The Greater Love (Part Two)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

I John 2:8 – Again a new commandment I write unto you {referring to the new commandment that Jesus gave in the Gospel of John 13:34}, which thing is true in him {Christ} and in you: because the darkness is passed, and the true light now shineth.

The new commandment that Jesus gave to us originally was only available to himself until he had redeemed humanity. However, since Christ has redeemed us, this new commandment gives us the ability to enjoy the spiritual love of God that once only Jesus knew, but now we can know it also. We can daily realize what Jesus had taught is true, for the love of God is in him and it is in us. “The true light that now shineth” means that we indeed can experience this “greater love.”

I John 2:10 – He that loveth his brother {a fellow Christian believer} abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

When we love as Christ loves we are abiding in the light. How often when we walk in the light will we even have an occasion to stumble? Never!

I John 3:16 – Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he {Jesus Christ} laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

This is a verse of Scripture that we best look over very carefully. First we can now perceive with understanding, God’s actual love, because we now have it. We currently have the love of God in our hearts because Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Then comes the phrase “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” and we may think “No way I am doing that!” In real life very few people can honestly up and die for someone else. They may say it, yes, but carry it through?

In the Gospel of John 15:13, Jesus said “greater love hath no man {no one} than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” No one other than Jesus had this greater love. John 15:13 was pointing to a future moment in the life of Jesus that would end his life in a horrible, torturous death. However, I John 3:16 is looking back in time to when “he laid down {past tense} his life for us.”

Today we have this greater love that Jesus utilized, but for us in God’s family we are never encouraged or directed to die for one another! Rather we are instructed and encouraged to live for one another in love, and live immersed in the light of God’s love. Man’s love at its strongest point could encourage one to say, “I would lay my life down for you.” However, God’s love in its greatest emphasis encourages us to live for one another, not die. Also notice that I John 3:16 does not say to die for each other. We are only encouraged to lay down our lives in service, and what we are to serve is the love of God!

Well, praise God for knowing His truth. There is no profit in dying, especially when your God desires that you enjoy the more abundant life (John 10:10). Jesus taught that only one would suffer and die. Yes, it took the love of God for Jesus to accomplish this for you (for all sinners, so anyone could be saved), but now God’s “greater love” is given to enhance your life each and every day.

The Greater Love (Part One)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

John 15:12 – This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

This commandment of Jesus was first given back in the Gospel of John chapter 13:34-35, when he called it “the new commandment.” This new commandment is to love in a specific way, “as I have loved you.” Coming to know Jesus from the Scriptures is how we learn how he loved, for his love was and still is the love of God, and it is available today to love as Jesus loved.

John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus in explaining who has the love of God says “greater love hath no man.” The word “man” is the Greek word for “one,” for “no one” other than Jesus at this time in the Gospel of John had this greater love to apply and enjoy. This is why he said “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42). Then, Jesus says that it would take this greater love in order for him to lay down his life for his friends. Have you ever considered yourself as a friend of Jesus? Well he considers himself your friend! This greater love that Jesus was referring to is what is now available from God because of the sacrifice of Jesus laying down his life for us.

John 13:37-38:
-37: Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
-38: Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

Peter was willing, he considered the task of dying for Jesus, yet Jesus knew that even with all the good intentions of Peter to want to help, if it meant dying, Peter would never be able to carry it through. Human (man’s own) love never really allows one to make that ultimate sacrifice for others. In war, of course it is a different story, for it is kill or be killed. However, Jesus obviously knew that Peter would not be able to lay down his life and would even deny him. No one had the spiritual love to carry out God’s will for the redemption of humanity other than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Today, because of the ultimate sacrifice, crucifixion, and torture that Jesus endured we now have every right into all the love of God that Jesus displayed. I would like to close out this Bible byte by quoting from the Epistle of Romans.

Romans 5:6-8:
-6:  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
-7:  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
-8:  But God {who was in Christ, II Corinthians 5:19} commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

A Lovely Service

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Psalms 123:2:
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

In the biblelands, a faithful servant or maiden would always fix his or her eyes on the masters or mistress’s eyes and hands even from afar as servants cherished the responsibility of being in the service of the master or mistress because they were rewarded for their service. In time, a personal bond would grow between the master and his servant, as they became companions on life’s journey, and the servant would treasure the trust he has earned and as well, the master would cherish the trust he has placed in his servant.

