If the churches in this world only knew! If they only knew HOW WRONG, how totally unscriptural most of their teachings were! And, standing out as a beacon above all of their errors is their teaching on LOVE
LOVE is a magical word which seems to fix any problem today. You should LOVE sinners, LOVE evil people, LOVE rebellious children, nations should LOVE each other, and ministers beg, plead, and practically bribe people each week to get them to show more LOVE.
But they’re wrong! Oh, Love – that is, what GOD means when He says “Love” – Love would solve all these problems, there is no question of that. BUT! No one teaches you how to get it! Because they don’t know the road to REAL, SCRIPTURAL LOVE!
Did you know that the process – the long, arduous PROCESS which ultimately produces REAL LOVE is outlined in the Bible? I’m not talking about the fake, syrupy nonsense called LOVE by everyone today, but TRUE, sincere love, unfaked, unpretended.
You see, you can’t just START “loving” people, just like that. You can’t do it because someone tells you to, or even because you want to. It can’t happen! It’s physically impossible to create real love overnight! Did you know that your Bible teaches that?
I’ll bet you didn’t, but it does! But all you ever hear is that you need to LOVE other people more – and no one ever tells you how to do that, or even WHAT LOVE IS! How can you do something if you don’t even know what it is, or how to get more of it??
2 Peter 1:5-7 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
There you have it. One of the most epic scriptures in the entire Bible. This is a chain of virtues, a list of attributes that will be a part of the character of EVERYONE before they are granted eternal life. This is a veritable road map to immortality.
I have termed it a road map because it is more than a simple list. It is a list of virtues IN THE ORDER THEY MUST COME! It is the architectural blueprints to YOUR eternal character!
If you’ll notice, each of these is built on the foundation of a previous attribute. This is incredibly important! “ADD to your faith VIRTUE”. That means you need faith, before you get virtue! Go back and read it again, carefully. Each virtue is added ONLY once the previous virtue is solid, and the next is built using that as a foundation!
This chain cannot be broken. For example, you can’t have patience, in the sense the Bible defines patience, before you have faith.
James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [or “causes”, or “results in”] patience.
If the trying, or testing of your faith causes patience, that is to say, if patience is created BY the testing of faith, as the scripture plainly says, then without FAITH you can’t have patience! It would be like making an omelet without eggs!
There are many other ways to prove that this chain is always successive, I’ll show a few more later. But first, this road map isn’t quite complete. It picks up at the “faith” stage, assuming that a person already HAS faith. But for a COMPLETE map, we must back up another step, and add REPENTANCE
Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Notice what the foundation is; there are two WORKS mentioned, and 4 doctrines. These are considered, by God, to be the most basic FOUNDATION of a true Christian. And what is the bottom of that foundation?
REPENTANCE from dead works. To put it another way, STOPPING SINNING is the foundation of this road! And to that repentance, you add FAITH. Faith is the AUTOMATIC result of simply not sinning!
So then, our road map, in modern English, would read:
Repentance –> Faith –> Works –>Knowledge –>Self-control –> Patience –> Using the power of God –> Loving those who deserve it –> Loving those who don’t deserve it –> Immortality
I now intend to explain each of those virtues in some detail, ending in charity, or love. Repentance has already been explained. As a natural consequence, that leads to faith. Faith, however, without works, is dead. It has to have VIRTUE, or proof, or works, to go with it. (James 2:18-20)
So the automatic faith you have after you repent is a good start, but it isn’t enough! It has to have WORKS to back it up! Then, after you’ve added WORKS to your faith, you must add knowledge. You must seek, desperately, for more places where you are sinning in order to uproot them!
You must look under your bed, dig through your closets, clean out your pantry, looking for places where you even MIGHT be wrong! And add to your works, the works which are the PROOF that you are obeying your faith, KNOWLEDGE!
But here you will notice a problem in yourself. By seeking this knowledge, you are finding things that you currently do, things that you ENJOY doing, that you can’t do any more! This will require you to make a hard choice. Do you REALLY want to know if you’re sinning or not? Wouldn’t you rather just be in the dark, so you could keep your little sins?
And so you see, knowledge leads automatically to temperance, which is better translated “self-control”. You must master your spirit to proceed past this step, you must RULE your carnal heart, and CONTINUE to root through your life, looking for any error you might be making, because you WANT to change, whatever the personal cost! It will require the existence, or the creation, of SELF-CONTROL for you to proceed beyond this step!
But if you pass this step, you will have already proceeded farther than most ever do. Most of the world is eliminated at step 1, repentance. Many, many, many more are eliminated at steps 2 and 3, faith and works. Each subsequent step eliminates many more people who just are not yet fit to wield ultimate power in the world to come.
