Love and Forgiveness

The Scene: A woman dumps oil on Jesus’ feet. Observers object. Jesus pontificates.

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

First, allow me to point out that once again love is the “act” that Jesus responds to and he does not mention faith until verse 50, showing that her faith was real because her love was evident. (The past week or so I’ve been developing this theme, so if you have questions about what I mean, read on.)

Second, notice that the order seems reversed:

Her sins are forgiven BECAUSE she loved much
One loveth little BECAUSE little is forgiven.

Hmm. What maketh thee of this?

Love is the Greatest

We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13. Every wedding you’ve been to has had a reading from it. Love, love, love. We’ve heard it so much we don’t even think about the words.

I would like to meditate for a moment on 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Love is the greatest, even greater than faith.

If I may humbly make an observation about this. I may? Thank you kindly.

The great call of the Reformation was “By faith alone!” Reformed religion makes much of faith, and for good reason. But is it possible to make too much of faith?

I do not mean to paint all Reformed brethren with the same brush, but allow me to make an observation.

It seems to me many Reformed brothers are more concerned that I agree with John Calvin than they are concerned about me. It seems their main purpose is to get me to agree with them than help me love.

Maybe I’m wrong on this, but it is my observation. Perhaps by stressing faith so much we’ve forgotten the true test of faith: love. Love is greater than faith. Perhaps the Reformation could have been built on “By love alone!”

It’s how Jesus said people were saved. There are some who believe, yet do not have love, because they lack love, their faith is proven to be false.

The greatest of these is love. I didn’t say it. It’s right there in God’s Word. Shall we adjust?

Faith is Seen

A believer should so live that all may know that he is a believer.

Faith that does not purify the heart and life, is not faith at all. Grace that cannot be seen, like light – and tasted, like salt, is not grace, but hypocrisy.

The man who professes to know Christ and trust Him, while he cleaves to sin and the world, is going down to hell with a lie in his right hand.

The heart that has really tasted the grace of Christ, will instinctively hate sin.

~ J.C. Ryle

Proof of Faith

Paul begins each of his epistles with a greeting. Many of these greetings are positive. He rejoices that they are saved and growing.

In most cases where he rejoices in their faith, he says he knows their faith because he observes one huge trait among them: love.


“I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” Ephesians 1:15

“we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints” Colossians 1:4

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

“your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

“Hearing of thy love and faith” Philemon 5

Almost makes a guy wonder if there is a consistent biblical proof of genuine faith, eh?

Seems to me there is. You know there is true faith when you love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Love is what was on display at the cross. It’s all about love, because God is love.

Faith in Christ is the only thing that Justifies

Everyone who has ever been saved was saved by Jesus Christ. Even if we go back to Adam or Able or Abraham. They, and all believers since Adam, have been saved by Jesus Christ.

Upon reading that most would agree. But I have heard some pretty odd things in Christianity over the years.

Some think people are saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. Others think sacrifices had merit that brought salvation. A few think Jews under the Law were actually saved by their works. There are still many today who pursue the works of the Law as a means of salvation.

No man was ever saved by the deeds of the Law.

NO MAN was ever saved by the deeds of the Law, including men under the Law. All men have been saved by grace through faith and faith has always been placed in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

No exceptions.


“And by him [Jesus Christ] all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

People under the Law could not be justified by the law. It was an impossibility. It was never mentioned in the Law that keeping it would save people. It was given as a covenant deal so they could dwell in their Land.

They didn’t last in the Land. Point being: no man can keep it!

No man is justified by works of the Law. Anyone who is justified is justified the same way Abraham was: he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. And we know Abraham was saved because his faith produced obedience to God’s Word.

Worked then and it works now.

The Coworking of Grace and Faith in Salvation

We are saved by grace through faith. God has demonstrated grace to us, we respond to His grace with faith.

It is important to remember that the strength of our faith is not what holds us in His hands. His grace upholds us. Our faith is in His grace to sustain us. Our faith is not in us and our ability to believe.

This is a crucial point and easily mixed up because many passages make it clear that faith is not a one-time act, it is a way of life. Only those who continue in the faith are truly saved.

Which sure makes it sound like our ability to be saved is wrapped up in our ability to stay believing.

But it is equally true that we are saved by His grace! I can give you verses on both sides.

The resolution, as near as I can figure, is based on the fact that we are saved by grace through faith. Both are there. We are not saved by grace alone, otherwise there would be no distinction and all would be saved.

