Monday, December 03, 2007

Love and Rules

Love is what God's will is all about.

Matt. 7:12 "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Rom. 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

When I hear of someone bad-mouthing rules, I wonder what they are thinking. They certainly are thinking of commandments the way God does. Calvinism has made trashing any kind of "works" popular. "No flesh will be justified by the works of the law" (Gal. 2:16) does not mean that we are free to dismiss whatever commandments we don't like. Nor does it dismiss (as some desire) the need for the obedience of faith. We are saved by grace--yes--through faith--yes! Grace alone without faith does not save. Faith alone without grace does not save.

What kind of faith saves? It is not dead faith. It is not mere believing. It is an active, living, obedient faith. The apostle Paul spoke God's will by inspiration in Galatians 5:6 when he said: "in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith WORKING BY LOVE."

I hear people save we are saved by faith alone, but they take it back every time when you mention love. They take it back every time when you mention repentance. Grudgingly they take it back when you mention obedience. Well if faith also requires love, repentance, and obedience, then one is not really saved by faith alone.

God's commandments teach us how to love Him (Rom. 13:8-10). You can talk emotional love all you wish, but you have to know how to love. The commandments teach us how to love (Jn 14:15). It is not legalism or Pharisaical (as some charge) to speak about keeping commandments. One has not forgotten grace simply because he speaks of obedience. After all, we can never do enough to earn forgiveness or heaven. I do not believe in legalism; I believe in loving God enough to take His word seriously and be obedient. This is what I call loving lawfulness--it is thoroughly Biblical and right.

We are not speaking of meritorious works; we talking obediently complying with the Lord's conditions. These are His conditions; we didn't dream them up. Jesus made it clear that keeping His commandments is how we abide in His love (John 14:21, 23; 15:10).

Some speak of rules as if they were hateful things. They are, however, God's rules. The Lord Jesus rules our lives by rules. We acknowledge His Lordship of our lives and show we love Him by listening to His rules.

God gave us rules for our best interests, because He loves us. They were rules that show love, not enslavement. People who reject the rules of God are also rejecting His means to protect us and to make our lives better.

Instead of rebellion against God's love by rejecting His rule in our lives, we should embrace Him and His words (Isa. 1:18-20).

let the love of God rule in your life.

Phil

7 comments:

Darin L. Hamm said...

I hear what you are saying.

It seems to me that many don’t understand what faith is when they say they have faith. To trust God requires commitment and is what the statement I have faith in God means.

To have faith in God means I have faith that His ways are the right ways, the best ways, the true ways and so I seek to obey them. To have faith in God means I believe loving is what is most important so because of my faith I seek to love others, I trust that is the true way.

Because I have faith I understand that I need forgiveness and I trust that God will keep His word when he says it is true.

Unfortunately many have been confused about faith. Too many commands of man have been added and lists created. When people have trouble reconciling these petty and trivial lists that seem rather random they often times throw out God all together. They reject obedience not because obeying God’s truth is bad but because so much has been added to what it means.

People throw out the baby with the bathwater. Suddenly obedience must not be important because obedience has been made so confusing by multiple lists of right and wrong, correct and incorrect. We need grace because of all these confusing random lists. Well we do need grace but obedience isn’t the problem, man created lists are.

I agree that it is unfortunate because God’s ways are perfect and true. What some fail to realize is that when they hold up their man created rules thinking they are from God they only contribute to the confusion and push people towards rejecting God all together.

I am planning a blog entry to flesh out what I am saying. Thanks for the inspiration.

Phil Sanders said...

Darin,
There will always be the folks who think God needed help making commandments and bind their own opinions. I have no use for such behavior. God doesn't need such help. We have all seen such things in the one-cup issue, the non-cooperative issue, and the non-Bible class issue.

The problem I see is that many can't distinguish between what God says and what the worldly religious groups are saying. They listen to the Calvinistic rhetoric to the point that they don't see baptism or immersion as necessary. Then when someone quotes Scripture to them, they call names: "legalist," "Pharisee."

One abuse does not sanctify the other! They are both heresy.

I have wearied long over this nonsense about lists. Most of these so-called lists are abusive toward the church. They "list" things that someone somewhere bound on everybody else, but not a part of the beliefs of most brethren. (I don't know ANYONE who thinks two songs and a prayer is a matter of fellowship). This type of straw man argument doesn't fly.

Phil

rick said...

Phil,

Another nail on the head - thanks for an excellent point however could I get you to work on the spacing in your post - its difficult to read.

Now it could be just me but your blog is the only one that comes up disjointed.

Again, good article - just hard to read.

Matthew said...

Throwing the word "rule" turns a lot of people off. It could go back to the rebellion within society. But rules, properly understood, never harm us, but through rules God seeks to establish us. As all children need guidelines, as Christians we need boundaries also.

Phil Sanders said...

Matthew,

People understand the word "rules"; and there can be no doubt that some have abused others with rules. I don't know any instance that God ever did. His laws are for our good (Deut. 6:24; 10:13), just as it was for Israel.

Isn't the problem that people have read people's problems into God's teaching and thereby tried to blunt the good and the authoritative nature of it?

I have no reason to support the baggage of other people's abuse. I am not contending for that. I am contending for what God rules. The Lord Jesus rules in our lives by rules.

I obey Him when I obey what HE rules for my life.

Matthew, thanks for your post and for allowing me to respond. I still want to have lunch with you when you are in town.

Phil

preacherman said...

I believe that Christianity is a love relationship with God. (John3:16-17). Jesus also tells us in the gospels that on that day many will do things in my name but "I WILL SAY I NEVER KNEW YOU." RELATIONSHIP! I believe that we are saved by the grace of God through faith (Eph 2:8-10). I pray that the Church will understand this.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Preacherman,

We all believe that we are saved by faith and not by meritorious works, and we do not suggest such things.

I would ask you and the readers to investigate the "I never knew you" passage you cite to see why Jesus rejected them. The religious of Matthew 7:21-23 were rejected in spite of their religiosity because they practiced anomia (unfortunately translated "iniquity" in the KJV and rightly translated "lawlessness" in NASB and ESV. They were rejected because they set aside God's law for their own desires--this was perhaps a moral matter but also perhaps a doctrinal one. Lawlessness is when I set aside God's commandments to do my own thing. Matthew 7:24-27 is as good an explanation of anomia as exists. There is a difference between listening and doing and just listening and doing what you want.

Grace is a wonderful thing. We are all saved by grace through faith; there is no other way. But the belief we are saved by grace "alone " through faith "alone" arose in the early 16th century from reformers--not from the Bible.

Ephesians 2:8-10 should not be understood with a meaning that forgets Heb. 5:8-9 or Matt. 7:21-27.

kindly,
Phil