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James 1:12 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 47 secs

The Basis for Love in Marriage; James 1:12

 

You cannot love someone you don't know. Love is based on knowledge. Love that is nothing more than pure emotion is ridiculous; it is not love, it is just feeling, warm fuzzies and it won't go anywhere. One of the difficulties, and one of the reasons people have difficulty in understanding the whole concept of loving God, beyond the fact that they don't know God and don't take time to ever get into the Scriptures to find out who God is and what he has said, is because God is a spirit. We can't feel Him, we can't touch Him, we can't put our hands around Him; there is an abstraction there that is very difficult for us to get past, because the only way that we can know God is through understanding the Scriptures. Another and more fundamental reason is that people just don't understand love, they identify it too often with just a superficial, sentimental emotion. We need to get past that.

 

When we come to the Scriptures there are two commands that we have referred to already that we must deal with. One is the command in Matthew 22:37 NASB "And 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.'" That is a mandate, a command, an order to every single believer. The best way to paraphrase this is, You must love the Lord your God with all… etc., it is not an option. We have to get beyond the infant stages of the spiritual which focus on the infant or basic skills of spirituality—confession, the filling of the Holy Spirit, faith-rest drill, grace orientation, doctrinal orientation, all of which are in the realm of spiritual infancy and don't get us into the realm of spiritual adolescence and spiritual adulthood.

 

If we look at this verse there is one idea that stands out ion that mandate, and that is the idea of devotion, or what we will call enduring devotion on the one hand. Enduring devotion is a vital aspect of love. If you love something or someone then you are devoted to them. If they are the object of your love then you are devoted to them. This is exemplified in God's love in two critical verses: John 3:16 and Romans 5:8. There is an incredible amount of devotion there to mankind in order to accomplish the goal of salvation that the Father planned. So this is the idea of devotion: overcoming all obstacles and enduring incredible amount of pain. It is focused exclusively on the task at hand. That is the first aspect that we want to emphasize in what is involved in love.

 

The second, which is more difficult for us to understand because it is so abstract, is the idea of fear. We are to fear the Lord. What exactly does that mean? Psalm 33:8 NASB "Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him." We are to fear Yahweh. This is the scared Tetragrammaton [Tetra = four; grammaton = letters: the four letters]. The Jews would never pronounce the divine name out of reverence. This is a reminder that when we see the word Yahweh it is the covenant name for God. It was to remind the Jews that God has entered into a special covenant relationship with Israel, making Israel a nation unique among all nations. Israel is a covenant nation with God. This is in contrast to all other nations, some of which God chooses to work though in human history as client nations. Only with Israel has God entered into a covenant relationship, and that emphasizes who God is in terms of His faithfulness and His steadfastness. In English, when you are going to write poetry, you rhyme the words often. Hebrew poetry does not have rhyming words, it has rhyming ideas. It is called parallelism. There are different kinds of parallelism but the kind we have in this verse is called synonymous parallelism so that the second line is synonymous with the first line. Here the word for "fear," yare, is a qal imperative and it has another idea besides the emotion of fear, and that is exemplified in the parallelism in the second stanza. There we have the qal imperfect, third masculine plural of gur, which has the idea of awe, dread, respect, reverence. That helps us to understand what is going on when there is the command to fear the Lord. It has to do with respect and reverence. This, too, is a high form of love for someone. It is a very crucial idea for understanding what it means to love the Lord. This is a respect and admiration that stirs you up and motivates you forward to live beyond yourself, to reach for those higher goals and aspirations in your spiritual life that will have an impact. Because of invisible heroship it will have an impact that goes far beyond our small community.

 

This whole idea of fearing the Lord is very abstract and is a hard concept for a lot of people to really grasp. When the Bible says that we are to fear the Lord what we have on the one hand is God's enduring devotion to us. But is is abstract; it is expressed in the historical terms of something Christ did 2000 years ago on the cross. It is expressed in the Bible. The only way we can put our fingerprint on what God has provided for us is to come and sit in Bible class night after night after night. We exemplify our love for God through our enduring devotion to Bible class, to be here. When we come to grips with what God has done in terms of His devotion to us at the cross in providing us our salvation, then our response: the more we learn doctrine we respond in fear, defined as admiration and reverence for God. This in turn provides us with increased motivation to go forward. It is incremental, it doesn't happen all at once. You learn a little here, you learn a little there, you have a little more respect. This in turn spurs you on to more motivation, so you go back to Bible class, you learn, you apply, you are overwhelmed with God does and that drives you to greater reverence. You see how the cycle continues and the cycle builds, and this is what it means to love the Lord. It is the twin ideas of enduring devotion and respect and awe for God. Look at how the Bible emphasizes this whole aspect of fear and awe for the Lord:

 

Psalm 22:23 NASB "You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel."  So this is at the very root of the whole idea of worship. Reverence and awe is the beginning of true worship. It is not singing, it is not what you feel, it is a mental attitude of respect for God that is in turn a response from learning about everything that God has done for you.

 

Psalm 31:19 NASB "How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!" From this verse we learn that God has a treasure house, referred to here as His goodness. This alludes to divine blessing, contingent blessings in time and in eternity. God has established these from eternity past—contingent blessings for each one of us—and this is totally dependent not on our works but on our spiritual growth. We have to develop the capacity for these blessings or God will not distribute them to us. The only thing that limits them is our own spiritual growth. This is tied to our developing personal love for God in terms of respect.

 

Psalm 33:18 NASB "Behold, the eye of the LORD [His careful care] is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness." This is emblematic parallelism. Hope here has to do with our confidence. Hope in the Bible never refers to some kind of uncertain, wishy-washy future, but it refers to a confident expectation in the faithful enduring love of God. Fearing the Lord is related to confidence, and confidence is related to our future and this brings in problem-solving device # 6 which is a personal sense of our eternal destiny, and then faithfulness and love.

