To understand love, to know what it means to love as Christ loved, one must meditate on the Gospel. It’s basic: through the Gospel, we have received and know the very love of God. We were forgiven the unforgivable, loved when we were unlovable, and righteousness was charged to our account when we did nothing nor could we have done anything to obtain it. Our God gave us what we needed the most – forgiveness of sin – at great personal cost. So, when we are commanded to love as Christ loved, we understand that the Gospel informs us as to the nature and magnitude of that love. The very essence of who Christ is informs and empowers us to love Him and those around us. The love of Christ constrains us! Look to the cross when love is hard or cloudy in your heart and you will understand the sacrifice, the pain, the labor, the justice, and even the reality of a life consumed with love.
So, two truths about love are clear:
(1) The Gospel informs our love
(2) Love is undeserving.
God loves us as much as He will ever love us at any point. It is a past, present, and future reality. His love for us will not change based upon anything that we have done or will do. His love never diminishes over time. It is eternal.
But there is a third aspect of love that needs attention:
(3) Love is dynamic.
There must be an outflow of God’s love through our lives. It can never be stagnant or subtle. When we are informed of the love of God through the Gospel, it must have a daily impact upon our lives. It must affect how we live and respond to those around us. According to 1 Corinthians 13, it is not enough to be theologically sound or even strong in faith. Though critically and foundationally important, these things must be informed and seasoned with genuine heartfelt love for Christ and those He has placed in our lives. Otherwise, it is mere religion. Remember, love is patient and kind when everything within you is aggravated and boils. Love never is irritable or resentful to anyone no matter how annoying or prideful the other may be. Love never takes pleasure or satisfaction at the wrongdoing or misfortunes of another. It only rejoices in truth. There is never a hint of arrogance or rudeness and it never insist upon it on way. If you want to know what genuine love should look like, know this: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love is eternal and is more powerful than a prophetic word, the gift of a tongue, or all the knowledge that one can accumulate. This is the love of Christ to us and this love must always inform our daily walk. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” [Eph. 5:1] Let your love be a sweet and a fragrant aroma that never fades away.
We are all excited that my dad, Charles, will be participating as a plenary speaker at Vision4Living’s upcoming Legacy Conference that will be held April 24-26, 2014 at Westwood Church in Evansville, Indiana. I had the privilege of interviewing him and discussing our shared passion for the goal and theme of Legacy14 – to see fathers, mothers, kids, teens, single adults, grandparents, pastors, and whole families catch a vision for touching and changing the next generation with the Gospel. Charles has been preaching the word for 25 years. He presently spends his time as the president of Vision4Living Ministries, writing, and speaking.
Parenting can be fun, but parenting is always daunting. If it is not daunting to you, you do not understand parenting.
I love to meet with parents. Since I am one, I understand something about their joys, fears, hang-ups, and hopes. I very recently had the privilege of meeting with a group of homeschoolers in Owensboro, Kentucky, and was asked to address an issue I felt would be of importance to them. At first glance, it might seem that any parent’s primary concern might include such matters as discipline, socialization, developing proper friendships…you get the idea. And these are important.
But any parent’s primary concern is much more basic and non-optional. Since this was the subject of my last blog, I will attempt not to be repetitive. But what I shared with that group is that parents must know the Gospel personally, live Gospel-centered lives, and build Gospel-centered homes. I challenged those parents, as I would challenge you, to see the Gospel as much more than an escape from hell. The Gospel is life. I encouraged them to go to their knees for wisdom in dealing with their spiritually awakened children. This makes our own knowledge of Christ and the Gospel even more important, for we cannot lead our children where we have not gone. The easy-believism of the 20th century has brought many into the church under false pretenses, and led many children to “make decisions” without an adequate understanding of either the Gospel or their sin.
As parents, we are called to live Gospel-centered lives before our children. It is this demonstration of Gospel reality that is the basis for successful Christian parenting. I shared with those parents what I hope you will see. We are not moralists with a set of rules. Nor are we therapists with psychological remedies. We are sons of God working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We are fallen men and women living a life of grace by faith. We are growing ever so slowly yet ever so certainly into the likeness of Christ, and our children must see this demonstration of Gospel reality if we are to be successful parents. Could it be that the reason many young people wash out when faced with opposition from the world is that these first things have been left out? May God help us to live Gospel-centered lives that will lead the next generation to Christ.
Relationships: Everybody wants to be in one – so it seems…
However, what about a “relationship with God”? It can be a catch phrase. But what does it really mean? I believe that we have to go back to the beginning where our relationship was initiated – where God pursued us.
Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
We can pursue an authentic relationship with Christ because He made us His own. It all begins and ends with Christ. He initiated the relationship and in so doing we know His love – the motivation to pursue more of who Christ is.
As believers, how do we grow in our knowledge of Him?
