As we begin our study today we will ask God to bring comfort and security to our minds.   God as a Father cares for His children, His LOVE is everlasting.   As a believer, we have much to praise God for.  Sometimes we get so caught up with the swiftness of our lives that we forget who gave us the wonderful life that we have.

Open Bible Ministries of TN: our purpose is to have people  opening the Bible throughout the world through Biblical Teaching and assisting Christians who love Christ and are committed to learning the Bible.

FURTHER WE DESIRE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH STUDIES FROM THE WORD OF GOD THAT WILL COMFORT AND ENCOURAGE YOU.  AS YOU STUDY, WE DESIRE TO HELP PROTECT YOUR WALK WITH CHRIST THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF GOD’S WORD TO YOUR LIFE (Psalm 1:1-3).

Also, it is extremely important for you to realize that we present the Word of God but you must be like the Berean’s who searched the Scriptures to find out if it was true (Acts 17:10-11).

NOTE:   AS WE LOOK AT THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA WE WILL FIND MUCH ABOUT OUR GOD TO BE EXCITED ABOUT.  It is a wonderful thing to know 4 things:

  • God’s wisdom is ONLY for those who SEEK to be PERFECT [mature] before God (I Corinthians 2:6).   A person only becomes perfect by being “in Christ” or having accepted God’s Son as his or her Savior.
  • God’s wisdom is not the wisdom of this world and its leaders (I Corinthians 2:6).
  • God’s wisdom is the wisdom of God Himself (I Corinthians 2:7-9).
  • God’s wisdom is revealed ONLY by God’s Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10-13).

“TRUST in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean NOT on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He SHALL DIRECT YOUR PATHS.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart FROM EVIL” (Proverbs 3:5-7, emphasis added, NKJV). 

These verses describe for the believer God’s desire for our life, a life of total dependence and commitment to God.  All who truly love God will desire to please Him [glorify Him] and take seriously the principles found in these verses and apply them to their life actions.  God longs for the believer to be completely dependent upon Him and to have utter confidence (Faith) in Him.   God desires the believer to trust Him completely.   To make His desire plain He says to cast “all” your care on Him.  That is how much He loves you.  He will “always” have time to listen to you and answer your prayers.

“casting ALL your care on Him, (Why?)  for He CARES FOR YOU” (I Peter 5:7, emphasis added, NKJV). 

NOTE:   God’s wisdom is ONLY for those who seek to be (perfect KJV; mature NKJV, I Corinthians 2:6).  Paul clearly says that he spoke “wisdom among them who are perfect [mature].”  By “perfect” or “mature” he means those who are concerned…

  • about being perfect [mature] and acceptable to God and
  • about those destined for perfection in heaven.

NOTE:  The word “perfect” (teleiois) means finished, complete.  It means fully developed, grown, mature.  It means to reach one’s end.

The person who LONGS for heaven and seeks to reach his end by being perfect before God is the person who focuses his life upon the wisdom of God.

He is the ONLY person who is really interested in God and His wisdom. He is the person who SPEAKS, PROCLAIMS, and TALKS about the wisdom of God. He is the person who is excited about seeing the Lord Jesus Christ and going to heaven.  In other words, he is the person who has accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

NOTE:  Men who are worldly in their approach to life have little if any desire for His wisdom.  Their desire is to live and walk as they please, not to live and walk in the wisdom of God.  The wisdom of God is foolishness to them that perish [go to hell upon death].  However, God’s wisdom to the truly saved is the Word of God, it is the power of God to live as God desires.

“For the message of the Cross is foolishness TO THOSE who are perishing, but to us who ARE BEING SAVED it is the power of God.  For it is written:  ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent’.  Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”  (I Corinthians 1:18-21, emphasis added, NKJV).

“Beloved now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we SHALL BE, but we KNOW that when He is REVEALED, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And EVERYONE who has this HOPE in Him PURIFIES himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2-3, emphasis added, NKJV).

