There’s a disturbing trend among some Christians that I want to talk about today: some Christians are just loveless- they have a complete lack of love for other people.
Now our church does not have this issue, thankfully. But I still think it’s important for us to address it, so that we are not unduly influenced by the loveless Christians that are out there.
Let’s start this discussion with the biblical definition of “love.” Turn to John chapter 15, verses 12 and 13. And this is Jesus talking; he said: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So Jesus commanded us to love each other the way that he loved us. And how did he love us? by laying down his life for us. So the greatest kind of love, according to Jesus, is laying down your life for someone. Jesus defined love as self-sacrifice; you love someone by sacrificing yourself for their benefit.
Next look at 1 John 3:16. 1 John 3:16 likewise defines love as self-sacrifice. And that verse reads, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” So God sacrificing himself for us reveals God’s love for us, and it also shows us how we’re to love each other- we’re to love each other self-sacrificially.
Now the world defines love differently than the Bible. The world defines love as acceptance, as accepting someone just the way they are. I grew up watching the secular TV show “Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and he ended every show saying, “Remember, I like you just the way you are.” And still, today, accepting people just as they are is the world’s definition of love. In a recent Huffington Post article, entitled: 16 Characteristics of Real Love, the #1 characteristic of love, on their list, was accepting the person you love, quote, unquote, “as is.”
And so the world’s definition of love, and the Bible’s definition of love are kinda opposite of each other. The Bible says that if you love someone, you sacrifice yourself for their benefit. Whereas the world says that if you love someone, you don’t have to sacrifice anything for them, in fact, you must demand that they accept you just the way you are. Biblical love is focused on the other person, while worldly love is focused on yourself.
And here’s the problem, or the beginning of the problem: many churches today have adopted this worldly definition of love. Much of Protestantism says that if you love someone, you have to accept them just the way they are. And, based on this false definition of love, many Protestant churches have become seeker-friendly, meaning they gear their teachings towards the unbeliever, and towards trying to make the unbeliever feel accepted just the way they are are. These seeker-friendly churches won’t preach against sin, because they don’t want to offend any unbelievers, or offend any believers, for that matter, who have adopted the worldly definiton of love.
Now Independent Baptists, and some other denominations, have rightly refused to accept this worldly definition of love that has infested Protestantism. BUT the problem is that the Baptists, and some of these other guys, they have reacted by going too far in the other direction; and many Baptists just rebuke everyone all the time. You could say that the Protestants have become too nice, (nice in the worldly sense, at least,) and so the Baptists have become too mean. We know a bunch of IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) brothers and sisters who are just mean to everyone all the time.
And they think they’re acting biblically by being so mean. But, of course, they’re not. And so we’re going to look at what the Bible has to say about how Christians are supposed to behave. We’re also going to refute the verses that the Loveless Christians use, and misinterpret, to try and justify being mean.
Now what does the Bible say about how Christians are supposed to act towards other Christians, in particular? Well, turn, in your notes, to John 13:34-35. John 13:34-35, and, again, this is Jesus speaking: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Alright so, again, we are commanded to love each other, to love other Christians, the way that Jesus loved us; Jesus said, in those verses, “… That ye love one another; as I have loved you …” So we’re to love each other self-sacrificially; the way Jesus gave himself for us.
Now, practically speaking, what does self-sacrificial love look like? Well one aspect, of such love, is helping the brethren with their practical needs. 1 John 3, verses 16-18 says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
Ok so, clearly, one aspect of biblical, self-sacrifical love is giving up your money, or your possessions to help brothers in need. If you have the world’s goods, and you see a brother in Christ in need, you should help him out; that’s practical love, according to the Bible.
Now, in 1 John 3:18, I like how John says, Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. It’s one thing to just talk about loving the brethren, but we need to actually take action and do it. I remember when our friends from Africa visited us, one of the first things Neil asked them was whether they had everything that they needed, I think he asked them if they had enough mattresses for everyone in their family, and about practical stuff like that. Now they said that, yes, they did have everything that they needed. But I was impressed with Neil’s concern for their practical needs, and how he offerred to help; that’s an example of showing practical love to the brethren.
