Brighton Church of Christ
Love For God
To love God is to keep His commandments (1 John 5:3).
The late Texan country music singer, Don Williams, once sang, “I believe in love, I don’t believe heaven is only for those who congregate. I’d like to think God is love; He is down below and up above…”
This statement has the appearance of an attack on the biblical doctrine that requires Christians to assemble. Acts 20:7 says that the disciples came together upon the first day of the week to break bread. And Hebrews 10:25 commends the assembling of believers. It says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”. It is this group of people, saved by the blood of Christ and mindful of honouring Him, who will be living with God in eternity (1 Corinthians 15:24).
There is no doubt that God is love, neither is the fact that He loves every single human being a matter of dispute. In the first of the epistles that bear his name, the apostle John affirms that God “embodies” love (1 John 4:8). He also acknowledges God’s love for mankind. He writes, in his gospel, that “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).
God demonstrated His love for man by letting His sinless Son, Jesus Christ, pay the price of his sins through an excruciating, traumatic, and humiliating death experience. Romans 5:8 puts it this way: “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ suffered verbal and physical abuse before he was nailed to a cross where he was left to die in agony (Matthew 27-28).
But we need to appreciate that the apostle also said that love for God is something which is shown. Just as God demonstrated His love for us, we must demonstrate our love for Him in order for this love to be effective. John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Demonstration of one’s love for God consists in their obeying God’s laws. To love God is to keep His laws, and one of the divine laws for Christians is that they congregate to keep a memorial to Christ. We don’t love God when we refuse to meet with our brethren on Sunday to remember the death of Christ.
Many people believe that it’s enough to love (and this includes love for one’s wife, children, family, neighbours as well as claim of love for God) to become a citizen of the heavenly kingdom to come. Nothing is further from the truth. It is absolutely true that love for God and others is a foundational aspect of Christianity. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” The Lord went on to say, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.
However, as much as love for God is important, it is the result of a relationship with Him based on reconciliation. The Bible teaches that all accountable people have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It also reveals that sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Colossians 1:21). From those two premises, it follows that a man’s sins need to be removed before he can come into fellowship with God whereby he will learn to follow the commands of God. Now, since sin cannot be taken away by animal blood, as was the case under the old covenant, what can? (Hebrews 10:4). The word of God does not keep us in the dark as to the answer to this question. The Bible unequivocally declares that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). How did he do that? Having taken human nature by coming into the world, He suffered the condemnation and judgment due to our “sin” (Philippians 2:6-8). With the generic use of the word “sin” here, individual wrongdoings are presented as a single entity or one barrier keeping God and man apart.
Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, God worked man’s redemption and “hath he [God] reconciled in the body of his flesh [Christ’s] through death, to present you [the Colossian Christians] holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight [God’s]” (Colossians 2:21). Practically, the act of redemption takes place in baptism. The apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians that they had been “Buried with him [Christ] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:14). With faith, any penitent believer can be confident that this operation is real when he or she is baptized. If you believe it too, dear friend, obey the biblical command to be baptized for the remission of sin (Acts 2:38) and you will be on your way to heaven.
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