NOTE:  The world and its leaders are at a loss to understand WHERE we have come from, WHY we are here, and WHERE we are going.  Why?  Because they refuse to trust God and His Word.  They would rather rely on their own imperfect wisdom to guide their life.  Now let’s turn to the definition of Philadelphia “brotherly love” and delve more deeply into the subject of love, its meaning and application to ourselves by the study of God’s Word.

First, however, we need to answer the question “where does true love come from?”  The answer is simple, true love, the type we are examining comes only from God.  Why?  Because He is Love!

“Beloved, let us love ONE ANOTHER, for love IS OF GOD; and everyone who loves IS BORN OF GOD AND KNOWS GOD.  He who does not love does not know God FOR GOD IS LOVE” (I John 4:7-8, emphasis added). 

As you look around the world today, you will come to the understanding that what the world needs now, more than anything else, is love, God’s love, “agape love.”  Let’s consider a little further, God’s love.

  • God’s love is an affection that moves Him to provide for the well-being of all human beings, regardless of their personal merit, worth, or spiritual state.
  • His love is a sacrificial love (John 3:16).  This was graciously expressed to ALL unsaved people once and for all by the Father’s giving His Son as a sacrifice for their sins (I John 4:9-10).
  • God’s love is a compassionate love (Matthew 5:44-45).  This is manifested in God’s providing mankind with those things that are essential to life in this world (Acts 14:17; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 5:44-45; Matthew 6:25-26,33).
  • God’s love is paternal love (John 16:27).  God’s fatherly love is expressed through is His affection for all saved people, whom He HAS BROUGHT INTO HIS FAMILY IN RESPONSE TO THEIR FAITH IN JESUS, HIS SON, AND HIS ATONING WORK (JOHN 1:12; 3:16).

NOTE:  Stop and think about it.  It is amazing that God, Himself, loves these people as He loves own His Son (John 17:23), and the Son, loves them as the Father loves Him (John 15:9).

NOTE:  If people loved each other with “agape” love [God’s love], there would be no more war, crime, abuse, injustice, poverty, hunger, starvation, homelessness, deprivation, or immorality.

  • Love is truly the one ingredient that could and would revolutionize our world.
  • Love is the greatest missing quality of human life today.
  • Love is the greatest quality of human life.
  • Love is the supreme quality, the most excellent way for man to live.

God’s love for sinners must be distinguished from human friendship love, which spontaneously rises from pleasure in its object.

Despite His hostility toward us when we were sinners, God graciously chose to love us, and to provide a way by which to deliver us from our sins, and to bring us into a right relation with Himself and thereby allow us to go to Heaven (Romans 5:7-8).

“For when WE WERE still without STRENGTH, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE TOWARD US, in that while we were STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we SHALL BE SAVED from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God THROUGH the death of His Son, MUCH MORE, having been reconciled, we shall Be SAVED BY HIS LIFE”  (Romans 5:6-10, emphasis added, NKJV).

NOTE:  Because of our sin-ruined condition and hostility toward God, there was nothing in us that attracted God’s love.  He did not spontaneously love us or like us in our sinful state.  The point is GOD graciously loved us BECAUSE He CHOSE TO DO SO, not because He was attracted to any delightful thing in us.

Note several interesting things about God’s love in John 3:16.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).

  1. God’s love is universal, for He loved the WHOLE human race.
  2. God’s love is sacrificial; this is borne out by the great cost as seen in the Father’s giving of His Son (I John 4:9-10).

“In this the LOVE OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED [SEEN] toward us, that God HAS SENT His only begotten Son into the world, that WE MIGHT LIVE THROUGH HIM.  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” (I John 4:9-10, emphasis added, NKJV).

It is also sacrificial in the Son’s [Jesus] giving Himself for our sins (Matthew 20:28; Galatians 2:20).

“Just as the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY” (Matthew 20:28, emphasis added, NKJV).        

