The Gospel and the Christian Life


James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Today’s average person is confronted with a changing world. We live in a world where we are inundated by social media updates, blogs, 24/7 news and much more. Added to the complexity of new media is the fact that in generations past people have had to physically speak to one another. Now, we can speak to one another over social media, podcasts, television, radio, on our phones or even on video conference on our laptops. If there is an issue of quintessential importance to the Christian and the Church it is this, prayerfully, powerfully, and gracefully speaking to the issues to the glory of God.

As quoted above, James 1:19 makes clear, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” These words from James became real to me when I graduated high school. I had just received a letter from my father in which he told me I needed to learn the truth of these verses. At the time, I thought that I was quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Yet, as I’ve grown up and matured by the grace of God, I’ve come to see that I was deceived. Instead of being slow to speak I was quick to speak. Instead of being quick to hear I was quick to anger. Instead of caring for people, I cared about winning arguments and scoring points. Friends, this is not how we ought to be as Christians. As Christians we are to demonstrate we care about one another because of the Gospel—that is Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. His finished and sufficient work provides the basis for our confidence in Him and the reason we can put sin to death and enjoy Him in all of life. Yet, how often are you perhaps like me when I was younger, quick to speak, quick to anger and slow to listen?

I’ve been online writing articles and blog posts since 2000. In that time I’ve seen plenty of people come and go. People who had real talent writing but eventually fell off the map. I’ve seen trends come and go online and in the evangelical world. Yet one major issue never seems to go away and that is that people want to speak about what they think is important. Speaking is an important function of humans. Through speaking we communicate what we value, how we feel and much more. Yet, at its core communication has not only to do with what we communicate but also how we communicate. James 1:19-20 confronts us with the reality of the situation in that God’s Word is given to us for our correction and reproof Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16. As God illuminates His Word to us we are confronted with the reality of where we are at in our walk with Him. The choice is then presented to us—will we by the grace of God heed the Word of God or will we rebel against the authority and truthfulness of the Word of God?

James 3:1 is a scary verse that should cause one to consider its seriousness, because it teaches that not many of us should be teachers. Yet, what do you think you are doing on facebook, twitter, google plus, on your blog, podcast or any other outlet that you have to communicate? Everyone to some degree whether they are engaging in teaching in the Church or sharing the gospel with a lost neighbor or friend is teaching. The content of what we preach ought to be the gospel. Yet, how we present the gospel ought to be true to the Bible. The harshest language in the Bible is directed at those who lead people away from God. Thus, what we speak and how we speak is of central importance.

At the core of speaking prayerfully, powerfully and gracefully to the issues of our day is knowing when to speak and when to be silent. James 1:19 is thus helpful to us. How do you know when to speak on the issues? For me, this usually happens as I’m thinking through a topic and the thoughts on a particular topic are coming at me faster than I can write them down.

As I conclude this article, I want to give you several steps I use that have guided my thinking on this area. First, I daily open my Bible, read it, reflect on it and seek by the grace of God to apply its truths to my life. As I do this, I’m often either encouraged or rebuked by the particular passage I’m reading, reflecting and meditating on. Second, find a group of godly Christians you can discuss doctrinal and theological issues with. Doing so, will help you to know whether you should speak to these issues and whether you have the right voice, tone and motivation for speaking to this particular issue. Often times when I sit down to write on a particular issue when I finish, I delete the whole document. I do this because either the tone is all wrong or my motivation is also wrong. In either case, I want to heed James 1:19 which is to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Thirdly, to speak is to want to be heard and thus in turn to want others to respond to you. On the flipside of this, by speaking on blogs, podcasts, social media and whatever other media we may use—we must in turn listen to those who read or listen to our content. We must hear what they say and not just flippantly but rather take seriously their pushback, or encouragement.

