Saturday, October 10, 2015

Let Him Take All: Nothing but Love Satisfies God and Us

Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ — Mat. 22:37 NET

by J.R. Miller

We are to notice, first, that it is love God wants. We may give Him our life’s highest honor, but He is not satisfied with honor. We ought to obey Him. He is our God and our King, and we owe Him the fullest obedience. But obedience is not enough. We owe Him service also, for we belong to Him, and we ought to pour out our lives for Him. But it is neither honor, obedience, nor service that this command requires. We are to Love God. If it were possible for us to render such honor, obedience, and service as the angels give, and yet not love Him, He would not be satisfied. Nothing but love will satisfy Him.

We are told here also the measure of the love that we are to give to God. It must be an all absorbing love. God wants no half-hearts. He must be loved supremely — more than all tender friends, more than all worldly things. Then this love must draw the whole life after it, the mind, the soul, the strength; it must lead to true and entire consecration.

Suppose a mother gives her child a beautiful flower-plant in bloom, and tells her to carry it to a sick friend. The child takes the plant away, and when she reaches the friend’s door she plucks off one leaf and gives it to her, keeping the plant herself. Then afterward, once a week, she plucks off another leaf, or a bud, or a flower, and takes it to the friend, still retaining the plant. Has she obeyed? Nothing but the giving of the whole plant would be obedience. Yet God asks for all our life’s heart, soul, mind, and strength; and we pluck off a little leaf of love now and then, a bud, a flower of affection, or one cluster of fruit, and give these little things to Him, keeping the life itself. Shall we not say, “Let Him take all?” This first commandment requires the complete consecration of the whole life to God.



Anonymous said...

First John 3:16-18 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

John is showing us proof, just as solid of a proof as admissible evidence that can be used in a court of law to reach a verdict; we know this is love because He laid down His life for us and that means that we “ought to lay down or lives for the brothers.” Here is how you lay down your life for others. If a brother or sister has earthly, worldly goods but then sees a brother or sister in need and “yet closes his heart against” them, then how is it possible for “God’s love [to] abide in Him?” The answer is it doesn’t. John is pleading with us to love in deed (by action) and truth (by giving) and not just talking. Talk is cheap but action proves our love is genuine. We should not just say “Well brother, I will pray for you about that” and not give them what they might be in desperate need of (goods).

Loy Mershimer said...

Divine love is a crazy, mysterious, yet most beautiful and practical thing. It is the most ethereal thing in human time, yet also the most down-to-earth and intentional. Love is something that cannot be adequately placed in words, yet it can be seen so eloquently in its pure forms of practice; for instance, Ken Tada carrying Joni Eareckson Tada, and loving her in daily needs. Undeniable love, in the very heights of love, transcending words, yet desperately practical.

Truth often comes in the form of paradox: How can Jesus be fully God, and yet fully Man? How can salvation be completely of God, yet also contain human responsibility? How can the faith life be completely individual (where the crowd is untruth, as Kierkegaard so powerfully showed), and yet also call forth the individual to live more authentically in community? How can the focus of the believer be completely serious (sober-minded, as Scripture puts it), and yet also the most radically joyful and laughter-filled vector possible? Divine truth comes in paradox, and divine love is no different.

Divine love is vastly ethereal, and imminently practical. In vital love for God, we overflow with love for neighbor. This love is revealed in human life. And yet, it is not flat, for all that. The reality is ever the same, but the application is also governed by Love (which may look different at first glance). For instance, it is the same Love that sits beside the noonday well, blessing the Samaritan woman with transcendent favor (calling her to believe, and ask for heavenly things), that also refuses the immediate request of the Syrophoenician woman, blithely categorizing her among the "little dogs" at the children's table. Mystery? Not so much for divine love. For Love sees the need of the heart. Love sees where the heart needs resistance, and immediate non-answer (or non-affirmation), always holding forth the resistance in light of greater answer: not just the request to be granted, but also calling forth a changed life in the process, and higher answer than ever deemed possible by the one who asks.

