Monthly Archives: February 2015

Healing From Guilt

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In our family devotions we are reading Daily Reflections on the Names of God (by Ava Pennington).  Today we considered God by his name Jehovah Rapha which means: “The Lord Who Heals.”

If you are like me, when you hear the word “healing” right away you think of God taking care of some physical problem. Certainly God cares about healing our physical infirmities but there is a deeper and more important aspect to Jehovah Rapha being our Healer.

In Psalm 38 King David points to Jehovah Rapha as the God who heals us of the physical and emotional burden we carry over the guilt of our past sins.  Here is what Ava said to our family this morning:

Guilt is more than a bad feeling.  It can cause physical complications such as hypertension, insomnia, or ulcers.  More importantly, guilt can destroy relationships with others and with the Lord.

David understood the physical and emotional burden of his sin.  We feel his pain and guilt in Psalm 38. Anxiousness weighed on his spirit, his wounds festered, and his strength failed.  Yet he wisely did not seek help from family or friends. His only hope or relief was in the Lord.

Today, the Lord is frequently the last place we go for healing. We cover our wounds with a bandage and hope the pain fades as we seek the world’s solutions. Counselors say guilt is old-fashioned baggage that should be discarded. Friends affirm our right to enjoy life without constraint. Alchohol and drugs temporarily deaden the pain. Yet the guilt and pain remain.

All the while, Yahweh Rapha waits for us to turn to Him. We we surrender to the Lord, He will treat the guilt that causes our pain.  He sent His Son for that very purpose.

Only Yaweh Rapha could heal David, and He is the only one who can heal us today.

Too often we try to cover up our guilt!  If we come to God in humble submission we will find true forgiveness and healing from the guilt of our past sins.  Maybe, just maybe we will find that our physical health will improve too!

If you would like to speak with a biblical counselor at Kitwe Church please email us at or call 0976153466.

Phil Hunt

Characteristics of a Model Church for a Modern World

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What comes to mind when you hear the word “church”? A building with a steeple and a cross? A denomination with ecclesiastical hierarchy?  There was a time when I was boy that I would have told you that the first thing I thought of when I heard the word “church” was boring!

What is this thing called the church?

Whatever the church is we know that it is something very important to God!

  • He loved the church
  • He died for the church
  • He rose again for the church
  • He lives for the church
  • He is the Head of the church
  • He is coming back for the church

So whatever this thing is… it must be very important.  If the church is so important that God would send His Son to suffer and die for it, then there is no way we can “play church.”  While playing with one another I have heard my kids say, “let’s do pretend church.”  While it may be cute for kids to “pretend church” it is sad when adults do the same!

Before we answer the question, “What is the church?” we must answer another question:

What is a Christian?

  1. A Christian is someone who “has been reconciled to God in Christ.” (What is a Healthy Church, Dever. p.23)
  2. A Christian is someone who by virtue of his reconciliation with God, has been reconciled to God’s people. (ibid. p.24)

This is where the Great Commandment comes in:  You shall love the Lord with all… and your neighbor as yourself. Upon this hangs all the law and the prophets. (Mt. 22:34-40)

The church is a people, not a place!

The word church (47) is “Ecclesia” meaning “a called out assembly.” These are people rich and poor, black and white and every shade in between who were estranged from God and one another, but who now share something profound in common: The Lord Jesus Christ.

A church is a gathering of Christians for the purpose of displaying God’s glory by becoming increasingly like Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:8-12 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

A church is…

“A group of pardoned rebels whom God wants to use to display his glory before all the heavenly host because they tell the truth about him and look increasingly just like him – holy, loving, united.” (ibid. p.48)

There is much imagery in Scripture to help us understand what the church is: The church is a family, it functions body, it is a field that bears fruit, and it is a temple where Christ dwells.  And we will be looking at each one of these illustrations in the weeks ahead.

“A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God’s character as his character has been revealed in his Word.” (ibid. p.40)

So what are the characteristics of a biblical church?  To answer that question let’s look at the characteristics of the Model Church in Acts chapter two:

CHARACTERISTIC #1: The people who make up the church are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (36-41)

They had responded in saving faith to the gospel message that Peter preached concerning Jesus Christ.

Follow of the narrative in the second chapter of Acts:

  • God got their attention at Pentecost with the speaking in tongues. (5-13)
  • An explanation was given to the phenomenon (14-21)
  • Jesus was preached – the gospel (22-35)
  • The problem was identified – wicked people (hands) (23)
  • Spirit convicted the hearts of men (37)
  • Called to repentance and obedience (38)
  • Promise that this was available to “as many as the Lord our God will call.” (39).  IS GOD CALLING YOU TODAY?
  • They repented of their sin and believed in Jesus. (41)
  • They publicly identified themselves as followers of Jesus Christ through biblical baptism. (41)

Baptism is a symbol that publicly identifies us as a belonging to God, it does not save us.  I wear a wedding band on the third finger of my left hand.  If you are meeting me for the first time in a public place and see that ring on my finger you naturally assume that I am married. The ring does not make me married, but it does identify me as a married man.  So it is with baptism.

Unbelievers are encouraged to attend church services. They watch us worship, they witness the demonstration of our love and unity. This should make them uncomfortable with their own spiritual condition and long to have what we have.

Membership in a local church is restricted to believers. Disunity and arguments are the result when those who serve Christ seek to work in harmony with those who serve Satan.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

CHARACTERISTIC #2: The people who make up the church are committed to Scripture (42b)

The Apostles doctrine are the Apostles teachings and they were committed to them.

What you believe matters!

The issue is not that you are a “person of faith” but that you are a person of faith in what is true. You may have heard the popular idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe just as long as you believe something. That sounds sophisticated and tolerant, but its absolutely absurd! Try that approach in any other field: Mining, mechanics, engineering, travel.  Imagine someone saying, “It really doesn’t matter what I believe about engineering so long as I believe.  Or it doesn’t matter what side of the road I drive on as long as I am sincere.”

Implication #1:  Continuing in the Scripture is a mark of genuine salvation (Mt. 13.3-9)

I Joh 2.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

Implication #2: The church should be a place where the Word of God is proclaimed and explained.

II Ti. 2.2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Implication #3: Commitment to the Apostles doctrine is foundational to the growth and spiritual health of every church. We are united around truth!

I Peter 2.2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Romans 12.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Implication #4: The Apostles Doctrine has been recorded in the NT – this should be taught by all pastors. (Acts 17.11, 2 Ti. 4.2)

Hos 4.6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…

CHARACTERISTIC #3: The people who make up a church are committed to fellowship (42c)

It is the duty of every Christian to stimulate each other to holiness and faithfulness.

