23 Things That Love Is

  By Paul Tripp: Love. What is it? A quick Google search will produce several billion answers. Billion – with a B. Yet if you were to read through just a few of those websites, you would end up massively confused about this thing called love. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to invite you to consider love once again. Instead of Googling the answer, we will spending a few days in the source of Truth, learning from the source of Love. Below are 23 things that love is. This list was excerpted from my newest devotional, “The Invitation To Love.” With your donation of any amount to my ministry, you can get this 10-part devotional resource today. You have been welcomed into eternity by the God of Love, and he welcomes you – right here, right now – to love others in the same way. It’s an invitation unlike any other. LOVE

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The Secret to Creating [Church] Community

Dane Ortlund: “The biggest problem people have in searching for community is just that. You don’t find community; you create it through love. Look how this transforms the way you enter a room full of strangers. Our instinctive thought is, “Who do I know? Who am I comfortable with?” There’s nothing wrong with those questions, but the Jesus questions that create communities are, “Who can I love? Who is left out?” Here are two different formulas for community formation: 1. Search for community where I am loved: become disappointed with community 2. Show hesed love: create community” –Paul Miller, A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships (Crossway, 2014), 100; italics original

The Litmus Test of Genuine Christianity

Cap Stewart: In our pluralistic culture, churches have become so varied that they spread confusion about what it really means to be a follower of Christ. When it comes to hot-button issues like gun rights, abortion, and homosexuality, professing Christians line up on opposite ends. Can Christianity legitimately be so divided? Or, to put it another way, can anyone discern the “real deal”? Is it possible to know what functional, practical Christianity truly looks like? James, the brother of Jesus, says yes—and he gives us a simple litmus test: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (Jas. 1:27). James provides a short, two-item checklist: (1) love—helping those in need, and (2) holiness—separating from worldly influence. These two traits summarize the practical outworking of a life changed by the gospel. Much of the current division within the church comes from

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Passive and Active Righteousness

Jono Linebaugh: “This is our theology, by which we teach a precise distinction between these two kinds of righteousness, the active and the passive” (Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians 1535). There are “two kinds of righteousness” because human beings live in two kinds of relationships: 1) creature with Creator and 2) creature with creature. Before God (coram Deo), people are passive, receiving righteousness by grace through faith on account of Christ (Rom 3:21-24; 5:17; 10:6; Phil 3:9; cf. Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16). Before the world (coram mundo), people are active, serving their neighbor in love (Rom 13:8-19; Gal 5:13-14). This distinction is essential because, as Luther put it, it ensures that “morality and faith, works and grace … are not confused. Both are necessary, but both must be kept within their limits” (Lectures on Galatians 1535). To be human is to be two-dimensional: passive (i.e. receptive) before God and active (i.e. loving) before the world. These two kinds of righteousness are distinct, but they are

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To Follow Christ Is to Love Them When They Hate You

Kevin DeYoung: There are two difficult realities you must accept if you are to live faithfully as a Christian in the world. (1) You will have enemies. And (2) you must love those enemies. Jesus taught both things quite clearly. Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:21-22 “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Accepting either one of these truths is challenging enough. Embracing both of them takes the work of the Holy Spirit. Some people can accept that they will have

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Orthodoxy and love

“Is an attachment to orthodoxy necessarily accompanied by a rigid and unloving spirit?  If we were to think of all the orthodox people we know, then we might conclude that that is sometimes the case.  If we recollect all the unorthodox people we know, then we might come to the same conclusion!  The real question is whether there is any likely or necessary connection between orthodoxy and lack of love. . . . Any idea that love and orthodoxy are antithetical to each other is foreign to the teaching of Christ.  Our Lord requires both.  Let us therefore reject the sort of self-righteousness in which we congratulate ourselves on being orthodox and think that this somehow compensates for a lack of love.  Similarly let us not think that Christ will overlook denials of his Word simply because we are loving.” Noel Weeks, The Sufficiency of Scripture (Edinburgh, 1988), page 237. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

A great heart

“A man who is to do much with men must love them and feel at home with them.  An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. . . . A man must have a great heart, if he would have a great congregation.  His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbors along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet.  When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship.  Such a man is hearty in private as well as in public; his blood is not cold and fishy but he is warm as your own fireside.  No pride and selfishness chill you when you approach him; he has his doors all open to receive you, and you are

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Don’t Be Scandalized When Christians Debate One Another in Love

  Justin Taylor: John Stott on what Christians should do when they disagree with each other: The proper activity of professing Christians who disagree with one another is neither to ignore, nor to conceal, nor even to minimize their differences, but to debate them. We are “to maintain the truth in love,” being neither truthless in our love, nor loveless in our truth, but holding the two in balance. —From John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1970), pp. 22, 19.