Another way to show love for brothers in Christ is to edify them, that is, to help them grow spiritually. Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians, chapter 4. I want to skim through this chapter and show you some key verses linking brotherly love with helping one another grow in Christ.
So you’re at Ephesians 4, and let’s start with verses 1 and 2: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Ok, so the context of the discussion in this chapter is how to walk in love; Paul says to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called … forbearing one another in love.
And one of the ways, Paul says, that we walk in love is by edifying the brethren; look down at verses 11 and 12: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” And then verse 13 talks about helping the brethren grow unto the fullness of Christ. And verse 14 talks about helping the brethren to not be deceived by false teachers; so these verses are talking about the importance of teaching correct doctrine to the brethren.
And then verses 15 and 16 tie it all together, and defines this edifying of the brethren, in doctrine, as love. Look at verses 15 and 16, these verses start and end with phrases about love: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” [repeat: “unto the edifying of itself in love”] This is saying that the body edifying itself, helping each other grow in Christ, is love.
So when Pastor Yaghtin stands up here and preaches to us each Sunday, after laboring in the word, for us, all week long, he’s showing us biblical love. Edifying the brethren is biblical love. And, kids, when your parents study the Bible with you, and teach you how you can grow up and become men and women of God, they, too, are showing you biblical love.
And so the command to love the brethren is fulfilled by helping the brethren with their practical needs, by edifying the brethren with the word, and, also, the command to love each other is fulfilled by loving each other in the traditional sense of brotherly love- by simply being nice to each other; Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”; Kindly Affectioned – that’s a cool biblical phrase. How do you exercise brotherly love? by being kindly affectioned one to another.
And there’s other passages, like this, that define loving the brethren as being kind and compassionate. Look, in your notes, at 1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” You see the phrase “love as brethren” there, right? And then note the other phrases in the verse that describe loving the brethren as having compassion, and as being pitiful, and as being courteous. A big part of brotherly love is simply being nice to each another.
Or another way the Bible puts it is preferring one another- we should be preferring one another. Going back to Romans 12:10, it said, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” As Christians, we’re to put the other person before ourselves.
Now look at Philippians 2:1-3. Here, this concept of Christians loving each other by preferring one another is expanded on a bit. Philippians 2:1-3 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” So here, again, love is defined as: in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
And now remember Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). So us Christians are supposed to have a special, a supernatural love for each other, that actually becomes part of our testimony to the world. (All men are supposed to know that we’re Jesus’ disciples, by the way we love each other.)
And, as we just went over, this supernatural love that’s supposed to characterize us is fleshed out as caring for each other’s practical needs; and as edifying each other in doctrine; and as being kindly affectioned one towards another; and as perferring one another over ourselves. And our love for each other is supposed to be so extraordinary that unbelievers are supposed to look at us and say, Wow! there’s something supernatural about how those guys love each other! You know, those guys must be Christians!
I remember how amazed I was at how much love the people had at the first church I attended. Growing up in the unbelieving world, I had never experienced such love before. In the world, people put themselves first, and are only nice to you, if they want something from you. But the love that that first church gave me, without wanting anything in return, really helped to open up my eyes to the truth of the gospel. I realized that these people knew the truth about God, based on the way that they loved me.
So that’s the way we’re supposed to love. And I believe that’s the way we do love in our church. And I thank God for that. But, again, I’m preaching this because I don’t want that to change, I don’t want us to be influenced by the loveless Christians.
Now let’s talk about the similarities and differences between our church, New Covenant Baptist, and the IFB churches, the Independent Fundamental Baptist churches. We’re similar in the most important stuff: we preach the same by-grace-through-faith, once-saved-always-saved gospel; and we’re both KJV-only churches, and we’re both soul-winning churches.
