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Reciente: Evangelistic work by Dewayne, Rita and Antonio Shappley, mostly in the Spanish-speaking world
¿Can You Tell Me What Love Is?
Is love the act of having intimate relations, nothing more? Intense, sensual kissing and caressing, purely carnal, consummate the sexual act, and that is as far as love goes? “Yes, that is love; that’s what it is!” Many young people of today, as well as not a few ones mature in years, respond in that very way. And, no small number add: “It matters little with whom you make love. The thing is not to obligate yourself in any way. Avoid pregnancies, and if there is one, get an abortion. Babies are a real drag, a nuisance. Drink up, use some narcotics, and frequent sex. Man, enjoy life to the fullest! You too, ladies!” Not an acceptable answer for thoughtful people who know from experience and common sense that true love involves so much more.
Can Roman Catholic priests tell us what love is? From the Pope in the Vatican to the lowly monk with a vote of poverty, the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church claim exclusive authority to define love and impose rules on expressing it. But, they do not marry! Not a one of them has a legitimate partner, although a great number have illegitimate ones. They do not have legitimate children, though bastards not a few. They have taken the vote of celibacy, but a huge number of them violate it frequently, their most horrendous sexual sin being the rampant abuse of minors. By the way, the Holy Spirit classifies obligatory celibacy as a doctrine of devils and sure sign of heretics (1 Timothy 4:1-5). He requires that bishops be married men with believing children (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:3-10), and that both men and women marry to avoid fornication (1 Corinthians 7:1). So it is that, apart from not experiencing the natural love of marriage, children and family, they also do not follow explicit, divine directives for the good of humanity in general, and of the “family of God” in particular. Consequently, they do not have the necessary credentials to pontificate on love and insist, on pain of excommunication, that their dogmas be exercised. Really, what sense is it to pay any attention to them, or fear their pronouncements totally lacking in divine authority?
Massive brotherhood of Pentecostals, can you tell us what love is? Of a certainty, the word is on your lips so often and in so many circumstances that you give the impression of having a monopoly on it. You are always saying to sinners and saints alike: “Jesus loves you! God loves you! Christ loves you!” And that is very true, for they assure us they love everybody, without exception, desiring the salvation of every soul (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4). It appears that you also greatly appreciate sensual, sexual love, maybe to dangerous extremes for the soul-spirit, seeing that fornication and adultery are often discovered among you, being guilty of these abominable types of love no small number of your pastors, prophets, well-known musicians, etc. You know it is true. No doubt many of you sincerely love God, holiness, and salvation, but other bad types of love are also commonly observed among your masses. Love of money, tithes, riches and worldly comforts, of titles, power and fame, of an exaggerated, even wild enthusiasm. Of noisy commotions, showiness, ecstasy, sensuality, and Jewish rites of old in your praise services. So much so that you have invented different kinds of worldly gospels to justify and promote these evil types of love opposed to Christ and his only true gospel. For example: the prosperity gospel, the health and motivational gospels, the gospel of existentialism (emotions above truth), the gospel of dominionism (take charge of commercial and political organizations) and the gospel of Deborah’s to the front and in command (women in leadership rolls in congregations, councils, movements, calling themselves “pastor, apostle, prophetess, reverend, and taking authority over men,” positions, titles and powers not approved for them by the Holy Spirit. 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Corinthians 14:33-40). All of this places in serious doubt your qualifications to discourse on the many important aspects of healthy, right and pure love. (The following texts condemn your evil types of love and your unbiblical practices: 1 Timothy 6:3-16; 2 Peter 2:1-3; John 2:13-17; Matthew 23:1-7; 1 Corinthians 14:33-40; Hebrews 7:12; 8:6-13; 9:1-17; Galatians 1:6-10; John 13:36; 1 Corinthians 14:6-33, and a host of others.)
Darwinian Evolutionists arrogate to themselves the authority to define love for all homo sapiens. They tell us: “Love is neural. Love is cerebral.” That’s it! Nothing beyond the physical brain, physical neurons, and synapses, the purely sensual and animal. Because, as they explain, the only nature is material-physical. There is no god, soul, spirit, spiritual nature, or spiritual place. Just matter, some of it alive.
[We have carefully analyzed their basic tenants and find them flawed to the core. Delve deeply into whys and wherefores at www.apologeticspress.org, www.editoriallapaz.org/salon_ateismo.htm and www.editoriallapaz.org/English bible-studies-Shappley-church-of-Christ.html]
Beware, dear friend, of BAD TYPES of LOVE! They will consume you -body, mind, soul and spirit- in flames. Then, they will die out forever! Leaving you covered in ashes, grey all over! Surrounded by eternal darkness.
Not having received thus far satisfactory answers to the question “Can you tell us what love is?”, consider, beloved reader, my personal credentials to present a reasonable, consistent answer, hoping you will find it to be so. Regarding “different classes of love,” I have made an infinite number of observations across the years, analyzing and comparing them. In my own self -body, mind and spirit- I have experienced different types of love. In addition, I have read a whole lot of material about love as it is manifested in innumerable situations. Now, I present my most important credential: I have not excluded from my considerable reading a book whose name aggravates many of our contemporaries. Hope you are not one of them. I refer to the Bible. A book that, may we note, covers all kinds of love, the bad and the good. In some instances, with surprising frankness and startling detail. Multitudes often speak the name of the author of this book, but without any respect whatsoever, having distorted concepts of him because they do not know him. We are talking about God the Creator who “is the GOD of PEACE and of LOVE” (2 Corinthians 13:11). To be sure, “…love is OF God” (1 Juan 4:7). Furthermore, “God is LOVE” (1 John 4:8 and 16). That is, he is the source of all right kinds of love, being its perfect manifestation. As such, he is absolutely the only one with an innate right to define pure and blameless love in its different applications in both the physical-material realm and the moral-spiritual one. My definition of love is based primarily on his exposition and example.