Not unselfing, but unselfishing

  “Our self-abnegation is thus not for our own sake but for the sake of others.  And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us but specifically to self-sacrifice, not to unselfing ourselves but to unselfishing ourselves.  Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish.   It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness.  At best it succeeds only in subjecting the outer self to the inner self or the lower self to the higher self, and only the more surely falls into the slough of self-seeking, that it partially conceals the selfishness of its goal by refining its ideal of self and excluding its grosser and more outward elements.  Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister, narrows and contracts the soul, murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until

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Our New And Exalted Identity

From Tullian Tchividjian: When most of us stop long enough to consider what establishes our identity, what really makes us who we are, many of us act as if the answer to this consideration is “our performance.” In Who Will Deliver Us, Paul Zahl expands on this: If I can do enough of the right things, I will have established my worth. Identity is the sum of my achievements. Hence, if I can satisfy the boss, meet the needs of my spouse and children, and still do justice to my inner aspirations, then I will have proven my worth. There are infinite ways to prove our worth along these lines. The basic equation is this: I am what I do. It is a religious position in life because it tries to answer in practical terms the question, Who am I and what is my niche in the universe? On this reading, my niche is in proportion to my deeds. In Christian

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Moral Decisions Regarding Liberty

Eight tests for moral decision making (in areas of liberty) from John Feinberg’s book, Ethics for a Brave New World: The first question is, am I fully persuaded that it is right? Paul says (Rom 14:5, 14, 23) that whatever we do in these areas, we must be persuaded it is acceptable before God. If we are not fully persuaded, we doubt rather than believe that we can do this and stand acceptably before God. If there is doubt, Paul says, there is sin (v. 23). So if there is any doubt, regardless of the reason for doubt, one should refrain. In the future, doubt might be removed, and then one could indulge; but while there is doubt, one must refrain. Second, can I do it as unto the Lord? Whatever we do, Paul says, we must do as unto the Lord (Rom 14:6–8). To do something as unto the Lord is to do it as serving him. If one cannot serve the

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Only by a power from beyond ourselves

“If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise.  But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty.  And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation.  All too often young people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we are called upon to show to a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful. Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity.  I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously.  In

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“One anothers” I can’t find in the New Testament

From Ray Ortlund: Humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, disapprove of one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins, intensify one another’s sufferings, point out one another’s failings . . . . In a soft environment, where we settle for a false peace with present evils, we turn on one another.  In a realistic environment, where we are suffering to advance the gospel, our thoughts turn to how we can stick up for one another. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13

Love: The Most Excellent Way

From: Juan Sanchez: If you have ever been a part of any church for any amount of time, then chances are you have witnessed conflict, perhaps even major conflict. This is a sad reality of life and ministry. You would think that a church full of professing Christians would be able to avoid divisions, but the truth of the matter is they don’t. Why is that? Why are so many churches marked by conflict and animosity? The Corinthian church situation allows us to look into a divided church full of corporate and personal conflicts. There are several facts that may help us to see why conflict arises in churches. First, divisions arose because of spiritual immaturity (3:1-4:21). Those who were immature placed their favorite “preacher” above the others. Instead, Paul reminded them that they should not boast in men, but in God (3:18-23). After all, ministers are God’s servants (4:1-21). Second, divisions arose because of spiritual apathy. They simply refused

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Speaking The Truth In Love

My thanks to Jimmy Davis for this: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….”  (Ephesians 4:15) T. M. Moore offers insight into how to speak the truth in love: There are two obstacles to be surmounted in learning to speak the truth in love. The first is that you must love the truth. If you do not love the truth you won’t care enough about it to learn it or to defend it when it is called into question or denied. To love the truth you must court it continually, engage it in conversation, take it into your heart and mind, yield all your life to it, speak of it often with others who love it, and thank the One Who gives us His truth. Before you begin to speak out on behalf of the truth, make sure you love it well. The second obstacle is

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