concerned with another. Lust is getting; love is giving; lust thinks only of its own happiness; love thinks of the happiness of another.

"The word 'love' has little more meaning these days than an amotional or physical sensation - something which makes you feel good. "Over and over counselors are being faced with the dreadful announcement: 'We've decided to get a divorce. We had a beautiful relationship, but it's over. We fell in love; now we've fallen out of it. We didn't plan it this way, it just happened.' ' We don't think it would be fair to the children to be raised in a home where parents don't love each other. Besides, it would be hypocrisy to live together, pretending to love when we really don't.'

"This all has such a logical ring to it until you ask that one dreadful question: 'How do you know you're not in love?' 'Well, idiot, everyone knows when he's in love and when he's not.' 'No, tell me.' 'Well, he feels it.'

"We've been made to believe that love is nothing more than an emotional feeling. Pardon me for saying it, but we've been misled by the TV and movie industries. First and foremost, love is a deep pledge, not simply an emo-tional feeling, as we've been led to believe.

"The foundation stone of all human relationships has been undermimed We've been led to believe that love is little more than an obsession with sex. We've been encouraged to build relationships on the 'me' syndrome. When 'me' is not happy, 'me' is convinced 'me' is no longer in love and 'me' moves on to find the missing ingredient elsewhere. Like a cancer the 'me' syndrome is eating away at the vitals of our marriages, our homes and our country.

"Love is being hailed by boys and girls who can barely spell the word. They don't have the foggiest idea what it means.

"Love, as I've already stated, is more of a pledge than a feeling, though feeling is certainly involved. To under-stand the true meaning of love we need to see how God defines it. The Bible tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.

"God's definition of love is written in blood. Look at the mangled boy of Jesus Christ hanging from the cross: examine the holes in His hands and feet and the flood flowing freely down. Listen to His agony - that's love in action! 'God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8).

"The cross of Jesus Christ towers over the ages as the ultimate symbol of love. 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." Christ looked upon man's plight; and seeing that the wages of sin was death, He said, 'I'll die in his place.' That's love!

"He waved goodbye to worshipping angels. He left His Father and came to earth. He became so poor He had to borrow a coin to pay His taxes. 'Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests,' He said, 'but the son of man hath nowhere to lay His head.' He did all of this because He loved!

"Only when we are willing to give up our money, our pleasure, our ambitions, our way, our will, our time, and our life for someone else are we demonstrating love at its finest. This is a different kind of thing from what is being portrayed on our TV screens, where one or more members of a family are carryig on an affair; where loose living and illicit relationships ar depicted as a viable alternative to faithfuylness.

"The tragedy of the 'me' generation is it cannot love. The do-your-own-thing lifestyle it propagates removes love and puts sexual gratification or lust in its place. The whole meaning of the word has been changed.

"I suppose our generation talks more about 'going all the way' than any other generation. Yet we probably know less about what going all the way really is than any generation ever has.

"The prodigal son left home, an arrogant and rebellious young man. He went into a far country and wasted his money on riotous living, disgraced his family name. Years later when he returned, dirty and disheveled, his father fell on his neck and kissed him. "My son which was lost is found, my son which was dead is alive!" he exclaimed. 'Bring forth a new robe and put it upon him, put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Kill the fatted calf for a celebration feast!' That's love.

"Love is willing to pay a very high price. It does what's right rather than what's convenient, or what feels good. The Bible says love, 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; love never faileth' (I Corinthians 13:7).

"Hosea the prophet married a very beautiful young woman. Not long afterward, however, she started running around. She bore children by other men, and sold her body for gain.

"As she grew old, as all of us do, men lost interest in her body. They wanted younger women. Since she had no trade, she ended up on the slave market. Hopefully someone would buy her to work in the fields.

"She didn't stand erect on the auction block to display her form. She was slumped and dejected. She covered her face with her hair to hide her shame. 'Oh God,' she cried: 'I never thought it would be like this. It seemed so much fun and now nobody wants me. I'm being sold like an animal and nobody cares.'

"Then she heard a voice; it sounded familiar; someone was offering a bid. she brushed her hair back and wiped her tears. Hosea was counting out the money for her freedom. Putting his arms around her, Hosea took her home. That's going all the way; that's love in its purest sense!

"Love is not simply a physical attraction to a person with a lovely form or face; it's not something one discards when someone more attractive comes along; or something one turns off when the going gets tough. It's not a fleeting passion that lasts for a night; but rather a deliberate choice. A commitment of the will that survives the severest test. It's something entirely different from that which is being portrayed by the entertainment industry.

"Love is a beautiful thing; it's the foundation of every stable society. It needs to be guarded and protected tenaciously against every effort to cheapen it by those who don't even seem to know what the word really means."

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True agape-love is the giving of one's self in sacrifice to others. The intensity of our agape-affection is proved by the cost to us of our "beyond ourselves" sacrifice for others.

This has not exhausted the depth of love, not of God's love nor of how we are to love. This writer has only written of what he has learned of this subject from a close study over the years since salvation in 1955. All that my family and church are, and those who have known me to be, is the only test to the truth herrein. What I am, practice and teach, is what my family is and the church family is becoming (if they go and do as they are taught). Herein I am examined daily by those who know me and my ministry, and herein I must stand and test this book.

