Fervently Love One Another

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. (NASB, 1 Peter 1:22-23)

Please do not misunderstand my intention here. This is not meant to be an essay about warm, fuzzy love or the mushy sentiment the world advertises as true love. This is not about abandoning truth and all that is doctrinally sound. This is not going to be a post about compromising theological precision for the sake of a common unity that comes with superficial love and approval of sinful words and deeds. My intent is to turn our attention, as believers, to a broader understanding of what Peter tells suffering Christians scattered in various places.

Before I begin, my desire is to encourage believers to follow the many commands in Scripture which require us to “walk wisely” (Eph. 5:15, Matt. 10:16, Rom. 16:19). All of us should examine what we are being taught with a healthy, rigorous intellect when it comes to following the Bereans’ example (Mark 12:30, Acts 17:11). We, in the church, often become dazzled and mesmerized by ear-tickling sermons about love which has a tendency to puff us up and feed the inner nature of man, particularly if these sermons are centered on our perceived inherent worth and value apart from Jesus Christ.

A focus on love

I hope I have added the necessary discernment and wisdom disclaimers appropriately, because the remaining word count in this brief commentary focuses on God’s wonderful, amazing love and an exhortation to fulfill the greatest person-to-person command. Galatians 5:14 puts it this way: “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” Did we catch that—the whole Law is fulfilled!? That’s pretty serious. So how do we start to understand and fulfill this Royal Law command? (James 1:22, 2:8)

The absolute truth about God is that He is love. He is grace, mercy and forgiveness. He is eternally kind and compassionate, perfectly cohesive with His all-encompassing truthful essence and justice. These attributes are not in conflict with each other, but complement each other beautifully and flawlessly. He, in the person of Jesus Christ, is perfectly submissive and obedient. He is humble and meek and lowly.

So why is it, at times, the Church appears to diminish these characteristics and markers of true discipleship for the rally cry of truth? If the church in Ephesus was condemned for elevating doctrinal truth over leaving their first love (Eph. 1:15, Rev. 2:4-5), should we not all tremble at the mere thought of our local church lampstand being removed as well for the same snares? The fact is that truth and love live together in seamless cooperation when patterned according to I Peter 1:22-23.

For me, it starts with recognizing my deficiencies in the past. I have not always held to the Christian standard of these four simple, yet powerful words: “fervently love one another.” The word “fervently” in the original Greek is an adverb which means “earnestly” or “intensely.” As an adverb, it would have more to do with being stretched out, earnest, resolute, and tense or taut.

This fervent love is not something passive. This kind of fervency mentioned here has every idea of actively, daily, and constantly engaging the mind and heart to pursue love for one another. The phrase embodies full, unreserved, actionable love, grace, mercy and forgiveness, molded like the kind of agape love Christ has for us. The Bible is clear. He commands His children to act according to their pedigree.

This is not a call to check our wits at the door and become so innocent and naïve that we are dazzled by anything that is glittery. This is a call to the local church to come back to its “first love” and recapture a warm, affectionate love for one another as described in Ephesians 1:15.

Wise living is not only about discerning the false, but it is also acting in concert and harmony with what the Scriptures call for in Christian relationships. It is not the “straining out a gnat” hyper-criticism that Jesus condemns in Matthew 23. The standard for “loving one another” is wrapped in humility, mercy, patience, long-suffering grace and a host of other biblical principles. We are commanded to be “fervent,” and later, fervent love covers not just one sin but a multitude. A multitude carries the idea of “a great number” or “the whole number.” Just as the communicable attributes of God’s love and justice are being dispensed in perfect harmony, so our joyful slavery should display a Christ-like image when we love and submit to one another out of a holy fear for our Master.

Jesus gave a “new command” to love one another and it is, in fact, the ultimate mark of His true disciples (John 13:34-35) which is really an extension of an old commandment we had from the beginning. (1 John 2:7-11). Christ is the supreme example of this type of servanthood (Phil. 2:5-8).

