Monday, June 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Love--The Revealing of God's Character

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Several passages of Scripture give the clear idea that the all-important question in the Judgment will be whether or not we have learned to love. The parable of the sheep and the goats represents Jesus as separating all of us on that one score (Matt. 25:31-46). John's magnificent chapter on agape-love says that the test of whether or not a person knows God is this: "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love [with agape] does not know God, for God is [agape]" (1 John 4:7, 8).

Further, when "love is perfected among us ... we may have boldness in the day of judgment" (vs.17). New Testament love equips one to walk in humbly yet boldly past all the holy angels and to stand before God's throne without trembling.

No one will ever be able to receive the seal of God and face the horrors of the enforced mark of the beast if there is any fear still lurking in the recesses of the heart. Eradicating every root of fear will be a miracle because all of us humans have been programmed to what Hebrews says is a basic "fear of death ... all their lifetime," which has made us "subject to bondage" (2:15). But "there is no fear in love [agape]; but perfect agape casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in agape" (1 John 4:18).

We could linger on those words. This is a holy, solemn subject. The practical effect of the cleansing of the sanctuary will be to root out that last vestige of fear from the hearts of God's people and to replace it with this agape, which alone is true obedience to God's commandments.

Paul certainly thought of us as well as the Ephesians when he prayed that we might be "rooted and grounded in agape, ... able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the agape of Christ, which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19).

We may "speak with the tongues of men and of angels" and yet not have agape; we may have the "gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge," and still be without it; we may "have all faith, so that [we] could remove mountains" through miraculous answers to prayer, and still not have the all-essential agape. Worse still, we may bestow all our goods "to feed the poor" and die a martyrs' death burned at the stake, and yet, wonder of wonders, be devoid of agape (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

How can we learn to love with agape? Not by trying, not by working at it, not even by vainly praying for it (though prayer is good, of course). We learn by looking, and looking again: "In this is agape, not that we loved God, but that He loved us. ... And we have known and believed the agape that God has for us" (1 John 4:10, 16).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Undated Paper.
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