Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

For the past two months, we have been dealing with the philosophies of the world. They serve as the rudiments or foundation of what the world advocates. It is clear why Paul instructed us not to be conformed to the world. To be conformed to the world means that we will come into agreement with worldly philosophies. These philosophies advocate the world’s frame of reference, values and ideas.

Sadly, the philosophies of the world are now intertwined with much of the Christian faith. As a result, some in the Church are presenting a mixture that is undermining the faith that was first delivered to the saints. As I become more and more aware of the simplicity of Christ as far as the establishing of the foundation of our faith, I realize this mixture is ebbing away at what is true. It is as though some of the Church has become the frog that has been sitting in slow-heating water for so long it has a hard time discerning what is of God and what has been exalted as god, in an attempt to redefine Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.

Instead of standing for truth in today’s environment, we are encouraged to be intolerant towards advocating a narrow way to God, because it is considered as being bigoted and hateful. Out of tolerance, we must be understanding towards the delusion of others in regard to heaven and hell, life and death, and eternal blessings or eternal damnation. Behind this tolerant preaching is the promotion of another popular philosophy of the world—and that is the world’s philosophy about love.

Let us take a moment to consider how much the philosophy of love that the world promotes has redefined God’s love. Clearly, the love I hear being promoted from some Christian platforms does not resemble the love that is clearly outlined in the Bible. Granted, this love may sound wise, acceptable and even sentimental to many itching ears, but it is not the love that finds its source in God.

As you discern the people who advocate this love, you realize that they are quite immature about God or that they belong to the world, but are hiding behind religious garb and Christian terminology. It is important to strip these disguises away and examine how much the world’s love has actually redefined God and the Christian’s responsibility.Love is a solution: The world talks and sings about love. After all, “what the world needs now is love sweet love.” This is truly the world’s philosophy. Think about why it puts such emphasis on love. Since it will not offer God, it must offer something that will give a person a sense of belonging and purpose. Whatever it offers, it must be able to make life seem worth living. Hence, enters love. After all, love can cause the appetites to come alive with excitement, hope and purpose. To make love appear as if it is the answer, the world has presented it as a solution to all of the ailments of mankind.

However, its presentation is very fleshly and unrealistic. In most cases, it is nothing but lust, which can cause people to become obsessed with finding love according to their worldly perception of it, regardless of what it might cost them or others. In a way, people believe if we love one another, or we show love, it will somehow solve the problems around us. Such a concept is not only erroneous, it is a cover-up for a lack of love that is often expressed in selfishness and indifference.

Love is not the solution. Granted, true love will be committed to provide a solution if possible, but it is not the solution; therefore, it is not the answer for this world’s chaos and turmoil. A good example of this is, “For God so loved the world,” He provided the solution to address and deal with the hopelessness and chaos that is found in the lives of people.

Today, there are Christians who hide behind this worldly concept of love. This concept has allowed them to take on their own philosophy about life and God. For example, if God loves us, how could He not accept us in our sin or want us to be happy? God is love, but He is also holy. His holiness demanded that our sin be judged, but His love provided the solution in which we can be saved from the influences and consequences of our sin. God did not change His attribute of holiness to accept us. Rather, in His love, He gave His only begotten Son, so we could be made in His righteousness, assuring us that we could avoid perishing in our sin.

The worldly philosophy of love has not only changed the different attributes of God, but it downplays what the real issue is in regard to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was not that we are worthy of His sacrifice. Rather, it was because we could do nothing in our human, fallen state to change our hopeless plight. It is from this premise that, out of love, God took the responsibility to bring about reconciliation.

Love “looks for the good” in everyone:. This aspect of the philosophy of the world’s love tells us that we must “look for the good” in everyone, in order to display the required tolerance to prove we are loving and not judgmental and bigoted. After all, if we consider the positive aspects of a person, we will be able to live in harmony with him or her. However, the Word of God contradicts this concept. The Bible clearly tells us that there is no “good” in the flesh. In other words, there is nothing in the flesh that can be beneficial. It also states that our best is as filthy rags before God. Granted, we can look for the potential in others, but the only goodness that will be present in a person’s life will come from God, not from any personal attempts or practices on the person’s part.

Replaced evangelism: There is a concept that we simply love people into the kingdom of God. By showing love, these poor souls will see our goodness and recognize our association with Jesus, and somehow become Christians. In this situation, Christians are offering love in the place of evangelizing. Nowhere in Scripture is such an approach advocated.

