Thursday, September 24, 2009

Authority - 3

OK, we’ve deconstructed a couple of false statements. Now let’s move on to some positive content.

I’ll submit two commands that I believe are 100%, positively, for all time binding, without regard to culture or any other qualifying condition.

Matthew 22:36-40
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Love God. Love others.

Can I get an amen? Possibly even unanimous agreement? I mean, Jesus Himself said it all hangs on these two.

Do you realize how much authority is granted to us in those two commands?
Do you see any implications in regards to the so-called “Law of Silence”?

If an action is an expression of love towards God and love towards others, we have our authority, regardless of whether the action is ever expressly commanded elsewhere in scripture or not. No further proof-text is required. Why? Because we are 100% authorized to love God and love our neighbor.

(Paul even commends love as being greater than faith! - 1 Corinthians 13:13)

Now, we still have some work to do in fleshing out what love means, so hang with me a little longer…and remember the ground rules for our discussion…that we all agree the Bible is the standard, we will assume good motives, we will not distract with crazy hypotheticals, and we will be civil in our discussion. If you can't live with that, please lurk or leave.

18 comments:

Steven Hudgins said...

Sleepless nights and the Spirit is stirring within me once again. Not sure what woke me up to this early morn, after going to bed at 930 pm tonight. I suppose it is the great discussion? However, it may be the following words which are on my heart:

I would agree with your statement Shane (amen).I like to throw something out and see where it leads. What is love? We each had our own perception of what love is or what love is not. We grow up into our families when we were children. One family may see love as action. One family may see love as words. One family may see love as God intended it to be. One family may see love as being self absorbed.

Now, there are four different versions of love. Which one is right? Now, the heart of the matter is it possible they all could be right based upon that one person’s experience to love. Each person grows up believing in what they received was love, and they display it as such when becoming adults. Therefore, you have various people sharing their versions of love. Does this create tolerance for others because of their ability to love in the fashioned they believed in? Right or Wrong: Who can state, which is what?

Does the following logic listed below work?

A. God Is Love(1 John 4:16)
We know God is love based on scripture. Can we rely on scripture to be accurate? It is a choice to believe it is and my choice is yes, it is accurate (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It is God breathed meaning it comes to life, equipping man for every good work (equips us to love).

B. God never changes Num. 23:19, God is not a man; Malachi 3:6 the Lord does not change, James 1:17 does not change like shifting shadows).

If God never changes and God is love then:

C. Love never changes. (1 Cor.13:8 Love never fails, to fail is to change).

Faith constantly changes because of our experience with Him. Faith changes in the depths of how much we are challenged to go beyond what we feel we are called to do. Hope constantly changes because we continue for the hope of His return so therefore hope will no longer exist. Therefore, Love is the greatest because it doesn’t change. (1 Cor. 13:7 love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.) Therefore, since Love is always, then it never becomes a sometimes and then there is no chance that love changes. Man is the one who changes the actions and interpretation of love.

If love never changes, then how can love become an emotion?
Emotions change depending on what happens in our moments. We can be happy, fearful, angry, joyful, excited or sad. Therefore, love is a choice and not an emotion. Love is not like a light switch to be turned off and on. To many times I hear couples say, “I don’t love him/her anymore.” If a child does something wrong do you stop loving your child? The prodigal son’s father never did. Our actions are what supports our choice to choose to love that person. Jesus was being crucified, but chose to love through his statement, “forgive them.”

Is love a behavior? Is love based upon what one does? Is love shaped by our culture? Behaviors are influenced by our human senses. We choose to love a murderer. We choose to love our spouses. Ever noticed that God never commanded the women to love their husbands? God commanded men to love their wives (Eph. 5:25 & Col. 3:19). There isn’t a choice to be made, since that is a command to love your wives. Men must be careful in their assortment of behaviors in how they treat their wives because their prayers can be hindered (1 Pt 3:7).