Biblically speaking, there are a dozen or so different analogies that God uses to describe our life here on earth. Military terms might be the most well-known. It is no mistake that while we are soldiers marching and warring, it should not be against each other, but against sin: rebellion, unsubmissiveness, disobedience, pride, anger, arrogance; and militarily standing firm against outside and inside attacks of demonic agendas. If we keep this in mind, we could “put off” many of the sins that tempt us when trying to live amidst the troops. Within the “boastful pride of life” arena, we can find it far too easy to cross the line into devouring one another. (1 John 2:16, Gal. 5:15)

Dr. Rick Holland posted this as his status update a few weeks ago on Facebook: “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy (James 2:13). Praying to be a man without accusations against anyone.” I hope the triteness of the medium does not detract from the poignancy of the post. The essence of brotherly love is filtering through mercy and grace while using discernment as we advance and grow together.

So let us march on following King Jesus our Lord and Savior, denying ourselves, daily picking up our cross, and following Him (Luke 9:23). The only true way to obediently follow Christ and be conformed to His image is to trust Him with every aspect of our lives, including godly displays of sincere and fervent love for the brethren. 1 Peter 1:22-23 is clear: all those born of imperishable seed will have a truthful and purified, imperishable love for everyone who follows Jesus Christ.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Nelson,
Though repentant faith is an act of obedience, it is consistently contrasted with 'works' in Scripture, the point being that, as I said earlier, works have no role in obtaining or retaining our standing with God.

Tt 3:5 NKJV 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Ro 4:2–3 NKJV 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Ro 4:5 NKJV 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Joshua wrote:
That a person who possesses true, saving faith will obey. The issue that I'm sense a bit of discomfort with is in forming a consistent system that also affirms the "curse" side of the covenant, namely, that a person who does not obey is potentially demonstrating a lack of faith.

This would be one of the major differences between the Old Covenant and the New. Though the Old commanded the Israelites to love God, cling to Him, trust in Him, etc., the blessings and curses were all conditioned on simple obedience. The New Covenant is unique in that those who enter into it receive a new heart (Ezek.26.36, Jer.31.31-33).
In Jeremiah God specifically says that the new covenant is not like the old.

So my point there is that there is no "curses" analog in the new covenant.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
It's not *easy* believism to believe that each one of us can do absolutely nothing to earn favor before God. God takes years and years of our lives to teach us this; even after we're saved, we have to peel off the vestiges of recognizing and hoping in our own goodness. Martin Luther understood the main problem of mankind; he wrote to our most pressing need. Anything noteworthy to God is done by Christ; He does graciously acknowledge our works after our salvation, to the extent that He sees Himself in them. We certainly have nothing to contribut to God. It is Him in us. (And, it is for our good that we obey.)

No one is talking about earning salvation. Obviously, we cannot earn or merit anything before God. Did Adam and Even "merit" everlasting life? Did those individuals under the OT Law "merit" salvation? Did Abraham earn justification, obviously not. But God has graciously offered to extend salvation to those who are faithful to the covenant - both in the OT and in the NT. ". . . the one who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17

Anne Sokol wrote:
Do I strive to serve God? Maybe it would be better to take the emphasis off I. His Spirit strives in me, teaches me, enables me, and I struggle with His help to bring my flesh under so I can be more and more completely devoted to him. Thank you, God.

It is certainly true that without the indwelling of the Spirit, we cannot serve/obey/follow God, but our participation is active, not passive. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." Romans 6:12,13 The commands to abide, follow, deny, submit, humble, obey, believe, trust, provoke, draw nigh are a constant drumbeat throughout Scripture. If it was only a work of the HS, then there would be no need for this.

Anne Sokol wrote:
The gospel is a covenant between the Godhead, not between us and God.

Can you explain this a bit more? In a sense, this statement might be correct, but it provokes a bunch of questions:

Does this mean that man does not participate in the covenant?

By what basis does man know if he is "in the covenant"?

Can you provide textual support for this idea?

If God desires that all men come to repentance and the covenant is only within the godhead, why are all me not saved?

Why then was Scripture written? Does the HS need the canon of Scripture in order to save people based on a covenant that is only between the godhead?

Does the godhead need to make a covenant between itself in order to do something?

formerly known as Coach C

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Though repentant faith is an act of obedience, it is consistently contrasted with 'works' in Scripture, the point being that, as I said earlier, works have no role in obtaining or retaining our standing with God.