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I NOW LIVE in the flesh I LIVE BY FAITH in the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME” (Galatians 2:20).                                   

  1. God’s love is gracious for He loved us when, as guilty sinners and enemies, we were undeserving of His love (Romans 5:6, 8).

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly….But God demonstrates HIS OWN LOVE toward us, in that WHILE we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6, 8).

  1. It is beneficent.  Why?  Because of this LOVE and its expressions in Jesus’ sacrifice, God is ready to bring about the greatest good in the lives of ALL who trust in His Son, the Savior [Jesus Christ] and His atoning work for their salvation (I Peter 2:24-25, I John 4:9).

“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might LIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS—by whose stripes you where healed.  For YOU were like sheep going astray, but have NOW RETURNED to the SHEPHERD and OVERSEER of your souls” (I Peter 2:24-25, emphasis added, NKJV).

“IN THIS THE LOVE OF GOD was manifested [made known] toward us, that God has sent…into the world, that WE MIGHT LIVE THROUGH HIM” (I John 4:9, emphasis added, NKJV).

Perhaps it would help us if we reviewed the meaning of AGAPE love by contrasting it with the various kinds of love it would help. There are essentially four kinds of love.  Whereas the English language has only the word LOVE TO DESCRIBE ALL THE AFFECTIONATE EXPERIENCES OF MEN.  The Greek language had a different word to describe each kind of love.

  1. There is PASSIONATE LOVE or EROS LOVE. This is physical love between the sexes; the patriotic love of a person for his nation; the ambition of a person for power, wealth, or fame.  Briefly stated EROS love is the base love of a man that arises from his own inner passion.  Sometimes EROS LOVE is focused upon good and other times it is focused upon bad.  It should be noted that EROS LOVE is never used in the New Testament.
  2. There is AFFECTIONATE LOVE OR STORAGE LOVE.  This the kind of love that exists between a parent and child and between loyal citizens and a trustworthy ruler.   STORAGE love is also not used in the New Testament.
  3. There is ENDEARING LOVE, the love that cherishes. This is PHILEO LOVE, the love of a husband and wife for each other, of a brother for a brother, of a friend, for the dearest of friends.  It is the love that cherishes, that holds someone or something ever so dear to one’s heart.
  4. There is SELFLESS and SACRIFICIAL LOVE or AGAPE LOVE. A love that should be in a marriage.  Agape love is the love of the mind, of the reason, of the will.

It is the love that goes so far…

  • that it loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved.

It is the love that goes so far…

  • that actually loves the person who is utterly unworthy of being loved.

A DEEPER CONSIDERATION OF AGAPE LOVE:

  1. Selfless or agape love is the love of God, the very love possessed by God Himself. It is the love demonstrated in the Cross of Christ.
  • It is the love of God for the UNGODLY.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, KJV).

  • It is the love of God for unworthy sinners.

 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added, KJV).

  •          It is the love of God for undeserving enemies.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10, KJV, emphasis added).

2. Selfless or agape love is a GIFT OF GOD. It can be  experienced ONLY IF A PERSON KNOWS God PERSONALLY, by accepting God’s Son as Savior—only if a person has received the love of God into his heart and life.  Agape love has to be shed abroad (poured out, flooded, spread about) by the Spirit of God within the heart of a person.

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost [Spirit] which is given unto us (Romans 5:5, emphasis added, KJV).

3. Selfless or agape love is the greatest thing in all of life according to the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is ONE Lord: and though shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy HEART, and with all thy SOUL and with all thy MIND,   and with all thy STRENGTH: this is the FIRST COMMANDMENT.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love THY NEIGHBOR as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these’ ” (Mark 12:29-31, emphasis added, KJV).

4. Selfless or agape love is the greatest possession and gift in human life according to the Scripture  (I Corinthians 13:1- 13).

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love]” (I Corinthian13:13).