130918 BCF-13 River of Love.docx
BC&D-13 Interpersonal Problems Part 2
The River of Love that is to
Flow out of the Life of a Believer
Our lesson this month is “Learning How to Love our Neighbor”. This topic is vital for several reasons. Look at these key points in the boxed notes on these three pages:
Learning how to love your neighbor requires a willingness to draw on the strength of Jesus Christ as you die to self and live for Him. Living in this manner allows you to practice biblical love for others in spite of adverse circumstances or your feelings to the contrary (based on Matthew 5:38-48, 22:37-39; Luke 23:34; John 13:35, 15:5; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 5:14-15; 1 John 4:7-11).
Every believer in Christ is responsible to do his part in establishing and maintaining harmonious relationships. Your example is the Lord Jesus Christ who, while here on earth, demonstrated how biblical love is expressed toward others (based on Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 23:34; Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Peter 2:21-25, 3:8-9; 1 John 3:14, 3:18, 4:7-8).
The primary meaning of the word “love” in Scripture is a purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another. In fact, loving God is demonstrated by obeying His Word (John 14:15, 14:21, 14:23-24; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6). Powerful emotions may accompany biblical love, but it is the commitment of the will that holds love steadfast and unchanging. Emotions may change, but a commitment to love in a biblical manner endures and is the hallmark of a disciple of Jesus Christ (based on John 3:16, 13:34-35; Romans 5:8-11; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13:13).
So love is a huge component of the life of a believer. This evening we are going to continue our lesson started last week by Marty.
Love is Vital in the Life of a Believer
Jesus answered what the “greatest” commandment was using love:
Matthew 22:36-39 (NKJV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Jesus said a new commandment He gave us to love one another & that by this shall all know that you are my disciples.
John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Paul declares in Romans that love actually fulfills the whole law.
Romans 13:8 (NKJV) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Then, Paul said that the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Again Paul, in his first letter to a church reminds us that the love that God wants in us is the one that He actually teaches us to live. That is what Paul said in:
1 Thessalonians 4:9 (NKJV) But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
Finally John said near the end of the Bible in 1 John 4 that if we lack love it is questionable that we are genuine believers & followers of Christ.
The Most Love-Filled Book & Chapter of the Bible
As you turn with me to 1 John, you are turning to the book of God’s Word that holds the most usages (51x) of the great words agape (18x as noun “love”), agapate (5x as adjective “beloved”) and agapao (28 x as verb “to love”).
And as we turn onward to 1 John 4 we find the chapter of the Bible that has more uses of the words for love (30x) than any other, with agape (12x as noun “love”), agapate (3x as adjective “beloved”) and agapao (15 x as verb “to love”)!
Trace this love God has poured out into our hearts with me by following along in your Bibles as I read 1 John 4.
1 John 4 (NKJV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
The Origin & Source of Love is God
Now, when we step back we realize why Jesus said that love was the way we know that we are His disciples. So that brings us from the vital nature of love as the proof of salvation to the next point: where does love come from?
To understand love we must understand salvation. That connection is best made in Romans 5 where Paul explains the relationship between love and salvation. Both Paul explains, are byproducts of justification.
The Seven Byproducts of Justification
When Paul explains salvation in the Book of Romans, he builds much of the explanation around the incredible work of the cross as Christ died a justifying sacrificial death for us sinners. First follow along with me through the first five verses.
Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.
Now notice those seven phrases that outline the “byproducts” of justification. In other words, when God justifies, He leaves these evidences in our lives:
Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith:
- Eternal Peace: v. 1b we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
- Endless Access: v. 2a through whom also we have access by faith into
- Grace to Stand: v. 2b this grace in which we stand,
- Rejoicing Hope: v. 2c and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
- Perspective on Troubles: v. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
- Sure Hope: v. 5 Now hope does not disappoint,
- Rivers of Love: v. 5b because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
That final phrase is what we are looking at tonight. Love comes as a part of justification. The work of Christ on the Cross has completely transformed us, and made us the habitation of God, so that we can ask, and receive the power of His Spirit to now have the capacity to love.
It is Abundant Love:
God’s love has been “poured out … into our hearts.” The idea in the Greek is that God’s love has been and continues to be poured out within our hearts. This is a picture of unstinting lavishness. The old commentator Bengel uses the Latin word “abundantissime.”
Our hearts have been filled to overflowing with divine affection. The agent of this is the Holy Spirit, who personally represents God’s love in our hearts.
It is a River of Love:
Poured out refers to lavish outpouring to the point of overflowing. Our heavenly Father does not proffer His love in measured drops but in immeasurable torrents. The very fact that God gives His Holy Spirit to indwell believers is itself a marvelous testimony to His love for us, because He would hardly indwell those whom He did not love. And it is only because of the indwelling Spirit that His children are able to truly love Him. Speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:38; cf. v. 39). Those rivers of blessing can flow out of believers only because of the divine rivers of blessing, including the blessing of divine love, that God has poured into them.
For just a moment, go back with me to John 7:38-39. Do you remember last month? We talked about the evidence of the Spirit of God being quenched and grieved in our lives. One of them is that the promised rivers of the Spirit, of these two verses, dries up in our hearts.
Look at what God has planned for each of us:
John 7:37-39 (NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Unleashing that Love
Now that we have seen the source of Biblical love is the work of the Spirit that started in us at salvation, what should we ask God for today?
To get started, turn to page 217 and as a group, around the table, take turns reading and discussing the contents of this page.
Save enough time to pray around the table for the Spirit of God to pour the love of God out in, upon, and out of our lives this week.
 C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Volume 1 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Limited, 1975), p. 263.
 Hughes, R. K. (1991). Romans: righteousness from heaven (p. 109). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
- confer (Lat.), compare
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans. Chicago: Moody Press.