Sunday, September 23, 2007

Matt's Messages - Real Christians Really Love God

“Real Christians Really Love God”
Real Christians
September 23, 2007
Ephesians 6:24

Last Sunday, we began a new series of messages that we’re calling “Real Christians.”

“Real Christians” is a study of what the Bible says about genuine, authentic Christians. What they are, what they do, what they love, what characterizes real (as opposed to false or fake or phony) Christians.

Are you a Real Christian?

Last week, we learned the first and most important mark of a real Christian.

Can anybody tell me what it is?

Real Christians Believe the Real Gospel!

The good news of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen again for the forgiveness of sins and the sure hope of eternal life–all a gift of God’s grace, not earned by works but given by the sovereign grace of God to sinners like you and me.

That is the gospel, and it is “of first importance” needing to be received, stood upon, and held firm.

All Real Christians Believe the Real Gospel.

And then that gospel changes us.

There is a before and an after for all real Christians.

Once we were God’s enemies, objects of His wrath.

But now, through the gospel, we have become reconciled to God.

And that has changed our status, our standing before God, and it also changes our hearts.

Today, I want to talk about the first and most important heart-change that the Real Gospel effects within all Real Christians.

And it is this:


Now, maybe that sounds obvious to you. Probably a lot of the things I’m going to say this Fall will sound obvious to you, because we are going “back to basics.” Remember, “This is a football.” from last week?

Well, “this is what is real in the hearts of all Real Christians:” Real Christians Really Love God.

The real gospel makes real changes in real Christians.

And the first is that we go from being enemies of God (even if we didn’t know we were) to being His friends.

We go from being haters of God to lovers of God.

The gospel changes our relationship with God to that of a love relationship.

A relationship with God that is characterized by mutual love.

Receiving and knowing and experiencing the love of God for us and responding in genuine love back to and for Him.

That’s why our purpose statement as a church says we “exist to glorify God by bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ is God the Son and the Way we can have a love relationship with God.

Real Christians Really Love God.

Now, let’s see that in our verse for today. Ephesians chapter 6, verse 24 is the Apostle Paul’s farewell statement to the Ephesian church.

He says, “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Paul is signing off with this last sentence in his letter. And it is not a farewell to just some of the believers in Ephesus. It is a farewell to all of them. V.24
“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
Paul believes that all the Real Christians at Ephesus had a love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is true for all genuine believers throughout the Bible. For example, 1 Peter 1:8 says that most real Christians have never seen the Lord, but they love Him. And Romans 8:28 says that all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes. That’s all real Christians all are called all love Him. And James 1:12 says that God has promised “the crown of life” to all who love Him.

Real Christians Really Love God.

By “really” I mean two things.

First, that this love is real, as opposed to fake, false, or phony.

The King James translates this verse, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Truly. Really.

But I think the NIV gets the sense of the word here even better in saying “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

The Greek word here has the sense of immortality and incorruptibility.

The NASB translates it, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible.”

Real Christians Really Love God, especially God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

They love Him with an “undying love.”


Why do we love Him?

The Bible says we love God “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

We love Him because of the Gospel.

Notice this: Real Christians really love God, not because they are such good people who are just naturally full of lots of love for their Creator, but because even though they were rebel enemies of God, God chose to love them first.

And God so loved his rebel enemies that He gave His One and Only Son that whosoever believes in Him and what He did on the Cross, the real gospel, will not perish but have everlasting life!

We love God because He first loved us.

And not only that, we love God because He is so lovable!

We, in our fallen condition, were not lovable, but God loved us anyways.

But God is imminently lovable.

He is good. He is perfect. He is holy. He is glorious. He is beautiful. He is wonderful. He is sweet. He is precious. He is a magnificent treasure that is worth all praise and love.

God is absolutely lovable!

That’s why the first and greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, all your strength!

Because He’s worth that kind of love! He’s worth absolute love!

And when we love Him, we get grace. Isn’t that Paul’s wish and prayer as he ends this inspired letter of Holy Scripture?

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Grace comes to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ with this kind of love.

All Real Christians Really Love God.

Not perfectly. Not fully. Not absolutely.

But really. Genuinely. Actually.

All Real Christians Really Love God.