So by this point you would be making excellent progress. And yet you STILL are not ready to understand, or show, true, Godly love. More on that later. Meanwhile you come to the first step that requires you to actually trust God, namely, PATIENCE.
Thus far, it has always been your move. You controlled whether or not you advanced now, or later. But now, God must know, and for that matter, you must know, what you are really made of.
Will you really trust God, no matter what? Is this the way of life you REALLY want, even if God were to stop rewarding you for it – or are you only doing this because God has been blessing you for it? Would you REALLY rather be back in the world, enjoying the pleasures of sin?
God allows you to make this choice at this step. Of course, you could have already made it many times, but this is the time where God really opens the door for you, to see if, left to your own way, you will rush back to the life you used to have.
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
You may recall the trials Job went through. Trials that he hadn’t brought about through his own mistakes. That was Job, passing this mile-marker on the road to eternal life. I suggest, if you are interested, that you re-read the book of Job with this perspective in mind.
This is part of the road every true Christian has gone through. We have ample written record of the great men in the Bible passing this step, Abraham is the first one who comes to mind. God demanded that he kill his only son.
Abraham had followed the first steps in this chain, followed them well, and done great things and earned great promises from God, but for all that, God wasn’t really SURE of what Abraham would do, if the going got rough.
Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for NOW I KNOW that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
But NOW He knew! God KNEW what Abraham would do, no matter WHAT! And He must know that about EVERY SINGLE BEING who will EVER wield power and authority in His kingdom!!
I fear I must add a disclaimer at this point, to prevent you from getting the wrong idea. Typically, anyone who suffers in this life blames God. “It’s God testing me”, they say. “He is teaching me patience”, they insist. When in fact, God is not testing them for their righteousness, but PUNISHING THEM FOR THEIR SINS!
If life goes sour for you, LOOK AT YOURSELF! Ask yourself “What have *I* done to make God do this to me?”
Jeremiah 2:17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way? (See also Jeremiah 4:18, 8:6, etc)
If you are having difficulties, and you want to claim that God is just testing you, resist that thought! LOOK for your sins instead! Fast, if need be, to focus your concentration on WHAT YOU’VE DONE WRONG! Because YOU have almost certainly brought this curse upon yourself!
Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
In the day of adversity, stop and ask “What have I done??” – and yet instead of doing that, instead of DESPERATELY searching for your sin, instead of looking for what is making God angry with you, as a man who is drowning in quicksand thrashes for a handhold… IF instead of that you simply say “God is just testing me, *I* am not causing this”, well…
Quite simply, the punishment will not end, because you will never find or remove the cause. And you will have officially had a blow-out on the road to immortality.
So, unless you are at this point along the road, unless you have ALREADY added to your faith works, knowledge, and self-control, and possibly even then – you are NOT being tested by God, and it is most definitely YOUR FAULT that your life is a mess!
And bear in mind that when in doubt, this is by far the safer assumption. If you’re wrong, so what – you thoroughly examined your heart in an effort to eradicate sin one more time. Can’t lose doing that. But if you say God is testing you, when in fact he is punishing you… you will lose out on your reward. It is a sobering choice, do not make it lightly.
But back to our road map. After patience, when the test is finished, God can trust you. And He restores any blessings He may have temporarily withheld, and then some. See the last chapter of Job for how God feels about someone who passes this, and learns PATIENCE
And so, now that God can TRUST you, implicitly, you enter the next stage in your development. Godliness, which is practicing the power of God. See “The Shocking Truth About Prayer” for complete details of the purpose of this step. Below is a brief summary.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
There is a POWER that goes with godliness! And this power, like all skills, has to be exercised!
1 Timothy 4:7-8 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
You are put on earth to practice being a king and a priest in the world tomorrow. You were born for the sole purpose of one day becoming GOD! With the power and responsibilities that go along with that job! But WHEN are you going to learn how to use them?
The answer is, today! Every time you pray, you learn, or rather, you SHOULD learn, what GOD would do in a certain situation. You have your senses exercised through USE (Hebrews 5:16)!
You exercise your senses and learn GOOD and EVIL! You learn whether to heal, or to curse, or to bless, or to open someone’s mind to truth, because you, through faith, have access to the power of God! And that power allows you to practice making important, even life-and-death decisions, while God is still watching over your shoulder, to prevent you from making a terrible mistake!
And so Godliness is using the power of God! And you couldn’t master the power of God before this, because God couldn’t TRUST you until after you had learned patience! And now, after all this learning, and changing, and growing to be more like God, you finally have perspective enough, experience enough, to finally arrive at what LOVE actually is.