There will be no excuse for believers who do not participate in the fellowship of the local church. The core of our fellowship is not primarily our cultural background, or our love of sports, or our employment… the core of fellowship is that we love the same Lord and want to serve Him faithfully.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

CHARACTERISTIC #4: The people who make up a church are committed to being Christ-centered (42d)

The breaking of bread speaks of the Lord’s Supper (Communion).  The bread symbolizes and reminds us of Christ’s body that was broken for us.  The cup reminds us of His blood that was shed for us.  In the “breaking of bread” all believers meet on common ground at the foot of the cross. (Eph. 2.16, Col. 1.20)

Symbolizes unity as we all symbolically partake of the same Lord (Eph. 4.15)

CHARACTERISTIC #5: The people who make up a church are committed to prayer (42e)

They recognize that everything they are and everything that they have comes as a gift from God. They recognize that being in control is an illusion.  In prayer we humble ourselves and admit that we don’t have wisdom so we come to the One who knows everything and seek His help.  In prayer we humble ourselves and admit that we are weak so we come to the One who is all-powerful and seek His help.

“Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.” (Jn. 14.13-14)

The Biblical mandate is to pray at all times. We are to pray for ourselves, pray for others, pray for friends to come and believe in Jesus, pray for God’s purposes to be fulfilled on earth as they are in heaven. (Lk. 18.1, Eph. 6.11, Ro. 12.12, Col. 4.2)

At Kitwe Church we are committed to Scripture, to fellowship, to Christ and to prayer!

Let me conclude by asking you one more question:

Are you part of the church? I could ask the same question this way, Does Christ live in you?

If you have repented of your sins and received Jesus Christ by faith then Christ is producing His character within you.  If you are not part of Christ’s church, please receive Jesus right now!

Download the pdf version of Characteristics Model Church

Marriage: A Picture of Perfect Love

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I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day yesterday. It is meant to be a celebration of love and that applies to all of us in all ages because God is love and he demonstrated his love for all of us. For those of you who are married, I hope it had even more significance to you and that you were able to spend some special time together to invest in your relationship and grow your love. Marriage is a wonderful thing. It is truly the greatest gift God has given us apart from our salvation and today we are going to see why that is so. Whether you are married or not, I am sure all of us have been blessed by those extraordinarily solid messages that inspire and impact us. Today we are going to see why marriage is so special and it might not be what you are thinking. It is because marriage is designed by God to be a picture of his perfect love for his bride – the church.

You might say, “Marriage? A picture of perfect love? Oh, I don’t know about that. Marriage has some rough times.” I agree, every marriage has its share of dark valleys, but that actually contributes to the picture of perfect love and I hope by the end of today you will see that even more clearly and have a newfound appreciation for the institution of marriage.

When people think of Zambia, what one image comes to mind for most people? The Majestic Victoria Falls. That image is instantly associated with this country. It is on nearly every website and brochure. It is an icon.

There are lots of ways we try to capture such images. Here are some drawings that my children did of Victoria Falls. Not bad! We can all identify it, but a photograph makes the image clearer. Most of us love to use tiny, digital cameras when we travel to a place like Victoria Falls. They are easy to carry, but the larger and more complex the image we want to capture the more it becomes nearly impossible to represent it well and completely with our little cameras. Even when we use a big camera it just doesn’t do it justice. No single photograph can show someone how magnificent Victoria Falls is. The shortcomings of the photographer do nothing to diminish the majesty and natural wonder of that amazing place. But, some photos do give a better idea than others of how majestic it is. We all want those clearer kinds of pictures of Victoria Falls, right?

Well, God intended marriage to be the earthly picture of his divine love. God designed marriage to be a picture of the love Christ has for His bride – the Church. The question that each married person must ask is, “how clear and well-focused is the portrait of Jesus that our marriage is displaying?” Just like no photo will fully capture the magnificence of Victoria Falls so no marriage will fully display the glory of Christ’s love for the church. But I do want my marriage to offer the clearest, most well focused portrait possible.

For those of us who are not yet married, but are open to the possibility of it some day then we must be preparing ourselves to be the cameras that capture the image of Jesus and put it on display in our marriages. The more prepared you are now, the more success you will have in your future marriage. For those of you who have already experienced the joys of marriage, but your husband or wife has passed on I hope that you will be reminded of good memories and that you will see your marriage in a new light that makes you appreciate it even more. My prayer is that each of us regardless of our marital status will leave here with a greater appreciation for marriage and what it symbolizes.

In Ephesians 5:22-33 we find what is probably the greatest passage of scripture on the husband and wife, for that wonderful union of man & woman in the bonds of marriage is likened unto the union of Christ and His church.

Since God is love and the Bible is God’s word, you would expect to see this love in all 66 books of the Bible. This is certainly true of the book of Ephesians.

  • In Eph. 1:3-5 we see that God loved us. This is the same message we heard in Week 1 of this series: Finding Perfect Love.
  • As a result of God’s love, we love God which was the focus of the second message entitled “Responding to Perfect Love” (Eph. 3:14-19)
  • As a result of loving God we also love fellow mankind, which we saw in last week’s message, “Getting a Handle on Love that Never Fails.” We see that same message echoed in Eph. 4:32-5:2, 15-21. This passage sets the tone of what we will look at today. The tone is one of submission in all our relationships.
  • Now, it today’s passage this love is put on display in the most dramatic of fashions within a committed marriage relationship between one man and one woman.

Ephesians 5:22-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

In this passage the apostle Paul gives instructions both to the husband & to the wife. Let’s begin with the man. 

The Husbands’ love must accurately portray the love of Jesus.

Sacrificial Love v. 25

  • We all know that nothing is easier than saying words of love, and nothing harder than living them day by day.
  • Jesus promised His love & then proved it on the cross.
  • He gave himself up for the church. What did that look like? He left the comfort of heaven and the praise of angels to come here and give himself up in two ways.
  • He lived for us:
  • In Mark 10:45 Jesus said of himself, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He came to serve us!
  • He had no home. He traveled and slept on the road and in other people’s homes.
  • He had no privacy. Twelve men were always with him.
  • He had no personal time (the disciples woke him on the boat, the sick would interrupt his teaching, his holidays for rest turned into ministry times).
  • People were always coming to him with their problems.
  • Jesus was a king without a kingdom. He made himself a servant. Read Philippians 2:5-8.
  • He died for us:
  • In John 10:17-18 Jesus said, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
  • In Luke 23:24 Jesus looks down at his murderers and prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Some of those people later became his followers. The Roman soldier confessed that same day, “Surely this man was the son of God.”