Finally, whenever we write or speak to issues we may get pushback or even encouragement. When we get encouragement to our work, we should thank the person but deflect the glory to God. We can do this by saying thank you to the person and then saying something to the effect of, “Thank you for your encouragement, I’m thankful to God for your encouragement and give Him all the praise you were helped by my work.” By doing this we are not being vain but rather thanking the person that they offered encouragement. When pushback is offered don’t respond personally but rather prayerfully and thank the person that they offered pushback. Respond to the person by engaging the content of their post by quoting from portions you may agree with and engaging the parts you don’t agree with. By doing this, you will demonstrate you care about the person enough to engage them in a respectful and God glorifying manner.

Lastly, I don’t know about you, but speaking prayerfully, powerfully and gracefully is exhausting. It requires great care that comes from a desire to glorify God and exalt His name among the nations. At the end of the day though, as Christians, we write, speak and minister for an audience of One in God whose call in His Word is crystal clear—be faithful to Him and make much of Him and He will use you in powerful ways to speak to issues in a way that honors and glorifies Him. I pray today that you resolve by the grace of God to speak prayerfully, powerfully, and gracefully to the issues to the glory of God.

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There are lots of voices out there that suggest that evangelicalism today is struggling, perhaps even dying. This week I was at Together for the Gospel, a conference that draws in pastors, ministry leaders and serious minded lay people from around the country. From my vantage point I cannot more strongly disagree with the statement that evangelicalism is struggling or perhaps even dying. What is dying is a nominal evangelical Christianity that is apathetic to the Gospel because it has assumed the gospel for so long that it has forgotten the gospel. The gospel must always be central in our thoughts, affections and ministries. From my perspective what I see and what I hope to argue for in this article as I reflect on Together for the Gospel is that God is raising up a generation who is gathering around the core of biblical Christianity. My generation is a generation that loves Jesus, the preaching of His Word, His people, and loves to bring the gospel to the lost and all of life to the glory of God.

Perhaps that last paragraph was a bit strong and you disagree. As I was at Together for the Gospel, I met with some of the brightest young confessional evangelicals in the United States. We gathered to hear some of the brightest voices in evangelicalism such as Dr. Albert Mohler, Matt Chandler Thabiti Anayabile, John Piper, and David Platt among others. As we listened we were instructed, rebuked, and encouraged to have confidence in the gospel, so as to take it to our neighbors, friends and cities to the glory of God. As I listened to the sermons and engaged in multiple conversations with people from around the United States I was deeply encouraged by what I saw. What I see is a generation of pastors and ministry leaders who loves to exalt in Jesus and make Him known.

Many voices in evangelicalism today are saying that we are struggling and therefore that in some way we will die off. What makes conferences like Together for the Gospel so appealing is what they are offering to their audiences. Young people today are leaving the Church because they are tired of rehearsed answers. Young people are tired of a shallow nominal evangelicalism that places an emphasis on feelings above the Word of God. Young people want a robust evangelical theology grounded in the Word of God and in the teaching of the history of the Church. Thankfully there is such an evangelicalism, but it is not the evangelicalism that is often associated with evangelical thinking and practice today. What I see occurring in conferences such as Together for the Gospel and organizations like Desiring God, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 9Marks and the Gospel Coalition is a recovery of the evangelicalism of our forefathers headed by men like John Owen, Charles Spurgeon among many others.

The Reformers wanted to reform the Church around the Word of God. To do this they sought to take the teaching of Scripture literally and apply it to the people of God through the preaching of sermons that took the text as the point of their sermon and apply it to the people of God. As they did this God awakened people’s desires to the beauty and sufficiency of the Bible itself. What we are seeing are those who are nominal abandon biblical Christianity for theological liberalism, which is a completely different religion than Christianity entirely.

Biblical Christianity is rooted in the truth of God’s Word which contains the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical Christianity has always taken its cue from the text of Scripture itself. As the evangelical Church has heralded the evangel to the world in faithfulness to His Word the Lord has been pleased to bless His Church because of the gospel.