Rephrasing a little the question before us, I ask: “What are the healthy, good and pure types of love?” Plural: Types. For there is not just one kind of love but many in each of two major categories: on the one hand, the bad ones, and on the other, the good ones.
The God of love identifies and defines the HEALTHY, GOOD and PURE TYPES OF LOVE. You can, and should, love your own physical body (Ephesians 5:29). The husband, his wife’s body; the wife, her husband’s body, each keeping in mind that the physical body is the earthly dwelling of the soul and spirit (Ephesians 5:25-32; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). You can “love life and see good days” (1 Peter 3:10), enjoying the material blessings of the Creator. You can, and should, love your parents, your wife or husband and your children, respecting and honoring them in all your relationships and interactions, striving for their material, as well as moral and spiritual good (Matthew 15:4-6; Ephesians 6:2-4; 1 Peter 3:1-7). You can, and should love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14). You can, and should, love the God of love with all your heart, mind and soul (Mark 12:30), understanding that he first loved you (1 John 4:19), desiring to have you near him and making it possible through the sacrifice of his only Begotten Son. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). You can, and should, love the light(John 3:21), synonymous with loving God’s Truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Additionally, you can and should come to know and love the church built by Christ (Matthew 16:18), for he loves it so much that he gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25-27). Clarifying: love the one he built, not the ones built by men. Also, love the Second Coming of Christ (2 Timothy 4:8), for it means the eternal glorification of the good, just and obedient, their being crowned with immortality in the Paradise of the God of Love.
How to love? To truly and sincerely love a being, whether human or spiritual, is to love “with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Within the norms established for any specific relationship. Not with a fanaticism that borders on craziness, or is crazy, but neither with an insipid, weak love, lacking normal passion. Go beyond mere friendship, empathy, fascination, infatuation, or fondness. Come to feel intense affection. Fervently want, yearn, desire, hunger to be near, in the presence of. Make yourself a part of the person, and that person a part of you, without violating the dignity, integrity or privacy of the one loved so much. Enjoy the relationship, mentally and sentimentally. Even physically in the case of those legitimately married according to the directives of the God of Love. Be ONE. Attaining a fusion of heart and mind, even of spirit. Feel happy, complete, safe and at ease in the company of the one loved. Sad, unsure and incomplete when no. Hold the life of the one loved to be more important than your own life, being willing to give your life, if necessary, for the one loved. Feel frustrated, solitary and somewhat desperate when separated for whatever reason, offense or error, lamenting and crying. Not be at peace, unable to sleep, even have no appetite until reconciliation is accomplished. All that and much more is what it means to love “with all your strength.” Be that one so loved a human being, the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9), or Christ, who, loving us with supreme love, sacrificed his life in the cruelest way to bridge all chasms and unite us again with the “family of God.”
[Suggestion: Go back and read the preceding paragraph, from the beginning to “POSITIVE ACTIONS,” applying each sentence (with the exception of the one which begins “Even physically in…”) solely to God and his Son Jesus Christ, with the purpose of appreciating even to a higher degree the significance of loving them “with all your strength.”]
POSITIVE ACTIONS define healthy love, good love, pure love. Jesus Christ said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments… He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me… If a man loves me, he will keep my word… He who does not love me does not keep my words…” (John 14:15, 21, 23 and 24). Now then, every human being has the commandments from Christ to believe truly in God, repent sincerely and be baptized “for the forgiveness of your sins,” that is, to be baptized in water for the washing away of sin (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-47; 22:16). Are you willing? What a relief! Such a great salvation! What a wonderful hope of a better life here, and there! If you have not yet been baptized biblically, that is, by immersion in water (Acts 8:26-40; Romans 6:3-7), “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20), and “for the forgiveness of your sins,” the purpose assigned baptism by Deity, but you keep saying “I love God; I really love Jesus,” friend, please don’t deceive yourself any longer. You do not possess or display the definitive proof of loving them until you dutifully keep their commandments on baptism. So then, to the water as soon as possible, and be baptized, that you may, indeed, show good faith of the love you profess, just as the Philippian jailor and his family did (Acts 16:25-40).
The healthy, good and pure love taught and exemplified by the God of Love is also defined by the atributes he assigns it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous… boastful... arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears… believes… hopes… endures all things.”
In this text alone, two positive attributes of true love; eight things it does not have or does not do; five things it does do. At this time in your life journey, what are the attributes of your love?
I conclude, citing the following powerful words: “Love never ends…” What love? Yours or the one God teaches? “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8 and 13). Faith, hope and love. Do you have the three, or none of them? Until when do your present beliefs, hopes and different kinds of love abide?
If your mind is functioning normally and your soul is beginning to be filled with light, you will understand that only spiritual faith, hope and love sustain beyond the death of the physical body and that SPIRITUAL LOVE is the greatest of the three. That is so because when faith and hope are made realities, they cease to be. On the other hand, true spiritual love abides time without end. It is within your reach! Lay hold of it!
Este tema en español. This subject in Spanish.
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