Sunday, June 25, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Search for Love ]


The Search for Love
Lonnie Branam
John 4:16-19 says,. “And we have Known and believed the love
that God has for us. God is love, and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God In him. In this our love has been made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear inyolves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” This reading is from the New King James version. 1 have entitled this sermon, “The Search For Love.”
In this brief passage, the word love is found nine times, and it is one of the most complicated, if not the most complicated, word in the languages of men. It may have more diverse meanings than any single word spoken by human-kind. There is a general erotic love,which is the love of sex. There is a natural love of man for woman and woman for man. In addition there is an unnatural sexual love for strange flesh, the love of man for man and the love woman ror woman. Then there Is the love of wives and the love or husbands. In addition the New Testament speaks of agape love, the greatest and highest form of love. Furthermore, there is the love of children, relatives, Christians, friends and animals. To these we may add the love of knowledge, the love of pleasure, the love of money, the love of food etc. Yet in all these forms of love the word takes on a different shade of meaning.
However in this message we shall not be concerned with any of the kinds of love I have just mentioned. We shall be searching for still another kind of love, the most rare form of love found on this planet. This love is set before us in the text to be studied. I John 4:19 says,“We love him because he first loved us.” There is a great scarcity of a love toward God on this earth. Sometimes it is missing even among them who claim to be the people of God. In John 5:42 is recorded a statement which Jesus made to a gathering of the Jews, God's chosen people at that time. He said,“But know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.” The same shocking thing is true of the greater part of all mankind in our generation--they do not have the love of God in their hearts. People of the world find it difficult to love the God who is set forth in the Bible. To many the God of the Bible is a terrifying God. Next I must say a word about the importance of the subject. It is most fearful and astonishing that so many of our fello humna bings will live their lives without ever having the love of God in their hearts. The consequences of such a loveless life is tragic beyond all imagination. When Christ comes back he will search this earth for love. He will search for people who found a place in their hearts to love God. There will be no place in heaven for any accountable person who never learned to love the God of heaven and earth. The seriousness of this matter is eloquently stated by Paul in I Cor. 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, Let him be Anathema Maranatha.” The word Anathema is the most awful thing an inspired apostle said about a human being. It means doomed to destruction with no possibility of reprieve. Anathema is the Greek word which Paul used; about the only English word that comes close to the meaning is the word curse or to be accursed. The idea is that if anyone does not love Jesus Christ, let him be doomed and separated from Christ forever. And this would be even more true of one who does not love God who sent to us the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matt. 22:37 Jesus said that the greatest commandment in all of the Law of Moses was to love God with all the heart, soul and mind. That may just be the greatest commandment in the entire Bible, for if there is a greater commandment than this in the New Covenant I am not aware of it.
Let us embark at once on our search for this marvelous love which is so rare on earth and yet so eternally important. Where is this love to be found? From whom can empty hearts learn how to love God? Since the greater part of all mankind does not have this love in their hearts, there is no point in going to the people of the world. It can be found, discovered and learned about in only one place, and that is among true Christians, You will find it in their hearts, but you will find it nowhere else. But you may say, “How do you know that?” I learned it from our text which says, “We love him because he first loved us.” We love him--there it is; we have found it. When John said, “We love him” he was speaking for all true Christians. But someone might say, “What do you mean by true Christians? Why not say that the love of God is found among Christians, period?” I made the statement because the definition of a Christian accepted widely In the religious world differs from the definition found in the New Testament. God will not a ccept the cultural or traditional beliefs of religious people that disagree with the inspired writings of the New Testament. The Lord said to the people in his day and time, “In vain you worship God teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Jesus said people cannot enter the kingdom of God without the birth of the Spirit and the water. Yet many believe they are Christians who have not been born of the water. To be orn of the water means to be baptized in water for the pardon of sins. If
Next, I must say a word about the importance of this subject. It is most fearful and astonishing that so many of our fellow human beings will live out their lives without ever having the love of God in their hearts. The consequences of such a loveless life is tragic beyond all imagination. It is the ultimate failure of a human life, When Christ comes back he will search this earth for love. He will search for people who found a place in their hearts to love God. There will be no place in heaven for any accountable person who never learned to love the God of heaven. The seriousness of this matter is eloquently stated by Paul in I Cor. 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, Let him be Anathema Maranatha.” The word Anathema is the most awful thing an inspired apostle said about a human being. It means doomed to destruction with no possibility of reprieve. Anathema is the Greek word which Paul used; about the only English word that comes close to the meaning is the word curse or to be accursed. The idea is that if anyone does not love Jesus Christ, let him be doomed and separated from Christ forever. And this would be even more true of one who does not love God who sent to us the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matt. 22:37 Jesus said that the greatest commandment in all of the Law of Moses was to love God with all the heart, soul and mind. That may just be the greatest commandment in the entire Bible, for if there is a greater commandment than this in the New Covenant I am not aware of it.