Finally, if we state God is love, God never changes then we can conclude love never changes because it is always. The word always can be considered infinite and God is infinite. Then if this is true then what is our perception of God? Love is the motivation to know who He is. Is it possible to be wrong in our perceptions of God? If yes, then is our perception of love wrong too? That is just food for thought to stir the pot through-out today. Now it’s time for more sleep! Love ya.

Norsemanrm said...

Amen and Amen!!
Great posts going on here Shane.

Steve got a little ahead of you on the Love discussion but it looks to be a good one.

Also, thank you for setting and maintaining clear guidelines for discussion.
It lends to a much more productive format and environment.

Anonymous said...

In Mark's account of the greatest command discussion (12:28-34), the Scribe agrees with Jesus and Jesus says: "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Interesting

If the scribe believed and practiced the greatest command how come he wasn't a part of the kingdom of God?

Shane Coffman said...

Anon -

By my reading you've added two words: "and practiced."

I don't see that in the text.

Perhaps that might be a reason why.

Robin Brannon said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

This is the ultimate lesson for Believers to learn. LOVE! If we are (verb) loving God and (verb) loving others, then we will DO (adjective) loving things to and for everyone around us. When we treat others without love, or with selfish motives, we are not (verb) loving God or others.

So, let's get out there and love somebody!

Good point, Shane!

Brenda said...

For the sake of not repeating what's already been said, I'll just give ya a BIG AMEN to that!
Love this!

Tammy said...

**Love...one another..for love...is of God...** ;)

Love you Shane!

(I know this is a serious discussion but I couldn't resist.)

Jeremy said...

I think love still needs to be coupled with truth (Ephesians 4:15). Both truth and love are needed. Some have the idea that it is loving to bend the truth or flatter others, but this does not help them.

Also, remember the way Jesus would have us to love Him to obey is to obey His commands (John 14:15).

Anonymous said...

Shane,

I don't see this in the text either:

If an action is an expression of love towards God and love towards others, we have our authority, regardless of whether the action is ever expressly commanded elsewhere in scripture or not. No further proof-text is required. Why? Because we are 100% authorized to love God and love our neighbor.

Seems to be a pretty hefty inference. Is your interpretation of this passage binding on others?

Terry Rush said...

Would it be possible we are not guilty of weakening truth by superficial love. But maybe we are failing to love as God would command due to our superficial truth.

Steven Hudgins said...

Would it be superficial truth? Could it be merely based upon our lack of faith in knowing we need to rely upon Him for the truth? How far are we willing to prove our love?

Sometimes it is a limited faith which prevents us acting out on our love towards Him. God expressed to Abraham in Genesis 22:2, "He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

He tested Abraham's love by offering up what he mostly desired.... his only son.... Therefore, is a Christian willing to give up their desires (doctrine, religion, idols or whatever prevents them to grow or to move forward) to love God as He commanded?

I wonder if this is the reason why we do introspection before we partake of the communion with Him? How much are we willing to sacrifice what we love for Him?

Shane Coffman said...

Anon -

No more hefty of an inference than the rationale for church buildings and the like.

As the traditional argument goes, we’re commanded to assemble, which requires a place to assemble, thus church buildings are authorized.

We’re commanded to love, which requires actions for expression, not just feelings, thus actions of love are authorized.

I say loving God and loving others is binding. I can't see a way around that. If we can't agree that the most important commands according to the One we follow are binding, there really isn't much to discuss.

Now, if someone's conscience will not allow them to express that love in any way that is not expressly written in scripture, I'm fine with that. I won't force them to do anything they believe is sin, for to them it would be.

But that doesn't give them the right to take away my freedom to express my love.

So, in that way I do not think I am binding it on anyone.

Does that help explain?

Jeremy said...

Shane,

I'm a little confused. I have been looking at how I could implement this principle in my life. Currently, I am studying with two very loving Mormons--they love God and they love others. Since they meet the requirements should I stop studying with them? Or should I convert because they are more loving than many other churches?

