Live your life loving God first; people second
Jerry A Collins
v Can we expect opposition to our faith in Christ?
v How should we answer questions posed by skeptics?
v Does my love for God take priority over man?
you review the history of the Bible an amazing thing emerges. It has always
been under attack. It started right after the apostles recorded it for us.
Within the first century attacks upon it’s teachings
were being launched and then confronted by the church. It has never ended. It
goes on even today. And much of it is from within the religious community.
Harold Lindsell wrote two books about this in the
OPPOSITION TO GOD’S WORD CAN BE MOTIVATED BY BIAS
In other words a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice according to the dictionary. We certainly see this motivation in vs 23.
No resurrection The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection or angels Acts 23:8. So attempting to discredit Jesus they purposely center their enquiry on the teaching of resurrection and its implications which they did not believe. This is no enquiry as to the truth. They already have a tendency that prevents unprejudiced consideration of the truth in question.
Deut 25:5 Based on this verse they make up a story about a man dying and his brothers marrying the man’s wife—all to show how ridiculous is the idea of resurrection vs 24-28. Their question in vs 28 implies that heaven is only an extension of things on earth we mostly enjoy like marriage.
2 Problems Jesus responds that (1) They are ignorant—they do not understand the scriptures vs 29. (2) They are out of touch—they do not know God’s power. What is interesting is that of all people they should have known both. God’s Word taught the resurrection and His power can bring people back to life. So Jesus corrects both of these false notions in vss 30-32.
First is the need to understand the nature of resurrection vs 30 In the resurrection there is no marriage. In the eternal state marriage will not be necessary. We will be like the angels—notice He did not say we will become angels—for angels do not marry nor reproduce. Once we have our glorified bodies the need for procreation will not exist. Marriage is not eternal—like the Mormons teach—it is only life-long. Marriage is for this side of the grave. So enjoy it. Participate in it. Have children from it. Grow in and through it. In eternity it ends.
Second is the need to comprehend the ability of God vs 31-32 Regarding the resurrection of the dead—Ex 3:6—where God says to Moses that He is the God of Abe, Isaac, and Jacob, these people have been dead quite a while. This shows Jesus’ view of scripture and it’s interpretation. His case is made on the present tense of the verb to be, that is I Am. Not I was the God of Abe, Isaac and Jacob. If they were correct then it should have read I was. Jesus implied God is still God of these patriarchs for they are alive with God and ultimately will share in the resurrection of their bodies. Right now the greatest power on earth is death. No one can beat it. But it will be usurped by an even greater power—that of resurrection. The ability to instill life again in those who have died. Paul says if our hope was in Christ only for life on this side of the grave we are of all men most to be pitied 1 Cor 15:19 and those who have died in Christ have perished—ceased to exist. People will have certain prejudices and bias that skews and distorts the clear teaching of Scripture. What we see in Jesus we need to also possess ourselves—the knowledge of the Word of God that exposes the bias and paints the truth of God’s Word clearly. Everyone was astonished at His teaching. Today the plain truth articulated plainly will astonish people mostly because the Bible is being used but not being taught. So teach it.
WHEN PEOPLE DEBATE GOD’S WORD WE CAN USE THAT TO CLARIFY WHAT IT MEANS Anticipate the teaching of the Word to be debated and prepare yourself to clarify what God means.
Pharisees debate The Pharisees choose a lawyer to ask Jesus a question which they themselves cannot answer. What is the greatest commandment in the Law?—vs 36 There are 613 laws in the Mosaic Law. They had expanded that to a whole lot more over 1500 years. When you keep adding laws soon one will contradict another. So what happens when laws come into conflict? Which is the greatest law?
Jesus responds Jesus gives a quick summary of the entire 10 commandments—the Decalogue in vs 37-39. The first commandment summarizes the first 5 and the second commandment the second 5. That is the OT develops and amplifies these two ideas—love for God and love for people made in His image. Jesus articulates our love for God as a love 1. with all your heart—that is with your emotions. 2. with all your soul—that is with your personality. 3. with your mind—that is with intellect and understanding all from Deut 6:5. This is where you make decisions about yourself. It is the idea of a comprehensive commitment and determination. Love God with al of your being body, heart and soul. So a genuine love for God is based in and rooted within an intelligent, feeling, wiling and serving kind of commitment—one that is by choice, purposeful, and active. Obedience is a demonstrable expression of our love for God. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me. This then is the greatest commandment and foremost. This is the answer to their question. Jesus goes on with the second commandment to love your neighbor. There is a definite priority and Jesus expands this in vs 40. There he declares the whole law depends upon these 2 commandments. The whole spiritual life can be lived according to these two commandments. But it is important to know which is first. You will pervert the wisdom of God if you switch them around. Our tendency is to serve people first and then God. How do you define loving your neighbor? You should define that in the context of loving God first. If your neighbor says he is being cheated by another in business, your answer to him will depend on which of these two commandments you put first. If you love your neighbor you will tell him to retaliate and protect himself. If you love God you will tell him to turn the other cheek, take the hit and trust God for the outcome—not revenge or retaliation. So how can he use this business transaction to turn his heart, soul and mind toward God?
1. Understand the resurrection is real and eternal life is real. God is the God of living.
2. the number one commandment is to love God. The number tow commandment is to love your neighbor. Do both, but never get the priorities reversed.