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James 1:12 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 7 mins

Loving God; Personal Love for God the Father;
James 1:12

NASB "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which {the Lord} has promised to those who love Him."

We go through adversity because it is the means by which God advances us from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. We can't get there any other way. Tests and trials, adversity, is that which gives us the opportunity to put into practice what we have learned in Bible class, the doctrine that we have learned and assimilated and metabolized so that we can apply it and grow and mature.  What we have done in studying this is talked about how God has given us a fortification. The psalmist talks about how God is our fortress, our shield, our defender, our bulwark, our rock; all of which are metaphors which explain to us how we can be protected by God. The fortress is Bible doctrine, specifically ten stress-busters or problem-solving devices which are extrapolated from Scripture. Remember, adversity is inevitable but stress is optional. Adversity is what the outside circumstances of life do to us, but stress is what we do to ourselves. Adversity is inevitable but stress is optional because our volition comes into play. God has given us the option as believers to avoid stress or to absorbed stress, to make stress fragment our souls. That is why we call these doctrinal principles the ten stress-busters.

What do we mean by personal love? Whenever we say to someone, "I love you," and when we are looking at them in terms of their attractiveness, the characteristics about them that you enjoy and appreciate, our love for them is based on what we see in that other person. We love them because of who they are, and at some point they might do something that disappoints us, upsets us, and then we won't love them anymore; because personal love is based on a personal relationship with the object of our love, and it is based upon the attractiveness of something in the person we love. On the other hand, we use the term "impersonal love" in order to stress the fact that a personal relationship is not necessary. When you say to a person under impersonal love, "I love you," the emphasis is on the one doing the loving—his character, his attributes, his integrity, his virtue; it has nothing to do with what they do, it has everything to do with who you are. One of the problems we will see is that when the Scripture commands us to love other believers it is absolutely impossible for us to have a personal love for every believer on earth. There are only a limited number of people that we can know and that we can appreciate and have a relationship beyond a certain level of intimacy. So how can we have personal love for people we don't know or who we superficially see at church every now and then? If we haven't under girded our relationships with impersonal love then we have built those relationships on shifting sands and those relationships will begin the fragment and fall apart.

Definition of personal love: Personal love is a category of love that is selective, conditional and dependent. It is always based on some conditional element such as, As long as you do this I will love you. It is selective, limited to a few. It is dependent upon the appeal or merit in the person loved. Personal love requires no virtue on the part of the lover, everything is based on the performance of the person being loved, and it persists only as long as the object of love remains attractive, likeable, and fulfils the expectations of the lover. Only a few chosen people truly qualify to be the objective of our personal love.

Definition of impersonal love Impersonal love puts the emphasis on the one loving. It is also called unconditional love because it doesn't place any conditions on the person loved for them to be the object of our love. So it is therefore the consistent function of individual integrity and virtue towards friends, enemies, loved ones and strangers. Impersonal love always seeks the highest and best for the object of the love regardless of its impact on the one loving. That is hard for us to get a hold of because at the very root we are very selfish, self-centred, self-oriented people. Impersonal love is based upon the integrity of the lover. It is a non-emotional and unconditional regard for the entire human race that does not require intimacy, friendship, attractiveness, or even acquaintance with the specific object of love.

Now have to go to the next step which is defining personal love for God the Father. Personal love for God the Father is based on knowledge. When we says "I love you," and we are talking to another human being the person we are talking about it flawed, but God is not flawed. In fact, God is absolute perfection. So the only object in all the universe that has true virtue that will never change is God the Father. So we can love God the Father with personal love because He is the only object in the universe that will never change. Therefore we can have a stable basis for our love and we can have personal love for God, but that is based on a knowledge about God. True love is always based on knowledge, based on knowing someone, understanding their character, their attributes, everything that is important to them. As the believer learns and applies doctrine and his knowledge of God increases he responds with respect, admiration and devotion to God for who he is and what He has done. Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; 1 Peter 1:8.

Personal love for God the Father becomes a problem-solving device or stress-buster that under girds impersonal love for mankind. You can't get to unconditional love for mankind of impersonal love unless that is under girded by personal love for God the Father. And you can't get there without doctrinal orientation and grace orientation. So we will look at some key passages to understand the principles the Scripture gives us about love.

