Owe only Love

Owe Love

Sunday 04/26/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

Message – Owe Only Love!

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Owe only Love!

About 3 weeks ago we were looking at Christ being formed in us as we enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. 

This lined up perfectly with Good Friday & Easter, and then last week we addressed our need to not be easily troubled about the signs of the times since we are just at the very beginning of troubles. In the passages we covered regarding the return of the Lord and the events which would lead up to that was the continual encouragement to NOT BE TROUBLED

As we were looking at this, suffering came up as one of the major things we will go through before Jesus’ return. Albeit this is not a super popular doctrine, it is one that every Pastor should warn and help to prepare their people concerning, because the suffering we will face is quite real. Before any real external threat though, we already daily encounter an even tougher battle in the inner persecution and suffering we endure in day to day life and in home – under the same roof irritations and challenges.

Sometimes we face these with great success and other times with frustrating failure and defeat, but there are steps we can take to live more in victory than in defeat. If we are going to live in victory they are in facts steps we MUST take!

Two of the greatest are Respect and Love. We are going to spend some time with these this morning, primarily in two passages. One which lays out the command and the other which re-enforces it and helps illustrate it.

One thing I read this week which I think helps is – you will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love!

For those of us who know and love God, that is the sobering reality which can curb our selfish proclivities! 

If we were to keep in mind that in order for us to act contrary to love with someone, we will also have to willingly participate in an act of hatred towards someone God loves – it would make it harder!

This is a very serious thing!

You may think, well…Pastor Mark, getting irritated or short tempered is not hatred. Well, maybe not by OUR definition, but you may find this morning that God has a different perspective on that.

The bottom line is – If I claim to respect God, I will honor His love for that other person, by loving them as well. I would not DARE, take action against someone He loves!

Let’s read verses 8-14 in Romans 13. 

“(8) Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  (9)  The commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment–all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (10)  Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.  (11)  Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  (12)  The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  (13)  Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy.  (14)  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.”

Now this is where we all need to take a moment. Breath in deeply and admit that these words are the commandments of our Lord.

We need to ask ourselves our “theme” question of this year, which is, “Do I REALLY believe?”

…and who can tell me what the proof is that I really believe?

Answer: If I DO what He says. Faith ALWAYS produces actions!

I don’t know to what degree you have actually taken stock of this thought as you should. Let me indulge in a “Paul moment” here…

Since I have been appointed as your undershepherd – the directions the Lord gives me to lead you in,  is to a large degree the path where your green pastures and still waters lay. That being so, since January of this year, I’ve been pressing our need to examine the genuineness of our faith by the faithfulness of our walk! Do our lives and actions, demonstrate that we really believe? 

If you are NOT examining yourselves in regard to this matter you are straying… and straying sheep are easy pickings. So let me strongly encourage you that if you haven’t done so up until now – I am telling you, that you better take it seriously!

James was SO right when he said, that if we can look at ANYTHING the Word of God says, and walk away and NOT do it – we really do not believe! Oh, we’ve convinced ourselves that we do believe…that we do possess a love and allegiance to God, but it is one which, in reality, does not exist…and is THAT not the deception?

This is something we need to take more seriously than anything else in our lives. It is not just A pivotal issue, it is THE supreme issue!

Some of Paul’s strongest warnings are to Christians who become overly comfortable in their presumed safety and begin to live lives which are NOT in submission to His Lordship. To these Paul says, “do you think you will escape the judgment of God? Do you not know that those who habitually live these kind of lives have no part or inheritance in the Kingdom of God?

Let me tell you the devil is stepping up his game. He knows that judgement begins with us and he is not going to relent.

The Bible tells us that since John, the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached and those who are pressing into it must do so by force. In Acts we read that Paul & Barnabas went through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” ~ Acts 14:22

So we ask ourselves: 

  • DO I really love as He loves? 
  • Do I take that command seriously? 
  • Do I take it lightly, making excuses and light-hearted jokes about my casual observance of His words? 
  • Do I know – am I aware that Jesus is walking amidst our church judging my obedience to His words? 
  • Is He saying, “You have done this well and that well, but nevertheless I have this against you…?

Take a moment with me now and close your eyes and imagine that He is saying that to you now – NOT in condemnation, but in love and warning.

Do you take it seriously?

Wuest translates that first verse like this,

“Stop owing even one person even one thing, except to be loving one another; for the one who is loving another, has fulfilled the law.”

If you think about it, this verse is saying more than just love others. In fact before that it is commanding us to stop owing them! Do not act or due ANYTHING which places you in their debt. 

Then, and just as importantly he is saying that love IS a debt you owe and one that you NEVER stop owing!

Your debt is one that can never be fully satisfied, because it is eternal and unending. The vessel into which you are pouring agape love is bottomless and bears the image of the everlasting and incorruptible God and as such, it is both fitting and right to pour your love out upon them eternally and it would be sin to fail to do so!