You see, when a master had this kind of bond with a watchful servant, there would be unspoken communications and directions sent, and blessings and rewards received. For instance, when their master or mistress would perhaps raise one eyebrow in a certain way or move his or her hand with a subtle gesture, the master, or mistress would be directing a servant or maiden to do something, perhaps bring a cup of water, or a pillow, or possibly let the cat out. The servant or maiden who would keep their eyes on the master or mistress would be blessed as Jesus taught, “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching” (Luke 12:37). A servant or maiden that has earned this trust would receive better food, better sleeping arrangements, much better clothing – etcetera, and the respect of the master or maiden.

In the time of the Gospels a Centurion (an officer in the Roman army in charge of a unit of approximately 100 foot soldiers), implored Jesus’ help for his servant when Jesus was teaching in Capernaum, on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee. This servant of the Centurion had become incredibly sick and paralyzed and he was bedridden being “grievously tormented” with his inflection (Matthew 8:5-13).

You know it would have been much easier for that Centurion to dismiss his savant and just order up another one, if not for one thing and one thing only; they both had a bond of friendship that the two of them built together. When that servant was down and on his back, his master in a reversal of roles kept his eyes on his servant, went to work for him, and served the servant until help was found; this was the benefit and blessing his servant had earned and received by being a faithful steward in his service to his master.

Proverbs 18:24 also refers to this kind of man who in a time of need becomes a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” What an awesome bond the two men had for each other. As this Centurion watched over his servant, we find an excellent example of our heavenly Father keeping His eyes upon the faithful as they serve Him:

Psalms 101:6:
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, {God’s way, reserved for “the pure in heart” and} he shall serve me.

Matthew 5:8:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see {understand or comprehend} God.

The pure in heart are those who seek to faithfully serve the LORD. Faithful servants learn to respectively watch over His Word “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). And they – my friend – are the faithful of the land and the eyes of the LORD will watch over, and may I say, because He is God, He can do this more intently than any Centurion or caregiver could possibly fathom. Man’s response is to allow our heavenly Father this privilege as we wait on Him, considering that this also is our privilege.

Psalms 130:5-6:
-5: I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
-6: My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

What an awesome partnership we can build with our heavenly Father, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” (Psalms 84:11-12).

A faithful servant was highly prized and extremely trusted by the master or mistress, and through this trust, an equally respected bond would continue to grow often into some real friendships as Jesus told some of his disciples:

John 15:15:
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Jesus has given us a remarkable reason to be in his service, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The ultimate reach of his friendship and love to you and I was that he not only said this but that he did this for you and I, his friends, as Peter wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18). Thankfully Jesus became, “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19), so that he may bring us to God.

Jesus Christ is as a golden thread, and he connects our hearts to the heavenly Father’s heart. All so often, Christian believers do not feel like they are a real part of God’s family or have access to God’s gifts, and that they do not really belong to Christ. (The best way that I know how to help one another find what is their personal part, purpose, and reason for being in the service of Christ is through receiving a personal understanding of who Jesus Christ is to them individually, whom we explore and explain in detail through our eBooklet series, The Golden Thread. This series is a blueprint that traces the biblical realities of Jesus through the entire Bible and makes them clearly understandable, because through Christ we come to know that God will remember and reward us through eternity as he is the link between God and man,─ I Timothy 2:5). Coming to personally know our Savior helps to enable God’s children who are on Christ’s behalf reaching out in Christian service and being a blessing to one another.

Today we have unfettered access to God Himself because of the service of our friend, our Savior, and our every reason to enlist in the service of offering his love to each other, “by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Proverbs 22:11 declares, “He that loveth pureness of heart {see Matthew 8:5, above}, for the grace of his lips {graceful lips that speak of love} the king shall be his friend.” In our case, the king that shall be our friend is Jesus Christ who shall be with us as we learn to reach out to serve love to our fellow man!

I John 4:7-11:
-7: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
-8: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
-9: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
-10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
-11: Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Believers today who are in the service of our heavenly Father will also receive His laureled honor, are also in the service of Jesus Christ as he taught, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26).

There is only one way to reach out and reciprocate the love of our friend and Savior and that is to serve love. Love is a part of him, and through his love “ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). Through the lovely service of love, we will discover the true mercies God has placed upon our lives, mercy that has made us deserving of serving Him through the eternity of His love.