Or there will be Hell to pay.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that someone can be a real Christian and not love God? Hate Him? Feel indifferent about Him? Not care about Him?

Listen to how the apostle Paul ends his first letter to the Corinthians:

“If anyone does not love the Lord–a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!”

Paul is saying that a curse will rest on someone who does not love the Lord!

Love for God is not an optional thing. It is essential. It is necessary.

It is the necessary outworking of the saving faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you don’t have real love for God, you don’t really believe the gospel.

The demons believe the real gospel but they don’t love the Lord!

Eternal life is at stake here.

“If anyone does not love the Lord–a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!”


“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Those are the only two choices.

So, how do I know if I really love the Lord?

What does this kind of real love look like?

Because there are a lot of people who are deceived or are trying to deceive others.

There are a lot of people who like to think of themselves as real Christians, but they have no real love for God.

So, how do I know if I really love the Lord?

Well, a lot of things could be said, but I can think of four biblical themes that would point towards a genuine love for the Lord. Four marks of real love.

And they are true for all relationships. If we truly love someone, these things will be present in our relationships.

And here’s the first one: A THIRST FOR FELLOWSHIP.

What I mean by that is that if I really love God, I will want to be with Him.

I will desire His presence.

I will want to know Him: what He is like, what He likes, what He dislikes, what He wants, what He thinks.

I will want to communicate with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, relate to Him in a personal way.

I will want intimacy with God. That is, I will want to spend time with Him.

I will want His fellowship.

The book of 1 John is a great book for telling the difference between real and fake Christians. One of the biggest reasons why John wrote the book was to help Christians to really know that they had eternal life.

Listen to what John says in the first chapter, verse 3: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”


Real Christians have a thirst for fellowship with God.

They want to be with Him. They desire God.

Real Christians sing with David the words of Psalm 42.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Does that describe the inclination of your heart?


This glass of water stands for this point.

Imagine being a deer in the wilderness, thirsty for some water.

Maybe the deer is on the run. Chased by hunters who are out for its blood.

And there is no water in sight.

Thirst racks his body. He pants for the water.

My wife likes to say that Psalm 42 describes a deadly thirst for the living God.

Do you have that? Do you really love God?

Now, that thirst may be stronger some days than others. But if you have no thirst to be with God and to know God and to grow in a relationship with God, I would question whether you believe the real gospel at all. And I can give you no assurance that you are saved.

But there is “[g]race to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

The whole point of the gospel is to get us to God. If we don’t care to get to God, we haven’t understood the gospel.

My favorite author, John Piper, wrote a book called God is the Gospel. And what He meant was that if we want to be saved without knowing the Savior, if we want to get to heaven without getting to the King of Heaven, if we want to escape Hell but we don’t care about loving God, we aren’t saved. We don’t get it. We aren’t there yet.

The whole point of the gospel is to get us to God.

And Real Christians believing the Real Gospel Really Love God.

They have a thirst for His fellowship.

Several times this Fall, I’ve asked the question, “Do you have a regular appointment to meet with God?” A time to read His word and a time to pray?

Do you have a regular appointment to meet with God? When is the next time?

Some people call this “quiet times.” But they can be rather noisy! I recommend that!

Some people come them devotions.

But I don’t just mean a time when you go through the motions.

But a time when you meet with God.

Real Christians have a thirst for that!

But that’s not all.

That’s not all that love for God is. It is not just emotional. [It’s not LESS THAN emotional! But it’s not just emotional.]

Some people think that if you have some “private warm-fuzzies” for Jesus then that’s all there is to loving Him.

Maybe if you think nice thoughts about Jesus then you love the Lord.

But that’s not all.

Here’s number two: A DESIRE FOR OBEDIENCE.

Real love is not just a thirst for fellowship; it’s also a desire for obedience.

1 John 5:3 says, “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”

Jesus said it this way: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”


I’m going to put out this coach’s whistle as a symbol for this point.

When the coach blows this whistle, the players get busy doing what he asks.


If you want to know if someone loves God, you look for a thirst for fellowship with God and a desire to obey God.

Now, why did I say that this is true of all love relationships?

It’s not because all love relationships include obedience.

It’s because in all love relationships, there is a desire to please the person being loved.