Please advise, this is a real ongoing situation in my life.

Linda L said...

AMEN! I am enjoying this discussion immensely. I agree completely with the statement about loving God and loving others, but I have a question: what about those of us who love God with their whole being but struggle with loving others in the same way due to childhood experiences that were unhealthy/poor examples? Are we condemned because we struggle with loving people we don't know or that hurt us or whatever? Does God see that we're trying?

Shane Coffman said...

Jeremy –

From Authority – 1:
“This discussion is based on the Bible as our standard. I assume you agree that the Bible is true and inspired. If you don’t, this discussion really isn’t for you.”

Friend, this discussion isn’t for them. They could try to live by the principles we are discussing here with all their energy, and they might even do a better job at it than many of us Christians, but until their faith is in Jesus alone to save them from their sins their good works will be in vain.

I am no expert in the Mormon faith. In my discussions with my Mormon friends, they have professed a modified/partial belief in Jesus and the Bible. It seems you’ll need to do a lot of listening to determine what parts they believe and what parts they do not so you can determine how best to encourage them to place their faith in Jesus alone.

Shane Coffman said...

Linda -

Are you saved by your faith in Jesus or by how well you carry out the commands of the Bible?

Steven Hudgins said...

I understand the struggles you are facing with childhood memories. My parents and I have a struggling relationship. No matter how much I can reach out to them. All I can do is to release it and allow God to heal the relationship. Three years ago I made a conscious effort to forgive my parents. I am free from the bondage of depression.

Analyze your mental condition and set aside the pride and delve into your past. I learned that my false pride can mask my thinking and the pain I set aside in my mind. Then write down on a piece of paper those memories you have and index them to their level of importance and to what degree these are hindering your progress to heal.

When you look at the highest one then look at the future forecast of its shadow. Does it hinder your forgiveness of others or yourself? Begin the task of letting it go. Ask yourself, is this memory worth holding onto? This process can’t be done overnight. It takes positive self talk over and over again until you are thinking positively.

The human mind tends to defeat the purpose of the spirits existence. Esau and Jacob struggled and it took years for them to mend their relationship. The most admirable one is the one of Joseph and his brothers. Can you imagine being sold off into slavery and waking up to find yourself in another realm? I can only begin to think of the thoughts of what Joseph endured through those years being separated from his father. Did Joseph struggle? He wept didn’t he at the sight of his brothers? However, he wept and forgave his brothers and mended the relationship. What is easier to do? Harbor or to let go those things which hurt us? Holding on to a hot pan is not wise. The memory of the burn is left in a visible scar.

Joseph may have struggled, but did God condemn him for his thoughts? No. Did God use him for His purpose? Yes. Is God using you? Yes! That is what is so wonderful about God’s love and it covers a multitude of sins. I only wish more Christians would be motivated by love and learn to love the person, hate the sin, but stand by a struggling person loving them, and spurring them on to run the race.

Finally, know that we are sealed with the spirit. Are we going to purposely sin and live in that lifestyle? No. Are we going to sin and try to do what is right? Yes. That’s what the blood is for. To make us perfect in His eyes and we have to let go and allow our memories of the past to be washed in His blood. Not only does it forgive us, but it allows us to forgive others. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound! We have to learn to let go so that we can live. That is what sacrificing ourselves daily is all about.

Linda L said...

I think I used a poor choice of words when I said "condemned". I know I'm saved because the blood of Jesus washed away my sins when I was baptised and confessed Him as my Lord and Savior. I guess what I meant to say is that I didn't instantly start loving my "neighbors" unconditionally. It has bothered me somewhat that I struggle with this issue; some people I can love without hesitation, others it's more of a challenge. It wasn't until I looked deeper into my past that I realized the possible origin of my "love/trust" issues and that I have some issues I need to work through to get me to the place I want to be. I don't purposely decide "I'm not going to even try to love this or that person". I just have to believe that I'm covered by grace while I'm on this journey to love ALL my neighbors.