 

Psalm 34:7 NASB "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them." This verse describes the special protection that God gives to those who fear Him. Not every believer fears Him. Romans 8:28 says, NASB "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…" – not to every believer but to those who love God, to those who have developed this ability to have a personal love for God the Father. In terms of adversity He is the one working behind the scenes to produce suffering for blessing to advance us in spiritual maturity. So it is directly related again to personal love for God. But there us a special protection—The angel of the LORD." Here that refers to the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament economy. He is pictured as the deliverer of the Old Testament saints.

 

Psalm 34:9 NASB "O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want." There is no lack, no need. What does Psalm 23:1 say? "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want." God provides everything for life and godliness. We don't need counselling, we don't need psychology, we don't need human viewpoint systems to get along, we don't need stress management techniques; God has given us every single thing we need. That is the promise in 2 Peter 1:3 NASB "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." That is reinforced here in Psalm 34:9 NASB "O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want."

 

Psalm 86:11 NASB "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name." "Your truth" refers to the principles of Bible doctrine referred to in the Word. Jesus Christ in His high priestly prayer the night before He was crucified, said, "Sanctify them [believers in the church age] in the truth; Your word is truth." How are we set apart in the spiritual life? By means of doctrine.

 

Psalm 103:11 NASB "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness [His faithful covenant love] toward those who fear Him" – those who have reverent awe and respect for Him.

 

Psalm 103:13 NASB "Just as a father has compassion on {his} children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him."

 

Psalm 103:17 NASB "But the lovingkindness [faithful devotion of the love] of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children."

 

So just from the few of these verses from the Psalms we see the importance that the Bible stresses and puts on this second aspect of love, on reverence and awe. This is to be seen in every single believer, these two aspects: enduring devotion on the one hand, and on the other hand, respect, awe and admiration. This is what drives us, what provides the motivation to stimulate you, to push you forward in the spiritual life to spiritual maturity, because the last thing in the world that you want to do is to let God down, to disappoint Him. So we are told that awe, respect, and admiration is necessary for any advance in understanding God and in application of doctrine. We see this principle in two key passages: Psalm 11:10; Proverbs 1:7. 

 

Psalm 11:10 NASB "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do {His commandments;} His praise endures forever." The beginning of wisdom is the starting point. What is wisdom? Wisdom translates from the Hebrew word chokmah, a word that in its basic meaning means skill. It refers to the time when the craftsmen were building the tabernacle, that God filled them with the Holy Spirit to give them skilful hands in constructing the jewellery, the gold and the silver, the wood, everything necessary in order to make something beautiful and attractive. Wisdom is something that makes our lives beautiful and attractive in God's sight. Wisdom has a practical application to it, it is taking EPIGNOSIS [e)pignwsoj] and applying it. It emphasizes the results of that application, the beautiful  life that is developed by the use of doctrine as you glorify God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning, so you start of learning your basic skills related to confession, the filling of the Holy Spirit, faith-rest drill, doctrinal orientation, grace orientation, and you understand what God has. This begins to develop the fear of the Lord—reverence, respect, admiration for who God is and what he has done for you. That is the beginning of wisdom. It then motivates you to the advanced level, the maturing level, the advanced stress-busters—personal love for God, impersonal love for all mankind, occupation with Christ, and inner happiness. "A good understanding have all those who do {His commandments;}." So again, it is related to practical application. Proverbs 1:7 NASB "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." 

 

Characteristics: On the one hand we have devotion; on the other hand we have respect. In many ways devotion is the initiating side and respect is the response side. But both are present in every believer under the category of love. We take as out model what takes place on the cross (Romans 5:8), that God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What are the characteristics that we see in the divine impersonal love? Why is it impersonal? It is impersonal because personal love emphasizes the compatibility and rapport between the object and the subject of love. So  the emphasis is on the compatibility, the attractiveness of the object of love with the subject of love and therefore it is personal. It involves personal knowledge and a personal relationship between the person loving and the person who is loved, and it emphasizes the aspect of compatibility. Often it is conditional because as soon as that aspect of compatibility is gone there is not longer and kin of relationship or love. Many times this is expressed selfishly because as long as you make me feel good then I will care about you and take care of you, but as soon as things get rough I'm gone. Impersonal love puts all the emphasis on the virtue and integrity of the one loving. The object may be unattractive, it may be obnoxious or repugnant to the person doing the loving but all of the emphasis and stability comes from the integrity and character of the one loving. This is the kind of love that God has for us.

 

What are the characteristics that are found in that kind of love?

1)  It is initiating. We find initiating grace in eternity past. God knew that if he created a creature called man that man would sin and rebel against Him, and God would have to solve the problem. God took the initiative. In grace He would provide a plan that would solve the problem. God is perfect, so He has a perfect plan to solve the problem of human sin. That was motivated by His impersonal love for man perceived as a sinner and it focussed on sending His Son as a sacrifice to die on the cross as a substitute for our sins. Si in initiating God's love took charge in eternity past to motivate Him to provide the solution necessary to restore the relationship with mankind that would be broken by Adam's original sin.

2)  It is aggressive as opposed to passive. It asserts itself with confidence and boldness. It goes forward; it seeks solutions; it focuses on the divine solution and not the human problem. Because of omniscience God knows the entire problem the human race faces and with complete omniscient understanding He takes every step necessary to resolve the problem.

3)  Humility. Humility is the attitude of a servant. This is expressed in various passages in the New Testament. Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28 NASB "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." This is basic to all impersonal love. Humility has the idea of being a servant. Cf. Ephesians 5:25 NASB "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." This is an imperative.

 

Psalm 34:11 NASB "Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD."