J. Gresham Machen
Let Us Run
The Love of Christ
Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Charles H. Spurgeon
Charles H. Spurgeon
Constrained by Love
"For the love of Christ constraineth us..." (2 Corinthians 5:14)
Through the question of a cold religious Pharisee, came forth an answer from our Lord so profound as to separate all religious activity from true fellowship with God. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" To this deep "theological question" Jesus gives this simple answer, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." (Matthew 22:36-38)
Jesus went on to say that the second was to "love our neighbor as thyself." So important and so powerful are these two commandments that Jesus sealed it with this truth, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." What a statement!
If you want to know why the Church has so little power, it's because she has so little love. She spends millions on her mega churches of comfort and luxury while millions of unreached souls step into a Christ less eternity. She is selfish, but claims to love God. Can you not hear the words of our Lord, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." (Matthew 25:42-43)
Genuine love is self sacrificing, in fact, sacrifice is the key ingredient to true love. The Bible says that "God is Love", but this is not merely a confession of who God is, but a profession of what God is. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..." God is the sum total of what love is and what love does.
Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me..." (John 14:21) We show our love to God through our obedience (self sacrifice) to Him. "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (1 John 4:8) Love and obedience are inseparable with God.
Love is so much an intricate part of our relationship with God that He continually proves the quality of our love. "...the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:3) "...to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." (Deuteronomy 8:2)
This proving is not for God's benefit, He already knows us, but rather for our own benefit. The Hebrew word "proveth" is nacah (naw-saw') which means to "assay." This same word is used for the trying of metals, to test the quality or content of precious metals such as gold and silver. God is going to show you the quality of your love for Him through your life of obedience (self sacrifice), or lack thereof.
Joseph, the son of Jacob was tested by God and found to be of pure gold. "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him." (Psalms 105:17-19) In the end God had a man He could trust.
Joseph endure many trials in God's crucible, but we see the genuine quality of his love for God in the account of Potiphar's wife. The persistence of this Temptrace proved vain when Joseph proclaimed, "...how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9) Joseph was constrained by his great love for God, he hid the Word within his heart that he might not sin against God. (Psalm 119:11) Obedience motivated by genuine love.
Many times I have heard the scripture quoted, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalms 37:4) However, it meant nothing more than to use God as a means to fulfill a selfish desire. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:3)
If a man were truly searching for understanding, he would have read one psalm more and found what was in David's heart when he said, "and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." David proclaimed with a heart filled with love for his creator, "Lord, all my desire is before thee..." (Psalms 38:9) With genuine love, our desire becomes His desire and will keep us on the highway of holiness.
If your christian life is not what it should be, ask yourself this question, what is the quality of my love for God? "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
"For the love of Christ constraineth us..." (2 Corinthians 5:14)
— Randy Munter Editor and Webmaster
The late Oswald Chambers wrote this.
"Very few of us know what it means to be held in a grip by the love of God; we are held by the constraint of our experience only. The one thing that held Paul, until there was nothing else on his horizon, was the love of God. 'The love of Christ constraineth us'-when you hear that note in a man or woman, you can never mistake it. You know that the Spirit of God is getting unhindered way in that life.
"When we are born again of the Spirit of God, the note of testimony is on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But the baptism of the Holy Ghost obliterates that for ever, and we begin to realize what Jesus meant when He said-'Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.' Not witnesses to what Jesus can do-that is an elementary witness- but 'witnesses unto Me.' We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation.
"No one can stand like that for Jesus Christ who is not constrained by the majesty of His personal power. It is the only thing that matters, and the strange thing is that it is the last thing realized by the Christian worker. ... Men may call him mad or sober, but he does not care; there is only one thing he is living for, and that is to persuade men of the judgment seat of God, and of the love of Christ. This abandon to the love of Christ is the one thing that bears fruit in the life, and it will always leave the impression of the holiness and of the power of God, never of our personal holiness."
- And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
- And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
- And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
- And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
- And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
- And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
- And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
- But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
- There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
- And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
- And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
- And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out
- And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
- That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
- And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
- And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
- And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
- And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
- And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
- And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
Read the entire Book of Genesis in the KJV
OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST
To love God with all the heart is the sum of all duty. Love must be exercised according to the relations which we bear. When a parent loves his child, he feels bound to exercise parental authority over it for its benefit; but the love of a child towards a parent requires obedience. So love to God produces obedience; for it is impossible to love God supremely without a supreme desire to please him in all things. Hence this one principle contains, involved in it, perfect obedience to every divine requirement.
The loveliness of the divine character is not abated, by being exhibited in the humble nature of man, in the person of Jesus Christ. In him the glory of the Father appears, claiming our supreme affections; and he is invested with the Father's authority, to which perfect obedience is due. The divine perfections are rendered snore intelligible to us by his mediation; and, in proportion to the clearness of the discovery, the obligation to love and obey becomes increased.
A powerful motive, to love and obey Christ, is drawn from the love which he has manifested in dying for us. Paul felt this in an overpowering degree, when he said, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
(1) The same overpowering impulse to love and obedience, is brought to view in another declaration of this apostle: "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, thee were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
(2) When our love to the Saviour grows cold we should repair to his cross, and fix our thoughts on the exhibition of love there presented. And when we feel our hearts melt, the recollection that the suffering Saviour is God over all, must produce a full purpose to yield to him the obedience of all our powers during our whole existence. From the cross we come forth to be Christ's, resolved to glorify him with our bodies and our spirits, which are his.
Jesus said to his disciples, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." This claim of obedience is cordially admitted by every true disciple. When the first emotion of love to Christ throbbed in the heart of the persecuting Saul, he inquired, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
The first disciples were required to serve their Lord and Master by strenuous efforts to spread his religion through the world; and the same obligation devolves on us. He came to be the Saviour of the world; and, notwithstanding the humility of his appearance, and the feebleness of the instrumentality which he chose, the religion of the despised Nazarene must prevail over the earth, and bless every nation of mankind. The conquest of the world has not yet been achieved, but the work is before us; and, if we are loyal subjects of Zion's King, we must give ourselves to its accomplishment.
The means which our King employs, for diffusing the blessings of his reign, are not such as human wisdom would have adopted. It has pleased the Lord, "by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe." It has seemed good to infinite wisdom, that the religion which is to bless mankind, should be propagated by the simple instrumentality of the Christian ministry and the Christian churches. If we seek military force, or legislative enactments, to accomplish the work, we turn away from the simplicity of Christ, and convert his kingdom into one of this world; and, whenever human wisdom has attempted, in any particular, to improve the simple means that Christ ordained, the progress of truth and righteousness has been impeded.
Much that has existed, and that now exists, among the professed followers of Christ, cannot be contemplated by one who sincerely loves him, without deep distress. Different creeds, and different ecclesiastical organizations, have divided those who bear his name into hostile parties, and Christianity has been disgraced, and its progress retarded. The world has seen hatred and persecution where brotherly love ought to have been exhibited; and Christ has been crucified afresh, and put to open shame, by those who claim to be his disciples.
For these evils, what shall be the remedy? Shall we look to the wisdom of this world, to devise the cure? Human wisdom did not originate the institutions of Christianity; and it is now unable to give them efficiency. We must return to the feet of our divine Master, and again receive his instructions. Let us, in the spirit of obedient disciples, inquire for the good old paths, that we may walk therein. No individual can accomplish everything; but it is his duty to do what he can. Let each one show that he possesses the spirit of Christ, and carefully obey all the commands of Christ. If he cannot cure the existing evils, he will, at least, not increase them; and the influence of his example may produce salutary effects beyond his most sanguine hopes.
The true spirit of obedience is willing to receive the slightest intimations of the divine will. All the truths of Revelation are not equally clear; yet none of them may be disregarded because of difficulty in their investigation. If some most needful to be known, are presented prominently on the inspired pages, and written in characters so large that he who runs may read; there are others which are discoverable only by diligent search. Yet the truths, thus discovered, are precious gems dug from an exhaustless mine; and even the very labor of discovery brings its own reward in the mental and spiritual discipline which it furnishes. The diligent student of the Scriptures derives an abundant recompense for his toil, not only from the enlarged and clearer views of divine truth to which he attains, but also from that constant exercise of humility and faith, for which he finds occasion at every step of his progress.
As the truths of revelation differ in the clearness with which they are exhibited, so our faith embraces them with different degrees of strength. A man who does not investigate for himself, may receive, with unwavering confidence, and maintain, with obstinate pertinacity, every dogma of his party: but he who uses his own powers in the search after truth, will find some things to be received as undoubted articles of faith, others as opinions to be held with various degrees of confidence, according to the strength of evidence with which they have been severally presented to the mind. By not furnishing overpowering evidence on every question of faith and practice, the divine wisdom has given scope for the moral dispositions of men to exert their influence. A careful inquiry respecting the minutest portions of duty, and a fixed determination to observe the will of God in every particular, may exhibit proofs of obedience more strong and decisive, than would be possible, if all truth and duty were discovered by intuition.
Our obedience to Christ should be universal. The tithing of mint, anise, and cummin, is of less moment than the weightier matters of law, judgment, mercy, and faith; but it is not therefore to be disregarded. Christ taught that both were to be observed. "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (3) Church order and the ceremonials of religion, are less important than a new heart; and in the view of some, any laborious investigation of questions respecting them may appear to be needless and unprofitable. But we know, from the Holy Scriptures, that Christ gave commands on these subjects, and we cannot refuse to obey. Love prompts our obedience; and love prompts also the search which may be necessary to ascertain his will. Let us, therefore, prosecute the investigation" which are before us, with a fervent prayer, that the Holy Spirit, who guides into all truth, may assist us to learn the will of him whom we supremely love and adore.
1. 1Gal. ii. 20
2. 22 Cor. v. 14, 15.
3. 3Matt. xxiii. 23.
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The love of Christ constraineth
The love of Christ constraineth;
O let the watchword ring
till all the world adoring
to Jesus' feet it bring.
Till north and south the kingdoms
shall own his glorious sway,
and east and west the nations
rejoice to see his day.
The love of Christ constraineth:
at home, abroad, where'er
by sea or shore abiding
his Name and sign we bear.
We ask not that our service
or great or small may be,
if only thou wilt own it,
dear Lord, as unto thee.
The love of Christ constraineth;
and we who trust his word
who know and feel its power
to gladder services stirred,
shall neither faint nor falter,
though dark the night and long,
and weak our hands that labor;
his strength shall make us strong.
The love of Christ constraineth;
then let us work and pray,
and watch the glad appearing
of that triumphant day,
when Father, Son and Spirit,
by every tongue confessed,
all earth his broad dominion
in his dear love shall rest.
Cara B. Evans, 1905