So our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, as a servant would look for and anticipate guidance and blessings; we in the service of the LORD shall receive the guidance enjoyed from His blessings and mercy upon our lives. Psalms 59:17 reads, “Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.” Notice the Psalmist wrote, the God of my mercy; once God gives you His mercy, then it is yours to explore and enjoy as you take pleasure in discovering its many benefits.

Mercy means the withholding of judgments, and thus, it is to receive something you do not literally get (judgments), mercy is actually receiving something so much greater than judgments for mercy is your proof of the personal relationship that you have worked to build in the service of the Creator of heaven and earth! One who is in the service of the LORD becomes one who is at peace with Him, and this peace grows and is nurtured into a united bond between both the LORD and His child who is waiting upon and receiving from Him daily inspiration and guidance.

The phrase, in the first verse of this study, until that he have mercy upon us, does not imply that He “may not” have mercy, but indicates the time (or duration) of God’s mercy upon us, which is now. And mercy becomes more and more realized and accepted and appreciated in our lives through the unspoken communications received from our inspiration in a lovely service of serving the LORD.

Psalms 86:5:
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Psalms 90:14:
O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalms 107:1:
O GIVE thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Colossians 3:22-24:
-22: Servants {this can be applied to employees on the job}, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing {respecting, honoring} God:
-23: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
-24: Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Hebrews 4:16:
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Thankfully

“Thankfully salvation is not based on our works, but as the Scriptures reveal, salvation is by God’s grace because Christ has already done the work and paid the full price in order that we may sincerely believe to receive. We receive our salvation on account of a friend, on our friend, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is the friend we read about in Proverbs 18:24, there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and he indeed laid down his life for each and every one of us. I do believe that if you or I were the only person to believe, then this close friend would still have laid down his life so that you or I my walk with our Savior!” ~LMJ~

Looking Unto Jesus (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Hebrews 12:1-2:
-1: WHEREFORE seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
-2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is {now} set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The great cloud of witnesses is the Old Testament believers talked about in Hebrews chapter 11. The witness of these believers was their faith, their positive believing faith and inner hope and conviction in the coming of Jesus Christ which even today is recognized when reading the Bible. In retrospect, from the Old Testament Scriptures, we today are still compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses who left us vividly written examples about how they looked to Jesus in their time, to inspire the people of this current age of grace to reach forward to Jesus.

The race that is set before us is to look to Jesus just like the Old Testament believers practiced. Their past examples encourage us to daily look to Jesus, for in him and with him is continued access to God our heavenly Father and His merciful grace. Jesus taught that when we pray, we are to offer our prayers up to God in the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14). This further helps us place him at the forefront of our daily thinking, just as we are always in his daily thoughts, and through our prayers he is in ours.

Today we can look to Jesus Christ and rely on his believing faith, knowing that he is the author and finisher of our own believing faith. The word author means princely leader, the first and foremost. The word finisher means to bring to full maturity, to the completion of where our believing faith will ultimately take us – to God – to eternity. Thus, the author and finisher of our believing faith is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, infusing his own believing faith to enhance our personal believing faith in him who gave his all in all for you and me. Jesus is the finisher, completing and perfecting our believing faith which enables us to believe in God, through believing His Word.

Ephesians 2:8 records, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that {faith is} not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” This verse is not referring to a man or woman’s personal faith, and is why the Epistle says, that not of yourselves, but rather it is the gift of God. Then, to what faith is God referring? He is referring to the faith of Jesus Christ; this is our gift to begin enjoying our Christian life on the Path of Righteousness.

The main difference between man’s faith and the faith of Jesus is that human faith can only rise up to believe in that which is seen. In stark contrast, the faith of Jesus Christ is given so men and women can rise all the way up to believe in that which is not physically seen, yet is spiritually real ― such as salvation.

In truth, man needs Jesus to fulfill his own faith, as we read in Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus {is} the author and finisher of our faith.” Having Jesus’ own faith, we become enabled to perceive the spiritual realities of God. Christ’s faith is given to every believer at the moment of salvation, for “God hath dealt to every man {every believer} the measure of faith (Romans 12:3).

We can genuinely and honestly receive the actual gift of God, which is our salvation, without any works on our part because of the faith salvation imparts. Another reason why Ephesians 2:8 reads, and that not of yourselves is because we did nothing whatsoever to earn salvation, nor can we do anything to lose our salvation ― that is why it is such a precious gift. Salvation is something God through Christ made available to us and is freely given. God’s grace, His divine favor of love, is manifested to us through His gift of salvation.