We need reformation today. We need conferences like Together For the Gospel to be encouraged, instructed and corrected. Make no mistake though, like Dr. Albert Mohler said at the end of Together for the Gospel the most important work we can do happens on the Lord’s Day. It happens in our small groups, in gathered worship, in one-on-one discipleship meetings, in church newsletters, and in a thousand different ways as you seek to be faithful to the Word of God and the gospel of the Risen Christ.

As Together for the Gospel came to a close and I leave Louisville, I do so deeply encouraged, and emboldened because of the gospel. I leave Louisville grateful for my time here but most of all glad I got to spend time here at this conference with my wife. This was my wife’s first time at a conference. We learned a lot while here not only about the Lord but about each other. We enjoyed extended theological discussion with a wide variety of people and were instructed by what they said to us. We leave Louisville and Together for the Gospel encouraged by what we see- a generation gathered around the throne of God, lifting head, heart and hands to the Lord Jesus pleading with Him to use their ordinary efforts in extraordinary ways to impact people’s lives for His glory. I don’t know about you but that encourages me and leaves me speechless that God brought almost 8,000 people to Louisville to lift up His name and be instructed by His Word and then to go home to make much of Him in all of life.

I pray as we go back to our respective vocations and to our churches that we would take with us what we have learned. I sincerely pray that we would not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. I pray that God would continue to raise up an army of confessional evangelicals who are unashamed because of the evangel and herald it to and for His glory with greater confidence and boldness because of being at Together for the Gospel. I greatly enjoyed my time here in Louisville but am excited now for what He will do in this next season in and through those I’ve met here at Together for the Gospel for His glory. May God truly be glorified in and through our efforts for His name as we seek to faithfully proclaim His Word. Then, we will truly be known as the generation who is gathered around His throne, pleading with Him to use us powerfully in the lives of those around us, for His name and glory.

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Exposition of Ruth 2:17-23


Posted By on Mar 26, 2014

Book of Ruth 300x168 Exposition of Ruth 2:17 23 In this post, we will work our way through Ruth 2:17-23. We will be utilizing the Complete Jewish Bible translation unless otherwise noted.

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. When she beat out what she had gathered, it came to about a bushel of barley.
18 She picked it up and went back to the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned, and Rut brought out and gave her what she had left over after eating her fill.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where were you working? Blessed be the one who took such good care of you!” She told her mother-in-law with whom she had been working; she said, “The name of the man with whom I was working today is Bo’az.”
20 Na’omi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by ADONAI, who has never stopped showing grace, neither to the living nor to the dead.” Na’omi also told her, “The man is closely related to us; he’s one of our redeeming kinsmen.”
21 Rut the woman from Mo’av said, “Moreover, he even said to me, ‘Stay close to my young men until they’ve finished my harvest.’”
22 Na’omi said to Rut her daughter-in-law, “It’s good, my daughter, for you to keep going out with his girls; so that you won’t encounter hostility in some other field.”
23 So she stayed close to Bo’az’s girls to glean, until the end of the barley and wheat harvests; and she lived with her mother-in-law.

Commentary:

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. When she beat out what she had gathered, it came to about a bushel of barley.
18 She picked it up and went back to the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned, and Rut brought out and gave her what she had left over after eating her fill.

The second chapter of Ruth concludes with the completion of the day’s harvesting by Ruth and her return home to speak with Na’omi regarding the rather magnificent events that had taken place to include her interaction with Bo’az. In verse 17 we find Ruth gleaning in the fields of Bo’az until evening, beating out the barley resulting in a bushel or an ephah of grain. Daniel Block notes regarding the amount gathered by Ruth that “to thresh an ephah of grain from one day’s labor is an extraordinary feat, not to mention Ruth’s having to carry it home!”[1] It is apparent that the instructions given by Bo’az to his workers to leave extra portions of grain along the way for Ruth to gather resulted in this bounty. Huey comments “Since the ration of a male worker in ancient Mari was about one to two pounds of grain per day, Ruth probably gathered enough to last Naomi and her for several weeks.”[2]

With Ruth returning home with this large provision of food, it is no wonder the conversation between her and Na’omi took place that is recorded in the following verses. Something indeed was taking place of a rather miraculous invention, again driving home an underlying theme in the Book of Ruth of God’s provision for His people, in this case evidenced through the kindness of Bo’az to Ruth.