But one of the ways we differ, from the IFB churches, is that we, here, are truly independent Baptists. We haven’t branched off from any other church, and so we’re not beholden to any of the denominational rules that the IFB churches follow. And one of their extrabiblical rules is that they say no one can start a new church, unless an existing church pastor sends them out, as they put it; they say that an existing pastor must give his permission before a new pastor can start a church. And if a new Baptist pastor dares to start a church witout their approval, the IFBers declare open season on that church, and say and do whatever they can to destroy it. Now not all IFB churches are like this, but the ones that we have run into are.
Listen to the following quote from an IFB pastor, talking about our pastor. This IFB pastor said the following about Pastor Yaghtin, because Pastor Yaghtin wasn’t sent out, or approved by him, or approved by another IFB church. So this pastor said, quote: “… that wicked man up in Washington … and I say him because people in here have heard his sermons, and, you know, I called him a sodomite, and said that he sounds like a [sodomite], you know what, guess what, my friends, I’m sorry for calling a spade a spade … Oh quit railing against him? Look, I’m calling a spade a spade … everything I’ve heard [him say] about salvation he seems to be right, so whatever! … I’m not saying he’s not saved, I’m not saying that, I’m hoping he is … Now these types of people- let me tell you this, these self-ordained … they would not sit under a pastor, these guys- and he’s just a microcosm of all these chumps … [and they say] ‘Well I’ve been sent out by the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost ordained me.’ No, your feelings inside you made you feel like you wanted to do it.”
So that’s the quote from an IFB pastor. He called our Pastor Yaghtin wicked, a sodomite, a chump, and he also called him worse things than that, which I didn’t quote. And this pastor said all of this preaching from his pulpit!
And, by the way, Acts 20:28 says, quote: “… the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God.” And Ephesians 4:11 talks about Jesus appointing pastors and teachers. So it is Jesus, it is the Holy Ghost who appoints pastors. And the book of Acts says that it was the persecution of the Christians at Jerusalem that made them spread out to other cities and start churches there. So it really is the Holy Ghost who sends out pastors, or who uses circumstances to start new churches. I would warn that IFB pastor, that I quoted, not to mock the Holy Ghost.
But what I really want to ask that IFB pastor is: where’s the love? Where’s Romans 12:10’s, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”? Was this IFB pastor being kindly affectioned towards his brother in Christ? No. And he admitted that Pastor Yaghtin preaches the right gospel, so he pretty much knew that he was saying all of that stuff about another believer. Was this IFB pastor putting his brother before himself? Was he in honour perferring one another? No, he wasn’t! Where’s the love? What happened to it?
Are pastors excempt from the biblical command to love one another? Of course not. In fact, they’re supposed to set the example in love. Look at 2 Timothy 2:24. 2 Timothy 2:24. Here Paul gave instructions, to Timothy, about how to be a servant of the Lord? And note that Paul told him to be gentle unto all men. The verse reads, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves …” (2 Tim 2:24-25) So that IFB pastor is supposed to be gentle unto all men. If he thought Pastor Yaghtin opposed himself, then he should have instructed Pastor Yaghtin in meekness, and with patience, just as the verse says.
Furthermore, the qualifications for being a pastor, in 1 Timothy 3, include being blameless and being of good behaviour, and Titus 1 says that a pastor must not be self-willed, nor soon angry, but a lover of good men and temperate. That IFB pastor failed to demonstrate all these half dozen qualificatons for being a pastor. Not to mention disobeying Jesus’ command, to all of us, to love one another.
And this type of loveless pastor sets a bad example for other Christians to follow. Because those that follow him end up adapting the same, viscious, and loveless behaviour.
Listen to these quotes from some of that IFB pastor’s congregants and followers. One of them said to us, “Get a life and join a real church Afshin Yaghtin and Marshall Marcus … If churches around your area are dead then you need to relocate … not self appoint yourself as pastors … You guys need a serious reality check.”
And another of his followers said, quote: “… go to a real church and not some play church … No Covenant Baptist is a stinkin joke … under the preaching of some sissy … You’re not doing anything for God.”