With Jesus’ own faith, he literally becomes our spiritual window to the Creator; that is certainly much greater than going it alone, with so-called “blind faith.” Jesus’ own faith helps us perceive God in the genuine light that His Word reflects. Rather than God remaining an unknown entity or enigma Who is out there someplace just out of our reach, Christ and his faith helps those who are trying to find their way to the Creator Who dwells through all eternity.

We all receive gifts at certain times of the year, on our birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions. Yet of all the gifts we have ever received, nothing will be as everlasting as the gift of God. The gift of God is our salvation, given freely on account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

A gift is never worked for, earned, or even necessarily deserved. Gifts are simply given to bless and make one happy. Many of the gifts that we have received as early as last year are already gone, used up, or spent, but the gift of God is eternal. God’s gift is given to men and women by His divine grace, which is unmerited and unearned, yet eternally present, and we can gratefully accept it and daily appreciate its fulfillment.

Ephesians 2:9:
{And this gift is given} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

In the sight of God, no one is more saved than another for we believed unto God’s own righteousness (Romans 10:9-10), which gives complete salvation along with total access into His grace and family (Romans 5:2, and Ephesians 2:19). If salvation could be obtained by works, then logic commands that one could give more or pray more or be a better citizen or Christian than his neighbor is, and he could boast on the works performed, thinking this would give him an edge toward his salvation.

However, if works were the way to get into heaven, then God’s grace (freely given) would become totally worthless and most of us would never make it on through to heaven.

Thankfully, salvation is not based on our works, but as the Scriptures reveal, salvation is by God’s grace because Christ has already done the work and paid the full price in order that we may sincerely believe to receive. We receive our salvation on account of a friend, on our friend, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

This is the friend we read about in Proverbs “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), and he indeed laid down his life for each and every one of us. I do believe that if you or I were the only person to believe, then this close friend would still have laid down his life so that you or I my walk on the Path of Righteousness with our Savior!

Indispensable completeness of our believing faith is what we may expect to receive by simply looking unto Jesus, rather than only looking to our own abilities (or lack thereof), or our own strength (or lack thereof), in the hopes of receiving spirituality and blessings from God. With the believing faith of Christ, men and women truly have avenues into an abundance of promises recorded in God’s Word.

When studying, for instance, the life of King David from the Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, or from the Psalms, we find how he looked forward to the coming of his Redeemer, and we can aspire to his examples. We can read about David who was just a man, a man who tried to walk with God to the best of his abilities.

We can also see how David failed when he did not look to Jesus, but more important is that we can see him succeed whenever he was looking ahead to the Savior, the hope of his life. When and where David looked to Jesus, David had believing in God’s Word, and then he became a great recorded witness for us to still read about centuries later.

King David also wrote about the hope of Christ’s coming throughout the Book of Psalms. When teaching about the resurrection of Christ on the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts chapter 2, the Apostle Peter refers back to David as a witness of Christ. Peter says of David that he always had Jesus Christ in the forefront of his thinking and writing as a great example for Peter and all believers.

Acts 2:25-26:
-25: For David speaketh concerning him {recorded in the 16th Psalm}, I foresaw the Lord {Jesus Christ} always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
-26: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

What gave David this inner joy, continued hope, and a glad tongue was having a personal understanding of his Lord and Savior, inspiring David to speak and write of him, being moved by God’s inspiration (II Peter 1:21).

The Old Testament Scriptures continue giving us joy, hope, and a glad tongue, the same joys that David and Peter knew when reading or speaking the Word of God because they knew Christ’s heart and had placed their allegiance, fidelity, and future hope in him. Peter uses the witness of David to introduce Christ who is our entrance into God’s family.

Acts 4:11-12:
-11: This {Jesus Christ} is the stone which was set at nought {rejected} of you builders {Peter is addressing Israel}, which {or rather who, Jesus} is become the head of the corner {of the spiritual church and family of God}.
-12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus took our sins and shortcomings to his cross in order to present you and me to God as those who are now saved. When we look to Jesus with a believing heart in expectation to receive, we will find the true spiritual presence and presents that God gives.

God now sets this daily joy before us at the table of life, and all the Word requests is for us to believe to receive, and it is our joy to enjoy by looking to Jesus, our friend, the author and finisher of our faith.