Love

"For this is the Message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." 1 John 3 v11

Too often the Message is presented as doctrine, as a dress code, or about proving others wrong scripturally. But the Message of God is Love. God is love, and neither the Message or God has changed.Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

In the message Stature of a Perfect Man William Branham preached that we are to grow from faith through virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness and brotherly kindness to the ultimate; love. Love is the pinnacle of the Message. .  

Real love is not an adjective. Real love is not a description of feelings. Real love is a verb, an action word. 1 John 3 v18 says that we are not to love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth. In other words we are to show our love by action. Just speaking about it is not good enough. Love without action is impossible. It is without care. We need to physically care for those around us. If we have the Spirit, the life, of God in us then we must love. And that love must be demonstrated by actions.

Jesus was asked what were the greatest commandments. He replied, Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. All the laws and prophets rest on these two, He added. How can we tell lies, steal and murder if we love and care about the people we are stealing or murdering? How can we commit adultery if we love the spouse we are defrauding?  

1 John 4 v7-8 tells us that if we do not love our brothers and sisters then we do not love God. "For everyone that loves is born of God and knows God."

Some claim to work for God but then are too busy, or far too full of self importance, to spend time with their wives, their children, individual members of their congregation. The Bible is absolutely clear. How we treat others is how we are treating God.

Some may say, "Love is corrective." And that is true. But what is the driving force, the motive power, behind the need to give correction? What is that makes someone else point out our faults? All to often it is to bolster their position, it has nothing to do with love. All too often it is a desire to bring someone down, to show the critic's own superior spirituality, or even to make the family or the church look correct. That is not love, Such reasons are the wrong motive. And let's face it, when someone corrects us they do not have to say, "I am telling you this in love ..." If they were correcting us in love we would know that without their need to advertise the fact.

Pastors and other members of the five fold ministry need to get closer to their people. We need to care about people and not hide behind quotes, scriptures and past experiences that make us distance ourselves from the really deep problems, complexes and needs of the people. We need to be far more ready to listen and far less ready to instruct, correct and condemn. We need to get close to our people; physically help them; empathise with them and find the source of their trouble and concern. We need to offer them spiritual health care. Love without action doesn't really care. 

Many of us know that Evangelists, particularly, can be hard, even brutal. Their job is to shake people out of complacency and have people make decisions for Christ. But evangelism should be based on love and compassion for lost souls. It shouldn't be an ego trip on the part of the evangelist to see how many he can scare into the Kingdom. Certainly miracles and healings seem more likely to operate through an Evangelists' ministry, and that can seem really spiritual, but Brother Branham insisted that both motive and objective must be correct. Although the objective of an Evangelist is to bring people to Christ, if the motive, the driving force, isn't love for the lost then the motive is wrong. The Evangelist would need to re-assess why he is preaching the way he is.

An Apostle (missionary) too must have that same motivation of love for the lost as the evangelist. He is far more likely to spend long periods from his family, if he has one, as he attempts to establish new churches in new areas.

A Pastor can be caught in fear. Scared of losing church members, scared of his church looking bad, scared of one or more future ministry arising in the church. Fear is just as wrong a motive as popularity, money or women. The whole aim of a Pastor should be to look after and feed the sheep. That is his number one job. His love would be expressed by caring and always having time for his people, including his family. He should interrupt his many other jobs if people want to meet with him and discuss their problems. A Pastor should also be basically home based with few trips a year away from his flock. He should be smelling sheep most of the time, not jet fuel. 

A Prophet, better known in New Testament circles as a preacher is more likely to travel than a Pastor. His danger is of pride replacing his love of helping and building up the people. He may want to preach his best sermons over and over in new places but the people need fresh spiritual food. And different places have different problems different needs and require different foods. The last thing the Bride needs is a world wide McDonald's service of the same food served anywhere in the world. All preachers, whether they are Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists or Teachers are no more that cooks and waiters in God's restaurant. Their job is preparing and serving the necessary spiritual food for the people sitting at the tables. It is these customers in a restaurant who represent the Bride of Christ in a church. And the five fold ministry is just that of servants to the Bride. So motivation has to be love of the people and love of the Word. Without the pressures a Pastor has a Prophet or Preacher can do much for the people of God if that motive is love.

The Teacher can get so caught up in revelation, knowledge and presentation techniques that his motive can all too easily become disconnected form the people's needs. He can preach "So What" sermons; full of knowledge and facts but of no practical use to the people. Once again every teacher needs to reassess why he is bringing a particular subject to the people. Is it just his own interests? The motive for study and the choice of subjects to teach should be powered by love for the people.

Finally the people themselves. Past experiences of preachers, concerns over the length of sermons instead of love for the preacher can also be a mind trap that stops us expecting and hearing from God.

Another issue for the congregation is wanting to meet with friends after service instead of approaching and befriending new attendees, or those with needs. If our motive power is God's love then we can really serve our Lord and the lives of those we meet can be really changed. There is the story where Brother Branham condemned an old woman at a bar. God rebuked him for his judgmental attitude, he repented and approached her. Once God's love was in his heart he was able to lead her to Christ.    

Chapter 3 of John's first letter starts by pointing out the manner of love our heavenly Father has given us. It is that love in us that makes us sons and daughters of God. We are to have exactly the same love for others that God has for us. And that love that is so different from the world's love, the world's standards, the world's method of operation that we stand out. We are different and become witnesses of the risen Lord being alive today. Jesus said that by love all men will know we are His disciples. 

But let's face it, that has not always been true of Message churches! Message churches have often majored on conduct order and doctrine just as the Pharisees of old did. They paid tithes of herbs but overlooked judgment, the love of God, mercy and faith. (Matthew 23 v23 & Luke 11 v42)  

There are churches that teach the deeper mysteries that God revealed to brother Branham and they then dismiss those who have a simpler faith. But as I Corinthians 13 states, knowledge without love is worthless.Then there are are churches who preach the cross and the shed blood saying that those who preach that the Seals are open and the deeper mysteries have made a Mess of this Age (and the Message). Brother Branham is the prophet of Revelation 10 v7 sent to reveal the mysteries of God. Jesus did not have Brother Brnaham preach the opening of the seven seals and other mysteries for us to reject his word. As Branham pointed out there will be many preaching those basic evangelistic truths of the cross and the blood bringing people to the altar after the Rapture has occurred. In this case both messages are correct but they are not exclusive. Israel remembered the Passover every year, but also celebrated Passover and Tabernacles. It is not one or the other but all the Message we need. 

Love was what the first church age, Ephesians age, lost. And today it is being restored. Today Love is being restored in the Message.

Part of the problem in restoring that love are the hurts and complexes we carry with us. We are afraid to freely give our love, our care to others because of our past. A major part of what we are today was shaped by our childhood and by past experiences. Is that last statement part of the Message? Yes it is. Brother Branham preached several times about the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears. She was a prostitute. Branham said she was a prostitute because she had come from an unloving or broken home. Branham pointed out that often it was not juvenile delinquency but parental delinquency. On the film the deep calls to the deep Branham speaks to a sick woman in a nervous condition. With that incredible gift he points back to when a Pastor called her a witch. It isn't just what a person does that allows demonic access but also what others do and say. If we do not treat others with genuine love and respect then we can do a lot of damage. And one day we will be called to answer for our actions.

The Message is God's love to His Bride. We need to share it in the same same Spirit in which it was given.   

 

1 John 3 v11: For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3 v23: And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another ...

1 John 4 v7-8: Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

1 John 4 v10-11: Herein Is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

1 John 4 v16: We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; And he that lives in love lives in God, and God in him.