Men, what do we sacrifice in order to demonstrate love to our wives? How do we live for them? How do we die for them?

Jesus loved sacrificially. He lived for his bride and he died for his bride. But his love is also a sanctifying love.

Sanctifying Love v. 26-27

  • The reason Jesus gave up his life for his bride was to sanctify his church. The word sanctify means to set-apart for something special. He gave himself up in order to set his people apart as special rather than common.
  • Think back to your wedding day. That day in your marriage ceremony you were set apart for each other. The husband is set apart to belong to the wife and the wife is set apart to belong to the husband.
  • Now, let’s think of what we do with things we have that are set apart as special to us. We don’t let them get damaged. We keep them clean. Jesus cleansed his church by the washing of water with the Word.
  • Husbands, how can we follow in the pattern of Jesus? We should be the spiritual head of the household, not just the administrative head of the household.
  • The love of the husband for his wife ought to be cleansing to both her and him so that they are both becoming more like Christ.
  • Every part of married life should have this effect. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 teaches us that even their sexual relationship as man and wife should be so controlled by God that it becomes a means of spiritual enrichment as well as personal enjoyment.
  • As husbands it should be our goal to work in cooperation with Jesus to ensure we and our wives stand before him as holy, blameless, without spot and wrinkle. Spiritually, we want to be just as radiant and beautiful to him as our wives were to us physically on the day we married them.
  • So, it is a sacrificial love, a sanctifying love and it is also a satisfying love.

Satisfying Love 28-30

  • This love is so amazing that is actually makes two become one: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Whatever each one does to the other, he does to himself or herself. It is mutually satisfying.
  • When the husband loves his wife the way Christ loved the church then he will find that as he loves her he strengthens her and nourishes her. A well-nourished person is not hungry.
  • Pastor Warren Wiersbe said it this way. “There should be no starvation for love in the Christian home, for the husband and the wife should so love each other that their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met. If both are submitted to the Lord, and to each other, they will be so satisfied that they will not be tempted to look anywhere else for fulfillment.”
  • Husbands, what does all this mean for us?
  • We must live for our wives.
  • We provide for them. – financially, emotionally, physically,
  • We serve them. – We must sacrifice our hobbies, our rest, our prized possessions in order to free up the time and resources to serve our wives.
  • We must die for our wives. How do we do that? In several ways. We must die to our selves by dying to our desires and dying to our pride.
  • We must protect them by being the spiritual heads of our homes. – Praying together, reading the bible together, making sure everyone is going to church, setting a godly example in word and in deed
  • We must protect them from physical danger. – When we hear a noise at night it is our job to check it out, not theirs. If we travel we must make sure they are secure while we are away. Buy them a gun and teach them how to use it. Oh, and don’t forget jujitsu.
  • Now wives, if your husband loves you that way then wouldn’t you find it easy to love him back? Let’s look to verses 22-24 to see how you can do that.

The Wife’s love must accurately portray the love of the Church for Jesus.

A wife’s love for her husband must be submissive and respectful.

Submissive Love v.22

Now, we must address the negative connotation that comes to most people’s minds when                           they hear this word submission.

What submission is not:

  • Many view this term as demeaning and showing inferiority. This is not the Biblical meaning we see in this text. Submission due to inferiority, fear, or subjection in marriage is a distortion of God’s intended picture of Christ and the church.
  • Mankind is Christ’s highest creation. He sees us as valuable, not inferior. His sacrifice on the cross is evidence of that.
  • Christ came to bring freedom (Galatians 5:1).
  • Christ came to conquer fear – Perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18)

What submission is:

  • Both genders are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28).
  • Both genders are heirs together of eternal life (Galatians 3:28-29)
  • This passage is not teaching that all women must submit to all men. It says, “to your own husband.”
  • This submission of a wife to her husband’s leadership is for the health of the marriage relationship.
  • This is God ordering the marriage relationship according to his design. Both husband and wife are equally valuable, but they have different roles to play. It is not an issue of inferiority. It is an issue of function. It is not an issue of domination, but of God ordained authority.

Why is a wife’s submission to her husband reasonable?

First, because the entire context is one of submission. Remember, all Christians are supposed to submit to one another (v. 21). This is putting the needs of others above your own. This is the agape love Phil spoke of from 1 Corinthians 13 last week. If we as Christians who may not even know each other all that well should submit to one another it is only reasonable that we submit to the order God has established in our homes rather than assert our selfishness on those closest to us. Wives, this is not subjugation. We submit to one another. If a husband is going to be the leader that God expects him to be he will have to submit the meeting of his desires and needs in order that he can first attend to meeting the desires and needs of his wife. The husband serves his wife by loving and leading. The wife serves her husband by respecting and submitting.

Second, since marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church the wife must submit because of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

As we have just seen, Jesus came as a servant who sacrificed by his life and his death to show his perfect love. When the Christian wife submits herself to Christ and lets Him be Lord of her life, she will have no difficulty submitting to her husband. She is demonstrating her trust in Jesus for all her needs and her welfare. His sacrifice has proven that he can be trusted. Now we must obey Him.

In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” These were the words of Jesus to his bride, the church. He already proved his live sacrificially. He now says that he expects that his love would be returned to him in the form of submissive obedience to his commands. One of those commands is that the wife submit to the leadership of her husband.

Third, God designed the marriage relationship in such a way that the man would be the head of the home because he portrays the headship of Jesus Christ over the church. No institution can function with two heads. There always needs to be one person that is ultimately responsible for the welfare of that institution. Everyone in the organization works in different roles and functions for the success of the team, but there can only be one head.

Now think about the truly well run institutions. They operate by the philosophy that the head of that organization is a servant to all those that they lead. The head protects those under his leadership by taking responsibility for the failures, but he gives credit to the individuals who worked hard to bring about the successes.

  • The husband and father should serve his wife and children for the health of their family.
  • The husband and father should protect them, encourage them, and praise them.
  • Think of it this way. We have already looked at the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He has made it clear what he expects our homes to be like. Who did he put as the head of the home to ensure that it functions the way it is designed? The man. So when there are problems, as the big boss, who is Jesus going to come to when corrections are needed? The man. Who is he holding accountable and disciplining in order to bring about corrections when needed? The man. Women, do you see how Jesus is lovingly protecting you by putting you under the authority of your husband? He is putting a buffer between you and the discipline that is needed. This is a blessing for you. Why would you want the responsibility that God has chosen to give to your husband? Your husband must bear that weight. This should cause submitting to your husband to be a joy and relief. Mandy defines submission this way: Ducking so God can hit your husband.
  • This is God’s design. If we try to use God’s creation of marriage in a way that contradicts his design then we can expect dysfunction and destruction. If we use his creation according to his design we can expect function and construction.