19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where were you working? Blessed be the one who took such good care of you!” She told her mother-in-law with whom she had been working; she said, “The name of the man with whom I was working today is Bo’az.”
20 Na’omi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by ADONAI, who has never stopped showing grace, neither to the living nor to the dead.” Na’omi also told her, “The man is closely related to us; he’s one of our redeeming kinsmen.”
21 Rut the woman from Mo’av said, “Moreover, he even said to me, ‘Stay close to my young men until they’ve finished my harvest.’”
22 Na’omi said to Rut her daughter-in-law, “It’s good, my daughter, for you to keep going out with his girls; so that you won’t encounter hostility in some other field.”

Verses 19-22 reveal the discussion that takes place between Ruth and N’aomi and Ruth recounts what had taken place to include her interaction with Bo’az and the care he extended towards her. Na’omi understandably displays great wonder and bewilderment at the large amount of grain Ruth returns home with, likely due to her expectation that gleaning from the edges of the field would provide a mere subsistence living for her and her daughter-in-law.

Block notes an interesting element of the verb structure in verse 19, commenting “By our standards the verbs are illogically sequenced, but the order and the redundancy combine to reflect her utter amazement on Ruth’s productivity. But she is not really interested in the geographical location of the field. Before Ruth can answer, Naomi breaks out in a spontaneous utterance of blessing upon the man who had taken notice of her daughter-in-law.”[3] This response by Na’omi represents a shift in her overall attitude towards life, namely a movement from sheer and utter depression to the point where she asks to be called “Marah” (bitterness) to include the understandable questioning of God’s motives towards her and her family to this situation, where God’s oversight and provision for them has become apparent.

The aspect of hesed is once again revealed as an underlying theme in this book as Na’omi expresses her understanding of God’s grace being bestowed upon them through Bo’az. Younger states “The Hebrew text contains two grammatical ambiguities that have fueled scholarly debate over the meaning of the text…It may be that the ambiguity is deliberate in order to stress that both Boaz and Yahweh (through Boaz) have shown hesed, that is, compassionate, covenantal loyalty, kindness, goodness, and love toward the widows.”[4] In recognition of this compassion, Na’omi gives praise to God for His goodness through the man Bo’az noting something very important, namely that God had never stopped extending His gracious hand, again a turn of events in her overall attitude in comparison to the previous passages where depression and lack of understanding ruled the day.

In the ending section of verse 20, Na’omi mentions that Bo’az is “one of their redeeming kinsman”, also described as a kinsman redeemer. The subject of the kinsman redeemer is one that we will discuss in detail in our next post so we will not examine at this time what that means or the overall importance of the kinsman redeemer to the story of Ruth other than to make note of this important concept as it presents itself in this verse. As noted by Younger, “Noami’s revelation of Boaz’s relationship to them is important to the plot because it creates anticipation of events to come.”[5]

Ruth responds to Na’omi’s declaration of praise to God by adding the command by Bo’az to her to “Stay close to my young men until they’ve finished my harvest.” An interesting element of verse 20 is the reminder provided to the reader by the narrator that Ruth is a Moabitess, perhaps in an effort to stress yet again that Ruth is a foreigner and also to set the stage for the interesting climax to this story that is yet to unfold, specifically the kinsman redemption by an Israelite of a foreigner. Block suggests “the narrator may hereby be deliberately reflecting a clash of cultures. Naomi’s reference to Boaz as a go’el makes sense only within the context of Israel’s unique theology of family and land. As a Moabite, Ruth may not have grasped the significance of Naomi’s statement.”[6] Nonetheless, Na’omi apparently grasped the enormity of the situation as evidenced by her response to Ruth’s recounting of the day’s events.

