Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love, the most excellent way.

Juan Shanchez posted last week on the Gospel Coalition Blog an article titled Love Never Ceases. Here is what Juan said:

"Paul argues for the priority of love over gifts by stating that while prophesies will pass away and tongues will cease and knowledge will pass away, love never will. Love is enduring; it is permanent. Why such an emphasis on love? To be sure, Paul does not discard gifts; he urges the pursuit of the higher gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1). Nevertheless, we are to pursue love as THE more excellent way.

The Origin and Source of Love
If we are to understand love we must begin with God for God is love (1 John 4:8). If we begin with the world’s understanding of love, we will only dwell in the erotic. However, when we begin with God, we see that to say God is love is not merely to say that God is loving; it is to say that love is the essence of God’s being (Leon Morris, Testaments of Love, 36).

Most clearly, it is through the lens of the cross that we may understand God’s love (Romans 5:8). When we see God’s love through the lens of the cross, then we can see that . . .
God’s love never ceases; it is eternal.

The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). In other words, God has always loved; this is evident in the relations within the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There has always been love shared within the God-head.

This is the love that God shares with us. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; see also Romans 8:28-30).

God’s love is undeserved; it is unconditional.
This love that God shares with us is undeserved because we are sinners by nature who deserve God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). God does not love us because of something attractive in us (see Ezekiel 16; Hosea). God loves sinners because it is His nature to love (Morris, 142).

But God’s love is holy; God does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:6, that love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. This is because love is holy and righteous just as God is holy and righteous — after all, God is light (1 John 1:5). We have a sin problem that makes us unlovable (1 Corinthians 6:9-10); the solution is Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Here we see the selfless love of God — looking outward to others.

Therefore, God’s love is most clearly seen at the cross of Christ.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

The love of God is most clearly displayed at the cross because it is here that we see the eternal, selfless, holy love of God as the Father pours forth His wrath on the sinless Son in order that sinners may have everlasting life (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Love is THE way of the Christian because it is THE way of the Triune God.
If we say we are God’s, that we belong to God, then we will walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 2:3-6). This is the message that has always been, even from the very beginning: love one another (1 John 3:11-15). The basis for this love for others is Christ.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).

It is this love that is permanent, never-ceasing, for it is God’s love poured into our hearts.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Let us, therefore, pursue love — let us love one another!"

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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