And yet another one commented, “You should take the name “Baptist” off of your church name. In fact, you should take the name “church” off also.”
And these are some of the milder quotes from these people. They said some things that I can’t even quote from the pulpit, they’re that bad. And, the crazy thing is that all these quotes are from saved, soul-winning Christians. We used to get along with these Christians, until some pastors turned them against us, and gave them a license to hate, all because we weren’t “sent out.” It’s surreal that Christians would act this way towards other Christians.
So how did this happen? How did these Christians transgress so far from Jesus’ command for us to love one another, and to be characterized by such love?
Well, part of it, like I said earlier, is an overreaction to the permissiveness of Protestantism, which the Protestants do under the guise of love. And, so, many IFB pastors treat love as if it were a sin, and they go to the other extreme, and strive to be, self-proclaimed, leather-lunged, fire-breathing, rebuking prophets! Instead of being gentle unto all men as the Scripture tells them to be. And then, as we saw, when pastors go crazy with hate, they lead other Christians into the sin of hating their brethren as well.
But another cause of this problem is that they misinterpret Scripture; the loveless Christians misue verses to try and justify their behaviour. And their favorite verse to misuse seems to be Proverbs 27:5, which says: “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” And, yes, that proverb is saying that rebuke is a form of love. But it’s not the only form of love. And it’s not the primary form of love.
You see, they use this verse to justify rebuking everyone, all the time. They use this verse to redefine the word “love,” in the Bible, to mean “rebuke,” and to always mean “rebuke.” I’m not exaggerating. It’s like they think when Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” it’s like they think Jesus was saying: all men shall know that you’re my disciples, if you REBUKE one another!
But, remember, in that passage, Jesus said that we should love one another as he loved us. So we’re to primarily love one another self-sacrificially. That’s how Jesus loved us. Jesus didn’t rebuke people 24/7, Jesus gave his life for us.
Another verse the loveless Christians will use, to justify being mean, is Hebrews 12:6: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” And, yes, it’s true that one of the ways the Lord shows love, and a good parent shows love, is by chastening his children. But, again, such chastening love is not supposed to define us.
You know, the Bible also tells fathers to, quote: “… provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4. Chastening love does not mean provoking someone to wrath. When that prieviously mentioned pastor called his brother wicked, and a sodomite, and a chump, he was trying to provoke his brother to wrath. That loveless pastor wasn’t trying to nurture and admonish his brother.
Which brings us to a third passage the loveless Christians use to try and justify their behaviour; Galatians 2:11, where Paul says of Peter, “I withstood him to the face.” The loveless Christians love to use this verse; they say, Paul withstood Peter to the face! so that means I should be rebuking you to your face!… But, no, listen to what Paul actually said to Peter, when he admonished him. Paul actually reasoned with Peter. In Galatians 2:11, Paul said, “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”… Now does that sound like a harsh, belittling rebuke to you? No. He withstood Peter to the face by giving Peter a brotherly admonishment, by talking to him, by reasoning with him. Paul said things to Peter like, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” Galatians 2:21. Paul said things like that to Peter. Paul reminded Peter that salvation is just by faith, and not by the works of the law; and Paul told him this as a nurturing admonition, from one brother, to another. Paul didn’t call Peter a wicked sodomite chump, or anything like that.
The problem is that these loveless Christians revel in their rebuking; they love to rebuke, they get a thrill from it.
Forgive me for quoting these guys again, but to illustrate how they revel in rebuking, listen to this quote from yet another loveless Christian. He said the following to Pastor Yaghtin: “Your the wicked one afshame with your damnable doctrine you winebibbing lisp talking fake baptist your a disgrace to baptists everywhere. Your no pastor your a sorry excuse of a man … Queer lil sissy just sit down and shut up you drunk wino pushing lying false prophetess. Id rather listen to joyce … meyers then you … !” And, Ok, that’s the edited version of the comment. I took out the curse words. And I have to ask, again, how can Christians talk that way to anybody, yet alone to another Christian?
