What it Means to Have Love

Most people who have read the book of 1st Corinthians, are familiar with the phrase from chapter 13, stating that if you do not have love, nothing else matters. Most people and most preachers for that matter present this in a way which makes it seem as though this verse is saying you must work up love, and do your best to love others – and most people tend to accept and believe that to be true.

However, what I want to share with you today is a different perspective. As we take a look at 1st Corinthians 13, through the lens of Grace and the finished work of Christ, we begin to see something different than what is generally assumed. Something less focused on our efforts to try and work-up love within ourselves, and something more (properly) focused on Christ, His finished work, and His love for us. By seeing this, you will have a new appreciation and application of the love of God in your daily life.

Who’s Your Daddy?

There are literally millions of people who claim to believe in God, and Jesus Christ. Millions of people claim to be part of a vast spiritual family, and claim to be brothers in Christ. The question that I want to pose to you today in this study, is the one in the title… Who’s Your Daddy? Do you know who your daddy is? Do you know His character? Do you know His love? Are you simply existing in a spiritual family that you don’t really know… and if so, what can you do about it?

I had a conversation recently with a person who claimed that they didn’t really know what the will of God was… they didn’t really know what He would do (this happened to be in regards to healing, but the same could be applied to anything really) – this seemed strange to me, because if you have a close, personal, intimate relationship with someone, you get to know them, and you get to know their character and how they respond to things. If you see a couple that has been married for a long time, you find that they know one-another so well that they finish each-others sentences!

So what I want to share with you today, are some things about the character of God, the way in which He has revealed Himself, and how you can get to know Him in a more personal way.

Psalm 51, Jesus, and Your Relationship

If you’ve read any of our previous studies, you know that I talk a lot about your identity in Christ, your foundation in Him, your Relationship with God. I talk about those things so often because without these things, you really have nothing but dead religion. Without these things: without your identity, without your relationship, without your foundation on Jesus Christ, it’s all just empty ritual, empty tradition, and ultimately an empty existence.

I had one person ask me once: Why don’t you teach something more relevant? And I had to respond and say that there is nothing more relevant than the finished work of Jesus Christ, and who you are in Him. I have discussions with people all of the time, who claim to be Christian’s, who say that they are believers, but they have no real relationship with God; they have no foundation, or realization of their identity… and these same people are living defeated lives… they are down all of the time, and they spend more time talking about how the enemy is beating them down rather than the victory that Jesus has won.

And please understand, I am not pointing fingers at those people, I’m not judging or ridiculing them at all – that’s not what Jesus called me to do… my purpose in mentioning their situation, is to highlight an issue that needs to be addressed… the lack of this foundation, identity and relationship in and through Jesus, is hurting people and destroying lives.

So what I want to share with you today, is more on this foundation. So that you will be able to live in the confidence, joy and peace of Jesus Christ every single day.

The Essence of the Gospel and Love

At first, the title of today’s study might seem a bit disjointed, the essence of the Gospel and love. You might wonder if it wouldn’t be better to split these into two separate studies. Well, I thought about it, but the more that I explored each, I came to realize that the two cannot truly be separated; they are integral to one another. Without Love, there is no Gospel, and without the Gospel there is no Love. A surprising number of people today do not understand the basic foundation, the basic central core and essence of the Gospel message… all they really know, is that this guy Jesus, at some place and some time, died by crucifixion, and that for some reason He did it for them. (They may also include that He died for their sins).

What I have found is that for most people, these have become empty statements, lacking substance, lacking the essence of God’s Love and their personal identity in Christ. It’s one thing to say with your mouth that Jesus died for your sins – but it’s quite another to apply that reality to your life and to live from that place every single day. To take the fact that Christ has made you a completely new creation, and to apply it personally, and to make that identity completely yours, is the true essence of the Gospel. A fact that has been largely watered-down and even lost in many Christian circles today.

Your Conscience is Cleansed in Christ

One of the most misunderstood areas of our psyche, from a Biblical standpoint, is our conscience. This was an area that I was affected in for a number of years, because I heard and believed the lie, and it led me down a very dark path, which served to place an artificial barrier between myself and God and ministered condemnation and death to not only my soul, but my physical body as well.

This extremely destructive lie, was that I had to be constantly aware of and conscious of my sin; to do otherwise would mean that I would have a seared conscience – which I was told meant that I would not be able to “feel bad” about my sin any longer, and God would give me over to destruction. The only remedy for this was to constantly remind myself of sin and constantly be aware of my sin and keep myself from ever forgetting it.