Respectful Love 33

  • We have dealt with the issue of submission, but I think it is evident to all of us that there can be submission without respect simply for the sake of survival. This is not an accurate portrayal of Christ and the Church.
  • We don’t just want to survive in our marriages. We don’t want to tolerate something just to get through it. We want to experience vibrant, loving, romantic, satisfying marriages. Satisfying emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
  • This is not something that is unattainable, but wives it will take more than just submission. It will take respect.
  • You must value him. He needs to know you are proud to be his wife. He needs to know that you recognize his accomplishments; that you appreciate when he sacrifices his own needs and desires to meet yours; that you feel secure because of his provision and protection.
  • God has created us as men and women to be different but complimentary. The highest goal is not independence, but rather interdependence. We need each other.
  • Man’s greatest need is respect. Woman’s greatest need is security.
  • God has even designed us to relate to one another in a cyclical pattern that causes us to grow deeper in love as the cycle continues. When a man feels respected he will pour more energy into providing security for his wife. When the wife feels secure the respect she has for her husband will continue to grow in such a way that is evident to her husband and everyone else.

Wives, what does that mean for you?

  • Stop battling with your husband for control in your marriage. Trust God’s plan. Trust your husband’s love and submit to his leadership.
  • Duck so God can hit your husband.
  • Respect is choosing to overlook the irritations and emphasize the admirable.
  • Don’t make comments that would embarrass him in front of others. Don’t be putting him down or comparing him to others in an unfavorable way.
  • Be polite – Say Please and thank you.
  • Be gentle. Don’t be harsh, demanding, complaining, bossy, nagging.
  • Be responsive. This is especially important in the physical realm of your marriage. Never use sex as a tool to control him or a weapon to punish him.

The Devotion of Marriage must accurately portray the church being separated from the world.

The Sanctity of Marriage v. 31-32

  • There are approximately 7 billion people on the earth right now. Let’s say that is 3.5 billion men and 3.5 billion women. When we get married, we make a commitment to remain faithful to one specific person out of the 3.5 billion others. We forsake all others to cling to just one until death separates us. There should be no adultery taking place. Marriage should be pure and undefiled.   This too is a picture of Christ and the church.
  • The church literally means, “the called out ones.” God has called us out from the world to be his own special people. We still live in the world, but we are set apart for God. When a Christian lives like an unbeliever the Bible compares it to adultery. A worldly Christian is committing spiritual adultery against Jesus, the husband of the church.

The Purpose of Marriage

Okay, so marriage means that you have been set apart for one another. But now we must ask what He designed it for? God established marriage for many reasons.

  • Functionally, our earthly marriages exist to meet the needs of one another:
  • It meets our emotional needs – Philia- affectionate regard between equals (Gen. 2:18 – It is not good that man should be alone)
  • It meets our social needs – Storge – familial love especially toward children or parents (not found in scripture) (Gen. 1:28 – It provides the atmosphere for raising children and continuing the human race).
  • It meet our physical needs – Eros-sexual passion (not found in scripture) (1 Cor. 7:1-3) – It is the proper place for a man and a woman to fulfill the God-given sexual desires.
  • It meets our spiritual needs Agape – self-sacrificing love; the highest form of love (Eph. 5:22-33) – As the husband and wife experience with each other the submission to Christ and the love of Christ.
  • Symbolically: When we choose to become a Christian it is like accepting Christ’s proposal of marriage. In the Christian life we experience the joy of that relationship as he meets our need for security, identity, and righteousness.
  • The highest calling of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy his presence forever.
  • Symbolically, marriage exists to display the covenant keeping love between Christ and the Church. This is its ultimate purpose of our earthly marriages.


Wow! What an amazing thought to think that our marriages are intended to be a picture of Christ and the church. If people were to look at your marriage, how accurate of a portrayal would it be to the perfect love that Christ has for the church?

I am sure that question convicts us all. I am sure that there are some areas each of us sees that requires some improvement, both in our relationships with our spouses and our relationship with our Savior.

Let met leave you with these encouraging reminders:

  1. Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow of romance. It is caring as much about the welfare & happiness of your marriage partner as about your own. But real love is not total absorption in each other. It is looking outward in the SAME direction – together as one flesh.
  2. Love make burdens lighter – because you divide It makes joys more intense – because you share them. It makes you stronger – so you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone.
  3. To the husband the command is to Love & Lead your wife.
  4. To the wife the command is to – submit to and respect your husband.
  5. What you promised on your wedding day must be renewed and rededicated every day.
  6. God alone is the one who can give you a strong marriage. You can’t do it in your own strength but he can produce if for you when you both submit to him.
  7. As long as you obey God’s command and apply God’s Word to your marriage – you will truly know what it is to live in the joys of Holy Matrimony.

Download the mp3 audio of Marriage – A Picture of Perfect Love

Download the pdf copy of A Picture of Perfect Love

Getting A Handle On A Love That Never Fails

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On April 6, 2000, Ricky and Toni Sexton were taken hostage inside their Wytheville, Virginia, home by a fugitive couple on a crime spree. Toni had taken her poodle outside when Dennis Lewis, 37, and Angela Tanner, 20, roared into her driveway, pointed pistols at her, and yelled at her to get back inside the house.

Inside the house, the Sextons turned their hostage experience into an opportunity to demonstrate Christian love. The Sextons listened to their captors’ troubles, fed them, showed them gospel videos, read to them from the Bible, and prayed and cried with them.

During negotiations with the police, Ricky Sexton refused his own release when Lewis and Tanner suggested that they might end the standoff by committing suicide. The standoff had an unusual ending. Before surrendering to the police, Angela Tanner left $135 and a note for the Sextons that read: “Thank you for your hospitality. We really appreciate it. I hope he gets better. Wish all luck & love. Please accept this. It really is all we have to offer. Love, Angela and Dennis.”  (Citation: Gary Yates, Roanoke, Virginia; source: The Roanoke Times (4-8-00), p.A-1)

Genuine love has a power to overcome the greatest obstacles!

But what is it? The world is very confused about love: Everyone is searching for it but few actually know what it is. A quick scan of  the famous Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations reveals that poets, writers and authors have used the word “love in over 1300 different ways!

Think of how we use this word:

  • “I love you!”
  • “I love my jeans!
  • “I love my dog!”
  • “I love reading.”
  • “I love my kids.”
  • “I love music.”
  • “I love your hair!”
  • “I love chocolate”
  • “I love horses.”
  • “I love my husband”
  • “I love my iPhone…

What in the world are we talking about?

