Category Archives: Persecution / Glorifying God

Difficult Times Will Come

The difficult times referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are very challenging indeed. There is a list of bad things that have become commonplace, ranging from loving self to disobeying parents to loving pleasure rather than YHWH. This describes many times and places throughout history and certainly applies to the United States today. In particular, one deceptive aspect which is not to be overlooked is that people hold to a form of godliness, but have denied its power. This is particularly dangerous as it misrepresents YHWH while claiming his name. We have instructions to stay away from people such as these… not to convert them or win the argument but to stay away.

Paul also included advice on what Timothy was to focus on when confronted with these difficult times and we can as well. We can expect persecution and hardship when we stand for Yeshua and YHWH. We are to endure it, not avoid it by hiding our faith or acting as if our faith is “private” and not to be shared. Faith, patience, love, and other such qualities are key for us during these difficult times.

Paul also ends the chapter with direction that Timothy should study and rely on all scripture, in particular the scripture he has been studying since he was a child. The New Testament was not yet written and compiled as scripture. Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament. We should take care to hold fast to the whole Bible and not discard or downplay the Old Testament in pursuit of the New as is often taught or emphasized in churches today. The whole of scripture works together as one unit and does not contradict one another. Paul directed Timothy to study the Old Testament, and this was after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. We should do likewise.

2 Timothy 3

“Difficult Times Will Come”

     1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

      10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

O My God, In You I Trust!

Psalm 25 is an inspiring prayer for protection, guidance, and pardon. Don’t just read it, but pray it before almighty God with a genuine heart.

1To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

2O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.

3Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

4Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.

5Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

6Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.

7Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

8Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

9He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.

10All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

11For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

12Who is the man who fears the LORD?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

13His soul will abide in prosperity,
And his descendants will inherit the land.

14The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.

15My eyes are continually toward the LORD,
For He will pluck my feet out of the net.

16Turn to me and be gracious to me,
For I am lonely and afflicted.

17The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses.

18Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive all my sins.

19Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
And they hate me with violent hatred.

20Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.

21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

22Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all his troubles.

Share this prayer with others you care about!

—-

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Strong In The Grace That Is In Yeshua

 

2 Timothy 2 shows us some important guidance that Paul gave to Timothy. In particular some of it applies to pastors or ministers or people who are full time focused on the gospel, but part of it applies to any disciple of Yeshua.

2 Timothy 2:1-13

Be Strong

     1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

      8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

11It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

      12If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

      13If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Key points that I draw from Paul:

  • Our strength comes from Yeshua.
  • We are not trying to make converts to Christianity, but disciples who grow in knowledge and can teach others. Conversion is only the very beginning.
  • The analogy to a soldier best fits with a full time focus in ministry. Separate from some of the day to day as a soldier must in order to go fight and win a war. Even those of us who are not fully focused in ministry should seek wisely to separate from many things which are distractions in the normal day to day.
  • The athlete analogy highlights that Yeshua has certain guidelines and instructions he wants us to follow. It is about how we live, not just “what we accomplish”.
  • Visible disciples of Yeshua may face differing levels of hardship and conflict as the world and Satan will come against them.  We are not to avoid it, but rather to endure it.
  • Though a person may be imprisoned, the word of YHWH can not be imprisoned. No chains can hold the power of YHWH when he chooses to move.
  • We are to live and die with Yeshua. We are to remain faithful in all circumstances.
  • If we deny Yeshua, he will also deny us.

Pray and reflect on these points and ask YHWH to help you in your faith and in enduring hardship and living (and dying) with Yeshua.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Guard the Treasure Which Has Been Intrusted to You

It must have been hard for Paul. Not only was he put in prison, but some of those who followed him turned from him. Perhaps they turned from him  because they were uncomfortable that he was in prison. We see Paul strongly urging Timothy to remain true to what he has been taught and to not be ashamed of Paul for being in chains. Christians still today face much persecution around the world. Some studies show they are the most persecuted group globally. We must be willing to put YHWH first, before even the laws of the government. People will come against us. In many countries, and even to an increasing amount in the USA, even the local, state, or national government will try to come against you for living out your faith boldly.

We are encouraged to stand strong and speak truth and live according to the teaching and life of Yeshua. We are to guard the treasure which YHWH has entrusted to us, the knowledge of him and relationship with him, the truth of the gospel… even if it means facing personal persecution such as being put in jail.

7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

I admire Paul’s faithful service to Christ. In many ways, he can serve as an example to us all still today.

2 Timothy 1

Timothy Charged to Guard His Trust

      1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,

      2To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

      3I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 6For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

      8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

      15You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; 17but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— 18the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.

Pray the Lord would help you and other followers of Yeshua to

14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

that we would be bold for the Lord, even in the face of persecution.

7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Would You Risk Your Success or Comfort To Honor God?