Many people have heard this same lie and believed it like I have, and if that describes you today, then you are going to be very glad that you are reading this today, because this is not only totally backwards from the truth, and quite wrong, but it is also very damaging to our relationship with God, and has kept people bound in chains, sometimes for their entire lives. However the truth will make us free, and that is what I want to share with you today… the truth regarding your conscience.

Living in Truth and Love

It’s no secret that the body of Christ is divided today. There are all manner of sects, churches and ministries to fit any particular tribe, taste or temperament that exists. There are even entire ministries dedicated to specific topics and categories. Personally I think that there should only be one category: Christ and His Finished Work – and from that, everything else will flow and every problem solved. Now, not surprisingly, when I mention this, some people get put-off and offended… they think that it is narrow-minded to say that the finished work of Christ can solve every problem, and when they tell me that, I typically respond by telling them that they have a very limited view of what He accomplished.

Sometimes that statement makes them curious and they want to know more; and sometimes it offends them even deeper – especially if they have been a believer for many years. Yet regardless of how long someone has been a believer, that doesn’t change the fact that there are countless people who have not been properly shown what the finished work of Christ actually accomplished, and so they have a dim view of what Jesus has really done for them.

Your Righteousness is Not An Illusion

How many times have you heard the phrase “we are sinners saved by grace”? It’s a common phrase in Christian communities. And most people agree with it. Another one is “God sees you in Christ”… that is a very true statement; God does indeed see you in Christ today. However what I want to share with you is why He sees you in Christ, and the totality of what that statement means. Because we have started to accept a distorted, lesser view of who we are and what we have in Christ Jesus today, than what is actually true, and God wants us to see all of who He has made us to be.

You see, most believers have this idea that they are actually still a sinner, still dirty, still unclean, but that because of what Jesus did on the cross, that God can somehow “look passed” all of that filthiness and see you clean, as if your cleanliness was some kind of trick or fraud or just an illusion. That is not the truth however, your righteousness is not just a mere illusion, and we will see why today.

Your Eternal Choice

Choices, choices. We make hundreds of choices every single day: what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to say, how to spend our free-time. Many choices, all ours to make as we see fit. Those choices have an effect, the choices we make result in certain things happening, and certain outcomes. Some with negligible differences, and some with larger and longer influences – such as a marriage.

All of these though, utterly pale in comparison to one choice… one eternal choice. One choice that will affect your eternal destination. One choice that will determine your future for all-time and beyond. What I want to share with you today, is exactly what this choice entails – it may surprise you to learn that many people aren’t as sure as they might have thought – and to also show you that this same choice has been available from the beginning of creation. This choice has not changed over the years, as some think that it has. It is an eternal choice, in every sense of the word; both in its existence and in its effect.

Are You Trusting in the TEXT or in the PERSON?

It seems like a strange question at first: do you trust the text of scripture? If you are a believer the answer is of course, yes – and I’m sure this study is going to raise a few eyebrows. However I want to to share with you something that God has recently shared with me… and it is precisely the difference between trusting in the text of scripture versus trusting in the person that the text is speaking about. It seems almost like semantics or hair-splitting at first, however I believe that as you begin to see this difference and what it means, it will open-up new levels of belief on Jesus Christ, and security in Him.

It may surprise you to also learn that this idea did not originate with me… This distinction is not my invention, but it began with Jesus Himself. He was the one who first spoke of it, and with good reason… this is actually a fundamental issue of both faith and belief. And again it is my privilege to share this with you today.

True Fasting in God’s Eyes

Simply mention the word “fasting” and most people will conjure up images of giving up food, depriving oneself of something vital, or otherwise sacrificing something. The word “fasting” in secular usage has only the meaning of abstaining from food and/or drink, and that is what most Christians understand it to mean as well.

Furthermore, I have encountered many people that fast as a religious observance, because they are trying to “get God’s attention” – although not everyone will readily admit that. In our discussions, when I have asked them why they were fasting, it has always boiled down to the core of either wanting an answer to prayer or wanting to be closer to God – and while these may seem like holy and righteous reasons, I have had to tell them the honest truth, that nothing they could ever do, will ever make them closer to God than what Jesus did over 2,000 years ago on the cross. No sacrifice that we can make today, can ever make us closer to God than the one offered by His Son all those years ago. And most of these people were offended at that statement.

What I want to share with you today, is the portrait of true fasting. Not what man thinks fasting is, but instead what God says fasting is, and the type of fasting that He actually wants. And I believe that by the end of our study today, many chains will be broken, and many burdens lifted, because it is the truth of Jesus Christ that will make us free, and that includes His truth regarding fasting as well.