A desire to do what makes them happy.

And that’s why we obey the Lord. Not out of unthinking, slavish duty, but out of thanksgiving for His grace and out of a desire to please Him.

And more than that, out of desire to be like Him.

Whatever we love, we desire to be like. Have you ever noticed that?

Anyone you truly love, you will desire to be like them.

That’s why obedience for us is being like Jesus.

And if we really love Jesus, we will desire to obey what He commands.

What has He commanded? You can find it in the pages of this book.

He commands a lot of things:
Water Baptism
Love for Enemies
Hard Work on the Job
Sharing the Gospel
Forgiving Those Who Sin Against Us
Studying the Bible

Real Christians do these things (and a whole lot more) not trying to earn their way to Heaven, but because the gospel has changed their hearts and given them a real love for God.

Do you have a desire for obedience?

Not a perfect desire. Not an absolute desire.

Not perfect obedience.

But a desire to obey. A desire to please the Lord.

A desire to become like Him by doing what He says to do.

When God blows His whistle, do you want to get busy?

If you don’t have any desire to obey the Lord, I don’t believe that you love Him.

It may be that you have a loved one or an acquaintance that claims to love God. If they don’t exhibit a changed life from disobedience to obedience, they are just fooling themselves.

Real Christians Really Love the Lord with a Desire for Obedience.

Is there something right now that the Lord is asking for you to do, but you have been neglecting His commands?

Love Him. Obey Him.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

The third mark of real love is a HATE FOR HIS ENEMIES.

Did you know that God’s children are supposed to hate?

Yes, we are. We are to hate what God hates.

God has enemies, and they are to be our enemies, as well.

Here are three categories of enemies for you:

The WORLD, the FLESH, and the DEVIL.

The External, Internal, and Infernal enemies of the believer.

The WORLD is the world-system, societies’ coalition against God and His ways. 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone lvoes the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, that doesn’t mean to not love the created world or to not love people trapped in the world’s system with a holy love that shares the gospel with them.

But it does mean that I should be opposed to everything in the world that is opposed to God.

The FLESH is my internal enemy. It is the remaining corruption left over since the Lord came into my life. It is my sin-nature. It is the “old me” that is still squating in residence in my heart. My indwelling sin.

But the FLESH is not the real me now. It is not the truest thing about me. And I am to put it to death. I am to hate it.


Let’s let this toy gun symbolize this hate of God’s enemies.

I’m not supposed to make any provision for the flesh. But if I love God, I will hate my own sin and try to put it to death.

Of course, a sword and a shield would be a better symbol.

Especially of hating our infernal enemy: the DEVIL.

Satan is not our friend. He hates us and wants to eat us for lunch.

But we can stand firm against Him with the Armor of God.

And all who truly love God will. Do you hate His enemies?

And #4 (and last). Real Love for God is marked by...

A Thirst for Fellowship
A Desire for Obedience
A Hate for His Enemies


1 John 4:20 says “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

We’re going to talk about that again in two weeks. Real Christians Really Love People.

But it’s important to see here that the two things are linked.

If we truly love God, we will not only hate what God hates, but we will love whom God loves.

So, if we look at our own lives and see no genuine love for other believers, we need to ask whether or not we are really believers ourselves.

One morning after Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberius.

They had a fish breakfast on the shore and nobody was happier to see Jesus than Peter.

But Peter had denied Jesus three times.

He hadn’t loved Jesus.

He hadn’t wanted to be with Him during His trial.
He hadn’t obeyed Him by staying awake and taking up his cross.
He hadn’t hated His enemies.
And he hadn’t loved His friends.

He had abandoned Jesus and denied that he even knew Him.

After they finished eating, three times Jesus asked him:

“Do you really love me?”

And each time, Peter said yes.

And Jesus said, “Okay. Show me. Feed my sheep (that is, love my people) and follow me.”

I think that Jesus is asking us the same question today:

“Do you really love me?”

If so:

“You’ll have thirst for fellowship with me. Let’s get together. Get to know me.
You’ll have a desire to obey me. Do what I command.
You’ll have a hate for my enemies. Don’t compromise with the world, don’t give in to the flesh, don’t listen to the devil.
And you’ll have a love for my friends. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Because I first loved you.”