The old disciplines of Bible reading and prayer – to rise early and spend time with the Lord – are tried and true. [Ps. 63:1] God revealed himself through His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” These disciplines are not mere devotional practices, but means of grace so we can grow in our knowledge of Him. But, this is not knowledge for knowledge sake. It is so that our “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent.” [Phil. 1:9 & 10]
Not only are we to spend time in His Word, but also we are to receive His Word from others. Whether through the means of preaching or personal instruction from one that disciples you, these biblical means are not to be neglected. [2 Tim.2:1 & 2; Eph. 4:11-16] They are gifts to us from the Lord so we can grow in godliness. Specifically, these means are primarily [but not solely] found within the local church – Christ’s body. Surround yourself with His people. Never go at it alone. There is no place for lone ranger Christianity in the economy of God.
Finally, we are to renew our mind with Scripture.
This may appear the same as reading the Word and though they are close there is a distinction. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The only way to counter lies ingrained within our thinking is to identify them. It requires continual renewal with the transformational truth of God’s Word. Don’t just read it, memorize and meditate on these precious truths – camp there for a lifetime.
Remember, the pursuit of Christ is not religious duty or mental assent. It is a way of life. There is a renouncing and a surrendering. Our life is not our own as a disciple of Christ. It requires, through grace, a daily dying to self. You will pick up your cross daily. Furthermore, as we grow in our relationship, as we grow in our knowledge and love for Christ, we will see an evident effect on our relationships. [Matt. 22:37-40] The Gospel is not a one-time act. It is a dynamic force that motivates us to love Christ and those He has placed in our life for His glory.
[Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Do you have a passion for the truth? Do others around you have a passion for the truth? Or, are you satisfied with where you are at. Its not about the next big thing…Charles and Daniel discuss how a passion for the truth will have a direct impact on future generations and the gospel. Click the link below to find out more…
We are thrilled to have Dave Teruel as a plenary speaker at Vision4Living’s upcoming Legacy Conference that will be held April 24-26, 2014 at Westwood Church in Evansville, Indiana. My dad, Charles, had the privilege of interviewing Dave, hearing his heart for the gospel and the next generation, and his sharing excitement to participate in Legacy14. Dave currently serves as preaching pastor at Westwood Church. The preeminence of Christ in all believer’s life is Dave’s prayer and passion.
Here at Vision4Living we talk a lot about the Gospel. In fact, you might say we are little obsessed with it. I guess there is nothing wrong with that… But with all this talk about the Gospel, I think it might be good to ask a question: what are the 3 most important aspects of the Gospel?
When it comes to the Gospel, there are three things that you must communicate. If you do not clearly communicate these three things then you have left off important aspects of the Gospel and will do a disservice to the ones you seek to minister God’s grace to.
Romans 3:21-26 clearly lays this out for us to see:
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Everyone that you share the gospel with must see that all have sinned and still fall short of the glory of God. None are exempt from this. If a person does not see their sinfulness in all its ugliness, how will they see their need for Christ and His salvation?
But, there is hope. Life can be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty – the blood price – for our sins. There was no other way except through the gracious sacrifice of the Son of God. Because of His death, we can live. Because of His resurrection, we can live. Our lives can be redeemed because of the sacrifice of the one who is perfect. No longer do you have to remain in destruction. You can know redemption. You can know life. You can know deliverance because the ransom was paid in full by Christ!
Now comes the response – the procurement of this great salvation comes through faith alone. Unless you trust in this very work of Christ alone, you will not know redemption. You will not know salvation. It’s really that simply. Sure, it is the work of the Spirit that brings the realization of sin. It is even by the Spirit that faith is wrought. But when you present this wonderful salvation message, there must be a call to repent of all sin and trust in the matchless grace of Christ alone. Never leave this call out. And if, by the grace of God, they do repent and put their faith in Christ, they must continue in faith all of their living days.
Finally, never forget…
It is the Spirit of God who does the wooing and convicting. Sincerely and earnestly pray for God’s Spirit to convict and reveal Jesus to your listeners. You cannot work salvation. That is God’s work. You can only proclaim the amazing grace of God. Remember this lest you take too much responsibility. Remember this lest you become discouraged and forget.
We are so excited to have Global Encounters host and run our kids program for the inaugural Legacy Conference April 24-26, 2014. We hope you enjoy this interview with Elizabeth Fox who is the Director and Founder of Global Encounters. This short interview will give you a glimpse to what your kids have to look forward to this April.
Are we to be covenant keepers? What does this have to do with social media or even politics? Does it have implications for how we interact with believers and none believers alike? Daniel and Charles discuss these implications in this week episode of CrossTalk.
We are thrilled to have Eric Coher as a plenary speaker at Vision4Living’s upcoming Legacy Conference that will be held April 24-26, 2014 at Westwood Church in Evansville, Indiana. I had the privilege of interviewing Eric, hearing his heart for the gospel and the next generation, and his sharing excitement to participate in Legacy14. Eric serves as an associate pastor and teacher at Faith Bible Church, also in Evansville, Indiana.