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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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​His Fruit

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The Love of the believer, toward the Father, Son, Spirit, fellow-believers and the lost is a gift from God, and is not the mere putting forth of the human will to obey God’s commands to love. The Law of Moses commanded love: “Love God with all your heart; and you neighbor as yourself.” But the Gospel directs us to lay down our lives for our fellow-Christians, and to share the Gospel at all sacrifice, even that of life itself.


We see in the Gospel an altogether different principle than that in the law. It is right that we should love our Father—we are His children, and we owe all to Him. It is right that we should be ready to share His benefits with our “neighbors.” But the Gospel speaks in a wholly different way. Beloved, if “He laid down His life for us—we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” And Paul, describing that “love of Christ,” which “constrained” him (Greek carried him along), says he judged that “one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him Who for their sakes died and rose again” (2Cor 5:14, 15).


Two things appear here: (1) Those who are in Christ died with Him. (2) Their life now in Him is to be lived unto Him, as a life of constraining love. They are regarded as freed from their old man in His death, and also, as filled with a consuming devotion to Him Who has thus redeemed them.


Now the Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer, is He who both sheds abroad in our hearts God’s love to us (Rom 5:5), and also gives that love, which is His direct working to all others. Unless we see that it is “the love of the Spirit” in us (Col 1:8; Rom 15:30), and let Him bear His own fruit in us (the first and the greatest of which is love, Gal 5:22), we shall get directly back in spirit under the law. The law simply said, “Love others as yourselves.” You see, the law told us to love, but did not supply the power to love. The Gospel shows us that its proper fruit is love, and tells us that the Lord Jesus, by the Holy Spirit in us, will love others through us. So we do not try, but yield and trust (yielding to God’s work of love avoids us trying to love out of our own power, and rightly so because it’s not the fruit “of” the believer but “in” the believer—NC).


Hence while we find love to be the fundamental and essential fruit of the Gospel, we find also with great joy that it is the blessed Holy Spirit, given freely unto the Father’s children, who “bears” (not produces—NC) that fruit. “The fruit of the Spirit is Love,” and our Lord has told us in John 15:8, that the Father is glorified in our “bearing much fruit.”


Abiding in the Lord Jesus above, walking by faith hourly in the Spirit, expecting the Father, Who “spared not His own Son,” to freely grant us to bear fruit—the great fruit of love—by that Spirit He has made to dwell in us, we shall find how He does “exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.”


“As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord (in child-like faith), so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established by your faith . . . abounding in thanksgiving.” In short, it is not only faith in the doctrinal portion of Romans (chapters 1-11), but the glad surrender to the Father, the Author of all these great mercies, that gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring forth in us the fruit of our faith, which is preeminently, love.


Those who teach the doctrines only, without beseeching for full surrender of the life, bring believers into knowledge, but leaves them ineffective. Those who preach the need of surrender only, do not give believers the motive (“the mercies of God”) that brings about the fruit of faith. However, the walk after surrender is one of simple faith—faith that knows the Father, and drawn by the knowledge of His mercies, walks in love.


- Wm R Newell




Devotional by Miles J Stanford: http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/

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Hence while we find love to be the fundamental and essential fruit of the Gospel, we find also with great joy that it is the blessed Holy Spirit, given freely unto the Father’s children, who “bears” (not produces—NC) that fruit. “The fruit of the Spirit is Love,” and our Lord has told us in John 15:8, that the Father is glorified in our “bearing much fruit.”


Hello NetChaplain,


I'd just like to add something to what you have shared. I believe Matt Slick is pointing out the impossibility of keeping the first commandment, what was known as Shema. I think this actually clarifies what you have shared through Wm R Newell acting as a complimentary addition:


by Matt Slick


No, you cannot love your way into Heaven. Being good is never good enough to please God. God is infinite, holy, majestic, and just. If it was possible to get to Heaven by being good, by being loving, then Christ would not have needed to die. Many people do not realize that to be loving is a command of the Old Testament Law. Please consider these two verses:

  • Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
  • Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD."


Both of these passages are quoted by Jesus in Matt. 22:37 and Matt. 22:39, respectively. We are undoubtedly supposed to love, but keeping the Old Testament command to love God and love your neighbor is not good enough for us to get to Heaven. Paul said, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21). And again, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law," (Gal. 3:21). Paul clearly tells us that we cannot obtain the righteousness that we need by keeping the Law, which includes loving God and loving your neighbor. So, you cannot love your way into Heaven.


Then how do we get to Heaven?


We get to Heaven by receiving Christ as Savior. We do this by faith, not by faith and any work of any kind. We have to understand that we are sinners, and there's nothing we can do that will be good enough before God (Rom. 3:10-12, 6:23). If there were, then Jesus didn't need to die. But Jesus who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14) died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead (1Corinthians 15:1-4). That is the gospel message. By trusting in Christ and believing in the gospel, we are declared right before God by faith (Romans 4:1-5, 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, when we receive Christ by faith (John 1:12), the righteousness of God is given to us (Philippians 3:9). This is called justification. Justification is a legal standing before God. It means that the one who has trusted in Christ by faith is now declared legally righteous according to the law. Since the law includes loving God and loving our neighbors, those parts of the law must be fulfilled perfectly. It was Jesus who fulfilled the law without failure. So, we receive by faith what Christ did--which includes loving God and loving our neighbor. Therefore, everything we need is found in Jesus.


God bless,


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It was Jesus who fulfilled the law without failure. So, we receive by faith what Christ did

Thanks my Brother for your reply and sharing that material. I appreciate that it gives the preeminence to Christ in everything.


Concerning Jesus' Law-keeping, it is not common knowledge that it was not in our stead, but for His sacrifice, which is in our stead. We are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice, not His perfect obedience. His perfect obedience to the Law of Moses confirmed Him to be the sole acceptance of the Father's judgment for sin in our stead. His "condemning sin" on the Lord's body ("flesh" Rom 8:3) was so He could take its condemning-guilt and its dominating-rule (Rom 6:12, 14) into His death so we would no longer be "in the flesh" (Rom 8:9)--though its source is still in us (old man; sinful nature; flesh, not the physical but the spiritual).


I believe your reply with Matt's article parallels this by showing that Law-keeping cannot effect redemption, even if man could have kept it perfectly (which was clearly not God's intent). Since righteousness comes only by Christ, I believe it cannot be imparted but only "imputed," for none of the attributes of God (i.e. holiness, righteousness, sanctification, etc.) communicable to the creature (man) because they are divinely-effected.


Good to hear from you!

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How is "the righteous requirement of the law" "fulfilled in us"? What is the righteous requirement of the law? "The soul that sins, it shall die." So if Christ fulfilled the law why did He have to die anyway? For the Sacrifice!

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