But I wanted you to hear how he just revelled in rebuking Pastor Yaghtin. I mean he was creatively wicked with his insults.
Now compare that to Paul’s admonishing of the believers at the church at Corinth; turn, in your Bibles, to 1 Corinthians 4. And, while you’re turning there, let me just say that Pastor Yaghtin didn’t need admonishment from these loveless Christians, or from anyone. Pastor Yaghtin didn’t do anything wrong. And those accusations against him were false. But if he did need admonishment, if a brother in the Lord needs correction, you talk to him as a brother. You don’t bathe yourself in hatred and giddily try to find words to destroy your brother by.
For example, the believers at the church at Corinth were doing some pretty wicked stuff, but when Paul admonished them, he didn’t do it in hatred, he admonished them as a loving father. Look at 1 Corinthians 4, starting at verse 18, this is how Paul talked to sinning believers: “Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly ..” And then go down to verse 21: “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” You see? Paul didn’t want to have to rebuke those sinning believers with the proverbial rod. Paul would rather have come to them in love, he said, and in the spirit of meekness. Paul didn’t revel in chastisement. Paul didn’t want to rebuke.
Now turn to 2 Corinthians 2:4. Here Paul actually explains how he felt when he wrote the admonishments, to the brethren, in 1 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 2:4 reads: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” Did it sound like Paul was revelling in the rebukes that he gave to the Corinthian brethren? No. Paul said it afflicted him to have to rebuke them. Paul said it literally brought him to tears, to have to rebuke them. We’re not supppsed to revel in rebuking the brethren.
I was talking to a friend about this issue, and he told me that it grieves him to spank his children, he said it grieves him to even say a harsh word to his kids. But, of course, sometimes he must do it, for their own good. And that’s the kind of attitude we should have towards admonishing other believers. Sometimes we need to admonish them, but it’s not a fun job. And we certainly shouldn’t revel in it.
Now keep your place in 2 Corinthians 2, we’re going to go back there in a minute. But, first, I want to read to you 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. These verses tell us how to admonish a brother who’s in serious sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15: “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Did you get that last part? When we rebuke another believer, it says, Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. You don’t hate on a brother in Christ, you don’t treat a brother in Christ as an enemy, you love on him, and even your admonishments should be rooted in love.
When admonishing a brother, your purpose should always be to restore him, not to destroy him. You should hope that he repents, so that you can forgive him; you should hope to forgive him.
Look back at 2 Corinthians 2, starting at verse 6. So in 1 Corinthians Paul admonished the church to kick out a believer who was sinning really badly. But then, in 2 Corinthians, Paul told them to let that believer back into the church, because, after getting kicked out, the man repented of his sin. So 2 Corinthians 2, starting at verse 6: “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (2 Cor 2:6-8). Paul was concerned about the brother who was admonished. Paul didn’t want him to be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. The brother repented, and so Paul said to let that brother back into the church, and confirm your love toward him.
Being forgiving of brothers who repent is a characteristic of Christian love. In Luke chapter 17, right after Jesus warned about not offending other Christians, Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Lk 17:3-4).
And so, yes, there is a time to rebuke or admonish a sinning brother. But we shouldn’t revel in giving such admonishments. Our goal should be to restore and forgive the brother.
Now loving the brethren is the most important thing. But, of course, we’re also supposed to love the lost.
In fact, we’re commanded to love the lost. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” So we’re commanded to love one another, and we’re commanded to love all men! That means we’re to love believers, and we’re to love unbelievers too.
And one of the primary ways we love unbelievers is by preaching the gospel to them. Jesus loved the lost by sacrificing himself for them, giving them a chance at salvation through faith in him. And we ought to sacrifice of ourselves for the lost as well; we’re to sacrifice our time, sacrifice our pride, and, if necessary, even sacrifice our lives to preach the gospel to the lost.
