- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4:2 -
CHRISTIAN VIRTUE: LOVE
(2Pe 1:7) 9-30-12
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. ADD MORAL EXCELLENCE
II. ADD KNOWLEDGE
III. ADD SELF-CONTROL
IV. ADD PERSEVERANCE
V. ADD GODLINESS
VI. ADD BROTHERLY KINDNESS
VII. ADD LOVE
A. Sacrificial Aspect of the Meaning of Love (Aga,pê)
1. A brief history of the usage of the Greek words aga,pê reveals that in Pre-biblical Greek, it was not used extensively nor was it elevated as is the case in Biblical Greek (koinê).
2. The most popular usage for love was e,rōs which was a general love of the world seeking satisfaction wherever it can. It was also used of sensual love including the erotic religion with sensual intoxication as a supreme form of ecstasy through temple prostitution. Phi,los was used to refer other types of love from friendship to love for the gods and man. Storgê, was generally used for natural familial love. However, if there is a particular nuance of aga,pê from Pre-biblical Greek it emerges with a sense of affection or the benefit of another. Included in this nuance is the choice of the will with a higher aim than self.
3. Hellenistic Judaism had much to do with prescribing a higher meaning to aga,pê when it was given to the main OT word for love (bhea' aheb) in the LXX. It included God’s love in association with His choice and benevolence (Deu 7:7-8).
4. Aga,pê is fully defined by Jesus and the apostles as the highest form of love because it is the love that God possesses, is a selfless and sacrificial love, and seeks to benefit another. Aga,pê is not without emotion or affection but it is not based or driven by them. Rather, aga,pê is based on a higher aim and the sacrifical choice to benefit and meet the needs of another.
B. Sacrificial Aspect of Christ’s Love (Aga,pê)
1. If love can be measured in degrees, the greatest degree of love is a self-sacrificial love. Jesus Himself taught His disciples that the greatest (mei,zona - comparative in number, intensity, or degrees) degree of love was to “lay down” (tithêmi - set, place, or lay down) one’s life for another (Joh 15:13). It is this greatest degree of agapê that Jesus affirmed to His disciples by laying down His life for them (Joh 10:15-17).
2. But Jesus did not merely euthanize Himself, but had a higher aim or greater purpose for which He sacrificed Himself. Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice was for the purpose of making atonement for the sin of mankind. Christ died to be man’s “propitiation” (hilasmo,s - satisfaction or appeasement) to God for man’s sin (1Jo 4:10). The righteous indignation of God towards man’s sin was appeased and satisfied by Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. Christ took man’s punishment for sin upon the cross and God was completely satisfied. This was the greatest demonstration (sunistêmi - lit. put together, show or bring out) of love because through Christ’s death, He met man’s greatest need of sin (Rom 5:8). In so doing man is able to receive forgiveness of sins (1Pe 3:18) and eternal life (1Jo 4:9; Joh 3:16).
C. Sacrificial Aspect of the Believer’s Love (Aga,pê)
1. The Principle of Love in the Believer
a) If there was ever a foundational truth in Scripture it would be that that the attributes, character, and virtue that Christ possesses must be exemplified in the believer. Repeatedly Scripture argues that if believers are God’s people, and God possesses certain characteristics, then it is spiritually reasonable that believers must possess those same qualities (this includes love).
b) This truth is argued from:
(1) The creation and nature of God (Gen 1:26-27; Act 17:29)
(2) The will of God (Rom 8:29; 1Th 4:3)
(3) The admonitions from God’s Word (1Jo 2:6; 1Pe 1:15-16)
(4) The character of God in the believer (2Pe 1:4; 2Co 3:18)
(5) The gratefulness of the believer (1Pe 1:8; 2Co 5:14-15)
2. The Precepts of Love for the Believer
a) Therefore if God possesses sacrificial love (aga,pê), then it necessitates that believers must act with the same sacrificial love (aga,pê). For this reason God admonishes the believer in His Word to have sacrificial love (Joh 15:12, 17; Rom 13:8).
b) The believer is admonished to have sacrificial love as described by “laying down his life” for the brethren (1Jo 3:16). The believer knows and continues to know what sacrificial love is by the example of Christ who laid down His life for the believer. “Lay down” is the Greek word ti,thêmi and here means to place one’s life down on God’s altar to accomplish His will, even unto death (Joh 10:11). Christ laid down His life at God’s disposal (willing to do as God pleases, even unto death) for accomplishing man’s redemption. In the same way believers are to lay down their lives (possessions, priorities, purposes, and goals) at God’s disposal for the purpose of meeting the needs (physical and spiritual) of others.
c) The believer’s “walk” (peripate,ō - fig. manner of life) is to be characterized with sacrificial love “just as” Christ did (Eph 5:1-2). Christ “gave Himself up” (paradi,dōmi - deliver or hand over) as an “offering and sacrifice” to God and on man’s behalf. The believer is universally obligated and commanded to walk in sacrificial love in every aspect of life and death (Rev 12:11).
3. The Practice of Love for the Believer
a) The universal obligation to walk in sacrificial love has many practical aspects:
b) In Relation to God
(1) By sacrificially loving God with our whole being (Mat 22:37).
(2) By keeping and obeying God’s Word (Joh 14:15, 21, 23)
(3) By not loving worldliness (1Jo 2:15; 2Ti 4:10).
c) In Relation to the World
(1) By having a burden for the lost (Joh 3:16)
(2) By sharing the Gospel (2Co 5:18-20)
(3) By loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Rom 13:10; Jam 2:8)
d) In Relation to Believers
(1) By edifying one another (Eph 4:15-16; Joh 21:15-17)
(2) By meeting needs in sincerity (1Jo 3:17-18)
(3) By forgiving one another (1Pe 4:8)
e) In Relation to Relationships
(1) Wives (Tit 2:4 phila,ndros - husband lover; Eph 5:22-24)
(2) Husbands (Eph 5:25, 28; Col 3:19)
(3) All men (Mat 5:44)
4. The Portrait of the Love of the Believer
a) Since God could not create or desire anything contrary to His nature, sacrificial love (aga,pê) is an evidence of regeneration (1Jo 4:7) and a portrait of a true believer (1Jo 3:14).
b) Since true believers will inherently resemble God, true disciples of Christ are distinguished by their portrait of sacrificial love toward one another (Joh 13:34-35).