Tt 3:5 NKJV 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

Faith and obedience are the same thing. This is what Hebrews 10,11, James and the Johannine Epistles teach us. Saving faith is a gift, regeneration is a work of the Spirit, justification cannot be earned, however, even the context of your Titus verse more fully explains the Gospel in a way that seems to argue against your point: Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 3:8 "those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds."

We cannot earn or merit or justify ourselves, but God will not add his justification to those who do not agree to become his slaves:

Romans 6:16-23 "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Aaron Blumer wrote:
This would be one of the major differences between the Old Covenant and the New. Though the Old commanded the Israelites to love God, cling to Him, trust in Him, etc., the blessings and curses were all conditioned on simple obedience. The New Covenant is unique in that those who enter into it receive a new heart (Ezek.26.36, Jer.31.31-33).
In Jeremiah God specifically says that the new covenant is not like the old.

So my point there is that there is no "curses" analog in the new covenant.

Do you really want to stand by these statements?

There are no commands to love and obey God/Christ in the New Covenant?! Certainly, there are many, many differences between the OC and the NC, but a removal of the requirement to obey is NOT one of them. Just look a the references that you cited, those alone are enough to disprove your statement: Ezekiel 26:26,27 " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Jeremiah 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."

The mark of the people of God is that they love God and they obey His law. A person cannot say that he loves God without a commitment to obey His law. 1 John 2:3-6 "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."

And . . . there are no curses under the New Covenant? There is all kinds of evidence to the contrary, but I will confine us to two of them:

Matthew 7:20-23: "So then, you will know them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles ?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Why were they cursed? Not because they did mighty works, not because they did not confess with their mouths and embrace and intellectual belief in Christ. They were condemned, damned and cursed because they did not do "the will of My Father" and because they practiced "lawlessness".

A second example:

1 Timothy 5:8 "if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Is this not a curse for a man who does not do all he can to provide for those under his care?

Aaron, I appreciate this site - I have read SI for years and I have grown as a result. Furthermore, I know that my ideas on these matters are outside of much of popular evangelicalism. However, your statements here concern me and make me wonder if many of the discussions on this site are missing the boat . . . Because fundamentalism added certain, unbiblical works to the law of Christ, have we now gone completely the other way to say or imply that there is no law of Christ?

formerly known as Coach C

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alot to respond to here.... I'll try to be brief.

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
Faith and obedience are the same thing. This is what Hebrews 10,11, James and the Johannine Epistles teach us. Saving faith is a gift, regeneration is a work of the Spirit, justification cannot be earned, however, even the context of your Titus verse more fully explains the Gospel in a way that seems to argue against your point: Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 3:8 "those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds."

Actually, none of these verses make sense unless faith and obedience are not the same thing.
Heb.10,11: this is too much Scripture to respond to here. Can you be more specific? What is illustrated in these chapters is that faith results in obedience.
Titus 1:16. Key word: profess
Titus 2:11-14 - calls us to obedience. Does not say faith = obedience.

Joshua wrote:
We cannot earn or merit or justify ourselves, but God will not add his justification to those who do not agree to become his slaves:

Again the passage you're quoting doesn't teach this. Justification comes in an instant when we believe. Romans 5:1. I would agree that when one turns to Christ in repentant faith, there is a decision to serve (become a slave). But a decision to serve is not the same thing as actually serving.
In Romans 6, Paul is explaining to already-justified people that if they are not obedient, they are effectively making themselves slaves again to sin. His argument is that since we are not slaves to sin, we should not behave as though we were and re-enact that relationship.

He is definitely not teaching that failure to behave as slaves to Christ reverses our standing His justified slaves. A reversal of the union with Christ that begins the chapter is not in view there anywhere.
If there was a possibility of reversing the union through disobedience, we would be forced to conclude that our salvation is by works after all.

Joshua wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
This would be one of the major differences between the Old Covenant and the New. Though the Old commanded the Israelites to love God, cling to Him, trust in Him, etc., the blessings and curses were all conditioned on simple obedience. The New Covenant is unique in that those who enter into it receive a new heart (Ezek.26.36, Jer.31.31-33).
In Jeremiah God specifically says that the new covenant is not like the old.

So my point there is that there is no "curses" analog in the new covenant.