But preaching the gospel isn’t the only way to love the lost. We’re also supposed to love them, the same way we do the brethren, simply by being good to them. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” So we’re to do good to the brethren, especially, but we’re also supposed to do good to all men, that means to unbelievers, as well.
Now I think it’s obvious to most of us Christians that we’re supposed to love the lost by both preaching to them, and by simply being good to them. But, somehow, the loveless Christians veer off track on this too.
For instance, when it was recently announced that actor Charlie Sheen has HIV, those loveless Christians that we know reacted by rejoicing! they said that Sheen deserved to get AIDS, and they were happy that he got it… I mean, really? Is that how Christians are supposed to act towards the calamity of the lost? I don’t think so, because Proverbs 24:17 says, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.” And the Bible also says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). And if God doesn’t take pleasure in their death, then neither should we.
And, yes, the loveless Christians have Bible verses that they use, or misuse, to try and justify hating unbelievers; or at least they try to justify hating on certain categories of unbelievers.
The loveless Christians love to point out that there are over 20 verses in the Bible that talk about God, and godly men, hating evil people. And so the loveless Christians basically use those 20+ verses as an excuse to be hateful themselves, and to be hateful all the time.
But, first of all, those 20+ verses, about God hating, need to be viewed in light of the Bible as a whole. Because there are over 200 verses about love; about how God loves people, and about how we’re supposed to love other people too. Ok so that means there’s 10 times the verses about loving people, then there are about hating people.
And here’s the other thing, even if God does hate someone, he still blesses them, in this life. Matthew 5:45 says that God, “… maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” And Luke 6:35 says that God is, quote: “… kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Life and breath and every good thing that everyone has is from God. Unbelievers, and even reprobates, have good things in their life that God consciously gives them every single day. So whether or not God hates an evil person, God is still good to them, at least in this life. After death, God is no longer good to unbelievers. But, in this life, God’s good to them. Whether or not he hates them.
For instance, one of their 20+ ‘God hates’ verses is Romans 9:13, where it says that God hated Esau; “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” But, the thing is, even if God hated Esau, God still blessed Esau’s life! In Genesis 32 we see that Esau commanded an army of 400 men, so Esau had power. And in Genesis 36 we’re told that Esau had great riches, and also that his sons were dukes, so Esau was himself was a prince, or some kind of ruler. And we know that a nation of people came from Esau. And so, yeah, Esau was a wicked unbeliever, and God may have hated him, but God still blessed him in this life.
And if God is kind to evil people, then we should be kind to them too. In fact, the Bible tells us to be kind to evil people for that very reason, because God is. Look, in your notes, at Luke chapter 6, starting at verse 35. A second ago, I quoted part of Luke 6:35, when I said that God is, “… kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Now let’s look at that verse in whole, and in context: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk 6:35-36). Ok, so, do you see what it’s saying? It’s saying that because God is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, we should be kind to them too. We should be merciful to evil people, just like God is merciful to evil people.
Now the loveless Christians don’t like this concept of being loving to evil people. So here’s how they try to get around Jesus’ command to love your enemies. They say, Sure, we’re supposed to love our enemies, but we’re supposed to hate God’s enemies… Really? Love our enemies, but hate God’s enemies? If you think about that, it really doesn’t make sense.
And it’s not biblical. Look back at Luke 6:35 and 36, I want you to notice that it’s talking about loving our enemies, because God loves his enemies; start at Luke 6:35 again: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest …” See? it says love your enemies in order to be children of the highest. How does loving our enemies make us children of the Highest? Because that’s what God does, he loves his enemies, look at the rest of the passage: “… for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” So the clear indication is that we’re to be merciful to our enemies, because God is merciful to his enemies.
And if that passage isn’t direct enough for you, look at Romans 5:10. The nail in the coffin of this ‘Hate God’s Enemies’ false teaching is Romans 5:10; which says: “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.” Do you see what the first part of that verse is saying? It’s saying that you and I were God’s enemies, before we got saved! It says: for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son… Ok so we were all God’s enemies before we got saved. And, when we were his enemies, God died for us!… God doesn’t hate his enemies, at least not by his actions in this life.