Let us embark at once on our search for this marvelous love which is so rare on earth and yet so eternally important. Where is this love to be found? From whom can empty hearts learn how to love God? Since the greater part of all mankind does not have this love in their hearts, there is no point in going to the people of the world. It can be found, discovered and learned about in only one place, and that is among true Christians, You will find it in their hearts, but you will find it nowhere else. But you may say, “How do you know that?” I learned it from our text which says, “We~ love him because he first loved us.” We love him--there it is; we have found it. When John said, “We love him” he was speaking for all true Christians. But someone might say, “What do you mean by true Christians? Why not say that the love of God is ound among
Christians, period?” I made the statement because the definition of a
Christian accepted widely In the religious world differs from the definition found in the New Testament Jesus said that people cannot enter the kingdom of God without the birth of the Spirit and the water. Yet many believe they are Christians who have not been born of the water. To be born of the water means to be baptized in water for the pardon of sins. If unbaptized people are to be accounted Christians, Christ will have to back down on his word. Others are baptized as babies and think they have been Christians from birth. Some have been sprinkled; others have accepted pouring for baptism, and still others are taken in as Christians with no baptism at all. A Doctor of Literature in a prominent University told me he was neither sprinkled, poured nor immersed; he said that he was drycleaned. Now we can all be wrong, but we cannot all be right when baptism is in such a state of confusion. So I stand by my statement that love for God is found among true Christians, people about whom there are no ifs and doubts. They are Christians because they obeyed the commands of Christ and his apostles. They have a, “Thus saith the Lord” for their conversion.
As we continue this investigation, I would like to present this question to every toyou. The question is, “Do you have the love of God in your heart?” If you are not certain, permit to give you a few suggestions. If you have obeyed all the elementary commands of the Gospel, if you have been born into the family of God and there is no doubt about it, you can most assuredly say, “Yes, I have the love of God in my heart.” But if you are not a Christian, you would have to say, “No, the love of God is not in my heart.” I told you this word, love, is complicated, and you cannot have your own private definition or go to Webster's dictionary and find the meaning. Some who are religious-minded, but not Christians, may feel that I am judging them unfairly, but really I am not. I John 5:3 says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” Love for God always includes commandment-keeping. He has commanded you to believe in Christ, repent of yours sins and be immersed in water and thereby become a Christian. So could you say that you love God when God says love for him shows itself in obeying his commandments which, by the way, are not burdensome or unreasonable?
Now to those of you who know that you love God because you have obeyed the gospel and the Lord has added you to his church, for you I have another question. How did this love get in your hearts? How did you come by it? You have never seen God; where did you learn about it and what is the source of this love? Some think that we can learn to love God by the study of the works of his hands, the marvelous universe he has made and the contemplation of the laws of nature. If this be so why have the overwhelming majority of scientists failed to possess this love? Why doesn't the love of God fill the hearts of all the students who attend our great institutions of higher learning? The more man learns about the universe the farther he gets away, it seems, from the idea of a loving Creator, Provider God, No, the evidence is lacking that a mere contemplation of the cosmos could ever raise any person to the height of love for God. What then is the source of the love which we have for the Almighty Three? The answer is given in our text which has a peculiar beauty and value to it. it says, “WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.” There is but one answer to the question, “Why do you love God?” The one and only answer is, “Because He loved you first.” Here is love's origin-- He first loved. In this same chapter John says, “God is love,” In v. 7 scripture says, “Love is of God.” in v. 10, the apostle said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (or reconciliation) for oursins. In his gospel John says that God so loved the world that he sent Christ that those who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life.