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the END of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Love is the END of the commandment – the result of a long process of obeying the law! And it is love that comes out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and REAL, SINCERE FAITH!
This proves, yet one more time, that you CAN’T HAVE LOVE WITHOUT REAL FAITH! Powerful faith, faith that proves you have CONTACT with God and He HEARS your prayers! Anyone who appears or claims to have LOVE without showing FAITH is lying to you, and probably to himself as well!
Many, MANY times, someone has come to me and said “Well, she’s such a loving person, but she just doesn’t have faith”… AND THAT IS A LIE! They CANNOT have love, or be a “LOVING PERSON” without the FOUNDATION of righteousness and obedience of 2 Peter 1:5-7!
On the other hand, as a natural RESULT of traveling the road to immortality, after having learned faith, patience, self-control, and godliness, the result of this process will be LOVE! True, unfaked, sincere LOVE, Love that produces WORKS and MEANS something!
Love, built upon this foundation of LAW, of TRUTH, and of REALITY and LIFE, can be REAL, the Love that God says HE IS, the Love that He says is the definition of His very character!
1 John 4:8, 5:2-3 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love… By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (See also Romans 13:8-10)
Love, TRUE LOVE, is the keeping of the commandments! Remember, the END, or the RESULT, of keeping those commandments is Love! And after having traveled this road this far, you will have had your COMITTMENT to those laws TESTED, and PROVED, under hundreds, perhaps thousands of situations, and your LOVE can finally be perfected! And here we find another proof that this chain is given to us IN THE ONLY ORDER IT CAN COME!
1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
The road map tells us that you add to your godliness brotherly kindness, and to your brotherly kindness LOVE. In other words, you must love your BROTHER before you can truly love GOD! And that is exactly what 1 John 4:20 says, as well! You must already LOVE your brother before you can truly LOVE GOD!
And so we have arrived at the final step. Truly loving all men, God, even your enemies. We are finally ready to learn 1 Corinthians 13. You could not have adopted these characteristics before now! If you had, you would have only been pretending true love – and deceiving even yourself!
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth …
To try, for example, to learn LOVE before patience is impossible! Because LOVE is built UPON patience! And TRUE LOVE never fails – but the Love you see around you FAILS! When backed into a corner, everyone you know, and almost certainly YOU, YOURSELF, will revert to your carnal nature!
Matthew 7:26-27 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
That is because whatever pretense of Godly Love you have, WAS NOT BUILT UPON A SOLID FOUNDATION, but on emotion and lies! And so it WILL FALL, and GREAT will be the fall of it! Hear this, and never forget it; unless your “Love” came AFTER the process outlined in the Road Map to Immortality, 2 Peter 1:5-7, IT IS NOT LOVE AT ALL, but a LIE, and it’s works are HATE!
If your love begins with LAW, and carries through FAITH, and PATIENCE, and GODLINESS, then you can make the RIGHT judgments that TRUE LOVE makes. You can know that the act of LOVE, the action that GOD would take, would be to spank a rebellious child!
But Love WITHOUT that foundation, built solely upon emotion and 1 Corinthians 13, like the so-called LOVE of practically everyone alive, would say “No, no, don’t spank little Billy!”
The BIBLE chooses between these two approaches when it says “He that spareth his rod HATETH his son: but he that LOVETH him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)
People read where it says “Love endures all things”, and say “Well, that means I must never correct sinners!”, or “That means that I should never spank a child! Instead, I must ENDURE his sins!”
But people who have walked the Road of Immortality, and have arrived at the point where they can understand TRUE LOVE, know that the TRUE act of Love is to correct the sinner!
Proverbs 28:23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
But I have dwelt upon this subject long enough. I believe it to be unarguable, that is, unarguable from SCRIPTURE, that TRUE LOVE can only be built upon the foundation of repentance, and faith, and works, and knowledge, and self-control, and patience, and godliness, and love towards those who love you.
If you skip even ONE of those steps, what you have is NOT love, at all. Granted, there can be acts of love – since Love is, in principle, nothing more than obeying the ten commandments…
Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore LOVE IS the fulfilling of the law.
But true LOVE, Loving others more than yourself, loving even your enemies, that is, keeping the law towards them EVEN WHEN THEY DON’T DESERVE IT, uncorruptible, perfect LOVE, can ONLY be built upon the foundation above! There is only ONE road you can walk! ONE WAY to learn, and grow, Love.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Remember that, like Faith, Love, without works, is dead, being alone.
1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.