The Great Commandment
"'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment." NKJV
Aren't you glad that as Baptists we can worship without all this show of emotions like we see from others. I mean there is nothing that we can see or hear that will either bring us to tears or cause us to shout with joy. Aren't you glad that we do not get all involved in our religion like some of these other groups. We can come to worship and listen to the preacher's impassioned pleas and yet leave untouched but almost any appeal to greater devotion or service.
Now of course I speak facetiously. But all in all we do control our emotions and try not to get drawn in. No one else might see it, but I do. I see it in your eyes. The eyes tell the story.
But if that is the case how do we explain that Jesus call on our deepest emotions when speaking of our duties to God and our fellow men. Jonathan Edwards in his monumental work on Religious Affections writes, "I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, that ever he read, heard or saw, that had not his affections moved."
Written in the mid 1700s he places his finger on our problem today. Intellectually we have accepted the Bible in some measure or another. We have decided to become a Christian and become baptized, joined the church and even to attend. But we are not changed and we are not changing our world. I present you with this explanation. We have left our emotions with the soap opera, or at the football games. If we have not a heart felt affection in our religion it will be as powerless as a corpse.
We do not act unless our emotions press us. What actions in life are driven by a force beyond emotions. Without emotions, there would be no marriage, children, homes, wars, justice, acts of mercy or acts of revenge.
This morning my desire is not to teach you that you are to love God. Because if there is not emotional connection, there can be no love. God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and truth.
One of the ways we can love God and show it is in worship. Earlier this year I brought two messages on that topic, knowing that we would be on this subject after Easter.
This is such an indispensable part of your religious experience that we are going to spend the next seven Sundays following this theme. This is so indispensable that if you do not have a love relationship with Jesus you are not a Christian. If you fail the love test then it makes no matter if you have been baptized, or are a member of the church. If you cannot keep the greatest of all the commandments then what good does it for you to keep the smaller ones.
This message was preached at FBC Toulon,
by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com
1. Have no other gods.
2. Don't worship idols.
3. Don't misuse God's name.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day, Keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Don't murder.
7. Don't commit adultery.
8. Don't steal.
9. Don't lie.
10. Don't crave what others have.
We sometimes hear comparisons made between love and law, which seem to place love and law at odds, and make love transcend law. The truth is that love and law are inseparably bound up together. The law of God comes from the love of God, and our love of God is expressed in obedience to his law.
That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in
weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of
indifference: God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be good in
earnest, "fervent in spirit," and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion:
<451211>Romans 12:11, "Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
<051012>Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God
require of thee, but to fear the Lord the God, to walk in all his ways, and to
love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul?" and chap. <050604>6:4, 6, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
might." It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the heart in religion,
that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and
that has the promises of life; <053006>Deuteronomy 30:6, "And the Lord thy
God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Religious Affections; Jonathan Edwards
So holy desire, exercised in longings, hungerings, and thirstings after God
and holiness, is often mentioned in Scripture as an important part of true
religion; <232608>Isaiah 26:8, "The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the
remembrance of thee." <192704>Psalm 27:4, "One thing have I desired of the
Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in
his temple." <194201>Psalm 42:1, 2, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God; my soul thirsteth for God, for the
living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" <196301>Psalm 63:1, 2,
"My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty
land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen
thee in the sanctuary." <198401>Psalm 84:1, 2, "How amiable are thy
tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the
courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God."
<19B920>Psalm 119:20, "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy
judgments at all times." So <197325>Psalm 73:25, and <19E306>143:6, 7, and
<19D006>130:6. <220301>Cant. 3:1, 2, and <220608>6:8. Such a holy desire and thirst of soul
is mentioned, as one thing which renders or denotes a man truly blessed, in
the beginning of Christ's sermon on the mount, <400506>Matthew 5:6: "Blessed
are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be
filled." And this holy thirst is spoken of, as a great thing in the condition of
a participation of the blessings of eternal life; <662106>Revelation 21:6, "I will
give unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely." Religious Affections; Jonathan Edwards