The Bible is clear that only those who believe are saved. But we are not saved by faith apart from His grace, otherwise faith becomes merit and God owes us salvation.

We are saved by grace through faith. God has done His part as His grace has appeared to all men. We must believe that His grace is the sole ground of salvation.

The faith that truly believes this truly is taught by that saving grace to deny ungodliness, worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.

If that’s happening then you know you are saved by grace and your faith is genuine. If this is not happening then you have yet to learn what grace is and you have yet to place genuine faith in it.

Scripturally Denying Scripture

Throughout Scripture religious leaders lead the people to hate God’s guys. The priests hated the prophets. The Scribes and Pharisees hated Jesus. The Sanhedrin hated Paul.

Religious people hate God. This is not necessarily a problem with religion, it is necessarily a problem with people. People are prone to seek their own way and yet are aware of their guilt.

The best resolution to eliminating guilt is to eliminate the stuff that makes you feel guilty. So religious guys hate God because God makes them feel guilty. It’s much easier to listen to guys than God.

This is not something that only guys from a long time ago do. Oh no, it lives on in all of us. One of the most prevalent ways modern Christian do this is by using Scripture to prove they don’t have to listen to Scripture.

Yes, this is as dumb as it sounds. It is also highly ironic. But I see it all the time. People use one Scripture to trump another Scripture. The Scripture that is interpreted as leading to the least amount of responsibility always wins.

If you are not going to listen to Scripture, don’t use Scripture to prove why you don’t have to. Just come right out and deny the whole Book. Scripture does not deny itself, so stop trying to make it do so.

Religious people have been doing this sort of thing for years. It is dumb. We should try not to do it.

Continuing in the Faith

John uses the word “belief” and its derivatives frequently through his Gospel. One minute everyone believes, the next minute the same believers want to kill Jesus. The disciples say they believe several times and yet Jesus seems to say otherwise.

A phrase that Jesus uses a couple of times with the 12 disciples is “that ye may believe.” He looks forward to a time when they would believe Him.

What does He mean by this? Repeatedly it says the disciples believed, why does He put their faith in the future?

Faith is an ongoing thing. The just shall live by faith. Unbelievers may believe for a time, but then they fall away when they read something they don’t like.

The disciples saw and heard many things that brought about faith in them. But Jesus knew that the battle was not over. Would they believe when He was crucified? When He was buried? When He ascended to heaven?

He gave them words to rely on in those tough moments, a ground for faith in the midst of confusion. Eleven of the twelve continued believing. They believed til the end. This is always the proof of true, saving faith: it continues.

Love is the Fruit of Faith

Love and faith go together. Men are saved by faith and the constant result of faith is love toward God and toward your neighbor.

If a man says he has faith and has not love his faith is counterfeit.

Paul brings up this connection throughout his epistles. Click here to get a list of Pauline links between faith and love. Click here for links between faith and charity, a sometimes KJV translation of “love.” Paul knows the genuineness of the his audience’s faith by observing their love.

This goes right along with what Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Love is a fruit of the Spirit, the first one. Now abides faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. Love trumps faith? Paul says so and Jesus uses love as His benchmark for faith as well. Read 1 John 3:11-23.

This is huge. It really is. Consider it.

Love and Unbelief

I’ve been talking about faith and love lately. Love and faith go together. But love can also keep a man from truly believing.

John 12:42 says that many of the chief rulers of the Jews believed on Jesus. However, they would not confess that belief openly because they were afraid of the Pharisees.

Even Paul, the apostle of grace, says that confession with the mouth is necessary for salvation. As I will bring up a few days from now, John uses the word “believe” quite loosely. Many who say they believe fall away and walk with Jesus no longer.

(Just because John says someone believed does not mean they are saved. Read the Gospel of John and pay attention to how he uses belief. It’s a fascinating study.)

These rulers believed but did not confess their faith because of fear, but John explains them further by saying, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

If we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. If we love man’s praise, we will not become fools for Christ. If we love the wrong things we will never come to true faith.

Love and faith go together. True love and true faith are related. Misguided love and unbelief are related just as much.

Belief and Love

In John 8, Jesus strikes up a conversation with “Jews which believed on Him.” Jesus knows they don’t, but they said they did, probably even believed they believed on Him.

Jesus says you truly believe if you keep continually in His Word. They are not continuing because the more Jesus says the more they have a desire to kill Him. By the end of the chapter, verse 59, these folks who “believed on Him” took up stones to cast at Him.