Recognizing what was taking place, Na’omi instructed Ruth to continue gleaning in the fields of Bo’az and to take heed to the instructions Bo’az had given her lest she encounter hostility in another field. Huey avers that Na’omi “was aware that a woman of Ruth’s status could meet with harm if she worked alone in other fields.”[7] God was at work through Bo’az and Na’omi was becoming fully aware or at least noting that a significant turn of events was taking place.

23 So she stayed close to Bo’az’s girls to glean, until the end of the barley and wheat harvests; and she lived with her mother-in-law.

Ruth 2:17-23 concludes with the simple statement that Ruth followed the instructions of Na’omi and continued to stay close to the workers of Bo’az, gleaning from his fields until the conclusion of the barley and wheat harvests, furthermore living with No’ami during that period. Block notes that based on information found in the Gezer agricultural calendar, “Ruth must have been out in the fields for six to seven weeks, from late April till early June by our designations of the months.”[8]

Also interesting is the lack of any further interaction noted by the narrator between Ruth and Bo’az. All that is noted is Ruth “clinging to” the workers of Bo’az and the keeping of her oath to Na’omi to live with her mother-in-law, all signifying that the characters in this story at this point were settling into somewhat of a predictable daily routine of life. Still remaining is the issue of Na’omi and Ruth, in particular of whether issues beyond mere sustenance will be addressed such as the continuance of the house of Elimelech. With that said, the stage has been set for redemption and restoration to break forth. The question that lingers is whether Bo’az is that redeemer.

Conclusion:

This section of Ruth, although short and arguably not as full of action as previous portions of this book, is nevertheless an important transition in the story. The kindness expressed towards Ruth and in turn Na’omi has things looking up for these two widows. Add to that the reality of Bo’az being one of the possible kinsman redeemers and we have yet again a movement towards the theme of redemption found throughout this book with that theme continually moving towards the stories ultimate climax and conclusion.

In our next post, we will take a break from examining Ruth itself to spend some time looking at what exactly this kinsman redeemer concept is all about and why it is so important to the story of Ruth. Following that examination, we will return to the Book of Ruth looking at Ruth 3:1-5.

References:

[1] Daniel Block, The New American Commentary: Judges-Ruth (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1999), 670.
[2] F. B. Huey, Jr. “Commentary on Ruth” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.3: Deuteronomy through 1&2 Samuel. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 532.
[3] Block, 671.
[4] K. Lawson Younger, Jr. NIV Application Commentary: Judges-Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 449.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Block, 676.
[7] Huey, 533.
[8] Block, 677.

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Love Series: Brotherly Love

Love Series: Brotherly Love


Posted By on Feb 25, 2014

Editors note: This is a brand new series designed to help you love the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength so you can love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39-40). The first post in this series was by Brian Hedges who wrote on Love and Spiritual Transformation. In the second post, Matthew Sims wrote on God So Loved. The third post in the series is by Matthew Fretwell who wrote on sharing love. The fourth post was written by Dave Jenkins on How To Love and Care for your Wife. The fifth post was written by Dave on Valentines Day, Love and the Gospel. The sixth post was written by Mike Boling Love is Patient, Love is Kind. The seventh post was written by Dave Jenkins on Love and Marriage: Seven Years of Love, Bless and Trials. The eighth post was written by Dave Jenkins on Reading and Love: Loving God and Serving Others. The ninth post was written by Craig Hurst writes on Husbands, Love your wives like Christ. Today, Dave concludes the love series by writing about brotherly love.
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Hebrews 13:1, “Let brotherly love continue.”

The New Testament resounds with the command to love the “brothers,” an idiom for fellow believers in the faith (Matt. 22:39 John 1334; Rom. 13:8; 1 Cor. 13: 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:10; 3:10 4:7).  The word “love” used in Hebrews 13:1 is φιλαδελφία transliterated from the Greek as philadelphia which means “Love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love; in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren.”  We all have heard of Philadelphia before because it is known as the city of brotherly love.