Well let’s be clear on what we are NOT talking about!  We are not talking about what the world refers to as “love”.  The world markets a selfish version of love that says, “I love you because you give me pleasure, stop giving me pleasure and I will stop loving you.”  To the world, love is generally thought of as something you get.  There was a Greek word used in the day of the New Testament that had such a negative connotation that it did not even make it into Scripture.  That is ‘eros’ from which we get the world erotic.

We are also NOT talking about ‘storge’ the love that we have for our family – the kind of love a parent has for a child.

There is a famous city in the USA named after another kind of love that we are also NOT talking about!  Philadelphia is known as ‘the city of brotherly love’. The Greek word ‘phileo’ refers to the love shared between good friends.

We are trying to get a handle on a different kind of love.  A love that supersedes sexual love, familial love and friendship love.  In fact the love we are looking at today makes all of these others work as God intends.  The love being discussed in our text in 1 Corinthians 13 is ‘agapeo’ and it refers to God’s love. This is a love that moves us to respond to someone’s needs without any expectation at all that we will receive anything in return.

A world without love is a messy place:  Our world is a mess because it does not know what real love. A Christian who has received God’s love and forgiveness are supposed to live in that love and live out that love in their relationships.  Yet sometimes its not that way is it?

Love can grow cold because of the influence of sin and evil around us. Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

This had happened at Corinth. Instead of being God’s salt in Corinth, these Christians were being flavored by the culture around them. Instead of penetrating Corinth with a spirit of godliness, Corinth’s spirit of godlessness was penetrating the Church.

They were infected by materialism, pride, antagonism, selfishness, compromise, indulgence, hatred, sexual immorality, jealousy, and virtually every other sin imaginable.

Of all their failures, their greatest failure was a failure to love. Just as love covers a multitude of sins, the lack of love causes a multitude of sins and that is was what was happening in Corinth! So Paul tackles this issue of love and sets the record straight.


Paul begins by pointing out that spiritual gifts, achievements and great acts of sacrifice are no substitute for love.

Eloquence without love is nothing more than a distracting nuisance. It is said that Adolph Hitler moved a nation by eloquence and amazing rhetoric, resulting in the death of 6 million Jews during WWII.

“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head” Ephesians 4:15

Great prophetic ability without love is nothing… and it is with wisdom and faith.  Without love as the foundation for the exercise of these spiritual gifts they are nothing!  Without the love of God we minister the powerlessness of a dead faith to a dying world.

Amazing acts of benevolence without love when totaled up equal zero! We might throw a little money at the less fortunate now and then, but if that is not motivated by love it is a waste.

Even martyrdom has no value if it does not flow from love.  We live in a world where nearly every week we hear of a suicide bomber martyring themselves for a religious cause!  Paul is saying its all nothing! There is not profit, no usefulness.


The problem in Corinth was not that the church lacked spiritual gifts, they had them all!  The problem was that the exercise of their gifts were not springing from love! Paul does not define love for the Corinthians, instead he shows them how true love behaves.

He lists 15 descriptions of how love behaves:

  1. Love suffers long (4).  Love is very slow to lose patience. It is not easily irritated, angry, and does not have a quick temper.
  2. Love is kind (4). Love does not withhold good when it is has the power to do it. (Lk 6:27-35, Eph. 4:32). As a young teenager, my mother was working a minimum wage job, my dad was in and out of jail and the mental hospital.  Some person unknown to me till this day went and paid my school fees so that I could attend a Christian School.  That is the kindness of love!
  3. Love does not envy (4). Envy is the uneasiness of mind caused by the consideration of a good we desire, but someone else has. If you have heard the fairy tale of Snow White you remember the queen would ask her magic mirror everyday, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all?” “You are most fair beautiful queen.” One day when the step-daughter, Snow White was grown, the mirror replied, “O lady queen thou still art fair, but none to Snow White can compare.” Queen sought to kill Snow White.  That is how envy responds… and love does not envy!
  4. Love does not parade itself (4). It does not seek to make an impression or create an image for personal gain. We live in the day of PR agents and selfies on Facebook!  Love doesn’t try to create an image.
  5. Love is not puffed up (4).  That simply means that love is not self-centered. It does not expect life to revolve around itself. (Gal. 5:13)
  6. Love is not rude (5). Love has good manners and is respectful of others. Love shows this respect regardless of the differences that we have with other people.  They may not be from our culture or speak our language, or have the same understandings or values that we have, but love shows them respect!  Parents we are to teach our children to be respectful of all.  How do your children speak to the hired help?  Love is never rude!
  7. Love does not seek its own (5) Love does not pursue selfish advantage over the other. A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.’ Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”  And it’s not just Kevin… we talk about this being a “dog-eat-dog world!”  In business we are not to seek selfish advantage over others.  If our product is for their benefit then by all means convince them to buy and use it, but love never misrepresents the benefits in order to gain advantage over someone.  Pay a fair price for a product or service.  How can we pay our hired help below standard wages and say that we love?
  8. Love is not easily provoked (5). It is not easily angered, touchy. John Wesley said that being provoked is “The very first rising of disgust at those who injure you.”  Love doesn’t get provoked easily!
  9. Love thinks no evil (5). Love does not keep account of past wrongs. It does not review wrongs which have been forgiven.  Love does not jump to negative conclusions about others, it chooses rather to believe the best until proven otherwise.
  10. Love does not rejoice in iniquity (6).  Love doesn’t compare itself with others in order to justify itself. It doesn’t say, “everyone’s doing it.” (Mt 7:13-14)
  11. Love rejoices in the truth (6) Love is glad when truth prevails.
  12. Love bears all things (7). It knows no limit to its forbearance. It has the ability to live with the inconsistencies of others.
  13. Love believes all things (7). It knows no end to its trust in God toward the other person.
  14. Love hopes all things (7). It has perfect confidence that God is responsible and in control of the actions of the other.
  15. Love endures all things (7).  Love has unlimited endurance. It is able to endure all obstacles and love in the face of unreturned love.


Why does love never fail?

Because God never fails – in all of His attributes he is perfect, unfailingly consistent!

Because Christ never fails. Those who He loved, He loved to the end, to death (Jn 13:1, Eph. 3:17-18)

Because the Spirit never fails: Romans 5:5“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”.

God’s love won’t cave in when unexpected storms come (Mt. 7:27-28). Human love reacts to the situation, God’s love is built upon the rock, it won’t fall. Marriages are failing because they are built upon the world’s kind of love.


Because this love is what God is!

1 John 4:7,8. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Because love enables us to keep all the rest of God’s commandments.

“Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:37-40.

Because love is what identifies us as Christians to a watching world.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.

How can this love be active in your life?

