Thursday, September 18, 2014

True Love - John MacArthur

Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist and founder of the Menninger Clinic, has written that “Love is the medicine for our sick old world. If people can learn to give and receive love, they will usually recover from their physical or mental illness.”

The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire. When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of agapē love.

Alan Redpath tells the story of a young woman who came to her pastor desperate and despondent. She said, “There is a man who says he loves me so much he will kill himself if I don’t marry him. What should I do?” “Do nothing,” he replied. “That man doesn’t love you; he loves himself. Such a threat isn’t love; it is pure selfishness.”

Self–giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is as rare in much of the church today as it was in Corinth. The reason, of course, is that agapē love is so unnatural to human nature. Our world has defined love as “romantic feeling” or “attraction,” which has nothing to do with true love in God’s terms.

The supreme measure and example of agapē love is God’s love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Love is above all sacrificial. It is sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who may care nothing at all for us and who may even hate us. It is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self–giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own. It leaves no place for pride, vanity, arrogance, self–seeking, or self–glory. It is an act of choice we are commanded to exercise even in behalf of our enemies: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45). If God so loved us that, even “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:4–7), how much more should we love those who are our enemies.

With the same love by which the Father sent Jesus into the world, Jesus “loved His own who were in the world” and “He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). A more literal translation would be, “He loved them to perfection,” or “to completion.” Jesus loved to the fullest degree and measure. He loved to the limits of love.

MacArthur, John. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (329). Chicago: Moody Press.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Deliberate Sin

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" Hebrews 10:26

10:26 we. The author is speaking rhetorically. In verse 39, he excludes himself and genuine believers from this category. sin willfully. The Greek term carries the idea of deliberate intention that is habitual. The sin is rejecting Christ deliberately. These are not isolated acts. According to the Mosaic legislation, such acts of deliberate, premeditated sin required exclusion from the congregation of Israel (cf. Numbers 15:30, 31) and from its worship (cf. Exodus 21:14). Such sins also excluded the individual from sanctuary in the cities of refuge (cf. Deuteronomy 19:11–13). knowledge. The Greek term denotes specific knowledge, not general spiritual knowledge (cf. Hebrews 6:4; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). Though the knowledge was not defective or incomplete, the application of the knowledge was certainly flawed. Judas Iscariot is a good example of a disciple who had no lack of knowledge, but lacked faith and became the arch-apostate. no longer. See note on Hebrews 6:6. The apostate is beyond salvation because he has rejected the only sacrifice that can cleanse him from sin and bring him into God’s presence. To turn away from that sacrifice leaves him with no saving alternative. This is parallel to Matthew 12:31 (see note there).

The MacArthur Study Bible. 1997 (J. MacArthur, Jr., Ed.) (electronic ed.) (1914–1915). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Attack Anxiety!  by John MacArthur

The church is full of problems because it is full of problem people. Everyone in it is a sinner, albeit saved by grace, but nonetheless influenced by unredeemed human flesh. The church grows spiritually in direct proportion to how well we deal with anxiety and other sins in our midst.

The Apostle Paul identified the problem groups we all will encounter in the church. See whether yourself or others come to mind: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted [the anxious], help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men”  (1 Thes. 5:14–15).

Group number one is “the unruly.”  Let’s call them the wayward. They’re never in step. “Get with the program”  is a slogan that suits them. When everyone else is moving ahead, they’re going backward. Out of either apathy or rebellion, they’ve gone spiritually AWOL, and they’re not interested in learning or serving.

Group number two is “the fainthearted” —the worriers. They fear the unknown and have no sense of adventure. Their slogan in the church is “We’ve never done it that way before.”  They hate change; they love tradition; they want no risk. All the issues of life seem far more than they can bear. They’re usually sad, perpetually worried, sometimes in despair, and often depressed or discouraged. Consequently, they experience none of the thrill that adventure brings.

The third group is “the weak.”  These believers are spiritually and morally weak. Because of weak self-discipline, they tend to fall into the same sins over and over. You barely get them up on their feet and dust them off when suddenly they’re back in the same hole again. They find it hard to do God’s will consistently. They embarrass themselves, their church, and their Lord. Thus they require a lot of attention.

The fourth group could be called “the wearisome.”  Paul said to “be patient with all men.”  Some people we encounter require an extra degree of patience. You can pour your energy into them, and when you look to see how close they might be to the overall goal of Christlikeness (Phil. 3:12–15), they seem further away. Everything distracts them—they are not focused individuals. They’re very exasperating because you make the maximum effort and get the minimum return. They don’t grow at a normal pace.

Group five is the outright wicked. Even though Paul was addressing Christians, he found it necessary to say, “See that   p 77  no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another”  (v. 15). There are, sad to say, Christians who commit sins against other Christians. They break up marriages. They defile daughters. They steal. They gossip. They slander. They falsely accuse.

If a church is to grow, it must minister to all five groups. This applies to you: Going to church is not just showing up on Sunday morning. The Lord would have you understand these groups of people so that—much more than not being numbered among their ranks—you might use your spiritual gifts to help them. Then they, in turn, will be able to help others. Help a worrier not to worry and your own worries disappear in the process. What’s more, there’s less of a climate of worry in the church. That is an effective way to attack anxiety.

MacArthur, J. (1993). Anxiety Attacked. MacArthur Study Series (75–77). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.