And so we shouldn’t hate God’s enemies either. Hating people is about as unChrist-like as you can get. Remember, in Luke 9, when a Samaritan village wouldn’t receive Jesus, and so James and John asked Jesus, “… Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” And what was Jesus’ response to his disciples? Well it says that Jesus, quote, unquote, “rebuked them.” And then Jesus said to them, “… Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:54-56). And, likewise, these loveless Christians of today don’t know what spirit they are of. They’re not supposed to want to destroy people, or to rejoice in their destruction.
But, sadly, they think they are supposed to want to see people destroyed. And they have more verses to try and back up their hatred for certain unbelievers. One of the verses they use, out of context, is 2 Chronicles 19:2; where God rebukes a believing king for allying in war with an unbelieving nation.
In the previous chapter, the unbelieving king asked the believing king to go to war with him, as his ally. And the believing king responded, in 2 Chronicles 18:3, by saying: “… I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.” And so they fought side by side in the war, the war ended, but when the believing king returned back home, God said to him, in 2 Chronicles 19:2: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” Ok so, taken out of context, this verse could seem like it’s telling us to hate individual unbelievers. But this verse is not talking about how we should behave towards individual unbelievers. This verse is saying that a nation of God’s people should not ally themselves, in war, with a nation of ungodly people. (And, by the way, there’s no longer a physical nation of God’s people in this New Covenant era.) But the point is that the loveless Christians can’t use this verse to justify being hateful to individual unbelievers. That’s taking the verse totally out of context, and misinterpreting it.
Another passage the loveless Christians misuse is Psalm 139:21-22, where David says, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” So David counted God’s enemies, to be his own enemies. But now, in this New Testament era, how did Jesus say that we’re supposed to treat our enemies? Jesus said we’re to love our enemies. Matthew 5:43-44: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you …” In that statement, Jesus clarified that the imprecatory psalms, the psalms about hate, are not a model for us to follow, in regards to our actions, at least. We’re to love our enemies, with our actions; we’re to do good to them… and, Ok, maybe you could make a case, based the imprecatory psalms, that we should hate God’s enemies, inwardly, with our feelings; but, outwardly, with our actions, we’re still to love them and do good to them. That’s how Jesus told us to behave towards our enemies, however we feel about them. And so if we make God’s enemies, our enemies, then we’re to love God’s enemies with our actions too.
The loveless Christians also misinterpret Romans 1:32; this verse is talking about a characteristic of reprobate sodomites. In the previous verses, it talked about some of the other characteristics of reprobates; it said that they’re full of envy, murder, debate, deceit. And it said they’re haters of God, despiteful, and unmerciful. And then, in Romans 1:32, it says, of the reprobates, quote: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” So that verse is saying that reprobates are not only full of sodomite lusts, and envy, and murder, and debate, and deceit, etc.. but that they also take pleasure when other people commit those sins. This is clearly what the verse is saying; it’s talking about a characteristic of the reprobates: they take pleasure in other people sinning.
But the loveless Christians totally misinterpret this verse; they claim Romans 1:32 is saying that if you don’t hate on reprobates, and hate on sodomites, then you’re taking pleasure in their behaviour, and you’re just as bad as they are… What? I mean how did they so completely misinterpret this verse? The verse is not telling us to hate on sodomites or to hate on reprobates. The verse says nothing about how we’re to behave towards them. It’s talking about a characteristic of the reprobates themselves; they take pleasure when other people sin; that’s what it’s saying, that’s all it’s saying.
Look, if you want to know how we’re supposed to treat reprobates, or treat sodomites, or how we’re supposed to treat anyone, do a biblical study on the word, “gentle.”
2 Corinthains 10:1 talks about the “gentleness of Christ.” And he’s our example, right?
Then Galatians 5:22 says that one of the fruit of the Spirit, that we’re supposed to have, is also gentleness.
