Four-Dimensional Love (Part 1)

June 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

What is the most attractive part of a tree? Some people prefer the leaves, and they can certainly be beautiful.

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Some like the trunk – it’s sturdy and regal.

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Children tend to favor the branches (for climbing!)

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But if we were playing Family Feud, where they supposedly survey 100 people to get the most popular answers, and the question was: “What part of a tree do you like the best?” I think the number one answer would probably be: the fruit.

fruit tree

Fruit usually looks pretty, often tastes good, and it contains within it the seeds for another tree. I could argue that the fruit seems to be the whole reason for the tree. It is the “product” of the tree – what it “produces.” (Which is probably why you can buy it in the “produce” section of the grocery store.)

If the leaves, trunk, branches, and fruit are the most attractive parts of a tree, what is the least attractive part..? Did you say the roots? Here in hurricane country it is not at all unusual to see an overturned tree with the roots (formerly buried and out of sight) protruding up out of the ground. They are gnarled, dark, and just plain ugly from most people’s perspective.

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Despite the fact that we find the roots of a tree not very aesthetically pleasing, I think that God might disagree. It may very well be that God finds the roots to be the most attractive part of a tree, because, when it comes to being “rooted in love,” Ephesians 3:17 and 18 say that rooted love is four-dimensional love.

First, the love that we get from being rooted in Christ is a love that reaches up – up to God. This dimension is called the “height.” Most of the time we limit our lessons on love to the horizontal plane, but loving God Himself is the best assurance of true salvation. No one can truly love God without first receiving Christ. It is impossible to truly love someone else without loving God, and it is impossible to truly love God without knowing Christ. To know the height of the love of Christ in your relationships with others, you must first have trusted and received Him as Savior.

The love of Christ not only extends upward to God, but it also reaches out to the sides. This is the “breadth” of which Ephesians 3:18 speaks. Love that is rooted in Christ is wide love. It covers the best and the worst. It covers good times and bad times. Do you love when you are loved first? Even the world shows this kind of counterfeit love. Anyone can greedily receive good things and respond with some degree of reciprocity. The real question is whether you look to spread out the love you receive from Christ no matter how far the person you love strays to the right or to the left. The love we receive from Christ needs to provide cool and refreshing shade for those who don’t feel loved. Everyone with whom we come into contact ought to feel peace and comfort and a welcoming influence as they pass under the shade of Christ’s outstretched love which radiates from us.

Love that is rooted in Christ also reaches out into the third dimension – toward others (the “length” referenced in Ephesians 3:18). True love – rooted and grounded in Christ – is never just passive. It is active. It extends toward others. The Bible knows nothing of “withdrawing love.” If you love something (or someone), so they say, set them free – and if they don’t come back, it was never meant to be. That is nonsense. Christian love pursues. Pursue those that the Lord has placed within your sphere of influence. Win their hearts. Imitate God: if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. If you draw near to others, then Christ in you may very well draw them near to you.

Are you satisfied with your capacity to love? Don’t be. Ask yourself, “To whom am I reaching out?” God so loved us that He gave… Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost… He went after a bride

Next time, we will look at the “fourth dimension” of Christ’s love.

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, John | 38 Comments
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I. Where is the Holy Spirit?

He dwells in the temple of your body if you are a Christian, having taken up permanent residence at the moment of salvation.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

Only Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:5-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

II. How does the Holy Spirit work?

A. He “reproves.”

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:7-8

He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “Reprove” is a better description of what He does than “convict” or “convince,” although the meanings of both of those words are included in it. “Reprove” (as in “a reproving look”) contains the idea of both anger and sadness (grief), and the idea of the bringing to light of guilt or shame. The Greek Word is elegcho (from the same root word as “elegy,” which is a song or poem of lament). To “reprove of sin” means to show that something is wrong, to show that it is to be rejected, and to show that it is to be condemned.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

That’s a good Scriptural example of “reproof” – which includes convincing and convicting.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

The devil accuses with an eye toward condemnation, but he is not the only one who makes Christians feel bad about sin. The difference is that his condemnation drives you away from God. God’s reproof brings you back to God – and He does this reproving in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

B. He is involved in creation.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Job 33:4

C. He is active in regeneration.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

D. He seals Christians as children of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I know I am going to Heaven because of my new-birth experience, and because of the Scriptures, but also because God’s Spirit dwells in me permanently. One day He is going to Heaven to be with God forever. Therefore, I must go with Him.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

E. He bears witness of the salvation of Christians.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:13

F. He teaches the Bible to Christians.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

G. He intercedes for Christians in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Neither saints who have died and gone to Heaven (including Jesus’s mother, Mary), nor angels intercede for us in prayer.

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

H. He is our Comforter in times of need.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

The Greek word for “Comforter” in this verse is Parakletos. It means “a helper who comes alongside and an advocate who stands beside you and speaks on your behalf.”

