Where does “saving faith” come from? Faith is developed through learning the truths of God’s word (Rom. 10:17). But why do some people hear those truths and become Christians while other people hear the same truths and not obey them? Why do some Christians become dedicated and fervent in their faith, while other Christians are lukewarm, spiritually weak and only haphazardly dedicated? Do some people simply understand God’s word better than others? Do some Christians become stronger in their faith because they’ve learned more scripture than others? No, neither is truly the case. In truth it all comes down to a matter of love.
People who are essentially uneducated, who can neither read nor write, can become people of great faith. They can be dedicated, hard working, evangelistic Christians. How can this be when other people who are extremely well educated, perhaps having read the Bible through from beginning to end, are weak in their faith and may have never even become Christians? A basic difference between the spiritually strong and the spiritually weak is their love for the Lord.
Jesus said, in essence, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15 RSV). The apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments...” (1 Jn. 5:3). He also wrote, “And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.” (2 Jn. 1:6). In another text John unquestionably equated a person’s obedience to God’s teachings with his love for God: “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” (1 Jn. 2:5).
Clearly, faithfulness, dedication and obedience are all a matter of love. Unfaithfulness and disobedience indicate that a person does not love Jesus, at least not in the way clearly enunciated in the scriptures noted. These verses clearly state that a person who truly loves the Lord will obey His teachings.
If a person will not submit to baptism for the remission of his sins, as taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38), his love for his Savior is lacking. If a Christian finds it easy to disobey the Bible’s clear instructions as to regularly worshipping God with the church, such indicates a lack of love for God. If a Christian looks for excuses to not give as he should, such an attitude indicates a lack of love for Jesus. If a Christian continually vacillates between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, then his love for God and Christ is not what it should be.
A Christian who loves the Lord with all of his heart will not have to be cajoled into attending church services or being an active, dedicated member of His church. Such conduct is a natural byproduct of true love for Jesus Christ. An unfaithful or spiritually weak Christian can only blame his spiritual condition on himself, on his own weak love for Jesus. Nobody can make his love for the Lord grow; it has to come from within. He must actively apply himself to develop it. If he sees the Bible only as a book of rules, regulations and spiritual laws, he will likely try to find ways around them. But if he sees the scriptures as guidelines to help us live Godly lives, given to us by a loving God, he will tend to appreciate their teachings and want to obey them.
Nobody can make a person love the Lord. The scriptures instruct, guide and encourage us, but they cannot make us love the Lord. That is up to each one of us personally. Our dedication, or lack of it, is a direct result of how much, or how little, we love Jesus. Are you obedient to His teachings? Are you actively serving Him? If you truly love Him as the scriptures teach, you will obey Him. Do you love Jesus? Are you obeying Him? Think about it...
Gary L. Hutchens