  1. Receive God’s love and forgiveness. Love is impossible apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.  Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by repenting of your sin and believing in Him?
  2. Recognize your lack of love as sin.

    ““Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:4,5.

  3. Choose to obey God’s command to love. Love is a constant choice to obey and serve!  For that we need God’s Spirit empowering us from within!  Daily walking in close fellowship with God so that His unlimited and everlasting love flows through us to everyone we come in contact with.

Philip Hunt

Download a pdf copy of Getting A Handle On A Love That Never Fails

Responding to Perfect Love

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Last week we began a new series on the theme of love.

The need for love is a powerful thing isn’t it? I mean everyone needs love. Even the toughest of men who act as if they don’t need anything or anyone still crave to be loved by someone. That is why every action film ever made always has a subplot of romantic love woven between all the scenes of martial arts, bullets, and bombs. We can’t turn on the television, computer, or radio without being bombarded with the world’s messages of love. Therapists even include it as one of man’s basic needs. But you know, we don’t need to site all the movies, music, and academic studies to prove man’s need of love. We all know it, because it is inside of us. We feel it. There is no doubt that we all need and crave love. That is why this series is so important. There is an old song entitled, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” I think that is how most people feel. So where do we find love – perfect love? It will be found in the Bible – God’s love letter to us – his most precious creation.

Last Sunday’s message was entitled “finding perfect love.” Phil took us to I John 4 where we saw three important truths. (1) the Person of love – God is love. (2) the purpose of love – so we can know & abide in Christ and so we can have confidence on the day of judgment (3) the power of love – it frees us from phobias, frees us from torment, and frees us from doubt..

Today’s message is entitled “Responding to Perfect Love.

Last week Phil started us off with a question. He asked, “Do you love God?” This morning, I want to start us off with another question: “Does God love you?”

You say, of course he does. Phil said so last week. Okay, but we need this head knowledge to transfer to our hearts as well. This is a truly fundamental question. It is one thing to say, “God so loved the world.” That is a theological truth of John 3:16 and yes we are part of the world. But we need to make it very personal. Do you feel, do you sense, do you believe with absolute certainty that God loves you?

This week I asked my son Warrick, “Do you know that I love you?” He said, “Yeah, but not all the time. Sometime you are angry when I disobey and I think you hate me.” I responded, “Yes, it makes me sad and angry when you disobey, but I will always love you no matter what. I will never, ever hate you.” He smiled and went to bed with peace in his little heart.

Maybe when it comes to your relationship with God you feel a lot like Warrick. “Yeah, I know you say you love me God, but there are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t obey and sometimes when bad things happen to me I feel like you hate me.” Have you ever felt that way? I think we all have. So the question today is, “Does God love you?” This question is of the highest importance because if we don’t believe that God loves us then we will never allow ourselves to receive his perfect love.

If you have been to this Bible study for any length of time, you have heard us speak about this perfect love of God. When we are presented with a message we then have to respond to it. Our goal and prayer is that each person who attends this Bible study will research the claim that God loves you and that each person will eventually come to the point where you choose to accept this love – to receive it – to make it your own. But people do not receive things that they think are fake. They may tolerate it. They may refuse it, but they don’t receive it. So, today’s question is very important for you.

Last week Phil closed our time by looking at 1 John 4: 19 “We love him because he first loved us. “ There is a cause and an effect. God’s love for us causes us to love him. That takes us back to last week’s question: Do you love God? I mean do you adore him. Does your heart crave him? Do you invest time in building a relationship with him? If not, it is likely that you do not fully grasp how much he loves you.

So many people have a misconception about Christianity. They think of it primarily as a religion – a list of do’s and don’ts to gain the favor of a harsh, but all-powerful God. That is not what Christianity is all about! Christianity is primarily a relationship – a relationship between God and man. It is a relationship of love.

By the end of today I hope that you will be totally convinced that God LOVES you! I mean, that he is totally crazy about you! And I hope that by the end of the message today your heart will cry out – I want to love Him too! I hope you will come running to him saying, “This love that you offer me is the love I have looked for all of my life and nothing, absolutely NOTHING will keep me from this love.”

First, let’s be reminded of God’s Perfect Love for us, but let’s make this personal. God love’s you! How do I know this? More importantly, how can you believe this? Because God demonstrated his perfect love for you (VIDEO: “Sacrifice” from

God demonstrated his perfect love for you!

Romans 5:6-8 “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

From this passage we see some amazing truths about God’s love for you.

God pursued you when you were unlovely! Vs. 6-8a

None of us are naturally godly. None of us are naturally lovely. We are sinners who are difficult to love because of our own selfishness, and yet God loves us anyway.

God sacrificed for you! Vs. 8b

Jesus left the comforts and joy of heaven to come to the harshness of life on earth.  Jesus left the praise of angels to endure the accusations and mockery of those he came to save. Jesus did the messy work that no one else could do.

What do I mean by that? Perfect love is not clean & sterile. That is romance. That is a pleasant emotion. It is a kind of love. It is pleasant and it is fun. But it is not perfect love. Perfect love is “Agape love,” which Phil spoke of last week. Agape is one of 4 Greek words for our 1 English word “love.” The essence of agape love is self- sacrifice. Agape love is not a feeling; it’s a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject. Agape is a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. This is perfect love!

When Mandy and I were teenagers there was a man named Joshua Harris who wrote several excellent books on love. Here is what he said about perfect love: “The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love.’”

Have any of you seen the movie, “The Passion of the Christ?” Well, that movie has put the price of God’s love on display. Perfect love is messy! I am going to show you 2 photos on the next slide, but be warned. It is not pretty. If you can’t handle the sight of blood you might want to close your eyes for just a second. You see, perfect love is bloody. Perfect love is spoken of in beautiful words but demonstrated by painful sacrifice. This is the price of loving me. This is the price of loving you. It is the price that Jesus willingly paid to demonstrate the love of God – WHILE we were still sinners. This is perfect love.

Well, now that we’ve clearly seen the demonstration of God’s love – I hope you are becoming more convinced that God loves you. But now…

You must recognize the barriers preventing perfect love.

As Nathan said last week during our worship time. Each of us was created with a void – a hole that only God could fill. He created us to crave a relationship with Him that no human being could ever satisfy. We have just seen the great lengths to which he went to prove his love. So the question we must ask is, “Why wouldn’t a person respond by accepting it? Love is being offered! Why would you refuse it?