Beloved, this is where each of us must stand in the fruit of our labor. Let us "sit down and watch Him," "look and live" until He comes again and our work be over and our joy completed, and we see Him "face to face."

Remember I Corinthians 13:4-8. Love suffers long or stretches itself way out. It's impossible to stretch love to a breaking point. Did the reader catch that?

Love (agape) beareth (Greek dictionary definition here is to "roof over," to protect or preserve by being a roof over) all things. Love (agape) becomes the roof over its object, no matter what that object has done, protecting and pre-serving that object from attack. When there is real agape-love from a husband toward his wife, "even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it," that love will be "stretched way out" love; it will be a "roof over" love; it will be "everlasting" love. Real love's glow fa´s only when the eye of the heart begins to loo at the object ukindlyu, or beings to envy, or esteems itself above, or becomes puffed up, or begins to behave indecently, or seeks their own glory, or becomes easily provoked, or be-gins to think evil. All of these are of "another spirit" according to I Corinthians 13:4-5. Love is God giving out (John 3:16)
Joy is God singing (Ephesians 5:18-19)
Peace is God resting (Psalm 37:7)
Longsuffering is God enduring (James 1:3-4)
Gentleness is God's touch (II Timothy 2:24)
Goodness is God's characater (Romans 2:4)
Faith is God's habit (Luke 1:37)
Meekness is God's self-forgetfulness (Romans 12:10)
Temperence is God's holding the reigns (James 4:7)

To apply this to our personal lives one could say that:

Love is Christ giving out through me to others.
Peace is Christ singing through me for others.
Longsuffering is me enduring trials in Christ.
Gentleness is Christ's touching others through me.
Goodness is Christ's character visible within me.
Faith is Christ's habit becoming my habit.
Meekness is Christ's self-forgetfulness becoming my self-forgetfulness.
Temperance is Christ's holding my reigns in everything.

You see, my beloved, what this means if agape-love was worked out of our lives rightly?

I would like to add an excellent message by Commissioner S.L.Brengle, titled, "The Slavery That Is Love, The Sacred Joy of Serving and Sacrificing." This is a very fitting and very provocative message about God's love.

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"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ.
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ.
Paul, a servant of God.

"Thus boldly and proudly wrote James and Jude and Peter and Paul in an age when labour and service were a badge of inferiority and shame. That age with its false standards and corrupt glories was doomed and dying, and these early followers of Christ stood on the threshold, and were ushering in a new era in which service was to become a badge of royalty and a distinguishing mark of the sons of God and the citizens of heaven upon earth. The word servant as used by them meant a slave. They counted themselves slaves of God and of Christ.

"The word and the relationship seem harsh and forbidding, but not so when we realize its meaning to these apotles. They were love-slaves. The bondage that enthralled them was the unbreakable bondage of love.

"There was a law among the Hebrews that for sore poverty or debt or crime one man might become the servant of another, but he could not be held in servitude beyond a certain period; at the end of six years he ust be allowed to go free (Exodus 21:1-6; Deuteronomy 15:12-17). But if he loved his master and preferred to remain with him as his slave, then the master in the presence of judges was to place the man against a door or door-post and bore a hole through his ear, and this was to be the mark that he was his master's servant forever.

"It was not the slavery of compulsion and law, but the wiling and glad slavery of love. And this was the voluntary attitude of Paul and Jude, of Peter and James. Jesus had won them by love. They had sat at the feet of the Great Servant of Love, who came not to be served but to serve, to minister to others, and to give His life a ransom for all (Mark 10:45). They had seen Him give Himself to the poor, the weary, the heavy laden, the vile, the sinful, and the unthankful. They had seen His blessed life outpouring-

'Like the rush of a river

Wasting its waters for ever and ever

Amid burnt sands that reward not the giver.'

"They had seen Him 'wounded for our transgressions... bruised for our iniquities,' chastised for our peace, and striken that we might be healed (Isaiah 53:5), and their hearts had been bowed and broken by His great love; henceforth they were His bondslaves, no longer free to come and go as they pleased, but only as He willed, for the adamantine chains of love held them, and the burning passion of love constrained them.

"Such bondage and service became to them the most perfect liberty. Their only joy was to do those thigs that were pleasing in His sight. Set at liberty to do this, their freedom was complete, for he only is free who is permitted to do always that which pleased Him. The love-slave has no pleasure like that of serving his master. This is his joy, and his very 'crown of rejoicing' (I Thessalonians 2:19).

"The love-slave is altogether at his master's service. He is all eyes for his master. He watches. He is all ears for his master. He listens. His mind is willing. His hands are ready. His feet are swift. To sit at the masster's feet and look into his loved face; to listen to his voice and catch his words; to run on his errands; to do his bidding; to share his privations and sorrows; to watch at his door; to guard his honour; to praise his name; to defend his person; to seek and promote his interests; and, if need be, to die for his dear sake.

"This is the joy of the slave of love, and this he counts his perfect freedom.