Divine Love calls forth extravagant *waste* of priceless ointment (a year's wages spent in an act of worship) while also commanding the care of the poor widows and orphans in the midst. Paradox! But love, all the same. Love is measurable, but it is not flatly discerned by eyes of lesser-love. C.S. Lewis says that "To Love is to SEE." Love sees the layer of needs, and places the physical within the ordinance of the spirit, always healing soul along with body.

Such a paradox, and yet such a priceless, holy, beautiful thing... this is what God IS, and what He calls forth in us, as we become temples of the living God. Alleluia!

And, it is just as true: Divine Love loves us even when we stumble in the path of divine love, living it imperfectly. He loves us just as much when we stumble as when we soar. Another level of the paradox, lol, but so true! He loves us without condition, yet also loves us too much to let us stay the same way we are… Praise God. Overflowing gratefulness. Thankful!

Anonymous said...

Colossians 3:12-14
3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. 14 And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.

1 Timothy 1:5
1:5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Love is misunderstood and distorted by the unbelieving world. Recently, an acquaintance handed me a copy of Betty J. Eadie’s best seller, Embraced by the Light. In her book, which is dedicated “To the Light, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom I owe all that I have,” Betty Eadie speaks of her early childhood, when she was raised by Catholic nuns and later the Wesleyan Methodist Brainard Indian Training School. She was taught that she was a sinner and that God would punish sinners for all eternity. However, as a result of an “after death” experience, she came to view God in an entirely different way. She now sees God as a warm and “loving” God, for whom such things as hell and eternal torment are abhorrent. There are many who wish this view of God were true. Unfortunately, Betty Eadie’s definition of God’s love sets aside the biblical declarations that God sent His beloved Son to die for our sins and to suffer God’s divine wrath so sinners could be saved. Love then is something everyone talks about, but about which they know little.

Loy Mershimer said...

There are many entities and humans in our world that love to masquerade as beings of light, when in reality they are beings of darkness. If anything, any human, any so-called prophet, seer, or angelic being teaches something contrary to the revealed Word of God, that thing is not of God. It is accursed and deceptive. Word and Spirit go together. People can see many things and take these as their personal truth, but if they don't agree w the written and incarnate Word, lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son, as living Lord of the cosmos, ultimate Authority, such things are false. Divine Love is at one the toughest and most loving thing -- for He is Truth in Being: the Way, the Life.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Found this awhile back. It resounded. It is by John MacArthur.

an important part of shepherding God’s people is having the humility to take the time to search for the right answer instead of quickly and carelessly deploying the wrong one.

But it’s one thing to tell your congregation “I don’t know.” It’s another entirely to stand before them and say “I can’t know, and neither can you. But you should still listen to me.” That’s the hazardous message emanating from too many pulpits today—nobody knows what God’s Word really means.

I preach the Word of God because it is understandable. God revealed His Word in such a way that it can be comprehended with clarity (cf. Psalm 119:105, 130). If He had not done so, the Bible would no longer serve as an objective standard for life, since it could not be understood in a straightforward sense. Yet, because He has revealed His Word in a way that is universally comprehensible, all men are accountable to it.

If the clarity of Scripture is denied, the certainty of any biblical doctrine must also be rejected, since we can no longer be sure that the Bible actually means what it says. Once doctrinal certainty grounded in biblical authority is dismissed, personal convictions must also be discarded, since they no longer have any firm foundation. And if personal convictions disappear, spiritual community will also vanish, since true fellowship necessarily begins with shared values and convictions.

A healthy church is one that is motivated by a common affection for God and His Word, and one that really knows what it is to love one another. That affection, both for God and for others, arises out of the confidence that the Bible is true, that it is absolute, and that it can be understood.

Scripture is clear. Deny that simple fact and you forfeit all confidence and conviction. No wonder evangelicals who have drifted away from the centrality of Scripture seem to lack certainty and clarity about anything. Careful exegesis and doctrinal precision are inevitable casualties of postmodern uncertainty, too. Consider this shocking comment from a supposedly conservative minister:

Anonymous said...