Christians are to love one another because Jesus has loved them first. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 declares, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Loving other believers should be as easy as falling off a log. Christians should not wait to get to church where they can drink in the fellowship of the godly. For the early church, the fellowship of their new brothers and sisters was delectably mysterious to them and they rejoiced in plumbing the depths of each other’s souls.

Brotherly love is to be a telltale sign of the salvation of the people of God. As the Apostle John would later write in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” The impulse of the early church to brotherly love provided a sweet, inner self-authentication. It also announced to the world that their faith was the real thing as noted in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What a glorious phenomenon brotherly love is, a sense of the same paternity (a brotherly and sisterliness taught by God, a desire to climb into each other’s souls), a sweet inner authentication, and the sign of the real thing to the world.

Christians are to practice brotherly love. Inwardly, this requires that we will consider the stupendous implications of our shared generation, that we truly are brothers and sisters with those terms being more than sentimental notions, instead being objective fact, that though we are millions, we share only one Father, that we will still be brothers and sisters when the sun is no more, and that God is pleased when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity (Psalm 133 and John 17).  Our status as brothers and sisters in Christ is truly an eternal bond to be treasured.  Outwardly, we must will to say and do only those things that will enhance our philadelphia. Furthermore, we must will to love one another because of the gospel.

When Jesus readied his disciples on the night of his arrest, he gave them one clear command to guide them in the days ahead, that of John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” As we look at the message of Hebrews 13:1, it must be noted the Book of Hebrews was sent to a body of Jewish believers who were tempted to revert from Christianity back to Judaism in order to escape persecution. The great refrain of Hebrews is both a warning against apostasy, against a falling away from the faith, and an exhortation to hold fast to Christ for salvation. Five times this warning is given in one form or another, including the one at the end of chapter 12 referring to the voice of God in the gospel: “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking” (v.25).

Not unlike Jesus on the night of his departure from the twelve disciples, the writer of Hebrews prepares to leave his readers, and in this last chapter he gives his final words of exhortation. It is no surprise, therefore, that he begins in the same manner Jesus did, exhorting them in verse 1 to “Let brotherly love continue.” Hebrews 13 begins with a command for Christians to take seriously, “Let brotherly love continue.” We are to live continually by this principle as Christianity is all about being in the family of God and the church is to be a community characterized by family love.

One person who wrote much about Christian love was Francis Schaeffer. Much of his life was caught up in church disputes that were quite divisive. Schaeffer was known as a powerful defender of Christian doctrines, yet at the same time he strove to maintain love within the body of believers. One of his books begins with these words, “Through the centuries men have displayed many different symbols to show that they are Christians. They have worn marks in the lapels of their coats, hung chains about their necks, even had special haircuts. But there is a much better sign. It is a universal mark that is to last through all ages of the church until Jesus comes back.”[i]  That mark is love among Christians, and Schaeffer proves it with Jesus’ teaching of John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is a conditional statement predicated on the reality that if we love one another, the result will be that people will see this as the mark identifying the disciples of Jesus.

In another of his excellent books Schaeffer writes, “Evangelism is a calling but not the first calling. A Christians first call is to return to the first commandment to love God, to love the brotherhood, and then to love one’s neighbor as himself.”[ii] This means we are to show love as an essential part of our witness, but more importantly because God is love and we are called to Godlikeness in the world. The Apostle John puts this in challenging terms writing in 1John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Loving others is an outflow of our relationship with God and it is how we show gratitude for His love to us.

Love is a central mark of the Christian life because it demonstrates that the Christian has been transferred from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. This means love is the fruit and necessary by-product of the Christian being born again. To love one another is not a suggestion; it is a command grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ. When Christians love one another they bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:1) and seek to faithfully live out the “one another” passages in the New Testament. All of this is because of the Gospel which provides the basis for loving God and loving others.

