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"That Love Which Is Of God"

Chapter V



In this chapter, we deal with the area of love intensifying and attempt in some small part to bring to light how (agape) love grows in intensity in the life of the believer until it is truly reigning.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). Beloved reader, let us consider this little word "so" which we find here describing for us the intensity of God's agape love. God is not telling us that he loves (or agapes) the world just now; He told us that back in Genesis. God is not telling us her that He gave His Son for sin; He told that in Genesis. God is not telling us that He gave His "only" son here, either; He told us that, also, back in Genesis. Just why did God, the Holy Spirit, move the Apostle John to write these words we see here? He did so to tell us how intently God did all this. That is right. All this theology is for one real purpose and that is to declare how intense God's love is that would cause His "Heart" to be moved to give up Himself in Christ for man, who would curse and spit on Him, mock and despise Him.

God's (agape) love is an agape-love which goes beyond sin's rage and love's right through into the heart. Here is why agape-love, when studied and considered, is so "beyond understanding." Who can know it? None can outside of "Hereby perceive we the agape of God, because He..." 18 and "gave His only." 19 Giving that which costs, that which is beyond personal human ability, is what real agape love is. We are told in II Samuel 24:24, "And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver." And again, we are told in II Corinthians 8:2-4, "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints" This agape love is proven by our giving of value to others. Note verse 8. "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love (agape)." (2Corinthians 8:8).

"God proved His loved toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 20 Do you see the cross proving agape love again? God gave His most costly item out of agape-love, yet modern Christianity generally only gives the extra. Not money, mind you, but of self in an area only the extra is given to others. We serve with the left over time. We come to God's worship late, because of prior interests and give God our left over time (if we can squeeze it in). We would go on into other areas and would find the same thing.

We teach, from the Scriptures, loving the Lord and growing in grace, yet in our Christian life, if we saw someone who flirted with the Lord, we would think they were crazy. We do so in our marriages. We court in ways of sin (even as Christians), spending time in dark parked cars, petting and necking. Yet, when it is lawful and godly (after marriage) to court and romance our spouses, we too often cease. Shouldn't that love increase and reign over the whole of the relationship until love is above and within everything we do, every word we speak, each moment we live? I believe it should.

So often Christians are toward the Lord like the spouses are towards each other. They are so "in love with God" when newly saved; then soon the courtship ceases and they don't even wish to be around Him. They cease their Bible (an agape-love letter) reading. They stop their prayer (agape-love cuddle time) communion. They halt their church (family cuddling time) attendance. Wouldn't you think they were growing colder rather than "more intimate"?

Stop and think a minute on this! If agape-love is God (and it is), if the agape person of God lives within the heart of each believer (and He does), and if the believer is truly growing toward agape-love within (and we are told God works within to that purpose), wouldn't it seem reasonable to think and expect us to be growing more intensely into agape love with others, daily and yearly, if we are truly born of the above? What a perversion of that love which is of God we see in modern fundamental Christianity: such lack of personal liberality toward others; such selfish-ness; such bitterness; such contentions which we are seeing today. Is it not possible to have a "faith defending" attitude and yet have agape-love? It has to be or God, the Holy Spirit, lied in the Scriptures. That is impossible!

Agape love has intensity to it! Agape-love is alive! God is living and His attributes live wherever He is. True, divine, person-indwelling agape-love will intensify! Is it within you?

John 3:16, again, states that "..God so agaped!" Genuine agape love is proved in an "anti" state! Now put on the thinking cap! Did you see that? Genuine agape- love is proved in an ANTI-agape state! Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:44? "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;" "But love (agape) ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:35-36). The point of verse 36 is, be AS God is.

Notice also in Colossians 3:12-14: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." The context here is charity-agape acting. This agape love is in control acting through the believer to be all this.

Note that there is no active agape love unless under trial. We see the Holy Spirit teaching this in I Peter 2:19-21: "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" Here we are told that under good conditions, agape-love lays dormant, but under anti-agreeable conditions, agape acts. To clarify, to love those even when they don't love you is true agape. To love when being loved "could" only be phileo. Agape-love is that affection which is toward the sinners who hate. He who is good, holy and just. It is that affection which continues in longsuffering patience when mocked and despised, without guile or malice. It just keeps on beaming out its affections toward the object it is set upon without regard to any return of whatever kind. It is easy to "phileo" in a lovely atmosphere. Genuine (agape) love is proved in the anti-environment. Romans 5:8 says that "...God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Here we see (agape) love active in a God hating society. God in Christ entered into an unlovely situation and His (agape) love super-abounded in that state. It seems that, when we ourselves being so filthy, so vile, yet the Holy Spirit will gently lead us to Christ always having out-stretched arms to the "repentent" sinner. True agape proves itself from the depths of this intensity by the sacrifice of itself. Real agape proves itself toward the object of its affecton by the sacrifice of itself! Genesis 22:8 states, "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together." John 1:1 declares, "...The Word was God," and again in vese 14, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us..." And once again, in I Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." God gave Himself to prove His agape-love toward us! David also teaches this in II Samuel 24:24: "And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."

Neither did God offer for us of that which cost Him nothing: He gave His "only." Neither will we live a life of (agape) love which costs us nothing, if that same Spirit and Perso of agape dwells within our hearts. In I Corinthians 6:20, we read, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." God gave something which was very expensive and valuable to Him. Do you see, dear reader, love's intensity?

So agape obligates itself sacrifically according to the intensity of pleasures on the object (not from the object as with worldly phileo). God's intensity of pleasure toward the world was the maximum. How much we give ourselves to others proves to others how much intensity of pleasure we have toward them. This statement could very well be the whole of this book, boiled down into one single sentence. It should be re-read.

Some folks do not give much of themselves to God because He does not "pleasure" them much. Some folks do not give much of themselves in heart to the Scriptures, church, their pastor, others, etc., because the object does not pleasure them much. Some will give much amterial things, but not much of real self, because of the lack of pleasure.

Now let us look at Luke 7:36-50.

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

This is a long passage, but look how it teaches us about agape's intensity! Does the reader comprehend what Christ was saying there? He said that this lady gave something and you gave me nothing! Depending on the intensity of our desire towad the object will be the measure of our sacrifice in agape.

In II Corinthians 8:8, we are pointed to the proof of our agape love as revealed in verse 5, "And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." Notice in I Corinthians 16:15: "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)" Addicted to what? Others! Jesus left heaven over this addiction. God gave Himself of this addiction. A church, we will later show, was stiffly rebuked over the lack of this addiction also.

The more agape one has, the more they say so to the object of their agape. You, dear reader, cannot read God's Word from Genesis to Revelation, without being impressed time and again with God's candid "I love you's." God loves you! God says "I love you" on every page in some way and if we will read His Word each day, we will hear Him saying "I love you" each day over and over again. "Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life." 22 the song writer said so aptly. Dearly beloved, how are our "I love you's" toward God; toward the Persons of the Godhead; toward our spouse, children; toward the New Testament Church; toward our Pastor; toward others? Our agape is measured in part by our telling the object so. Do you? God did! God says again in John 10:10, "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." God was so pleasured on man that He was willing to completely give Himself that we might have life. Beloved, others will not learn how to love (perceive, we, because) 23 unless we teach it according to God's prescription.

Remember, whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap. If we sow agape and self-giving to others, look what would be reaped. If preachers would sow giving of self in agape to others, just think what our church families could and would be like.