So, what gives? Jesus says in John that any man who believes in Him will not perish. These guys believed, how come Jesus says they don’t? If they believe, why do they want to kill Jesus?

Although they had faith in what they had heard, they missed one crucial element: Love. Jesus says “If God were you Father, ye would love me” (vs. 42).

Although they believed what they heard, they hadn’t heard it all. The more they heard, the less they believed. If a man loves Jesus Christ He will love hearing more of what He has to say.

They did not love Him so they did not want to hear more. Faith comes by hearing. Instead they wanted to stone Him to death.

Faith and love go together. You can’t have saving faith without love and you can’t have true love without saving faith.

Saved By Loving?

Luke 10 is one of those chapters most evangelicals wish wasn’t in the Bible. Well, at least verses 25-28.

A guy asks Jesus what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks “What is written in the Law? how readest thou?”

Jesus believes a guy can find out how to be saved by reading the Law. This should not shock us, but maybe the guy’s answer should. Many evangelicals upon reading the Law would say “Salvation is by doing sacrifices” or perhaps, “Salvation is by doing works of the Law.”

But this man says that the law says a man is saved by loving the Lord and loving your neighbor. Jesus agrees with this assessment of how the law says a man is saved.

Evangelicals freak here. “We’re saved by faith alone!” Is Jesus, the author of salvation, wrong about how people get saved?

Nope. Nor is He speaking to some Jewish niche group. Faith and love are frequently tied together. The summation of the Law is love and even before Paul explained it, this common Jewish man knew it.

However, this man gets it wrong when he tries to “justify himself” by getting clarification on who his neighbor is (he’s approaching salvation by works). The parable of the Good Samaritan follows.

So, what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is this: people are saved by faith and faith works by love. He that loveth not, loveth not God. If we truly love God faith is genuine.

Dead Men’s Bones

Jesus did not like the Pharisees. In Luke 11 he says to them, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”

They are like graves that are not seen causing men to walk on them. What?

The Law says that contact with the dead makes a man unclean. If a man walks over a grave he is unclean. If the grave is not marked, the man becomes unclean and doesn’t even know it.

Pharisees do not appear evil, but contact with them makes a man unclean because although they look righteous on the outside, they lead men to sin.

Appearances can be deceiving. Some of the most godly looking people can be the most destructive. A man with a reputation for godliness who is actually just a good actor, brings everyone down.

A man trying to uphold his reputation has no concern for you, he will merely call you to be like him. If God is not our standard of righteousness, then a man is. If we have not God’s righteousness then we are unclean.

Who are we following: God or a man? Beware of Pharisees, they make you unclean while you are busy trying to be clean.

Personal Faith

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Faith is ultimately our ability, desire, and willful commitment to know what God has said and do it.

If you have no desire to know more of God’s Word and do it, you do not have faith.

You may have what you think is faith, you may have dictionary definition faith, but you do not have biblical faith.

Many believe they can do what they want, regardless of clear biblical commands to the contrary, and get away with it because they “have faith.”

Some even try to claim a greater faith precisely because they don’t bother to do what God says, but they still believe they will be saved. In this case, faith is apparently proven by our stubbornness to not do what God has said.

Faith is primarily about hearing God’s Word. In fact, that’s pretty much all it’s about.

A question to make a man tremble is this: is my life reflecting more and more what God has said in His Word?

Making Sin Sound Better

I do not agree with Mr. D. A. Carson on everything, but I will agree with him on this quote. Well said:

One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift.

In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy, and effort to bring about reform.

In the grace of God, sometimes human beings display such virtues. But where such virtues are absent, the drift is invariably toward compromise, comfort, indiscipline, sliding disobedience and decay that advances, sometimes at a crawl and sometimes at a gallop, across generations.

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;

we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;

we drift toward superstition and call it faith.

We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;

we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism;

we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

Babel and Israel

After The Flood mankind was told to multiply and spread out. Instead they gathered and built the tower of Babel. After Babel, the nations were formed and Abram was called to father a nation: Israel.

Later on, after the Law and Israel’s failure, Israel is being carried into captivity to Babylon. Interesting note is that Babel is the presumed origin of Babylon.

When Babylon takes over Israel, it’s as if the bad guys have come back and won and God’s nation that came out of Babel is now back in Babel.

But God says, “hang on, I’m going to judge Babel too.” After the prophets are done, you don’t hear much about Babylon. It doesn’t show up again until Revelation, speaking of the Tribulation period.

In Revelation 16 God remembers Babylon. Revelation 18 talks about Babylon the great falling and being judged. When God returns to restore Israel, Babylon gets judgment.

