I don't know about you, but I have heard it preached, so many times, that the major command of Jesus in the New Testament is that (1) we must love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and (2) we must love others as ourself. Paul would say this is what is taught by 'instructors in Christ,' and not by 'fathers of the gospel' (I Cor 4:15). There is a big difference between the two.
I want to elaborate here on something I mentioned in another coaching session on love.
These words appear in the New Testament, and they were even spoken by Jesus himself. They appear in Matthew 22:38-40, and in a little different way in another passage. But while everything in the Bible is true, everything in the Bible is not gospel truth. The gospel is New Testament spiritual reality that was brought by Jesus and coined by him. The Old Testament is true, but it is not gospel truth, and some things in the New Testament are not necessarily gospel truth.
This is why the gospel must be preached in the entire world (Matt 22:14). This is why it is so important that even angels preach it from heaven to people on the earth (Rev 14:6).
A TRICK QUESTION FROM A LAWYER ABOUT THE LAW
When Jesus made this statement in Matthew, he was responding to (1) a trick question, (2) from a lawyer, (3) about the Old Testament law. We are told this in the text (Matt 22:35). I'm a lawyer, and I know that we lawyers have a way with questions that can trick people into saying what they really don't mean, or want to say, especially when we ask what are called 'leading questions.'
So, he was not being asked for a statement of gospel truth that he said was revealed in the Kingdom of God that he brought, and that he said we must believe (Mark 1:14-15). We lawyers are also very big on knowing the real issues of a case. We know if we don't see the big issues, and if we don't address them properly, we lose our case.
So don't miss this BIG issue: Jesus was responding to a question about Old Testament law.
JESUS WORE TWO HATS IN HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY
Of course I'm talking figuratively and not literally. I don't believe Jesus wore any type of hat. But figuratively, I see him as wearing a white hat when he was preaching the gospel of grace, and a black hat when he was preaching the Old Covenant law. Jesus says he came to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17). Paul says Jesus was a preacher of the law (some Bibles say 'circumcision'), but for the truth of God, which is the gospel (Rom 15:8).
Not everything Jesus preached was gospel truth. Everything Paul preached later was gospel truth because he was appointed by God to confirm and defend the gospel (Phil 1:7). Paul's sole ministry was the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). But Jesus wore two hats in his ministry: (1) a preacher of the law, and (2) a preacher of gospel truth. If we fail to see this, we can become very confused in what we believe the Bible is saying.
Jesus said if your hand offends, cut it off. He said if you eye offends, pluck it out. He said if you look at a woman with lust it's the same as committing adultery. He said if you call someone a fool, you're in danger of hell. He said if we don't forgive others, our heavenly Father will not forgive us. These were statements made with his black hat on, while preaching the law.
JESUS DIDN'T TELL US TO LOVE GOD WITH EVERYTHING WE HAVE
First of all, have you ever thought how impossible a statement like this is? This is what the law is meant to teach us: that it is impossible to live by. We cannot be righteous under the law (Rom 3:10). Everyone fails living the law (Acts 15:10). If we offend at doing even one thing right, we're guilty of breaking all the law (Jam 2:10).
Besides, his next statement was to love others as yourself. Well, if you could excel at loving God with ALL your love, what would you have left to love anyone else with? Can you see the impossibility of this? And Jesus knew it.
JESUS GAVE US A NEW COMMAND
Jesus gives us a new command: "to love others as he has loved us" (John 13:34, 15:9).
The implication of this statement is that we must know and receive the love of God before we can love. Oh, we can do nice things for people, and even tell them we love them. But our love is conditional, often based on narcissistic need. It is only when we truly know God's love for us that we can truly love others as he intends us to.
So our focus should not even be to love others. Our focus should be to receive the love of God afresh every morning. In so doing, we are then empowered to love others. We saw this in a prior gospel coaching session when we looked at I Thessalonians 3:12. The Christian life is not about us loving God, or anyone else. It is about us receiving God's love. When we learn to receive God's love as we should, then loving God, and loving others, is a natural outflow from this.
"As you have freely received, so freely give." Jesus says, "Without me you can do nothing." The power in us to love others and give to them is found in our willingness to receive from God.
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The Gospel Life Coach shows how the gospel is the power of God enabling us to live life better by accident than we ever
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