Well, back in August 1996, a new family with 2 teenage girls came to visit the church I attended. I new how intimidating it could be to visit for the first time so I always went and greeted all visitors to try to help them feel welcome & fit in. One of those girls was Mandy, who is obviously now my wife. Now I have already asked her permission to share this information with you today, so don’t worry. We won’t have marital problems after this message. On that day when we first met I tried to be loving by welcoming her, but it was very obvious she didn’t want anything to do with me…or anyone else at this church. The next day was the first day of our school year. As it turned out, she attended my school. Again, I wanted to help her feel welcome in a very large school. I tried being loving, but she made it very clear that she didn’t want anything to do with me at church or at school. Well the weeks turned into months and the more we saw each other the more she could see that I was sincere and we became friends. Love had triumphed! It was during that time that I discovered she wanted to be a missionary to Africa, just as I did. Suddenly a new kind of love started working in my heart – I developed a romantic interest in her, but again it was obvious she wanted nothing to do with me in that way. I figured that our “friendship love” was as far as things would ever go. Still, I would occasionally test the waters to see if she might be interested. Time after time I was rejected and my suggestions of dating were shot down. It took about 18 months before she became open to that idea. Then we ended up going off to separate colleges. Our potential “romantic love” would have to wait another 12 months. Well, since we are married now, I think you know how the story goes from there. The point of that story is that there were many barriers that I had to overcome as I pursued a loving relationship with Mandy.

So too, there are many obstacles that Christ faces in each of our hearts as he pursues a loving relationship with us.

Fear in our hearts.

Disbelief that such love exists/fear of disappointment. Perhaps others have let us down. Perhaps we’ve seen bad examples in our families of people who professed love, but didn’t live it out. Now this has caused us to be skeptical of God’s love as well.

Disbelief because of painful experiences in life. You want to believe that God is loving, but you wonder how can it be when there is suffering in your life. You ask, “If God loves me then why did he allow my husband to get cancer?” “If he loves me then why did he allow the thieves to come through and attack us before taking our things?”

Fear of rejection – Perhaps you believe such love exists, but you do not view yourself as worthy to receive it. You think you are too bad, that you have sinned too much for him to love you. These fears are a major hindrance to receiving God’s love. But, there is another type of barrier.

Pride in our hearts

Don’t want to be seen as “needing this love.” Someone who feels this way might say things like…

Christianity is a crutch. I am self-sufficient. To receive God’s love by putting faith in Jesus will be admitting I need someone other than myself.

I don’t want someone to save me. I want to save myself. I am a good person. I don’t need to be “forgiven.” I’m insulted that he thinks I need forgiveness. If I become a Christian it first means I must admit I am not the good person I have always thought of myself as being. It means I admit I am a sinner who has offended a holy God and I need to apologize. I need to ask forgiveness and I need to repent of (turn away from) the sins I enjoy.

Don’t want love from this person -“Jesus”. I admit I need love.  I admit I am a sinner. But I don’t want Jesus. I don’t want “this God.” I want one that is more fashionable. I want one that serves me. I want one that let’s love be a one-way street. He loves me. He serves me. He exists for my happiness and therefore will not require any love in return. Here’s the problem with that. You are describing a slave, a servant, a genie in a bottle – but you are not describing God. By very definition, God is the all-powerful creator worthy of worship. He has every right to demand love and service from us. We don’t have the right to demand it of him. He could make it a one-way street flowing from us to him, but in his love and mercy and grace he has made it a two way street.

To really drive this point home, let’s read Romans 5:6-8 again, but this time make it personal by replacing the word “we” with our own names.

“6 For while “Jamie” was still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly “Jamie”. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for “Jamie” in that while “Jamie” was still a sinner, Christ died for “Jamie”.”

Did you insert your name there? It is true. His expression of love is that personal and that real.

We have now, seen these are the barriers that hinder us from experiencing the love we crave. Each of us face barriers to God’s love. Before we move on, I want you to identify which one is the one that is a hindrance to your relationship with God. Now, let’s quickly address the solutions:

  • Fear

1 John 4:18 “Perfect love casts out fear.”

  • Pride

James 4:8-9 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God and he will draw near to you.”

Now, with our barriers being identified let’s be reminded that God has demonstrated his love for us. He continues to demonstrate it in a millions ways from the moment of our birth. Everyday he shows kindness. Every day he gives us blessings we don’t deserve. Everyday he patiently, kindly waits for us to look past all the negative experiences of life to see just how much he loves us. He started his pursuit of you the very day Adam & Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for committing the first sin. He intensified that pursuit the day he was born as the baby in Bethlehem. He then demonstrated it in the clearest way possible as he hung on the cross. He now keeps exposing you to his daily love and kindness waiting for you to respond to his love. He is offering you a relationship of love with Him – the creator of the world – but he will not force it upon you. It has to be your choice. He knows all the love he wants to pour out on you. He has paid your debt. He has made his proposal. Now he awaits your response.

You Must Respond to God’s Perfect Love for you.

Acts 17:30-34 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

In that passage we see the three possible responses we can give God today.

  • Refuse him – vs. 32a
  • Research him more vs. 32b
  • Receive him – vs. 34

Earlier we said that God has been pursuing you because he wants a relationship with you. Some of you may have chosen to refuse Christ earlier in your life, but God has continued to gently lovingly pursue you. He knew that moving too far too fast ends up pushing you away, but he has been pursuing you and maybe you are reconsidering his offer. Some of you have been coming here to the Bible study for a long time. You had bad experiences before maybe at another church that reduced Christianity to a list of do’s and don’ts. But you have been researching Jesus more and you are convinced he is all he claims to be. You have heard of his offer of salvation from Phil, from Nathan, and from Dave. Now you are ready, but you wonder if the offer of entering a relationship with him still stands of if you have waited too long. The answer is no. It is available to you today. Perhaps you are ready to receive him.

Earlier I told you about how I pursued Mandy because I desired a relationship with her. Well, when I was absolutely convinced she was the right one and I believed she felt the same way I took the biggest risk of my life. I asked her if she would marry me. It was in June of 2000 and it happened right here in Zambia at Victoria Falls. That day I confessed again my love for her and then asked her to make a decision. Would she spend the rest of her life with me letting me love her, care for her, provide for and protect her. Thankfully she said yes. Today, Jesus is asking you that same question. Will you spend the rest of your life in a relationship with him – letting him love you, care for you, provide for you, and protect you. Well, here is how you respond if you want to receive him as your Savior.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

As we come to a close today, I would like to do something just a bit different. I want to give you some time before leaving here to think through what you have just heard. I want to give you an opportunity before leaving here to respond to God’s perfect love. I am going to play a song as background music while you take this opportunity to reflect on what you have heard today and spend some time talking to God in prayer. Perhaps this is your opportunity to respond to God and accept his perfect love. Perhaps you need to keep researching him and his claims. Perhaps you are already a Christian but you want to thank him for his great love that we have been reminded of today. Whatever your response, let’s spend some time talking to him before we dismiss.

