Pastor Marvin's sermon today is a continuation from last week, a second and closing part to the topic of "Test Every Spirit", based on 1 John 4:1-8. (The mp3 sermon for Part 1 is here. I will append this section with today's sermon when the link is up.)
He refers to Jonathan Edwards's four ways to test the spirits taken from these verses in the 1 John epistle. They are:
1. The identity test
2. The association test
3. The biblical test
4. The love test
Check to link provided above for Test #1. For the other three tests, as promised, I will post the link when it's up.
What I like to bring up right now is my thoughts today on Test #4, the love test.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."
1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)
What Pastor Marvin said this morning reverberates with me because I have been evaluating my relationship with some people.
There are many kinds of love in the world. But the most popular one of them all is the love of self. If you look around, you are bound to see Narcissus everywhere. Think about it, no matter where you go and whomever you speak to, most people will be for themselves, and only themselves. Seldom will they ever be for you.
Don't get me wrong, I am not against being for yourself and taking care of yourself. I am referring to the downright selfishness and conceit of humankind, those who seldom spare one thought for another. Those whose actions and words are only self-serving. They may sound like they care for you, but sadly, they don't sound at all genuine. It's only a façade. They only think and do for themselves.
But God loves us so much that he gave us his only son to die for us that we may live. God's love is supreme and whatever message we hear must be tested against this love of God that commands us to love one another because God is love.
But love is not easy. In its purest form, it's hard to understand, to live out and to practice. But love we must.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
Luke 10:27 (ESV)
And who is your neighbor? Jesus's subsequent parable makes it very clear that your neighbor is whomever you come in contact with. And we are to love them with the love of God.
How we understand the love of God is then a very, very important thing.
Check out D.A. Carson's two excellent volumes on:
1. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
2. Love in the Hard Places
I have read these books some years ago and it is now a good time for me to dig them out from the shelves and read them again.
We need to really know and experience the love of God and we need to test every spirit with the love of God, to ensure we listen to the right things and live our lives right in Christ.