In the end, Babel is beaten and Israel triumphs. This has nothing to do with your life and is not very practical or relevant to your felt needs, but it’s a little more Bible knowledge for you, which I’m sure you’ll disagree with!

Wanting to go to Heaven

In the Garden of Eden, paradise on earth, mankind lived with God in perfect harmony. The harmony ended when they did not listen to God.

Paradise is when people listen to God.

Heaven is paradise.

Paradise is when people listen to God.

Lots of people want to go to heaven and think they are going there, but few of these people have any interest in listening to God now. Which makes a guy wonder if they really, actually want to end up in heaven, where everyone will listen to God for eternity.

Understanding the Gospel

Every man who professes faith in Jesus Christ thinks he knows the Gospel.

“Oh yeah, I got that when I was six.”

It’s as if we’ve intellectually doven (dived?) to the depths of it in our youth, we’ve now moved on to bigger stuff.

The Gospel is a fairly amazing and deep thing. I find it ironic that so many people think they got it when they were 6.

I find it ironic that anyone would ever claim to have a handle on it at any age. This is not to say you can’t understand it on a level at 6 or any other age, you can. But to assume you’ve got the whole thing down? That’s just silly.

Angels are awesome creatures. They are not tainted with sin. If we saw one in its full glory we’d be scared out of our minds. Angels constantly wonder about the Gospel. They long to look into it more. (The same passage also says the prophets wondered constantly about it.)

Angels have no sin and they have nothing but diligent wonder and searching to find out more of the Gospel. Which seems pretty weird since so many six-year old humans got the whole thing.

Evangelism and Angels

When you hear people talk about evangelism you get a lot of stuff about technique, being relevant, knowing your audience, knowing the basics of the Gospel–four spiritual laws, Romans Road, etc.

That’s all fine, I guess, as far as it goes. But the Bible sometimes brings up angels and Satan when it comes to evangelism, how come we don’t hear much about that?

We get the idea it’s us against the bad guys, if we are convincing enough they will fall before our intellect or our marketing or our mad gospel skillz. We chuck the spiritual component entirely.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

* Acts 8–Philip is led by an angel to go witness to the Ethiopian eunuch.
*Acts 16–A vision of a man from Macedonia leads Paul to preach at Macedonia
*1 Thessalonians 2–Paul wanted to visit Thessalonica to preach to them, but Satan hindered him.
*Ephesians 6–The Gospel and salvation are part of the armor of God that battles against principalities, powers and Satan’s attacks.

Now I”m not saying that you sit and wait for a vision before you go witness, but what I am saying is that there is another component to evangelism, one that sure seems like it’s out of our hands.

Salvation is a spiritual act. It regenerates a man, rebirths him. There is no slick marketing that can pull that off. It’s of the Lord, by His Spirit and through His power and might.

Yes, we should prepare ourselves and be ready always to give an answer of the hope that is in us, but we should also humbly pray and depend on the Spirit to save souls. The praying does not replace the doing of evangelism, but the praying may be the most important part.

Honorary Masters of Martyrology

I’m a martyr. A suffering, silent martyr at that. Except right now, of course, when I break my silence to let you know. I suffer. I suffer more than most. I suffer for righteousness sake, as well, not just the common, “Ooo, ooo, my neck hurts” kind of martyrdom.

Granted I have never been crucified, burned at a stake, or beaten forty times minus one, but I would have if given the chance. And gladly, at that.

My martyr abilities have mostly gone unnoticed, hence the reason I must now break my long-suffering silence. No one has seen or in any other sensical way observed my sufferings, which does not mean they are not real, it only means people don’t pay attention to me, which is yet another form of martyrdom.

I have advanced in martyrological skills over the years, having now received my honorary Masters in Martyrology. The school I attended is thinking of adding on a martyrology wing called the “Martyrly Weddle’s Martyr Wing of Martyrdom.” It has seven rooms, two bathrooms, and a lounge.

It will not be air-conditioned.

I thank you all for being so self-centered so as to give me things to be martyred for. It is only because of you and your little worlds that I was able to reach such pinnacles of martyrdom. I owe it all to you, as I am nothing but a silently suffering worm of a man.

Only God knows the depths of my suffering and He has let me know how inadequate they are, in comparison to Him, of course, not in comparison to you.

Hark, I believe someone else has besmirched my character in a tragically offensive way. I must leave you all to your busy little lives as I go pray in my closet for your souls. Blessings on you.

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