Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Supernatural Power of the One Another Church - Love one another

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

I pray today's post will open my eyes of readers to the possibilities of supernatural church life. In the New Testament we find over 50 commands that urge believers to do something to "one another". Such commands are called "reciprocal commands", meaning that whatever I do to you, you are to reciprocate in return. Much like when you see a tennis match: one player lobs the ball to the other player; and the idea is for the other player to send the ball back. 

The first time we encounter a command like this in the New Testament is in Jesus' word in John 13:34-35. This particular reciprocal command is seemingly simple and almost a given. However, whenever you look closer at Jesus' command for us to "love one another", the one phrase that many miss is Jesus' statement: "as I have loved you". 

It becomes very clear that the kind of love that Jesus is expecting His disciples to exercise toward one another is not the garden-variety, natural-based, human-type of love. I think we as Christians in our churches get frustrated in trying to carry out this simple command of loving one another because we think of it in natural terms. Most people may very well have a generally good capacity to get along with other people. However, when discomfort, offense, conflicting personalities and personal space issues enter into the fray - what then?

The kind of love Jesus is urging us to do here in John 13:34-35 is the supernatural, God-kind of love toward one another. Out of all the reciprocal commands in scripture, the command to "love-another" dominates what ought-to-be a supernaturally charged church life. In order to demonstrate why the kind of love being commanded by Jesus is the God-kind of love, one only needs to see how else the rest of the New Testament re-issues this same reciprocal command. I will then close today's post with the power source necessary for carrying out such a command.

The reciprocal command to "love one another" is the God-kind of love
Romans 13:8 "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." The law of God cannot be fulfilled in the flesh to the satisfaction of Holy God, and yet the kind of love toward another fellow-believer is equated with such. This must mean that this love is exercised in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Spirit-filled life. In Ephesians 4:2 we read -"with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love". For church members to consistently love one another in the manner commanded here is impossible in the flesh. God's supernatural power is necessary is such love is to be expressed in humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 "and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you." Why love one another in the local church with the God-kind of love? Because the God-kind of love extends in more general terms to people in the world who are unbelievers. There are distinct manifestations of God's love experienced by Christians and the general type of love-benevolence, experienced by unbelievers - whether they realize it or not. God loves unbelievers more than we could ever love. The last entry in Paul's letters concerning loving one another is in 2 Thessalonians 1:3, where the growth of faith is directly related to the love believers exercise toward one another.

So what about the Apostle Peter? Peter's description of the kind of love Christians are to have for each other in the local church is even more profound. 1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." It's one thing to say "hi" to one another or even express the statement: "I'll be praying for you". But have we ever seen a church body where the love expressed between the church membership exceeds the commitment and love that may be found in the closest of families? Do we have the type of love that would be willing to lay down one's life for the other person? Jesus defined this type of love as the God-kind of love in John 15:12-13 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

To try to drive home the point that the love advocated by Jesus is not garden-variety human love, let me ask this simple question: would you willing die for every single person with whom you go to church or whom you know to be a church member? Wherever we hesitate in answering that question, that tells us that we are loving people with our human-brand of love. So then, in seeing this one kind of example of the "one-another church", what then is the supernatural power-source for becoming a true "one-another church"?

The Spirit-filled life is the only way we can carry out any of the reciprocal commands - such as "loving one-another"
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." This command restates in general the specific content of the reciprocal commands we have been exploring today. How then can we truly love one another in the manner commanded in scripture. In Ephesians 5:18 we read the command for being Spirit-filled - "And do not get drunk with wine,for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." The Spirit-filled life is another way of saying "the Spirit-controlled life". In salvation, the Christian gets all of the Holy Spirit he or she is ever going to get. The issue in the Spirit-filled life concerns the amount of your life that is currently under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell us one time at salvation, however there are to be repeated fillings following salvation. We know that the Spirit-filled life is the power-source behind not only the reciprocal command to "love one-another", but other such commands. Consider for example Ephesians 5:19-21  "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Bill Bennett, writer and Bible teacher, writes the about the requirements of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here is a summary:
1). You must be born-again in saving faith.

2). You must be desire with all your heart to be filled (Mt 5:6; Jn 7:37-39))

3). You must believe God will fill you, not just God can fill you

4). You must denounce all known sin in your life. (Prov. 28:13)

5). You must dethrone self and enthrone Christ as Lord of all.

6). You must, by faith, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. (Lk 11:13)

7). You must accept the fact He has filled you and live in total dependence on Him. (Gal 5:16)

Closing thoughts: The Spirit-filled life combined with church members carrying out reciprocal commands makes for a supernatural, one-another church
Today's post aimed to look at one of the main commands in the New Testament - "love one another". We saw that this type of command is call a reciprocal command, meaning that whatever I do to do, you must do in return. We also discovered that reciprocal commands such as "loving one another" involve the God-kind of love, and that such commands cannot be carried out by sheer natural will-power in the flesh. We suggested and demonstrated that unless the Christian is filled-with the Holy Spirit, the ability to be a "one-another church" will be impossible. 

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