Here then is the true origin of love. God loves. . .we love. It is just that simple. I do not believe it possible for any created being to learn to love except through being loved. I do not believe that any angel of heaven would have ever come to love God, had not God loved him first and then came to know that God is love. Nor can we, In no age of human history has any human being come to love God, except for the one reason that God loved him first. God called on Israel to love him because he brought them out of the land of Egypt. He loved Israel first. In the Christian age of the world the ultimate love of God was manifested in sending God the Son to bear the sins of all mankind. Such a demonstration of love led Paul to say, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema.”
I have one more question for your consideration, and I shall be done. God first acknowledges our love for him when we accept Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross and become Christians by obeying the gospel. My final question is, “How do we retain possession of this love? How do we make it grow and glow? Love can diminish or increase. In Matt. 24:12 Jesus said that in times of trouble and religious persecution, the love of many Christians will wax cold. We can lose our love for God. Jesus charged the Church of Christ in the city of Ephesus with leaving their first love(Rev. 2:4) Love for God is like one of those exotic plants which requires much oving tender care. It cannot stand to be frost-bitten. How do we feed our love for God and make it grow to I ulness and completeness? Love to God is a rich and rare thing, and it will die if it is not nourished. This love feeds on manna from heaven. When we are babes in Christ we are exhorted to feed on the milk of the word. In the infancy of our love, we love God for what he has done for us. The first thing our love feeds on, when it is but an infant, is a sense of favors received. All new converts must constantly remember and think about what God has done for them. You love Christ because he rescued you from a sinful life, a sinful world and a devil's hell. You love God because He sent Jesus who has brought you the happiness you enjoy. Our first love feeds on grateful recollection of mercies received.
However when the Christian grows older and matures in knowledge and grace, he loves God for another reason. We reach the point that we love God because he deserves to be loved Love to God is based on more than our personal salvation. We love him because of the excellence of his character. We love Christ because of his complex nature and great humility, wisdom and love for all mankind. We can finally come to a point that we love God not merely for what he has done for us, but simply for who he is and what he stands for. We come to believe and think as He thinks and are convinced in our hearts that we should be as he is. It is then that John says that “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). The fear of God leaves our hearts because we have become like God in our thinking and way of life. We live the way he wants us to live but that is the way we want to live. There is no longer any conflict between óhis will and our will. We have kindred minds with God. This helps us to understand John's statement that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. He adds that when our love reaches a certain fulness, then we can have boldness in the day of judgment. We must always fear God in the sense of reverence and awe, but John means we will not fear in the sense of terror or fear of being punished. When the Christian truly loves God and his fellow-man all fear of God's punishment is expelled. Such fear exists only where there is peril or danger of punishment. When the fear exists in our hearts that God is going to punish us, this is conclusive proof that our love for God is defective and Incomplete. Whether we love God or not is a matter of personal knowledge. That God loved us, we believed when we heard the message of love his inspired apostles brought to us. It was then that we responded to that love by turning from our former sinful way of life by sincere faith and repentance and by being baptized into the death of Christ, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By the operation of God's love in our hearts, we are enabled to love our fellow Christians and our fellow-men in general, exhibiting the fruits of love all around us. In doing this we so perfect our love that when the great day of judgment shall come, we shall stand before God with confidence. If you feel the need to respond to God̓s love and are searching for a church, I respectfully suggest that you investigate the Church of Christ. You cannot become a Christian there by your television set by a simple act of faith, Neither can you respond to God's love by repeating a sinner'sprayer after me in which you confess your sins and your faith in Christ. That is well and good, but that is not all that God asked you to do. You cannot be saved by simply saying, “Lord Jesus, I receive you into my heart.” The members of the Church of Christ have followed God̓s simple plan for salvation exactly as it is revealed in the New Testament. In Acts 2:38 Peter said to sincere believers in Christ, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.“ In the brotherhood of Churches of Christ we will accept nothing less than obedience to that command. We wear no name but that of Christ, and our plea is to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. We invite your investigation.



























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