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Love: The Greatest Apologetic

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Love: The Greatest Apologetic

Post by Harry on Wed May 09, 2018 7:36 pm

Love: The Greatest Apologetic

May 9, 2018 by Jack Wellman

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How will everyone know who Jesus’ disciples are?

Loving One Another

It is difficult to reconcile the fact that someone hates their brother or sister and yet professes to be Christ’s. That is not my opinion, but what Scripture clearly teaches. Hating a brother or sister is dangerous ground to tread as Jesus said, “whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matt 5:22). Hating others is contrary to Scriptural teaching. The Apostle John states that “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:9-11). Whoever hates their brother or sister may think they’re in the light, but they’re walking in pitch black. God calls anyone a liar who claims to be a believer and yet hates their brother or sister. John writes, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). I want to quote that again…“he who loves God must love his brother also.” Must! It’s not should or ought, but must.

The Silent Lamb
One of the greatest differences between the way of the world and the teachings of Jesus is the response to enemies. To vividly mark this contrast, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). This means we don’t give people what they deserve (payback, revenge, etc.) but we give them what they need, and that is love. Jesus showed God’s mercy, amazingly while being nailed to the cross. Even then, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a), so when Jesus “was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23). The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, “was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Many I have come to know have put their trust in Christ because they were shown love…especially when they didn’t deserve it, but that’s what God did for us. Jesus understood that loving others makes a huge impact, but it’s also a strong indicator of who a child of God is and who is not (1 John 2, 4). John was so bold as to write that whoever “says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Apologetics
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” so that explains why the Apostle John emphasized love so much, and the type of love Jesus is talking about is not the greeting card kind of love or pouring out “I love you’s,” but pouring out of self. It is showing love to others when they don’t deserve it, as God did for us (Rom 5:6-10). Jesus knew that love would make His disciples known, and that it would be a powerful magnet that draws people to Christ, or at least some. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). By what? It is by this love for one another that “everyone will know,” and that surely includes non-believers. John MacArthur said, “We might be the only Bible some people read,” and he’s right! An important part of this passage is where Jesus said, it is “By this” that others will know we’re His disciples. This indicates that people will know we’re His disciples by our love for one another. They won’t know we are His disciples by our theology, our seminary training, our Sunday school lessons, or doing good for others. It is love that convinces, so by loving one another, everyone will know that we’re Jesus’ disciples. If we’re less than loving to one another, people will have a hard time knowing we’re His, and there’ll be doubts, and they’ll be well founded!
Love is Tangible
Love is exceedingly more than just a feeling or a verbal expression. Love is a verb…it’s what you do. The Apostle Paul gave one of the most beautiful definitions of love in the entire Bible. He wrote, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7). Love is not some greeting card or “I love you,” as much as it is patience, humility, bearing with others, believing or giving people the benefit of the doubt, hoping for the best in people, and is able to endure all things. Faith and hope are essential, but love is the greatest (1 Cor 13:13), so instead of focusing on the gifts of the Spirit, why not focus on the fruits of the Spirit, and the greatest of these is love….so what does that look like? You express it when you “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:14-15). That’s tangible, physical evidence of the love of God. You hurt when they hurt and rejoice when they rejoice.
Conclusion
Just as God did to us, we must do to others, and that is, we don’t give people what they deserve…we give people what they need, and that is love. God has sent us the greatest love letters of all time – 66 books that show His love for us, and several of these books tells us to love others because love is how believers and non-believers will know that we belong to Christ. John writes, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love without deeds is hypocrisy; a deed without love is legalism. Love must be “in deed and in truth.”
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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