Friday, April 26, 2013

Saturday April 27, 2013 Identifying Marks of God's Love

Note to the reader: This post is intended for Saturday April 27, 2013, even though it has been posted today, Friday April 26, 2013.  May this blog be used of God to strengthen and encourage the reader to fix their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The story of the little creek that turned into a mighty river
As a boy I can recall a little creek running through the middle of our property.  In the dry summertime that little creek would get so law as to be barely a trickle.  When playing outside I would often find big rocks and sticks to create dams to see how high the water would get.  Of course the water would dam up and then break the little obstructions I had put in the way.  Over the course of the year, the bottom of that little creek would be littered with big rocks and fallen logs.  When spring came, the heavy rains of April would turn that little creek into a might river.  As the water swelled to overflow the banks, all of the obstructions and debris would wash down stream.  That mighty river was unstoppable, and in its wake was left a clean channel for the little creek to run.

Christians are dry river beds in need of God, the mighty stream
1 John 4 presents to us the mighty river of God's unfailing love.  I am fearful that we as Christians feel like we fully understand and grasp the love of God.  God's love is a mighty ocean in the banks of 1 John 4.  As Christians, we fail to remember that without the Lord, we are Wadis or dry river beds.  Jesus notes this in John 7:37-39 - Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

Jesus promised that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His name, a promise which came to pass in Acts 2.  Now that the Holy Spirit is active in the lives of all true Christians, we come to understand that it is He who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts. (Romans 5:1-5) Literally God by the Person and work of the Spirit is that mighty river.  The Holy Spirit brings through the child of God the mighty torrents of the Father's mighty power and Jesus Christ's incomparable Person. 

We as Christians often have the clutter of life fill our hearts.  We are in need of God the mighty river to clear away whatever is obstructing our growth and passion for Him.

Identifying Marks of God's love
So how can you and I tell when God's love is flowing in our lives and in the lives of others? In using the acrostic l.o.v.e, we can discover from 1 John 4:7-21 the following four traits of God's love:

Lives through the cross.  1 John 4:9,10,19
1 John 4:9-10 states - By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  God's love was manifested or shown through the cross.  Romans 5:8 uses the language of "demonstration" to prove what God did in showing His love.  We know that God's love in the sending of His Son was effective in that Christ's finished work "propitiated" or "satisfied" the wrath of God. 

What Jesus Christ as God in human flesh accomplished in six hours on the cross would require the book of Acts and 21 New Testament Epistles to unfold.  The incredible love of God flows unceasingly and unhindered from the cross.  Though the cross is barren, and thought our risen and glorified Savior is at the Father's right hand, the truth of the matter is that God's love lives through and around the cross.  A Christian who is operating in God's love will have the cross in the hearts and Jesus on their lips.  But notice another trait of God's love here in 1 John 4:7-21...

Overcomes anything.  1 John 4:7,12,17,18,20,21
1 John 4:7 states - "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is [a]born of God and knows God."  God the mighty River of love cannot be stopped by anything.  In this section of 1 John we see God's love overcoming the following:

a. Disunity (1 John 4:7,12).  The command to love one another with God's love is the only thing that can diffuse disunity, bitterness and hurt that we so often see in churches today.  My love is limited, His love is unlimited.  My love will make conditions, however God's love has no strings attached.  My love can wane and waver, whereas God's love does not wane and cannot waver.

b. Fear (1 John 4:17,18).  1 John 4:18 tells us that "perfect love cast out all fear".  Whenever you see that phrase "perfect love", of what sort of love is John speaking?  It certainly cannot be human love, since perfection is not attainable in this life.  Only God's love can be deemed without flaw and without limitation.  Every phobia and psychological disorder can be traced back to fear or anger. When Adam and Eve hid in the garden, they hid because they were fearful.  Only God's love can destroy fear.

c. Anger (1 John 4:20-21).  Of the 10,000 times we sin mentioned in the Bible, bitterness or anger against another person is mentioned some 2,000 times.  God warns us about the dangers of anger and bitterness more than any other sin.  This is why we need His love. 