Many in our society try to compartmentalize their faith. Satan has convinced people that it is ok to keep your faith not only private, but invisible. In this way our faith will not hinder our careers or other pursuits where people may persecute or harass us for our faith. This is in direct contradiction to Christ calling us to be a light to others to shine and draw them to Him. We must not keep our faith invisible or entirely private.

Matthew 5:14-16

    14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

For the most part, in the US, we don’t see the levels of life threatening persecution that are common in some majority Muslim countries in the Middle East or in atheist countries like China. Our brothers and sisters in Christ certainly need our prayers. They face true difficulty for their faith. They stand strong. If someone claims to be Christian there, you know they mean it. There are few lukewarm Christians there, because it is not worth the cost unless you really believe.

However, even here in the US we face some level of cultural backlash against openly living out our faith in business. There are law suits or rebukes that we may offend someone. We each must decide what we are willing to do for Christ. What are we willing to risk to honor and obey Him? It is better to decide ahead of time, before the persecution comes to avoid rationalizing why we can accept a little more private faith… really an invisible faith… because we want to protect our “success” or comfort.

Daniel stands as an excellent example. He was successful at his job. He was liked by the king. He not only stood to lose these things, but also he knew he faced the lion’s den. He prayed anyway. He could have closed his window perhaps or blocked it. He could have prayed when he knew no one would be around. He refused to change his prayer behavior because of outside pressure. He did not let “it’s illegal” become an excuse to stop praying to God or to hiding his relationship with God. Daniel was a man of great faith, whom I admire.

How many of us avoid praying or have almost no prayer time even with no persecution? How many of us just allow ourselves to get “too busy” for prayer? We let the daily concerns and activities of the world choke out our prayer life with YHWH.

I hope and pray I would do like Daniel, while admittedly hoping I never have to face a situation like that one. I have, however, made conscious choices to not hide my faith at work, even if that would be more easily accepted. I am increasing my prayer time and asking YHWH to help me truly enjoy and look forward to prayer time. I pray YHWH gives me courage and boldness to live for Him and I encourage you to do the same.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua Willingly Died For Us. Will You Accept His Offer?

Pilate knew Yeshua was not guilty. He looked for a way to please the crowd and release Christ. Could he have been influenced further to release Christ if Yeshua had provided a more vigorous defense? Perhaps, but this is not the point. Yeshua knew it was the Father’s will for him to suffer and die for our sin. Thus, he obeyed willingly.

John 19:1-15

The Crown of Thorns

     1Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. 4Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” 5Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” 6So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” 7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

      8Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

      13Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

I find it interesting that Yeshua says those who delivered me to you have the greater sin. That does not excuse Pilate, but does put the focus back on the chief priests who were persecuting their own Messiah.

Yeshua was treated wrongly and brutally so. It was for our sins, not his own. He accepted it and did not try to avoid it. He is a powerful example for us in accepting and doing the will of the Father in our lives, even when it is hard.

It is also interesting to note that the last supper has come and gone and the Passover has not occurred yet. Some speculate that the last supper was a Passover supper, but scripture would say otherwise.  Rather, it appears that Yeshua was killed at the same day, perhaps hour, that the other Passover lambs were killed in preparation for Passover. He is our Passover lamb fulfilled. Because of his sacrifice, we are spared from a second death in judgment of our sin that we have earned by sinning. We are forgiven by grace, through faith in Christ as Messiah.

However, we must accept this offer. We must ask forgiveness, turn from our sins and repent. We must submit to Christ and accept him as lord and savior.

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Humble, Inspired, and Thankful… Reflecting on the Life of Yeshua

I am humbled, thankful, and inspired each time I read the historical account of Yeshua as he faced trial and punishment, remembering that he went willingly and fully aware of the suffering he was to endure… and he did so for our sins. What he experienced, we deserve and he did not.

He did not make up excuses or try to convince Pilate to let him go. He did not lie. He calmly endured each step of the process. Surely it must have hurt to hear the people call for release of a robber and call for Yeshua to be crucified.

John 18:28-40

Jesus before Pilate

     28Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

      33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. 39“But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.

I am reminded how wicked our world can be. Pilate crucified Yeshua after finding no guilt in him. The crowd was incited to call for release of a robber rather than Yeshua. I know it had to happen this way and it was YHWH’s plan, but it still reveals the wickedness of the human heart.

Yeshua went willingly as our Passover lamb, sacrificed for us and for our sins. Take a few minutes and give thanks to the Father. Ask for forgiveness.  Let us seek to live according to the example of Yeshua in facing adversity as we live in obedience to YHWH.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Peter Denies Christ, But He Does Not Remain Defeated

Peter famously denies Christ three times after Christ is taken into custody by the Romans and chief priests. He was bold enough to follow as the led Christ away, and he then found himself in a situation where he felt they would perhaps capture him also. It appears he was bold enough to follow as the led Christ away, but still afraid of the consequences he might face as they recognized him there.

We also may face this  type of situation in our lives. Perhaps it will not literally be the same exact scenario, but we will have opportunities to be bold for Christ in our lives. When we take them, we will face more opposition and perhaps some tense situations.

Of course, YHWH wants us not to deny him at all. He wants us to live boldly for him. We can look at Yeshua’s example in this scenario and see someone who faced pain and death and did not compromise or deny. He is again the perfect standard. Peter fell short. We may do the same at times.

John 18:25-27

Peter’s Denial of Jesus

     25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

Peter repented. He never again is recorded as denying Christ and even was executed for his faith without denying Christ to save himself. If we stumble in living out our faith, let us take Peter’s example to repent, seek forgiveness, and keep living for Christ. Do not give up because of our own weakness.

Another factor to consider is the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Peter failed before the Spirit was sent to help. One can contrast the boldness of the disciples before and after the Spirit and see a significant difference. When we are struggling, let us remember to ask the Lord to help us in our faith, to fill us with the Spirit.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua’s Prayer For His Disciples

Yeshua came to the Father in prayer for His disciples as He prepared to leave. We can learn much by reviewing and considering His words.

John 17:13-21

The Disciples in the World

     13“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

      20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • Yeshua wanted His disciples to have His joy made full in themselves
  • He gave us the instructions of YHWH to this purpose for making our joy full. We can rightly conclude He intended for us to obey them, not just be aware of them.
  • Those who follow Yeshua, like Yeshua, are not “of the world”. The world will hate and reject us, usually more so as we stand and live more boldly for Christ. This does not mean every person will hate us, but one need only look around at newspapers for national and world events to see that followers of Christ are persecuted in varying degrees depending on where they are in the world. (I do not mean people who claim Christ and live like the world… the devil and the world love these folks.)
  • We need the Father’s help to protect us from Satan. Yes, he is a real adversary.
  • Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Yeshua asks YHWH to make us holy through truth, or through the word. Again, we can reasonably conclude He intends for us to live according to the word rather than the same way the world lives.
  • Here, Yeshua specifically calls out that He is praying not just for this specific group of men, but for all who believe in Him.
  • His desire is for us as His followers to be united. We can see this is not the case throughout the world. This can seem difficult at times, because we are not called to accept false teaching, but we are called to unity. Many disagree on the true application of scripture creating division. We should allow room for debate where scripture permits, but there are some teachings that are heretical and dangerous and need to be rejected. (e.g. The teaching that everyone who claims Yeshua in name pleases the Lord and goes to heaven even if they are without repentance and do not change their lives to match His instruction.)

I encourage you to pray and reflect on these verses and ask the Father to enlighten you on their full meaning and application for your life.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Should We Relate To One Another? To The World?

How should we expect to relate to one another as disciples of Christ? How should we expect to relate to the world? These remain important questions. When people mix up the two, they often end up compromising truth in search of approval by men. To often we try to be loved by the world and are willing to create division amongst followers of Christ to try to achieve this goal. We often get it backwards.

Yeshua answered these questions for us. As disciples, or “learners”, of Christ we should love one another as He has loved us. This is significant. He laid down His life for us.

How we expect to relate to the world is quite different. If we are with Christ, we should expect to be rejected and hated by the world, because we are not of the world. Too often today churches and Christians try to change their beliefs or doctrine to suit society and culture around them so they are more acceptable to others outside the church or so they can face less conflict. This is a trap. We are to be a light, that contrasts with darkness. Those who live in darkness hate the light (John 3:19-21). We are to testify about Him in the face of conflict with the world. Do not expect to follow Christ and be loved or accepted by the world.

John 15:12-17

Disciples’ Relation to Each Other

     12“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.

Disciples’ Relation to the World

     18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23“He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25“But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’

      26“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

To summarize, we are to love one another as disciples of Christ and be prepared to face conflict with the world as we testify to Christ. Let us not lose track of that reality and try to please the world, for if we do, we will lose Christ in the process.

We should also be thoughtful about what “love one another” means. It is not to accept everyone in their sin. We don’t get to define what love means. The Father already has defined it. We need to understand His definition of love.

Matthew 22:36-40

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Yeshua points out very directly that loving YHWH and loving one another is the basis of the whole Law and the Prophets. If we are to love one another (fellow disciples of Christ), then we must seek to understand the Law and the Prophets that are recorded in scripture in the Tanakh, or what we more commonly refer to as the Old Testament. This is not my opinion, but the direction of Christ Himself.

I believe that the New Testament is also helpful in studying what love is, but we must take care not to create new meaning that is inconsistent with the Old Testament, lest we untether ourselves from truth and begin to drift. I do find 1 Corinthians 13 helpful.

1 Corinthians 13

The Excellence of Love

      1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

      4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

      8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.