Jamie Smith

Download the .pdf version of Responding to Perfect Love

Finding Perfect Love – The Test

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Do you love God?

We live in a nation of religious people, people who claim to know and love God. Perhaps you consider yourself religious? Often the hearts of religious people are in love with the world. They are influenced by the priorities and values of the world around them (1 John 2:15-16).

The key verse in the Book of First John is found in chapter 5 verse 13.  Lets begin in verse 11:

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

John is writing from Ephesus to a church that has been infiltrated by Gnosticism. Many people were claiming to know God and to love Him yet they were living in a way that revealed their claims were not true.

The leading religious philosophy of that day was something known as Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that the world was created by lesser deities and that Christ came to reveal the secret knowledge from God that would give them oneness with God and ultimately bring about redemption.

  1. Knowledge is superior to virtue. Pursue education to be successful, it is not who you are but what you know that really matters.
  2. The Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. Scripture can be understood only by a few. Secret societies proportion mystic or hidden knowledge of the afterlife.
  3. Human reasoning to solve the difficult questions about life. Taught that evil in the world means it is impossible for God to be the only Creator, for He cannot create evil.
  4. The incarnation cannot be accepted because deity cannot unite itself with anything material (body). Let’s create a God in our own image, one we can understand.
  5. There is no resurrection. Live only for today, there is no tomorrow. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die and that is the end.

John writes First John to combat this false teaching. He lays carefully points to the reality that if a person is in fellowship with God there are several tests that will reveal the truth of the claim:

  1. Doctrinal test – Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (4:2,15)
  2. Moral test – Do you obey the commands of God? (2:3-5)
  3. Love test – Do you love the people of God? (4:7-8,12)

So the question this morning is for everyone of us here: Do you pass or fail these tests?

Have you embraced a true understanding of God as He reveals Himself in Scripture? Do you love God? If we don’t love God it is impossible for us to love others the way we should!  Let’s look then at 1 John 4:17-19.


Love originates with the Father

The very character and nature of God is love (8,16, Jn. 3:16). Our love is a response to the love that He first manifested to us!

The world’s philosophy is: “Love Yourself”.  Someone has said, “Love is a powerful force. The answer to most problems is to Love your self more…”

What rubbish! The problem is not that we don’t love ourselves too little, it is that we love ourselves too much!

A Divine love given freely, with no merit on the part of the recipient, nor anything lovely that should attract the attention of the love giver. (Eph 1:3-6).

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Culture in Ephesus and ancient world was an “eros” culture from which we get the word “erotic”. Even their gods were immoral and erotic. The ‘agapeo’ that John was speaking of was unheard of!

This word translated “love” in our text comes from Greek word meaning,  “the desire for and delight in the well being of the one loved that leads to self-sacrificing efforts on their behalf.”

He loved us when we were yet dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1). In eternity past God purposed that He would show forth the unspeakable riches of His love and grace through His Son Jesus Christ!

Love became manifest through the Son (9-10; 2:16)

For love to be more than just “knowledge” it must be demonstrated!

On December 4, 2006, while on a mission in Iraq, an enemy insurgent lobbed a hand grenade through the open gun turret on the Humvee. Nineteen year old Private First-Class Ross McGuiness was manning the 50 calibre machine gun on the Humvee that day.  When the hand grenade sailed past him into the vehicle, PFC McGuiness yelled a warning and jumped on top of the hand grenade.  The explosion killed McGuiness, but his action saved the lives of his four comrades in the vehicle.  McGuiness was awarded the highest award for bravery issued by the United States, the Medal of Honor.

God demonstrated His love for you and me.  He sent His Son so that we might live (9)!  Jesus Christ came jumped on the hand grenade of our sins resulting in His death!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

God sent His Son as the propitiation for our sins (10).  Propitiation is the act of Christ to make atonement for sin through his own blood thereby appeasing fully the wrath of God against our sin. Christ shows us the kind of love that God has for us – it is a selfless, sacrificial love!

Love now characterizes the life of His children (Mt 5:43-44)

Love is personal – it always has an object! We love because He first loved (19).  My love for the brethren is the normal and natural response to the love of God that has been shed abroad in my heart! (1 John 3:18).

  • Love one another – this is how all men will know we are His disciples (Jn. 13:35, I Pt. 1:22)
  • Husbands love your wives – just like Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25)


The purpose of love is that we can know we abide in Him

“Perfected love” means to bring love to the full expression, maturity.  Perfect(ed) love is referred to three times in I John: 2:5, 4:12, 4:17-18.

“Perfect love” is a love that finds full expression in obedience to the Word (2:5). By this obedient love we know He abides in us and us in Him.

“Perfect love” is love finds full expression in our love for one another. He abides in us through His Spirit who perfects in us the love of God (12-13). This perfect love is revealed by our love for one another (12).

The purpose of love is that we can know that we have believed in Him (14-16)

We believe and confess that God sent His Son as the Savior of the world (14). Those who make this confession God abides in him. We believe the love God has for us.

The purpose of love is that we can have confidence on the day of judgment (17)

The full expression of God’s love results in confidence – especially on the day of judgment, but also boldness for each day leading up to it. Day of judgment – final day of reckoning before God.

  • Judgment seat of Christ (II Co. 5:10)
  • Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11)

Love is established as the basis for judgment!  To not love God is to disobey Jesus Christ and reject God’s love in sending Jesus Christ. To live in love is to live in God which results in complete confidence in the coming judgment.

We are like Christ in this world.  God treats us just like He treats His own Son – we are clothed in the righteousness of God! (3:2)

We reflect the nature and character of God:

  • We love as He loves!
  • Compassion (3:17)
  • Sacrifice (4:9-11)


Frees us from phobias

Love and fear cannot coexist – because fear and faith cannot live in the same heart!

Love that has matured to full expression is based upon an accurate knowledge of God and an intimacy with Him. Results in faith! To know Him is to love Him.

Frees us from torment

How many times are God’s true Christians are filled with fear: Fear of the dark, fear of storms, fear of curses, fear of man – rejection by family and friends, fear of death.

Frees us from the torment of punishment through torture, pain.

Frees us from doubts – provides an accurate test

Those who profess to know God but do not desire Him to return, do not love His appearing raise questions about their profession.

I Thes 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Do you doubt your salvation? Are you filled with fear at the thought of dying?

When love finds full expression in us, our life is characterized by joyful confidence regarding our relationship with God.

Is your life characterized by the love of God?  We love Him because He first loved us!