Do you really want to stand by these statements?

There are no commands to love and obey God/Christ in the New Covenant?! Certainly, there are many, many differences between the OC and the NC, but a removal of the requirement to obey is NOT one of them....


I'm not sure how you're getting from "no 'curses' analog in the new covenant" to "no commands to love and obey in the New Covenant." These are not the same thing.
My point was not that obedience is now optional but rather that no curse comes with disobedience. Jesus has paid it all.

Joshua wrote:

And . . . there are no curses under the New Covenant? There is all kinds of evidence to the contrary, but I will confine us to two of them:

Matthew 7:20-23: "So then, you will know them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles ?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'


This is an example of what happens to those who are outside the New Covenant. How could a justified believer be told "depart from me"?

Joshua wrote:
Why were they cursed? Not because they did mighty works, not because they did not confess with their mouths and embrace and intellectual belief in Christ. They were condemned, damned and cursed because they did not do "the will of My Father" and because they practiced "lawlessness".

They did not do the will/practiced lawlessness because they did not "know" Christ. He says "I never knew you." Those He knows (elsewhere called "His sheep"-John 10), are not cursed.

Paul writes on this subject in Galations.... Christ has taken the curse for those who are in Him.

Ga 3:10–14 NKJV 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Your 1Tim.5.8 example is another example of one who is apparently not really in the faith. There are a few ways the passage has been interpreted, but none of them involve God cursing His own children.

Joshua wrote:
I have read SI for years and I have grown as a result.

Glad to hear that. I hope you'll keep reading.
What you are hearing from here is not "popular evangelicalism." It's the gospel of grace. There is no curse for those in Christ. Obedience is required, but failure is not punished for those under the blood. This is what the cross was all about.

Anne Sokol's picture

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
No one is talking about earning salvation. Obviously, we cannot earn or merit anything before God. Did Adam and Even "merit" everlasting life? Did those individuals under the OT Law "merit" salvation? Did Abraham earn justification, obviously not. But God has graciously offered to extend salvation to those who are faithful to the covenant - both in the OT and in the NT. ". . . the one who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17

What covenant are you referring to? God has graciously offered to extend salvation to those who believe . . . Once we have believed, we can't earn our continued salvation. It sort of sounds like this is what you are saying. You and I will always fail in this life. You can list all the commands given in the Bible to believers, then thank God that Christ obeyed each one perfectly for you, and ask Him for the powerful work of His Spirit to help you do what He wants. He will work in you in His time and way. Your sin and failure doesn't scare Him and doesn't risk your standing with Him. He will always work all things to your good b/c you are His child. Now, we might not enjoy all the consequences of our sins, but He will still be with us and working them to our eternal good. But He will never act in an evil or disfavored way with His child.

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
It is certainly true that without the indwelling of the Spirit, we cannot serve/obey/follow God, but our participation is active, not passive. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." Romans 6:12,13 The commands to abide, follow, deny, submit, humble, obey, believe, trust, provoke, draw nigh are a constant drumbeat throughout Scripture. If it was only a work of the HS, then there would be no need for this.
As Martin Luther says, God gives the commands, and He gives the fulfillment in Christ. It is all ours by belief. The more we gaze by faith into the perfect perfection of Christ, the more God will be able to move the work in us.

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
Anne Sokol wrote:
The gospel is a covenant between the Godhead, not between us and God.

Can you explain this a bit more? In a sense, this statement might be correct, but it provokes a bunch of questions:

Does this mean that man does not participate in the covenant?

By what basis does man know if he is "in the covenant"?

Can you provide textual support for this idea?

If God desires that all men come to repentance and the covenant is only within the godhead, why are all me not saved?

Why then was Scripture written? Does the HS need the canon of Scripture in order to save people based on a covenant that is only between the godhead?

Does the godhead need to make a covenant between itself in order to do something?


I will just say that the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15) is the OT picture of the new covenant. God makes the covenant with Himself--He passed through the flesh pieces, not Abraham. All men are not saved b/c all do not believe. I guess a person knows he's in the covenant b/c of the witness of the Holy Spirit (though I would say that for some with weak consciences, God has saved them even if they doubt or do not understand their standing before Him).

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