And then, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul says to the Thessalonian Christians, “… we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” So Paul was gentle to those believers.
And then Paul says, in 2 Timothy 2:24: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men …” Gentle. Unto. All. Men… And “all” means “all,” right? Believers, unbelievers, reprobates. We’re to be gentle to all of them. “All” means “all,” doesn’t it?
And Titus 3:2 says, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.”
Ok? We’re to be gentle unto all men. We’re to show meekness unto all men. We’re to speak evil of no man. This is not only how pastors should behave, but how all of us believers should behave, and how we should behave towards all men. Gentleness characterized Christ, gentleness characterized Paul, and it should characterize us as well.
As Christians, our actions should be characterized by love, and gentleness, towards everybody. Especially towards believers, but also towards unbelievers. And, according to the Bible, Christians who are without love kinda nullify all the other good things that they do.
The word “charity,” in the KJV, is used to signify brotherly love among Christians. You can see that in 1 Corinthains 8:1, which says, “… Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” And in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, which says, “… the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” And in 1 Peter 5:14: “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity …” So “charity” = “brotherly love.”
Now turn, in your Bibles, to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. 1 Corinthians 13, verses 1-3. The loveless Christians lack charity, they lack brotherly love. And, without charity, all the other good things that a Chrisitian does become tainted. Without charity, without brotherly love, a Christian, in many ways, becomes useless.
1 Corinthians 13, starting at verse 1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor 13:1-3).
That’s the definitive passage for describing, and for rebuking the loveless Christians. All the good that they do, in the end, is almost for nought, if they don’t have charity. I know more than one person who, although they got saved listening to one of these loveless pastors, they say they can no longer listen to his sermons, because he’s so devoid of love. How sad is that? You get saved by someone, and then, instead of being able to learn from him for the rest of your life, you can’t even listen to him anymore, because he’s so loveless. How bitterly ironic is that. And that’s what lovelessness does to a Christian. It takes away his usefulness in so many ways. The loveless Christian is like sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol, you can’t even hear what they’re saying anymore.
I think a lot of us have gone through a similar experience after being exposed to these loveless pastors. At first we’re taken by their boldness and manliness, because it’s such a welcome contrast to the many weak, and feminized pastors that are out there today. But, then, after the smoke clears, we start to see what the loveless pastors are actually saying, and how they’re saying it. And it’s not good.
But I do have to mention that, although I spent this whole sermon admonishing the loveless Christians, and warning you about them… I still love them, in the Lord; they’re still our brothers, in Christ.
And although the primary purpose of this sermon is, like I said, to protect you from them, another purpose of this sermon is to help them. I want the loveless Christians to get free from this false doctrine of hate that’s overtaken them.
This week, as I was working on the sermon, I received a message from one of the Christians who had previously attacked us. And his message reads, in part: “I’ve recently realized that I was wrong. I believe I was letting my own struggle … color my judgment. More importantly, I regret being a part of the ostracism you and others have faced for speaking the truth. I hope you’ll accept my apology.” I was very encouraged by his message, and I told him so… As we discussed earlier, we need to be quick to forgive any loveless Christian who repents.
The closer we get to the end times, the more temptation they’ll be to let our love wax cold. So we need to resist this temptation. Our inner man, our regenerated spirit wants to love the brethren, but our flesh doesn’t. And so loving the brethren, with our actions, isn’t an automatic thing. We need to make a conscious effort to fight our own flesh in order to do it.
The last verse I want to look at is 2 Corinthians 12:15. Of all the love verses I examined this week, I think this verse kinda moved me the most. The verse reads: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” What I want you to notice, in this verse, in particular, is that the KJV dictionary interchanges the phrases, “be spent for you” and “love you.” So this verse defines brotherly love as spending yourself for your brother… And let’s do that in our church, let’s spend ourselves for each other; let’s love one other by spending our time, and spending our resources, and spending our lives for each other… Let’s pray…