Thinking About Great Things

The Great Commandment

Part 1

Matt 22:37-38

"'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.

  1. Love the Lord with all your Heart
    1. This is a matter of our affections
      1. A deep desire
      2. Psa 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    2. It is very much an emotional element
      1. The very seat of affection
    3. It can be seen often in worship
    4. It is to be complete - ALL
      1. Each of these is to be with all
      2. Jesus said that if we loved anyone more than Him we were not worthy of Him.
        1. Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
        2. it is not fit and proper, that such a person should name the name of Christ, or be called by his name, and should be reckoned one of his disciples; he is not fit to be a member of the church of Christ on earth, nor for the kingdom of heaven, but deserves to be rejected by him, and everlastingly banished his presence: for otherwise no man, let him behave ever so well, is worthy of relation to Christ, and interest in him; or of his grace, righteousness, presence, kingdom and glory. John Gill
      3. Jesus puts it in perspective in Luke 14:26
        1. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
        2. It is not that any should ever hate father or mother etc. but rather that in comparison to our love for Christ it is hate.
    5. It should be reckless
      1. Not counting the cost
      2. It takes chances
      3. It puts it all on the line
      4. Does not consider the consequences for the love of the other is all there is
  2. Love the Lord with all your Mind
    1. Love also is very much a decision
      1. That is why we can love our enemies
      2. That is why Jesus here says it is commanded.
      3. God has done great things for us to win us by His love, bot for those who have never been touched by that love they will still be held accountable to the command, "Love God will all your heart, mind and soul.
    2. It is a commitment.
      1. It is a commitment that millions have sealed with their blood.
        1. What if we were all arrested today and taken away for questioning.
        2. What if in the process they told you that if you would publicly deny Jesus Christ and never mention Him again they would spare your life.
        3. What if you had lived in the Soviet Union and you were warned that if you taught your children about Jesus, they would be taken from you. What would you do?
      2. In the face of danger, fear or temptation, your commitment is what will bring you through.
    3. But it involves the whole mind
      1. You just cannot get your mind off of Him
      2. Is your thinking saturated with God and with Jesus.
      3. I never look into the starlit sky without thinking of Him.
      4. I never look out on a mountain scene without thinking of Him.
      5. When I see the wonders of birth or the depravity of childhood I know it all goes back to Him.
  3. Love the Lord with all your Soul
    1. It is also a spiritual experience
      1. This is beyond emotion
      2. It can only be explained by an understanding of the spiritual world.
    2. There is a meeting of the souls
      1. It is not that I found a soul mate in God
      2. For I was nothing like God
    3. Instead He found me and made me His soul mate.
      1. I care about what He cares about
      2. I feel I understand His desires and have accepted them as mine.
  4. Love the Lord with all you Strength
    1. This says you have to put something into it.
      1. God is not interested in a passive relationship.
      2. He wants us to pursue Him.
        1. Ps 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: 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. NKJV
        2. Deuteronomy 4:29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
    2. It is an energetic love.

     

    1.  This message was preached at FBC Toulon,

      by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com  

      1.  

 LOVING GOD:
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.

LOVING OTHERS:
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