06 - VI. God's Purpose For Humanity
27 July, 2008 AM
Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church
VI. God’s Purpose for Humanity
Lev. 19:18, 34; Deut. 1:16-17; Job 31:13-14; Jer. 21:12; 22:3; Micah 6:8; Matt. 5:44-48; 7:12; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:27-29,
35; John 13:34-35; Acts 10:34-35; 17:26; Rom. 12:9; 13:1, 7-8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:10; Titus 3:1; James 2:8; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John
2:5; 4:12-13; 2 John 6
A man and wife were walking in a crowd. The husband delighted his wife by taking her hand. She asked, “You don’t want to lose me?” He replied, “I don’t want to have to look for you.”
Love, love is expressed or shown in many different ways isn’t it? But did you realize that love was God’s purpose for us from the very beginning? Scripture tells us this time and time again. It wasn’t something new that Jesus gave us, but He did say it in a way that was very easy to understand. Love is so important to God that we as a denomination felt that it should be one of our Articles of Religion, as a matter of fact it’s pretty high on our list coming after the Trinity and our belief in the sufficiency and authority of the Scriptures for salvation. Here is what article six says:
We believe that the two great commandments which require us to love the Lord our God with all the heart, and our neighbors as ourselves, summarize the divine law as it is revealed in the Scriptures. They are the perfect measure and norm of human duty, both for the ordering and directing of families and nations, and all other social bodies, and for individual acts, by which we are required to acknowledge God as our only Supreme Ruler, and all persons as created by Him, equal in all natural rights. Therefore all persons should so order all their individual, social and political acts as to give to God entire and absolute obedience, and to assure to all the enjoyment of every natural right, as well as to promote the fulfillment of each in the possession and exercise of such rights. (Discipline)
Look at that first sentence again: We believe that the two great commandments which require us to love the Lord our God with all the heart, and our neighbors as ourselves, summarize the divine law as it is revealed in the Scriptures. If you remember in the book of Mark, Jesus is trying to be tricked by the religious leaders, first they ask Him if He thought it was right to pay taxes to Caesar and He told them to give to Caesar that which was Caesar’s. Then they tried to trip Him up by asking about something they didn’t even believe in, resurrection and about a woman, who because of the law of that day, which was if a husband dies without having a child to carry on his name, his brother would marry the wife and try to have children. In their story, the woman ends up marrying and burying all seven brothers without having a child, and their question was, whose wife would she be at the resurrection? He tells them that at the resurrection we will not be married nor will we be given in marriage, we will be like the angels.
Then one of the teachers of the law comes up with a question that he thought would stump Jesus, he asks in Mark 12 starting with the28th verse: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mk 12:28-31)
He thought he had really gotten Jesus with that question, but Jesus got him because when you get right down to it, if you keep these two commandments, to love God with your entire being, and love your neighbor as yourself, you will keep and not break any of the Ten Commandments. Jesus was summarizing the Ten Commandments as a matter of fact He was summarizing the Scriptures – to love God and each other.
We as Wesleyans believe so strongly in these two commandments that we feel: They are the perfect measure and norm of human duty, both for the ordering and directing of families and nations, and all other social bodies, and for individual acts . . .
Is this just something that sounded good to us or is there a reason we believe this way? Is there a reason why we think that love should guide us in all things? Well, mainly because that is what the Bible tells us not just in the book of Mark but look at some of these other passages: Lev 19:18; Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (Le 19:18) Do not seek revenge. We probably all understand what revenge is but to be sure that we’re on the same page here is one of the definitions from the Encarta Dictionary, it says: revenge is the “desire or urge to get even with somebody”. It’s not just the act of getting even it’s the desire or urge to get even with somebody. And remember this is God speaking here in Leviticus and He’s saying, “do not seek revenge, don’t even desire or urge to get even with them. He also says, “do not bear a grudge” – definition: resentment, “a feeling of ill will, especially one lasting for a long time.”
This is really important for us to understand, it sounds so simple and yet it seems to be very hard for most of us to do. I have heard people say things like, “I haven’t killed anyone or robbed a bank and I believe in God and go to church every Sunday so I know I’m going to heaven.” But what God is saying here is that if you harbor a desire to get even with someone or if you hold on to a feeling of ill will or resentment towards someone or something that happened to you or someone you care about, then you are not loving your neighbor and you are breaking God’s commands.
The article of religion goes on and says that we: acknowledge God as our only Supreme Ruler, and all persons as created by Him, equal in all natural rights. This means that it makes no difference what race a person is we believe that every man, woman and child was, is and always will be created by our heavenly Father and we should all be treated the same, with love and respect. Peter said in Acts 10: I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Ac 10:34-35)
And with that in mind we go on to say: Therefore all persons should so order all their individual, social and political acts as to give to God entire and absolute obedience.
What does this mean? This means that if you don’t believe in abortion you should bomb abortion clinics – of course not! And yet that is exactly what some people have done in the name of God. Don’t get me wrong, we need to take stands for Kingdom, but we need to do it in a way that bring honor and glory to God, not disgrace. The best way we can bring glory to God is by showing love to everyone, even those that would do us harm, or those which would lie to hurt us. Paul says in Romans 12: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Ro 12:9)
Is it easy to love everyone? Sometimes its not is it? But we have been give something that others have not, its been offered but many have refused it and that is the grace offered through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice on the cross and power of the Holy Spirit which lives in us. The Holy Spirit as we learned a couple of weeks ago, helps us in all areas of our lives, if we will let Him. He teaches and convicts, He prompts us to do what is right and to obey God’s word. John records in 1 John 2: But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. (1 Jn 2:5a)
And he goes on in the 4th chapter and says: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1 Jn 4:12-13) Let’s finish up with one last passage from 2 John 6: And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 Jn 6)
Is there any wonder as to why we feel this is so important as a denomination? After all, we learn all we know about love from our heavenly Father who loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son