If there is a foundation in Christian theology, and I believe that there must be, then it is not found in the Church, Scripture, tradition or culture. . . . Theology must be a humble human attempt to “hear him”—never about rational approaches to texts.

That is an amazing statement. It is ludicrous. How can we truly “hear him,” meaning God, unless we go to the place He has spoken—His Word? The only way I can ever be certain about anything is to approach every biblical text with a careful, rational, discerning mind to hear and understand accurately what God is saying. Take that away and what basis is there for certainty about any truth?

One of the most popular writers in the Emerging Church movement—which embodied postmodern skepticism and relativism—succinctly summarized his mindset, saying, “Certainty is overrated.” In one of his books, he writes, “I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated, and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity.”

The wife of another leading pastor from the Emerging trend celebrated her uncertainty, saying, “I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible, that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.” [4]

And so we often hear of a new hermeneutic, grossly mislabeled as the “hermeneutics of humility,” which essentially says, “I’m far too humble to say that I know what the Bible means, and anybody who claims to know what it means is arrogant.”

But what’s more arrogant than claiming that God has not spoken clearly enough for us to understand?

When I preach, the response that always pleases me most is, “The message was clear.” Clarity is critical and basic. Ambiguity is deadly and produces nothing. People who think the truth itself is ambiguous don’t know where to turn for salvation. They can’t be sanctified. They don’t find comfort. We get nothing from ambiguity except confusion. Clarity is the desired result of a good understanding of the biblical text. If a preacher is not clear to his hearers, it is likely because he is not yet clear in his own mind. That means more diligent study is required.

When I started in ministry, I committed myself to expository preaching—just explaining the Bible—because I knew there was nothing I could say that was anywhere near as important as what God had to say. The real goal of my teaching has always been to keep my own opinions out of it as much as possible—to get the meaning of the passage right and to make it clear to my hearers. Pastors need to remember from the very outset that when they go into a pulpit, they are there to explain the Word of the living God with clarity and precision, not to impress people with their own cleverness or amuse them with human opinions.

The Word of God is clear, and when I explain it accurately to my people, they understand it. That understanding is the first and most essential point of expositional preaching, because people cannot believe or obey truth they don’t understand, thus building their lives on the wisdom that comes from above. A clear understanding of God’s Word forms the convictions that shape our lives and leads to deep affection for divine truth (Psalm 119:129–31; 19:10).

I would also thank you for taking time to aid another Servant of The Most High, Jesus Christ. I can tell by your writings and remarks that you share the same Love of Christ,humility in servitude and attention to scripture that I pray for and seek daily. Peace be with you, brother.

Anonymous said...

In regards to your comment about light and dark. Are you aware that for the first time they will air a live exorcism on television? Its set for October 30th. I will stay in prayer for that hour. This behavior is fraught with danger.

Loy Mershimer said...

Wow. That article is right on.

And, thank you for your words, about me sharing the "same love of Christ, humility in servitude and attention to Scripture..." That is the ideal! And I am seeking more of all this, in my life. Augustine said that the Word of God is a stream in which a child can play safely, and yet also, at the same time, in which an elephant can swim. It is abundantly clear, but its depths extend into eternity! and this life is like that: We are on the path, and cannot count ourselves as apprehending it all. But taking grace for today, we press on, upward, to the prize of the high calling in Christ.

I've learned that Scripture cannot be improved on. I used to write prayers for the Sunday liturgy -- taking the theme of the daily text and trying to make it practical and current. No longer. Now, I simply take the text, and have us all pray through it. And it's way more powerful than the best prayers I ever wrote (even though they were based on Scripture). Spurgeon says that "the Word of God is like a lion. You don't have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself."

And finally, those who say that the Word of God isn't clear or certain. Well, sadly, such persons do not grasp even a first grade level of what it means to call the Eternal Son the LOGOS made flesh. Christ Jesus is the LOGOS, the creative Word of the Father, the organizing principle on which the world was founded. He is also the Word of Order, by which ancient Rahav (chaos and darkness) was bound, when Father, Son and Spirit founded our human time upon the waters, and called it good. Nothing is more pure, more ordered, and more certain, that the Light that pierced the darkness, and binds the forces of chaos, then and now. When the LOGOS shines in, disorder and uncertainty cower in fear, and flee. Those who love a lack of clarity, and lack of holy certainty in their lives... well, they only reveal their own darkness. We humans love uncertainty because we think we can fill in the blanks with our own desires and idolatry. Nope. Will not last.