Matthew 22:37, 38 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.' This is the great and foremost commandment." This is a citation from the Old Testament law, Deuteronomy 6:5. Jesus is saying that on these two commandments, these two mandates, depend the entire Old Testament; everything rests on these two commands. They are what we call personal love for God the Father and impersonal love for all mankind. "You shall love the Lord your God" is a future active subjunctive, second person singular of the verb AGAPAO [a)gapaw]. Every believer is expected to perform the action of loving God. It is up to the believer. It is up to him, that means that it is the believer's volition; he performs the action, nobody else does it for him. It is in the subjunctive mood, which is related to potentiality. Any potential mood emphasizes volition, so there is a volitional element here. This is a second person plural, and the subjunctive mood is often used in place of an imperative as a command. When that happens it is called a hortatory [which comes from the word 'exhortation'] subjunctive. It is an exhortation or command. It is used sometimes in place of a command and it is often used in the New Testament when there is a quote from the Old Testament. So this is the syntax of this particular verb. The future means that you will do this; this is in the future in your spiritual growth.

There are three important nouns here: KARDIA [kardia]; PSUCHE [yuxh]; DIANOIA [dianoia] from the root NOUS [nouj]—heart, soul, mind. The first time "heart" is used in Scripture is in Genesis 6 right before the world-wide flood when God saw that the "thoughts of their hearts were evil continually." What takes place in the heart? Is it emotion? No, the thoughts of the heart. The Old Testament word leb and the New testament word KARDIA never refer to human emotion, they refer to the innermost recesses of the thinking of the soul. PSUCHE here is soul. "As a man thinks in his heart [nephesh], so is he." Nephesh is the word for soul. What do you do in your soul? You think. The fundamental reality of the soul is to be the seat of your thinking. So right here between KARDIA, PSUCHE and DIANOIA there is a heavy emphasis on thinking and thought and the mentality as the source of love for God. Jesus is using repetition, synonyms, in order to drive home the point that love is not emotion. Emotions fluctuate, they are not related to thinking or content at all. We have to focus on thinking.

Then Jesus connects this first and foremost commandment with the second one in verse 39 NASB "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" He is recognizing that as part of the sin nature we operate under three arrogance skills: self-deception, self-justification, self-absorption. Our natural inclination is to be focused on self. Ephesians 5:28 NASB "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also {does} the church, because we are members of His body." So everybody loves themselves, and what Jesus is saying is, you put yourself first because of your arrogance and self-absorption; now what you need to do is love other people like you love yourself; you need to put them first. That is the same principle that Paul articulates here and applies to marriage. It is putting the other person first instead of themselves. It is getting out of the trap of the arrogance skills of self-absorption, self-justification, and self-deception. So love towards one another in impersonal love puts the other person first and puts our personal desires or feelings secondary; it always seeks the highest and best for the object of our love.

1 John 4:19 NASB "We love, because He first loved us." In the KJV we have "We love him, because He first loved us." There is a textual problem here. Every now and then there are differences in the MSS. The Textus Receptus [TR] was the MS that was available in 1611 when the KJV was translated. In later years hundreds of MSS were discovered—thousands of fragments. A couple of Anglican scholars by the name of Westcott and Hort came up with a theory for trying to evaluate all of this evidence called the Westcott-Hort text, and that is the manuscript tradition that underlies most of the modern translations—the NASB, NIV, and a number of other popular modern translations. It differs in many ways from the TR, and their basic rule of thumb was: If it is older it is accurate or better. They put all of their weight on three or four particular MSS—Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and a couple of others—and that if three of these four agree then that was the original. That is the assumption underlying their rule. Then in recent years there has been the development of another theory called the Majority Text. To really simplify that, whatever is in the majority of MSS is how the original reads. Only two of the older MSS are missing the words TON AUTON [ton a)uton] in 1 John 4:19. It seems to be that it should read as translated in the KJV and that we should go with the Majority Text.

In backing up it will be realized that this is a rich passage on the love of God, and it goes all the way back to 1 John 4:7 NASB "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." Love has its source from God and everyone who loves is 1) born of God, which means they are regenerate, and 2) knows God, which means they are growing in the spiritual life. When we come to verse 8 it says that the one who does not love does not know God. It doesn't say that one is not regenerate, he is still regenerate but just does not know God. He never has taken the time to learn about God and to learn any doctrine. Once again we see here that love is based on knowledge. It is an activity of the mind, not an activity of the intellect.