"A fine black fellow was placed on a slave block in an Egyptian slave market. His master was selling him. Men were bidding for him. A passing Englishman stopped, looked, listened, and began to bid. The slave saw him and knew that the Englishman was a world-traveler. He thought that if the Englishman bought him he would be taken from Egypt, from friends and loved ones, and that he would never see them anymore. So he cursed the Englishman, raving and swearing and tugging at his chain that he might reach and crush him. But the Englishman, unmoved, at last out-bid all others, and the slave was sold to him. He paid the price, received the papers that made the slave his property, and then handed them to the black man.

'Take these papers; you are free,' he said. 'I bought you that I might give you your freedom.'

"The slave looked at his deliverer and his ravings ceased. Tears flooded his eyes, as, falling at the English-man's feet and embracing his knees, he cried, 'O sire, let me be your slave forever. Take me to the ends of the earth. Let me serve you till I die!'

"Love had won his heart, and now love constrained him and he felt there could be joy serving such a master.

"We see many illustrations of this bondage of love in our daily life. Surely it is the glory and joy of the true wife. She would rather suffer hardship and poverty in a Kansas dugout, with the husband she loves, than live in a palace surrounded by every luxury with any other.

"The bondage of love is, at one and the same time, the slavery and freedom of the true mother. Offer such a mother gold and honours and pleasure, and she will spurn them all for the sacred joy of sesrving and sacarificing for her child.

"This also is the true freedom and service of the Christian.

'My yoke is easy, and My burden is light' (Matthew 11:28), said Jesus. And this is His easy yoke and light burden. His yoke is the yoke of love, and it is easy. Love makes it easy. His burden is the burden of love, and it is light. Love makes it light.

"To the sinner the yoke looks intolerable, the burden looks unbearable. But to those who have entered into the secret of the Master, His yoke is the badge of freedom, and His burden gives wings to the soul.

"This is Holiness. It is wholeness of consecration and devotion. It is singleness of eye. It is perfect love which casts out fear. The love slave does not fear the master, for he joys in the master's will. 'Not my will, but Thine be done' (Luke 22:42); 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him' (Job 13:15), says the slave of love. There can be no fear where there is such love.

"This is heart purity accomplished by the expulsive power of a new and overmastering affecton and purpose. Sin and selfishness are consxumed in the hot fires of this great love. Hallalujah!

"This is religion made easy. This is God's Kingdom come, and His will done, on earth as it is in Heaven. For what more can the angels do than to serve God with this unselfishness and passionate love?

"The love-slave is gentle and forbearing and kind to all the children of the household and to all the other slaves - for the sake of the master. Are they not dear and valuable to the masster? Then they are dear and valuable to him for the master's sake. And he is ready to lay down his life to serve them even as to serve the master. Such as the spirit of Paul when he wrote, 'Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all' (Philippians 2:17). And so likewise was it the spirit of beautiful Queen Esther when, in uttermost consecration for the salvation of her people, she sent word to Mordecai, 'So will I go in unto the king, which is not according to law; and if I perish, I perish' (Esther 4:16).

"This slave of love counts not his life dear unto himself (Acts 20:24). It belongs to his master. The interests of the master are his interests. He has no other. He wants no other. He will have no other. He cannot be bribed by gold or honours. He would rather suffer and starve for his master than feast at another's table. Like Ruth he says, 'Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, I will die, and there will be buried; and the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me' (Ruth 1:16,17).

"Do you ask, 'How shall I enter into this sweet and gentle and yet all powerful bondage of love?' I answer, by your own choice and by God's revelation of Himself to your soul. If your love to Him now is a very poor and powerless thing, it is because you do not know Him, you do not draw near enough to see the beauty of Him.

"My God, how beautiful thou art!" is the language of a soul which is learning to know Him. Then comes the realization -

Thou has stooped to ask of me,

The love of my poor heart;.

"To the men of this world He is not beautiful, for they have not sought to see Him. Let Him show Himself to you that you may fall in love with Him. St. Paul had seen His glory and been blinded by it. The other Apostles had lived with Him and walked by His side. They loved Him because they knew Him.

"For this reason they could make the great decision. Like Moses they 'chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than the enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt' (Hebrews 11:25,26). So you must choose. The choice must be complete and it must be final.

"Then as a love-slave you must wait upon the Master. If He is silent to you, watch. When He speaks to you, listen. What He says to you, do. His will is recorded in His Word. Search the Scriptures. Meditate therein day and night. Hide His Word in your heart. Be not forgetful. Take time to seek His face. Think of a slave being too busy to wait on his master, to find out his wishes!

"Take time, find time, make time to seek the Lord, and He will be found of you (Jeremiah 29:13,14). He will reveal Himself to your longing, loving soul, and you shall know the sweet compulsions of the slavery that is love.

'Higher than the highest heavens,

Deeper than the deepest sea,

Lord, Thy love at last has conquered;

Grant me now my spirit's longing -

None of self, and all of Thee!"

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I would conclude this subject with a paraphrase of John 21:25: "And there are also many other areas involving the love of Christ, the which, if they should be known and written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the glory that should be seen of it." And I Corinthians 2:9: "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the depth of God's true love (agape) which He has shed abroad in this world upon men."