Love in any form cannot save a person who is ignorant about salvation or bent on destruction. We are told that the Gospel, not love, is the power of God unto salvation. The command concerning the Gospel is to preach it. As Paul stated in Romans 10:14: “How then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

        In the preaching of the Gospel, it is Jesus who is lifted up, not a person’s “so-called” goodness, love or sacrificial devotion to some poor soul who is drowning in his or her sin and despair. Granted, love serves as the motivation behind obeying our commission to preach this message, but it is not our commission. According to the Word of God, love is our debt or obligation towards God and others.

Fallacy of unconditional love: There are those who believe that God’s love is unconditional. Since they have jumped through the hoops in regard to salvation, He will now accept whatever they do regardless of how they are living. In other words, it will not matter that people are worldly, selfish, rebellious, or unbelieving. God loves each of us; therefore, He will understand our plight. He will show grace in sin, mercy in defiance, understanding towards unbelief, and tolerance towards disobedience.

As I have scripturally considered God’s love, I realize this convenient concept of it as being unconditional is a philosophy that has come out of a worldly perspective. Sadly, it has set people up to become disillusioned with God, because His love does not prove to be unconditional. “Unconditional” means there are no real conditions that must exist in order to experience something. However, condition points to environment or the state of affairs. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3:1 that the Father bestowed His love on us. According to my dictionary, this points to God putting to use His love at a particular place as a gift to us. We know that the place God put to use His love was at Calvary. As a gift, He freely offers His love to all who will receive it, but we are warned against neglecting such a gift of salvation.

For love to operate in a beneficial state, the parties involved must be receptive to establish an environment where it is active. For example, God has offered His love to everyone, but only those who receive the manifestation of His love (Jesus) will experience it. Otherwise, love is just a word that is tacked on for sentimental reasons, but is clearly missing in commitment or substance.

Everything in this world has its limitation as to the abuse, neglect or selfishness it will put up with. God’s love is no exception. He may be committed to our salvation because He is love, but He cannot make us receptive to it, nor will He settle for any type of rejection from us. Although His love is sacrificial, it can only effectively operate where there is faithfulness, humility, honor, and obedience.

God showed His love through redemption, and His longsuffering towards us in sin. He shows His mercy when we are seeking compassion, and His grace when our faith is in operation. Clearly, God expresses His commitment towards us in different ways. However, love in God’s kingdom is never associated with sin, but with obedience. As you study it, love is God’s commitment to us, and our debt to Him and others. It has never been mentioned in any other light.

Let us now summarize the three attitudes towards God that have come out of this philosophy that God’s love must be unconditional.

1) God loves us; therefore, He will understand any moral deviation for the sake of personal happiness. But, the Word states that love rejoices in the truth, and not in iniquity. God’s love will never understand or overlook iniquity. Obviously, it is not up to God to make us happy; it is up to us to please Him.

2) If God loves us, He will give us the desires of our heart. When you examine the desires of many people’s hearts, they are for the world, and not God. All godly desires will line up to God’s character and ways, and not our own fleshly, worldly preferences. The Bible states that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. The Father’s main desire and will is to see us saved from sin, saved out of this world, and saved unto His good purpose.

3) Since people can see how we love, certainly, they will know we are Christians. This concept runs along the same lines as love replacing evangelism. If we are born again, our love will first be expressed to God through obedience to His Word. In reference to the people of the world, we have a two-fold commission: to preach the Gospel and make disciples or followers of Christ. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that we are to preach love or try to impress people with our “so-called” version of love. Genuine godly love is benevolent and will ultimately show genuine concern for the souls of people in light of eternity, but it will never come into any kind of agreement with sin.

Obviously, this subject could be further expounded upon covering the different approaches or presentations of this worldly philosophy about love, but none of it would stand in light of the Word of God. Clearly, the world’s philosophy of love has set up many immature Christians to become disillusioned about God. Since they are impressed with their worldly perspective of love, they cannot comprehend why God is not adjusting to it.

Once again, I must make it clear that the only place we can experience God’s love is at the point of Jesus’ redemption. It was through Jesus’ redemption that God expressed His love. We will either receive His love or we will reject it. As you can see, God is the solution, and His love provided His solution in a sacrificial way. Therefore, if we do not come to the place of His provision by faith, God cannot show His love or grace by giving us the gift of eternal life. Have you truly received the love of God through Christ Jesus?