Blessings and peace to you, also, brother!

Loy Mershimer said...

Oh, and no -- no idea of that reality TV exorcism.

It cannot be good. Making a public show of something that, if legit, can only be done in abject humility and utter reliance on Jesus Christ, the Victor. And Jesus refused to leap from the Temple heights. Christ is not a reality TV performing monkey. And those who make Him such for personal gain are trampling His name through the mud, harming themselves and others.

Loy Mershimer said...

Note: Further thoughts on certainty vs. lack of certainty (because the faith life has both).

In talking about certitude, we need to understand the distinction between divine and human, objective vs. subjective. The life of vital faith has both, and both are vastly important to confess. It strengthens our souls to grasp and confess both aspects. The CERTAINTY of the faith life is on God’s side: His person and promises. What God IS, is certitude in pure form: His word is inviolable, His promises beyond sure. He IS holy, which means dependable and faithful in the very foundation of these awesome things. When God speaks, it is sure; and when speaking of things yet to come, it is as if that very thing were already done. When God relates to a human being as known to Him, a friend, that person already has eternal life, for God is eternal, and in His knowing-relation that human can never truly die (Lk. 20:37, et al).

On the divine side, we have eternal certitude:

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Mt. 24:35, et al.

"For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Mt. 5:18

"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Is. 55:11

"The word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you." 1 Pt. 1:25

"I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself." Ps. 89:2

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Js. 1:17

"But you remain the same, and your years will never end." Ps. 102:27

"I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Malachi 3:6


Loy Mershimer said...

That is on the divine side: eternal certitude.

However, on the human side, there is lack of certitude. God, who is certain, calls us to walk by faith, which is rationally and empirically UNCERTAIN (and there is good reason for this, which we shall see). For instance, God (the faithful One) calls Abraham and Sarah to go out, in faith, being fully uncertain of the path they should trod; they only understood it in continual relation with God, and even then, stumbled in the path. But this uncertain path was the will of the certain, Holy One.

This is an enduring reality in the lives of all who would follow God, with redemptive effect in human time: called to follow God in obedience, even when that obedience doesn’t make sense – in culture, family, or personal cognition. This path of obedience (which is uncertain, subjectively) never violates God’s word, but it step by step shatters our own inner idolatry, our desire to control, our desire to manage, manipulate and perform our own destiny, in material ease and respect.

Pascal says that God ever relates this way with His chosen ones: He gives partial light, giving us a glimpse of His person and promise, then calls us to follow that light, even in midst of personal darkness. He gives us partial knowing, based on His person and word, and then calls us to obey this even in our partial unknowing. Pascal says that this is the only way it can be, because we are fallen children: God shatters our pride in the path of obedience – obedience that can never feed pride, nor be discerned in ego-soaked eyes of cultural convention.

God uses uncertainty (the wilderness, the barren path, the questions) to form Moses, David, Joseph, Paul, Hannah, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah… basically everyone that He calls a child, and intends to use in human time. It is a non-negotiable aspect of vital relation with God.

So, both certainty (on God’s side) and uncertainty (on our side) are extremely important, in this faith walk. It is crucial that we confess both sides, and put them both in their rightful place, keeping eyes on the faithful One, and walking in faithfulness, and letting Him form the certainty in us, day by day.

Those emergent persons who take away the certainty from the divine side are only doing so, because they wish to take certainty on their side, which was never meant to be. Note how they say that God’s word is not certain, and they are “sure of it!” They have inverted the certitude of holy calling, and taken to themselves, because they wish to be the definers of the divine life.

Only a fool would do such a thing – someone deceived by his or her corrupted heart, baptizing his or her fallenness in the name of Christ.