The International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) has chosen “God Is Love” for the theme of its 20th World Congress, meeting from January 22-29, 2020, in Puerto Montt, Chile. The theme verse of the Congress is 1 John 4:10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
There is perhaps no other teaching of Scripture which is more misunderstood and misapplied than the fact that “God is love.” Sadly, the world has often perverted God’s love into a message of permissiveness and selfishness.
The Bible teaches us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God sacri ced that which was to Him of most value, of highest cost, of greatest love, so that sinners could drink of the water of life freely and be saved from eternal damnation.
The Wrath of God
Without the wrath of God, there would be no need for God’s sacri ce of His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. God, who is holy, cannot look upon sin. Psalm 7:11 tells us: “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear.” Paul, in the New Testament wrote to the church at Rome: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
The Inability of Man to Save Himself Apart from Christ
Romans 3:10 tells us: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Verse 23 continues this teach- ing: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 5:12 tells us of God’s judgment upon all men: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Man may think that good works can save his soul, but Titus 3:5 tells us that we can never be saved by our works: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done….”
God’s Love for Us
In the midst of this bleak picture, we read: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eter- nal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
God’s salvation of guilty sinners is the very essence and de nition of love. The theme verse of this Congress is 1 John 4:10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitia- tion for our sins.” Christ satis ed divine justice and died for those who in faith believe. 1 John 1:9 tells us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Our Duty to Love God
Many love the Gospel, as just presented, but ignore what God demands of us. In John 14:15, Christ very clearly tells us: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” A man cannot love God and continue in sin and rebellion against God.
The true child of God will seek to be like Christ. He will only love those things which draw him closer to his Saviour. He will not love the vain things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). He will have the fruit of the Spirit in his life (Galatians 5:22-23) and will hate evil: “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
Our Duty to Love Our Brethren
Christ tells believers clearly in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Our hearts should always have the needs of others before our own needs: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).
The Apostle John, minces no words in 1 John 4:20: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
One of the main functions of the ICCC is to show the love of Christ among faithful Christians and churches in every corner of our globe, in ful llment of the commands of Christ.
Our Duty to Love Lost Souls
Christ gave us His Great Commission just before He ascended up into Heaven: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are wit- nesses of these things” (Luke 24:47-48). In Acts 1:8, Christ told His disciples: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
The Apostle Paul so loved his Jewish kinsmen and wanted to see them know Christ that he wrote: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” (Romans 9:2). He then begins chapter 10 by saying: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”
Like Paul we should have a burden in our hearts for lost men and must spread the gospel everywhere we go. “… he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Christians over the centuries have given of their lives to “preach the gospel to every creature.” This has been motivated out of a love for the souls of men.
The International Council of Christian Churches calls on believers and churches everywhere to truly love God, love our brethren and love the souls of lost men out of hearts surrendered and obedient to God and His Word. May we follow in the path of those great saints of God who have gone before us.
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