Love one another my brothers and sisters because of the great work of God’s grace. The Christian who has been born again can’t help but love his brothers and sisters in Christ because they know it is the love of God in Christ that has wooed and won them over. This is why Christians are to love one another before a watching world greatly confused about love. Let us love one another as Jesus has loved us and demonstrate His love within the confines of our local churches and to a watching world to the glory of God.


[i] Francis A Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian, in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1982), 4:183

[ii] Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, in Complete works 1:85

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Editors note: This is a brand new series designed to help you love the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength so you can love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39-40). The first post in this series was by Brian Hedges who wrote on Love and Spiritual Transformation. In the second post, Matthew Sims wrote on God So Loved. The third post in the series is by Matthew Fretwell who wrote on sharing love. The fourth post was written by Dave Jenkins on How To Love and Care for your Wife. The fifth post was written by Dave on Valentines Day, Love and the Gospel. The sixth post was written by Mike Boling Love is Patient, Love is Kind. The seventh post was written by Dave Jenkins on Love and Marriage: Seven Years of Love, Bless and Trials. The eighth post was written by Dave Jenkins on Reading and Love: Loving God and Serving Others. Today Craig Hurst writes about Husbands, Love your wives like Christ.
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As a concrete thinker I generally have a hard time grasping new concepts. My first response to something new is, “Give me an example.” If I can just visualize by way of an example I feel I can better grasp what is being presented. For many people love is a tricky concept.

Many people believe love is merely an emotion. Like, two teens in high school who feel attracted to each other, and therefore believe they are “in love.” As time goes on most people realize that loving someone is more than mere attraction – it requires action. Thankfully, when husbands are told to love their wives, they are not left without example. In Ephesians 5:25-33 Paul instructs husbands how they are to love their wives:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

For Christians, specifically men here, God has given us the supreme example of how to love our wives in Christ. It is through Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross that provides for us the supreme example of how husbands are to love their wives. In this post we will look at three points Paul is communicating in Ephesians 5:28-33.

First, husbands are to love their wives sacrificially. The church is the bride of Christ just as a husbands wife is his bride. Christ “loved the church”, His bride, by giving “Himself up for her.” (vs. 25) The cross gives us a picture of the sacrificial love God has for His bride. Though a picture, it is more than that. Christ did not hang on a cross and endure suffering without death to show us love – He actually died physically for us and experienced a degree of separation from His Father for us. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that even “even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There was nothing lovely about us, except that God, in His triune self, purposed to save a people for Himself, His bride, whom the Son gave Himself for in order to purchase their redemption. The Son left His place next to the Father in order to become a man so that He could die for His people. The self-sacrifice of Christ provides the reason and example for why husbands are to give themselves to their wives.

Men, when was the last time you gave up something you wanted or needed so that your wife could have something she wanted or needed? It might be giving up buying another book, or new fishing rod, or new hunting gear. Have you ever given up an activity or not gone to an event and felt the pain of sacrifice? This is what Christ did for His bride. This is what Christ did for you and this is what you are to do for your wife.

Second, husbands are love their wives spiritually. Has it ever occurred to you that as a husband you are in a way responsible for the spiritual health of your wife? It was not until my second year in seminary that this idea was presented to me. I remember sitting in chapel as a guest speaker preached from Ephesians 5 25-33. I will never forget how he challenged the men to take responsibility for their wives sanctification. This is not to say we are wholly responsible for their spiritual lives but it is to say that, as the spiritual head of the home, we need to make sure our wives do not fall back spiritually because of our lack of spiritual leadership. Just as we work out our own salvation, we need to be there for our wives to help them as well. This means we need to make sure we are walking with the Lord ourselves. We cannot offer the spring of living water to others if we are not first drinking of it ourselves. Through the Holy Spirit in our lives, Christ is guiding us in our sanctification so that we might be presented “without spot or wrinkle.” (vs. 27). Husbands too, as we are accountable to God for how we lead our families, need to be actively involved in our spouses spiritual lives as we bathe them in the Word.

