The love of God is the trademark of the Christian.
Alright thank you very much, and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? I’m glad to be back with you. This your friend Dr. Cook and I’m seated here as usual with the clock and the tape recorder and a comfortable assortment of junk, and in front of me the Word of God, and it is as though you were seated on the other side of the table from me and we’re sitting down talking together. It’s the early morning hours for me. I’ve got a cup of black coffee, a little bit of sugar in it and now and then I take a sip of that while I’m drinking the water of the Word. Hey, it’s great to be with you!
We’re in Colossians chapter 1-he said, “You learned of Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ”. We talked about that last time we got together: to be a faithful minister, sharing, shining, serving and doing it faithfully. To be faithful means do the job, know what the job is, get at it and keep at it till it’s done. That’s faithfulness.
In terms of faithfulness to a person, know your relationship, know your obligations, meet them lovingly and enthusiastically, don’t quit until the assignment’s over. Faithfulness to a person. “He is for you a faithful minister of Christ”, so there was a personal relationship there wasn’t it?
Now in verse 8 of Colossians chapter 1 he says that, “Epaphras also declared unto Paul”, Paul says, “your love in the Spirit”. “Your love in the Spirit”. These people were genuinely affectionate toward the apostle Paul. That love however was Christian, Holy Spirit impelled, love. Now, there’s a difference between purely human affection and that which is generated by the Holy Spirit of God. A person who has been a routine and faithful religious observer through months or years, now gets in touch with the Lord Jesus Christ and finds that the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling within his heart and suddenly there is a different attitude toward the people with whom he or she has been working. Have you noticed that? I have to tell you that I have never come from a time of prayer and seeking God in my own private devotions, without feeling in my heart a great love for the people around me.
Now, this is perfectly logical because the Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit”, the result of the Holy Spirit working in your life, the fruit of the Spirit is love. And Paul says in Romans 5 verse 5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who was given unto us”. So, there is a genesis, there is a developing, there is an initiating, there is a creating, whatever verb you wish to use of love, divine love, in the believer’s heart. That then was the kind of love these people had for the apostle Paul, “Your love in the Spirit”.
Whatever else you may say about the Christian life, you know that the love of God is the trademark, so to speak, of having met the Lord Jesus Christ. “That the love wherewith thou hast loved Me may be in them”, Jesus prayed, “and I in them. A new commandment give I unto you that you love one another, by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if you have love, one to another”, and the word that’s used is agape, Calvary love, John 3:16 kind of love, divine love. That’s the trademark.
Years ago at the College we had a visitor speaking in chapel who told of some of the mistreatment and persecution he had endured at the hands of godless people on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Imprisoned he was, regularly abused and beaten and tortured, interrogated for hours on end and all the rest, simply because of his Christian profession, his preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On one occasion he said, he looked at his interrogator, he said, “You are trying to make me hate you and thus to say things that will satisfy whatever it is you want to get out of me, but I choose instead to love you for Jesus’ sake . The love of God is in my heart for you, I choose to love you for Jesus’ sake”, he told the man. Well, he went on to say that the interrogator recoiled as though he been struck in the face and closed the session and sent this brother back to his cell, but he said in the midnight hour, sometime later, there was a noise at the door of his cell and it was the same guard letting himself in now, to the prison cell and saying, “I can’t get away from what you said. The love of God. I want to know Him too”, or words to that effect.
Oh, the love of God is the trademark of the Christian. Not just to be busy, not just to be active, not just to preach or to say something to other people. All of this is involved, “We are His witnesses”, Peter says, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”, so being and seeing and saying and doing are all part of the Christian mystique, but the trademark, the real mark that identifies you and me, is the love of God, isn’t it, “By this shall all men know”, Jesus said, “that ye are My disciples”. So, the folk at Colossae had that kind of a trademark, “Your love in the Spirit”.
Love is the fire that makes faith work. Paul says that “Religious rituals and observances don’t mean anything said he”, in Galatians 5:6, “but faith which worketh by love”. To believe God and His promises and have so much love in your heart for God and for people, that you dare to risk the situation on His Word in love.
“Faith which worketh by love”, and let me suggest something to you. Are you aware from time to time, of the fact that although you believe God, you have His Word, you know you trust Christ as Savior, yet you’re aware of a certain lack of power, a certain weakness, certain indecisiveness, recurring doubts and fears that make you’ve religiously and spiritually wobbly. Do some of you feel that way? I know you do because you’ve written me about it. Get on your knees and ask God to fill your heart with His love and see what it does for your faith. I tell you again as I said a moment ago, whenever I’ve come for my knees with my eyes wet and my heart tender with the love of God, I have found it very easy to believe God and obey Him. “Faith which worketh by love”.
God would rather have you love Him and worship Him in Spirit and in truth and to do anything for Him. God is glad to have you serve Him. “Serve the Lord with gladness”, says the psalmist. God is glad to have you serve Him, but He wants your love first of all, “Faith which worketh by love”. As a matter of fact, the love of God is the foundation, isn’t it, of all of our spiritual life, rooted, says Paul in Ephesians 3:17, “Rooted and grounded in love”.
“Rooted and grounded in love”. Paul uses two figures of speech there, rooted means a living plant, grounded means a structure that’s being built. Well, if Paul can use two figures of speech in one sentence, we are not going to quarrel with him, are we? “Rooted, he shall grow up before him as a tender plant. He shall be like a tree planted, planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither, whatsoever he do shall prosper, rooted in love”. The very essence of your life in Christ is the love of God. When you know that you love the Lord Jesus, you also know that you are spiritually alive. It’s that simple.
Then he says, “Grounded in love”, and that has to do with building a structure. The foundation for all of the building you do in your life is the love of God, rooted and grounded in love. Where does that start? Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love”. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us”. I go back to those two verses because they are essential in understanding this. Romans 5:5 in Galatians 5:22. When you open your heart to Jesus, He puts God’s love in you. Second Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constraineth us, makes us do what we do”. See? Rooted and grounded in love.
Then he goes on to say in Ephesians 3:19, I quoted 3:17 for you a moment ago, “Ye being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all saints the breadth and length and depth and height”, and verse 19, “to know the love of Christ which passes human knowledge”. The word know, Greek verb ginosko, which means get personally, intimately acquainted with, to be intimately and to be personally acquainted with the love of Christ, that you don’t get that in any logic course beloved, you get to know the love of Christ by spending time with the Christ of love. Oh, all of this, your love in the Spirit is what Paul said to the people at Colossae, and we’ve walked around a little bit in this concept during these past few moments.
Somebody says, “Brother Cook that’s all well and good, but my heart is cold. How do I get it warmed up”? Seek the Lord, get before Him, open your Bible, read some passages, pray, seek God, honestly now confess to Him that your heart is cold, I’ve had to do that many a time. Oh God, my heart is cold. I don’t love you like I should. Fill me with Thy love, and He does. Get with your Lord on your knees, confess to Him the fact that your heart is cold and without love and ask Him to fill you with His love and with Himself and He will, yes He will!
Dear Father today, fill us with Thy love in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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