I. He empowers Christians to serve God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Ephesians 3:16

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

J. He gives Christians discernment in decision-making.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

In one sense, the Holy Spirit acts as an antenna or receiver: He helps Christians stay attuned to the Truth of God and filter out the false.

III. What does the Holy Spirit do?

He produces spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

The Christian’s job is to bear fruit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to produce fruit. God has graciously given us responsibility, but He keeps ultimate control. Spiritual fruit has seeds within it. It brings joy when shared. It brings glory to the Gardener.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

The Holy Spirit’s job is not to glorify the Holy Spirit. His job is to glorify God in what God has said, and to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our job primarily is not to glorify the Holy Spirit in worship, but to glorify God and magnify Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25

Spiritual fruit is “singular.” These character qualities are part of the same process and fruit.

IV. Questions

A. What are the nine character qualities which are called the fruit of the Spirit?

The first three are “inward:”

1. Love: We must love God in order to truly love others.
2. Joy: Our joy must be in Christ or else the best we can hope for is only a circumstances-dependent temporary happiness.
3. Peace: We can’t have peace with others without peace in our own souls – and we can’t have either one of those without first being at peace with God.

The next three are “outward:”

1. Longsuffering: This involves bearing patiently the issues of dealing with others.
2. Gentleness: This involves dealing with those issues tenderly.
3. Goodness: This involves choosing to deal with others the right, instead of the wrong, way.

The last three are “upward” (toward God):

1. Faith: This involves believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do.
2. Meekness: This involves understanding that God is everything, and I am nothing apart from Him.
3. Temperance: This involves being yielded in our attitudes – being even-keeled (being a thermostat, not a thermometer).

B. Can a person be a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

No.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Ephesians 4:4-5

C. What is more important for a Christian:

1. You getting more of the Holy Spirit?
2. The Holy Spirit getting more of you?

Answer: 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of finding where the Spirit is and hoping to be filled with Him. It is a matter of emptying out of self, vanity, and worldly, fleshly junk – so that He fills every room of your heart.

V. Memory Verses
A.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

B.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

C.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Acting Like We’ve Been There

May 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 5 Comments
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Christians have a great deal to be excited and joyous about. Our Father is the Creator and Owner of this world. Our eternal inheritance includes riches beyond comprehension (Ephesians 3:8). Our Big Brother is the strongest, most loyal, and faithful Friend in Whom we could ever hope (Romans 8:29; Revelation 1:5).

However, Christians must be careful about giving in to frustration, since the world we are passing through does not share our views. Knowing our privileged standing before the Almighty (even though we do not deserve it), there may be a tendency to be combative with those who oppose us on behalf of the ungodly system of this world.

The Bible is clear about the Christian’s behavioral duties toward those who are lost:

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

Titus 3:2

What will help me control my temper when confronted with the evil of worldly unbelievers? The memory that I was once like them:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Titus 3:3

Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is strength which is brought under control.

Lately, I’ve been posting an ongoing dialogue between a Christian and a Professing Atheist. For some reason, the number of views I get on this site skyrockets when I mention professing atheists. I always use the term “professing atheist,” because there’s no such thing as a “real atheist.” An “atheist” would be someone who truly believes that there is no God. Everyone knows deep down that God is real. Professing atheists just choose to try to hide from, run from, fight against, hold down, willfully ignore, or rebel against, this truth.

I meet quite a few professing atheists in real life, but most of the unsaved people I meet claim to believe in God – they just don’t live like it. It’s a different story in internet-land. Most professing atheists on the internet claim all kinds of morality and kindness and good deeds and love for fellow man, but refuse to give glory to God.

Maybe I get so many “views” because I use the tag “atheism debate.” I like to get the views and comments, but the reality is, when I encounter a professing atheist, I’m not debating. I’m proclaiming Truth. They can debate all they want. (I have a number of theories about why so many professing atheists enjoy “debating,” but I’ll save that for another time.)

Just remember, the Holy Spirit caused the Apostle Paul to say:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…

Romans 1:16

The inference is that there is a tendency to be ashamed that needs to be overcome. Thankfully, the Bible goes on to tell us the reason for not being ashamed:

…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…

Romans 1:16

Telling the truth can seem so cruel, unloving, and fanatical, but it is really the most loving thing you can do for someone who is perishing.

I once heard a very gifted preacher tell a story about sitting on a plane next to a professing atheist. The professing atheist had a number of pretentious excuses for his “unbelief,” and the preacher, who was skilled in Christian apologetics, demolished every excuse, and clearly won the debate. The professing atheist got off the plane frustrated and angry. Afterward, the preacher’s ministry partner, who had been observing the whole affair, said to the preacher privately, “Well, you won the debate… but you didn’t win the man.”

The Christian’s responsibility is to proclaim the Truth in love, not to win a debate.


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