Third, husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves. Sometime the absence of things stated in Scripture can have meaning. I find it ironic that while we are told to love everyone else, including God, we are never told to love ourselves. In fact, in the second commandment to love others, we, ourselves, are the example of how we are to love others, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

In Ephesians 5:28-33 Paul uses a slightly different reason for why husbands are to love their wives. Husbands are to love their wives because they are a part of them. “For no one ever hated his own flesh.” In Genesis 2:24 we are told that when a man and a woman are married they become “one flesh.” There is a joining together at marriage that cannot be separated. Paul says that “he who loves his wife loves himself.” (vs. 28) This is because they are one flesh. It is in the best interest of the husband to love his wife because in doing so he is contributing to the well-being of his own life. Doing what is best for his wife is also doing what is best for him. This is not a selfish love. It is a love that does what is best for the one flesh the two have become.

Though a little trite, the saying “a happy wife is a happy life” has a lot of truth to it. You will rarely meet a happy man who does not also have a happy wife. Conversely, an unhappy man probably has an unhappy wife. As the bride of Christ, Paul says there is a mystical union between Christ and the church, His blood bought people. Christ does what is best for the church because it is in some part of Him. He has given Himself for her, joined Himself to her and now lives for her. As believers we are joined to Christ and Christ loves His bride.

A husband who doesn’t sacrificially love his wife is not only hurting his wife, he is hurting himself as well by tearing at his own flesh. Husbands, how are you loving your wife and continuing to build your marriage? Can you identify some areas of growth and needed change in your marriage? Husbands, though you many complain that your father never set a good example of how to love a wife, you are not without one. Look to Christ, who, in loving His bride the church, provided the supreme example of how a husband is to love his wife. From the cradle to the cross, Christ loves His bride and now calls husbands to look to Him even as they lead their wives as Christ leads His church. As husbands love Jesus they will naturally grow in their love for their wives. As husbands do so, they will reflect the love Christ has for His bride, the church.

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Editors note: This is a brand new series designed to help you love the Lord with all of your heart, mind and strength so you can love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39-40). The first post in this series was by Brian Hedges who wrote on Love and Spiritual Transformation. In the second post, Matthew Sims wrote on God So Loved. The third post in the series is by Matthew Fretwell who wrote on sharing love. The fourth post was written by Dave Jenkins on How To Love and Care for your Wife. The fifth post was written by Dave on Valentines Day, Love and the Gospel. The sixth post was written by Mike Boling Love is Patient, Love is Kind. The seventh post was written by Dave Jenkins on Love and Marriage: Seven Years of Love, Bless and Trials. Today, Dave Jenkins writes on Reading and Love: Loving God and Serving Others.

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I have a confession to make—I’m a book nerd. That wouldn’t surprise you if you knew me or you’ve been to my office, as I have five large book cases and one small book case in my closet. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved reading.

When Jesus talked about loving Him and loving our neighbor, He included a most interesting phrase, namely to love Him with all of our hearts, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). Christians throughout the history of the Church have started schools, hospitals, churches, and many other good and noble ministries because they have loved the Lord and sought to serve others. To love the Lord means to take Him at who He says He is in all of His infinite and unchanging worth.

Christians are to be a people of one book, the Bible which is inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative for all of life under God. Christians are to have a love for God’s Word because it is God’s love letter to man. Since God loves His Word, Christians should have a love for reading, studying, and meditating on His Word. Not only this, but Christians should also read godly books that will aid them in their growth in Christ.

I encourage you this month to fall in love not only with reading the Word of God but also other godly books. Challenge yourself to start with daily reading your Bible and reading one book a month. By doing this, you’ll find that you are growing in your understanding of God and His Word, as well as developing a desire to love and serve your neighbor.

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