Russell Roiko | The Voice of Zion March 2023 --
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. — John 13:34
Jesus gives to His disciples and us a new commandment. He uses this powerful wording to emphasize the importance of the matter. By giving a new precept He wants His own to comprehend and keep in their hearts the faith that they have been given. He uses the term for love that indicates a love beyond that of friendship, philia in Greek. The Greek term for spiritual love is agape. In other words, Jesus tells His own to love each other with a heavenly love, in the same way as He has loved His own, even unto His death on the cross.
He also instructs about the greatest commandment: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36–40).
A Spiritual Love
In giving this response, Jesus uses the same form of love. One must love God with a heavenly or spiritual love that will embody all of a person’s heart, soul and mind. In addition, one must love his or her neighbor with such a spiritual love, loving the neighbor’s soul to help them get to heaven.
The requirements are set so high that it forces each of us to find ourselves incapable of fulfilling such a commandment.
No one is capable of loving God with such a love. We are all too sin-corrupt. We are all selfish, greedy, envious and self-loving. The only way to be able to love in the Spirit is by believing.
Preached by sinful people who have been gifted faith, the gospel Word contains the power of God onto salvation. It is the only power that closes the gates of hell and opens the door to heaven. The access to this power of God is only given to those who believe. No one can get it by research, by study, by doing good or by praying. Faith is a gift from God.
John wrote of it: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).
Fruits Flow from the Heart
The fruits that flow from your heart, dear believing sister and brother, are those that the Holy Spirit inspires. They never accrue to be a merit. The Apostle Paul writes of these fruits in his letter to the Galatian believers. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–25).
This list of the fruits of the Spirit can also leave us feeling like it is another impossibility to measure up to. We find ourselves as the Apostle Paul, who wrote of himself: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom. 7:18–20, see also 2 Cor. 12:7–10).
We are just as weak. We are sin-corrupt. We cannot get rid of that old portion. It will never become holy and sinless. The only recourse is to trust in the gospel of Christ and His grace. There a weak and failing sinner can dip from the wells of salvation and find refreshment as often as needed. The gospel heals all the wounds and restores love that has been broken by offenses or neglect.
Power of God unto Salvation
We all can remain in the fellowship of the congregation by loving with a spiritual love, by believing. No one needs to be ashamed of their desire to hear the gospel for it is the power of God onto salvation. In this congregation, sinners are judged with grace and forgiveness. No one is ever told to go away, that you are too sinful. Rather, all sins are always preached forgiven in the name and blood of Jesus.
In this congregation of God, we have felt and still can feel that righteousness, peace and joy which are the essence of the kingdom of God. We experience that foretaste of heaven as the disciples did. John wrote: “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
It is the audible preaching of that gospel that contains the power of God unto salvation. It is our source of strength for our endeavor.
Continue believing, dear friend, and trusting in the grace of God. He has begun the good work in us and will continue it until He takes us home to heaven.