Listen To Most Current
Grace Notes Archive
November 2021 (4)
October 2021 (5)
September 2021 (4)
August 2021 (4)
July 2021 (6)
June 2021 (4)
May 2021 (5)
April 2021 (4)
March 2021 (5)
February 2021 (4)
January 2021 (5)
December 2020 (4)
November 2020 (4)
October 2020 (5)
September 2020 (4)
August 2020 (5)
July 2020 (21)
June 2020 (29)
May 2020 (28)
April 2020 (31)
March 2020 (5)
February 2020 (4)
January 2020 (5)
December 2019 (5)
November 2019 (3)
October 2019 (5)
September 2019 (4)
August 2019 (5)
July 2019 (4)
June 2019 (5)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (6)
January 2019 (4)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (3)
June 2018 (4)
May 2018 (4)
April 2018 (4)
March 2018 (4)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (5)
October 2017 (4)
September 2017 (5)
August 2017 (4)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (5)
May 2017 (4)
April 2017 (5)
March 2017 (3)
February 2017 (4)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (5)
November 2016 (4)
October 2016 (4)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
June 2016 (5)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (5)
March 2016 (4)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (5)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (4)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (4)
August 2015 (5)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (2)
March 2015 (4)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (4)
November 2014 (5)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (4)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (4)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (4)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (4)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (5)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (4)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (4)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (4)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (5)
December 2010 (4)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (4)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (4)
January 2010 (5)
December 2009 (5)
November 2009 (3)
October 2009 (6)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (5)
July 2009 (4)
June 2009 (4)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (4)
January 2009 (5)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (5)
October 2008 (4)
September 2008 (5)
August 2008 (4)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (4)
March 2008 (5)
February 2008 (1)
Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

THIS WILL TEST YOUR FAITH
by Philip Owen

            Paul’s greeting in his first epistle to the Corinthians (which according to custom in the first century occurs at the end of the letter) contains one of the most striking sentences to be found anywhere in the Word of God. Since it is profound and fundamental in nature, it is noteworthy that few commentators expound on it extensively. Some ignore it altogether; others satisfy their responsibility to analyze it simply by defining the main terms. Few (at least among those I consulted) seem to grapple seriously with the meaning or application of the text. The sentence to which I refer? “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed” (I Cor. 16:22a). Though I make no pretense of a thorough exposition of the text, let’s consider the following questions provoked by the statement.

            What does it mean to “love” or “not love” the Lord? It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for love Paul used here is not the one we might anticipate, agape, the term used to express the highest form of love possible, but phileo, a term describing strong affection. In other words, we might say that the bar is not set as high as we might expect. The objective for the believer is to love the Lord Jesus Christ with agape love, that self-forgetful, self-sacrificial attitude that desires and labors for the sake of another regardless of cost. It is expressed succinctly in the command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). But Paul does not start there. That love is the ultimate goal; the essential benchmark, however, is phileo love for the Lord. Though believers sin, though we can be carnal, though we often succumb to self-interest and put our desires and ambitions ahead of serving the Lord, Paul is stating in so many words that every genuine believer possesses a strong and unbreakable affection for the Lord. Again, our selfish old nature may override that strong affection from time to time, but it cannot extinguish it.

            Can we say that this term phileo (love) is synonymous with the word Christian or believer? Probably not. But it is an accurate and ample description of a genuine believer. Furthermore, it makes clear the nature of saving faith. That is, the faith that saves is not merely intellectual knowledge of facts, nor even mental assent to the truth of the facts. Saving faith always, always results in love—love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This description eliminates false hopes and beliefs. It eliminates good works, church membership, and participation in rites, ordinances, or sacraments as efficacious in salvation. Not those who want to go to heaven, nor those who join a church, nor those who do their best, nor those who have performed some ritual qualify for heaven. Only those who love the Lord.

            Can you say more about this love? Though still not agape love, the love Paul mentions entails more than just a strong feeling. The term implies a personal relationship with the object of that love. Jesus Christ is not just a noble ideal to be admired from afar by a genuine believer. He is a living, breathing God who is very near, an acquaintance with whom there is fellowship, One with whom believers can and do engage in reverent dialog.

            And what about this “accursed” thing? Our English word is an accurate translation of the Greek word anathema, which may also be defined as “devoted to judgment.” Those who do not love the Lord are lost and on their way to hell. Their end is fixed and sure; there is no alternative. Paul is iterating in other words what John will write later in his gospel: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Every person is born into this world on his way to hell and with the wrath of God abiding on him. That wrath continues to abide unabated upon those who do not believe, or “obey the Son,” or “love the Lord.” The message is stark, clear, and unequivocal. “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30b). Do you love the Lord, or are you among the accursed of God? Our text is not merely a curiosity to consider, it is a line drawn in the sand between eternal life and eternal damnation.

Actions: E-mail | Permalink

Previous Page | Next Page