Validated by the Spirit. 1 John 4:13
1 John 4:13 makes this observation - "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit."  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead - meaning that: a. He is God along with the Father and Son b. He is a Person or "He" c. He comes to abide within every Christian at salvation. (John 14:17,23; 16:8-16; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16, 6:17-18, 8:16-17)  The Holy Spirit in the Christian bears witness of who they are and Whose they are.  Included in this witness of the Spirit is the reality of God's love. (Romans 5:1-5)

Expressed in sound doctrine  1 John 4:14-19
As we close out today's blog, we note that God's love is evidence by life through the cross, overcoming all things and validated by the witness of the Spirit.  In terms of expressing such truth, sound doctrine - and our attitude toward it, will often tell whether or not we have God's love.  If we love God, we will also love His truth.  In 1 John 4:14-19 we see the following sound doctrines:

a. Person of Christ (100% God and 100% man) 4:14-19
b. Work of Christ (you cannot separate His Person from His work) 4:14-19
c. Righteousness of Christ (relying on His act and accomplishment in both His perfect life and substitutionary death) 4:18
d. God's unchanging love 4:19

P6 Christianity vs Mormonism - Doctrine of Sin

Romans 5:12-13 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

The intent of this particular blog series has been to carry out, in an informative yet evangelistic manner, a comparison between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. Today's blog will conclude this series on comparing Christianity to Mormonism.  The one question we have aimed to ask in every post has been: "is Mormonism another Christian denomination or is it a non-Christian system of belief? Thus far the findings have shown Mormonism to be totally incompatible with Christianity in the following five areas:

1. Doctrine of God
2. Doctrine of Jesus Christ
3. Doctrine of the Word of God
4. Doctrine of Salvation
5. Doctrine of Man

We have appealed mostly to an article entitled: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends" , found in the March 2012 issue of "SBC Life" (an online magazine accessible through the website: Additonally, these blogs have utilized primary source materials from the Mormon website and the Southern Baptist Website My aim in this entire series has been to balance honesty and fairness with a heart to share the Gospel with those involved in Mormonism. There are many more areas we could cover, and may very well do so in future blogs.  However for today we will compare what both have to say about the doctrine of sin.

What Biblical Christianity defines sin to be
When you read Psalm 51, you get a summary of the three most common ways the Bible explains the concept of sin: "sin", "iniquity" and "transgression" (tresspass). 1 The article "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends" has this to say about the Biblical view of sin: "Human beings are sinners by nature and by choice. All have sinned against God, rejecting His nature, and pursing life opposed to His essential character and revealed law. Romans 3:1-23; 7:14-25; Ephesians 2:1-5; 1 John 1:8-10

The SBC doctrinal statement has this to say about sin: "By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God."2

What Mormonism defines sin to be
When we compare the above statements to what we see Mormonism teaching on sin, the article "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends" explains:

"People sin by disobedience to God's laws. Adam's fall, a part of Heavenly Father's plan, caused a loss of immortality, which was necessary for mankind to advance. According to LDS scripture, Eve declared "Were it not for our transgression we never should have . . . known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient" (Pearl of Great Price [PGP], Moses 5:11). Each person is responsible for his or her own sin."

From what we can gather, Mormonism teaches that people are sinners because they sin.  The Bible on the other hand teaches that people sin because they are sinners.  This is a major difference, since sin is not viewed as having to do with the fallen nature of man insomuch as it is man behaving badly.  As we saw the other day, Mormonism's view of salvation is the following:

"The Mormon plan of salvation is built on the premise that all people have eternal life, but only the most faithful Mormons enter the celestial kingdom. Jesus' atonement provided immortality for all people. Exaltation (godhood) is available only to Mormons through obedience to LDS teachings: faith in the god of Mormonism, baptism in the LDS church, endowments, celestial marriage, and tithing. 3

Therefore the problem of Mormonism's view of sin is that it does not take into consideration the desperate state of the fall.  The problem is that sin has not merely affected mankind's behavior, but also his mind, emotions and will.  If all that sin requires is an organized system of man-made religion to modify negative behavior, then the cross is truly an unnecessary add-on, and thus Christ died for nothing.  As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:17  "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."


1. The word "sin" itself refers to someone falling short of a target - thus mankind at his best still falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Secondly, the word "transgression" or "tresspass" means to slip off of the beaten path or to cross the line with God. Then finally, "iniquity" refers to a repeated, longstanding, willfull sin pattern. Like a spiritual corpse, man is dead in his trespasses and sin. (Romans 3:10-23) Man is not merely a sick patient in need of some medicine, nor an ignorant creature in need of enlightenment, but rather a spiritual corpse in need of a spiritual resurrection. (John 5:24-25)

2. The scriptures used by Article III in the BFM 2000 are as follows:
Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

3. March 2012 SBC Today article: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends"