[SW071] 12/16/12 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2012
“The Love of God”

After the tragedy in Connecticut, my 10-year-old grandson posted this on his Facebook page:

“What has this world become, seriously, why would someone kill 20 [children]?”

I responded this way:

“The man who shot all those children and the adults was a sinner in need of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes to dwell in us, He changes our hearts, making them good and then, making them pure. By his actions, this young man did not know Jesus Christ, and so his heart was evil. I thank God, dear grandson, that you know Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him and know He is with you always. Love, Grammy Sue”

He responded:

“Love u Grammy.”

Why did that young man murder all those people?

There are many leaders in the Christian church who say, “Don’t speak as if you have all the answers.”

But if the love of God has been poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit, I most certainly DO have the answer, and His name is Jesus Christ.

You see two banners with me, if you’re watching the video of this message. The one says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

The other says, “Then if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36).”

The first one is definitely true, and that makes the second one true, too.

If we who follow Jesus will continue in His Word, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.

From what? From slavery to sin. That’s the context in John 8:31-36.

Sin. The inner twistedness in our hearts that we inherited from Adam.

Jesus came to give us a means of forgiveness of sins, if we will confess them to Him and ask Him to save us.

But He also came to make the crooked straight!

A crooked heart, a heart willfully rebelling against God, is the reason that young man murdered.

It wasn’t that we need more legislation. It’s that we need more of Jesus.

It wasn’t that he needed counseling or medication. He needed a changed heart.

It’s possible he was a churchgoer. He may have sat in the pew and never heard the truth that Jesus will set us free from our sin nature, our willful rebellion against God.

It’s hardly taught anywhere in the church. But we cannot teach what we haven’t experienced.

Many Christians have not been filled with God’s agape, His actual love, even the love He has for Jesus Christ. And so they will have no good and true answer for the tragedy in Connecticut.

They will say there’s evil in the world, there’s sin in the world. But the evil and the sin are a reflection of what is in the human heart.
Until our hearts are changed, we all have the potential to murder.

You say, “How can that be? We do not murder and would never think of doing such a thing.”

But when you hate your brother and sister, and even those in the world, you commit murder, according to Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22). The context there is murder, dear ones.

If you hate others, God’s agape has not filled your heart.

1 Corinthians 13:4 and forward says that love is patient, love is kind . . . it does not keep a record of wrongs suffered. If we hate, we are keeping a record.

If we hate, we do not possess the fruit of the Spirit, God’s agape, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness, and His Spirit’s control (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit has not yet possessed our hearts.

It may be that the young man in Connecticut was possessed by an evil spirit, but that would not be possible if his heart was filled with and possessed by God’s Holy Spirit.

I tell you that none of the mass murders which have become a regular part of our news would ever have happened, if all American’s hearts were filled with God’s actual love, His agape.

Jesus Christ is the answer, not only to forgive us of our sins, but to purify our hearts, to change them.

God spoke through Ezekiel the prophet, foretelling what He was going to do to change the hearts of His own people (not those who didn’t believe in Him, but those who did!):

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then I will  sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your  filthiness and from all your  idols.  26 “Moreover, I will give you a  new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the  heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 “I will  put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

The first thing is to be cleansed of the sins we have committed. The second thing is to be filled with God’s own Holy Spirit, correcting the problem that has existed in human hearts since the first man disobeyed God — disobedience that has been carried down through all generations of mankind.

When Ezekiel lived, this prophecy was not fulfilled. It was fulfilled at Pentecost.

At Pentecost, the promise of the Father became a reality.

Peter, who loved Jesus, who was part of the inner three, who saw Jesus transfigured, who saw the dead raised, who followed him zealously, didn’t have agape until Pentecost.

Peter, the fisherman who was given a miraculous catch by Jesus, looked at Him and said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man (Luke 5:8).” He was convicted of his sinful heart in the very presence of Christ.

Yet he loved Him and couldn’t help but follow Him.

How do I know Peter didn’t have agape, that essential love that would have changed that young man’s heart so he would never murder nor willfully disobey God?

Because Peter denied Jesus Christ, three times.

Listen to his exchange with Jesus in John 21:

John 21:15 . . . “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

Do  you love me more than your brethren, even your brother, James?

Do you agapeo (25 in the Greek Strong’s Concordance) Me?
Do you love Me with the actual love of God,
with the same love with which My Father loves Me?
Do you love me selflessly, with no ulterior motive?
Do you love me with a love you were not born with?

Peter answered in the only way he could:

John 21:15 “He  said to Him,“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Peter said, “You know that I phileo (5368) You.”

I am a friend of Yours, Lord.
I have great affection for You.
I have great tenderness toward you.
In a holy way, I kiss You.
But I don’t agapeo You.

Peter DID love Jesus, with a different kind of love.
Jesus said agapeo, Peter answered phileo.
And with that phileo, Peter had denied Jesus.

John 21: 16 He  said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you  love Me?”

Do you agapeo Me?
Do you love Me with the actual love of God,
with the same love with which My Father loves Me?
Do you love me selflessly, with no ulterior motive?
Do you love me with a love you were not born with?

He  said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Peter answered:

You fully know that I have phileo for You.
I love you as my Friend, Jesus.
I have great affection for You.
I have great tenderness toward You.
In a holy way, I kiss You.
But I don’t agapeo You.

Again, Jesus asked agapeo, Peter answered phileo.

John 21:17 He  said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

This time, the Lord uses the same word Peter has been using for “love” — phileo.

Peter, do you You phileo Me?
Do you love Me as your Friend?
Do you have great affection for Me?
Do you have great tenderness toward Me?
In a holy way, do you kiss Me?

He knows full well that Peter is not able to agapeo Him YET.
Not yet, but he will!

But in using Peter’s own word for love, I believe He is saying,
“It’s alright that for now, you can only phileo Me.
A time will come when you will be able to agapeo Me,
and it will make all the difference in the world.”

John 21:17 Peter was grieved because He said to him  the third time, “Do you  love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him,“Tend My sheep.”

Peter remembers his three denials.
The bitterness of his weeping likely comes to his mind.
He is grieved,
made sorrowful at Christ’s third asking of this question.

Peter says, “Yes, I phileo You, Lord”.
You fully know that I phileo You.

I love you as my Friend, Jesus.
I have great affection for You.
I have great tenderness toward You.
In a holy way, I kiss You.

Pentecost — Agape Poured Out!

What would happen that would make all the difference in the world
for Peter and the rest?

What can happen in the church that will give her the answer to such tragedies as what happened in Connecticut?

What can happen in the church that will result in changing people’s hearts all around us?

Pentecost (Acts 2), when God’s actual love (agape)
was poured out in human hearts to overflowing (Romans 5:5)!!!
and they loved Him with His love!

Pentecost, the Father’s answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

John 17:26 and  I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that  the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” [my emphasis]

He prays for them to have God’s actual love, His agape, in them. If He prayed for His followers to receive it, they did not yet have it.

Church, Church!

Jesus asks “Church, church, do you agapeo Me more than these?” (John 21:15)

Do  you love me more than your brethren, even your kin?

Do you agapeo Me?
Do you love Me with the actual love of God,
with the same love with which My Father loves Me?
Do you love me selflessly, with no ulterior motive?
Do you love me with a love you were not born with?

If you answer,
“O Lord, You know I phileo You,”
then you will not be able to answer
when tragedy strikes.
And the potential for evil
remains in your own heart.

But praise God, He sent Jesus Christ to make the crooked straight!

To deny is to say “no,” contradict, disavow, reject, refuse —
even though you phileo Jesus, O church.

How do we now deny you, Lord?

The Lord said, “Pentecost has come,
My agape has been poured out.
Yet some in My church only phileo Me,
and so they deny Me.
I want to pour out My agape,
but it is not taught in My church,
and where it is taught, many reject it.
Many contradict it, disavow it, refuse it.”

As I speak today, I see a gift-wrapped box — Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us.
I see we have peeled back the paper to see His salvation.
But we have not opened the whole package,
the part that will set us free, indeed,
the changing of our stony human hearts
to a heart of flesh that responds to God.

He showed me we deny Him
when we reject His command to ask for agape
agape for Him, and for one another —
because His agape has filled our hearts.

John 15:12   “This is  My commandment, that you love [agapeo] one another, just as I have loved  [agapeo] you.”

We deny Him when we continue to sin,
after hearing His truth.

We deny Him when we hate one another.

We deny Him when we hate the one we are married to,
and as those who bear the name of Christ,
divorcing at the same rate as the world around us.

We deny Him when we say “No one can do that!” at His command to be perfect
as His Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48. 1 Peter 1:15-16).

(You’re right — it’s not in your power to be holy,
to have a pure heart full of His actual love  —
but God wants to and WILL do it in you,
if you will hear and obey today! )

Preachers and leaders deny Him when they hide the truth of Jesus’ words,
neglecting to mention certain ones,
because they fear man
and so please their congregations rather than God.
It’s an act of self-preservation.

We deny Him when we are careful not to mention His name
even as we feed and clothe,
when we say “God” instead of “Jesus Christ,”
for fear of reprisal from a Christ-hating world.

John 15:18  “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.”

He asks you today, Christian —
Do you love Him?
Do you have His agape in your heart?

If not, you will be like Peter,
who loved Him with human love, phileo,
not with agape.

You will deny Him.

Do not deny His truth, and thus deny Him.
Receive His agape!

Praise God for His love and faithfulness and mercy!

Jesus wants to restore you today, not condemn you —
just as He did with Peter!!!

If you will agree that you do not have this agape for Him,
and thus you have denied Him
by not receiving His truth and power and love
poured out at Pentecost,
He will do just as He did with Peter and the rest.

He will give you your own personal Pentecost!

If you go before Him and confess that you do not agapeo Him,
He will fill you with His agape,
and you will love with God’s love!

And you will have GOD’S ANSWER for the heart problem of all mankind — Jesus Christ.

And you will never deny Him again!


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