So let’s define love!

This word as you probably anticipated is agapeo –  To esteem, love, indicating a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something or someone. It differs from philéō (G5368), in that, that love is based upon feelings & warm affection, the kind of love expressed by a physical kiss. Philéō is NOT a lesser love, just a different love, BOTH are quite necessary! But the love we are commanded to have for our brothers and sisters is agapeo. It is a love which is commanded by our will to be sure, but more than that it commands inner surrender to it. We must not only be determined to act for the other’s good, but to find delight and deep inner joy both in them and all that promotes their good! This requires a complete and total surrender to our own desires and purposes.

Someone describe to me what must take place within your heart to love someone like that when your emotions are irritated, angered, hurt or genuinely offended at them? 

It can only be described as a death – which is the way the New Testament nearly unanimously describes it.

This kind of love is demonstrated in the action of forgiveness by Jesus in Matthew 18 and as you are turning there I want you to say to yourself – 

“I take these words seriously.” 

“What God says here applies to me and I am determined to honor Him in my obedience to it! My belief is genuine it is REAL!”

Now again, there are MANY in the church today who will claim that Jesus is here teaching the law to those under the law and therefore it does not apply to you and me under the New Covenant. 

Of course we know better than that. Indeed Jesus came during a time which was still under the Law to redeem those who were under the law – but righteousness by works of the law was not what Jesus taught – He taught the Kingdom of God.

As I referenced earlier today, Luke tells us that the law was until John but SINCE THEN the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached. 

The Gospel of the Kingdom is what Philip taught in Acts 8, what Paul and Barnabas taught in Acts 14, 19, 20, 28 as well as in nearly all their letters &  Hebrews & James & Peter all taught the same! So to claim it does not apply to those under the New Covenant is simply wrong! Besides, why would Jesus take three years to train the disciples in the wrong gospel? That would be senseless!

Matthew 18:1-35, “(1) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  

(2)  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  (3)  and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  (4)  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (5)  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” 

So the answer for who is greatest is one who comes like a little child in humility. To receive one who belongs to Christ is to receive Him!

Then Jesus begins to talk about offenses. This is the same teaching Paul gives in 1Cor. 8 and Romans 14. The offense means, to do something which instigates and encourages their departure from the from faith. Here the word Offense is used, in Corinthians and in Romansstumbling block” and “occasion to fall” is used. All different words, but all pointing to the same issue and result. The word stumbling block is scandalon and means that which entices one to conduct which could bring the person to ruin! Though not all such cases will end that horribly, all will result in sin and a damage to conscience and God takes this VERY seriously!!!

“(6) Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  (7)  Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  (8)  “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.  (9)  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” 

Of course Paul tells us that any ascetic practice is of NO value against the indulgence of the flesh (Col 2:23) if it did, we might well imagine Jesus’ words a literal because sin is THAT serious, but this is not a literal cutting off.

Guzik says,If I cut off my right hand, I can still sin with my left. If my left eye is gouged out, my right eye can still sin – and if all such members are gone, I can still sin in my heart and mind. God calls us to a far more radical transformation than any sort of bodily mutilation can address.”

“(10)  “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.  (11)  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”

Notice the example and reason given. God calls leading one of His Own towards sin “despising them”. He then places the depth of the debt one incurs when they do such a thing – this is one whose angels stand before God’s face and one for whom Christ died! In fact that language is what Paul uses in Romans 14:15 & 1 Cor. 8:11

Then He goes on with a heart filled example of their value to Him.

“(12) What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  (13)  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  (14)  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

Notice the concern here is that the results of leading them into sin might culminate in their perishing! Which is why He goes on and looks at the potential for offenses from another angle!

What is to be done if you brother commits an offense against you?

“(15) Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  (16)  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY WORD MAY BE ESTABLISHED.’  (17)  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

We are familiar with this in the writings of Paul as well – he mentions it in 1 Cor. 5 & 2 Thess. 3:15.

Now this addresses both the whole binding and loosening mess we used to teach AS WELL AS our distorted twisting of the concept of praying in agreement.

“(18) Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  (19)  “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  (20)  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”  

You can readily see that both binding and loosening and the supposed “prayer of agreement” are both regarding judgement in the body of Christ – NOT believing God for a new car or for your mate’s salvation. There are NO guarantees for such prayers. God certainly desires all to be saved, but will not FORCE salvation on any.

“(21)  Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  (22)  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  (23)  Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  (24)  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  (25)  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  (26)  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  (27)  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  (28)  “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  (29)  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  (30)  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  (31)  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  (32)  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  (33)  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  (34)  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  (35)  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

So, the kind of suffering we are talking about here is one where we swallow our pride and honor God by loving our brother before ourselves!

Remember, you have never looked into the eyes of someone God has not loved!

Do I REALLY believe?

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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