DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

By Errol Hale

"So when they had eaten breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?'  And he said to Him, 'Yes Lord, You know that I love You.'  And He said to him, 'Feed My lambs.'  And He said to him again a second time 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?'  And he said to Him 'Yes Lord, You know that I love You.'  And He said to him 'Tend My sheep.'  And He said to him a third time 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?'  and Peter was grieved because He said this to him a third time, 'Do you love Me?'  And he said to Him 'Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.'  And Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep.'  John 21:15-17

 

The most important question that Jesus Christ could ask anyone is, “Do you love Me?”  He is more concerned about the answer to that question than anything else.

In Mark 12 Jesus answered a very simple question put to Him by a certain scribe who asked, "What is the greatest commandment?”  Jesus answered,  “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  And love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

What is the greatest commandment?  Love God.  What is the most important question that Jesus could ask of us?  Do you love Me?

Because this is true, we need to examine ourselves to determine whether we truly love Jesus.  We Christians all say we love Jesus.  We talk about loving God.  We sing songs about loving God -- “Thy Loving Kindness Is Better Than Life,” “I Love You Lord” and others.  We say we love God, but do we really love God?

To see how we love God, let us consider eight marks of a person who loves God.

Those Who Love Jesus Love Him More Than All Else.

Look again at John 21:15-17.  What did Jesus say the very first time He spoke to Peter?  He said “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”   Now there are all kinds of commentaries and all kinds of ideas on what the “these” Jesus was referring to are, but I think it suffices to say that it doesn't matter what the “these” are.  The question is: “Do you love Me more than these,” whatever these may be?  Does that stand to reason? 

Jesus is saying He wants to be the most important, the primarily – not the sole – but the primary object of our affection.  He wants to be loved above all else.  We sing a song that's taken from Psalm 73, verse 25 -- “Whom Have I In Heaven But You . . . there is none upon earth I desire besides You.”  Those sound like words penned by a psalmist who truly loved God.  Don't you agree? 

Consider Luke Chapter 14:26  in thinking further about this issue about loving God first, of loving Him the most.  Here Jesus is speaking to His disciples telling them what is required if they are to be His disciples  He says:

“Whoever desires to follow me, and does not hate his mother and father, his brothers and sisters, his spouse and children, yes, and his own life also, cannot be My disciple.”

Was Jesus really instructing us to hate these people?  Of course not.    A parallel passage in Matthew 10:37 says

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

People get unnerved when Jesus uses the word hate, but when you put these parallel passages together you understand that Jesus is not saying that He wants us to hate.  That would be in direct contrast to the rest of the Bible.  What is Jesus saying then?  By speaking in hyperbole, He is saying that the person who loves father or mother more than Jesus is not worthy to be Jesus' disciple.  Whoever loves son or daughter more than Jesus is not worthy of Jesus.

Jesus is saying that the contrast between how we love what's in second, third, and fourth place, and how we love what's in first place has got to be as great as the contrast between love and hate. 

Where do we get this idea that we can have one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world, loving all these other things somehow on a par?  Where do we get the idea that Jesus is willing to be just one of many rival interests in our lives vying for our time and affection?  He says “If you do not love Me the most, you're not worthy of Me.” 

I'm not the one who made this up.  That is what Jesus said.  If I were making up a religion I wouldn't say that.  It's too hard.  I wouldn't want to turn people away.   Marketing techniques would say, “Oh for heaven sake’s don't alienate people!”  Jesus isn't the slightest bit concerned about that.  He says if you do not love Me the most, you are not worthy of Me.  Challenging, isn't it?

One of the most often overlooked, practical applications of this is in marriage.  Single people, do not marry anyone — do not even consider falling in love with anyone— who does not clearly love Jesus Christ more than they love you.  Jesus Christ is not willing to be number two — even in our marriage relationships.  If you are number one, ahead of Jesus, you will have trouble in your marriage.  If you are number two, behind Jesus, you have got a chance.  You'll still have difficulties because you're human beings, but with Christ you'll have the ability to overcome them.  Do you understand what I'm saying? 

Young ladies, if a guy doesn't love Jesus Christ more than you — and I say this especially because I'm a dad of daughters — you are in for trouble.  Don't buy the line “Well, he's got a Bible.”  Satan's got one memorized!  “Well, he'll go to church with me.”  So what?  Does he love Jesus Christ more than he loves you?  If not, don't even consider it.  It's trouble. 

In Ephesians 6:24 Paul closes his letter by saying “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.  Amen.”  What does that mean?  It means that there are people who love Jesus Christ with insincerity.  Don't be fooled.  Don't be tricked by those who say they love Jesus, but don't love Him first.  Don't fool yourself – “Oh I love Jesus, but I'll take care of that when I die, right now I gotta take care of all this other stuff.”  It doesn't work that way, you've got to love Him first. 

The question is, do you love Jesus?  Do you love Him first?  Do you love Him with sincerity.  Think about it.

Those Who Love Jesus Have Discernment Based On Intimacy.

You could come and tell me —“Your wife said this or that,” and I'd say “Yep, that sounds like Frances.”  There are other things you could come and tell me that she said and I'd say “Nope, I don't think so.”  Why?  Because over the last 20 years we've shared a lot.  I know her.  I know her so well that I could tell if the words being attributed to her really came from her. 

You and I can have that same kind of discernment when it comes to God.  When you love Jesus, you will be intimate with God.  When you are intimate with God, you will have discernment.  In Deuteronomy 13, God, speaking through Moses, is giving instructions about how to discern and test prophets, to determine whether they are true or false.  He says in verse 1

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or wonder comes to pass of which he spoke to you, saying 'Let us go after other gods that you have not known and let us serve them' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”  

How does this have anything to do with discernment based on intimacy?  Notice God says if a prophet or a dreamer or a seer comes along and he does a miracle, or prophecies something that happens . . . 

First of all, are you aware that there is such a thing as false miracles?  The enemy and deceivers can do hat tricks, and we say “Oh, it must be from God, after all I saw a light!”  So what!? 

You say “Well, a prediction came true!”   It's true, we are to test the prophets based on whether their prophecies come true, but here God says even if what they predict comes true, we need to test them by what they say about Him?  What do they say about Jesus?

This is very important because there are far too many Christians who say they love Jesus, and yet they listen to all kinds of lies from this world.  They say, they prayed and God told them to do something that is contrary to the scriptures.  My response:  God didn't say that!  How do I know?  If it does not go according to the Word of God, the voice people think is God is not God!

Here is where the intimacy comes into play.  You can't discern whether what you heard was God or not if you don't know Him so well that you can say, “I may have heard, or felt this or that, but God wouldn't have said this or that!”  We need to know Jesus Christ so well that we hear His voice.

What did Jesus say about this?

In John 10:27 He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

He says in that same chapter that His sheep (those who are intimate with Him) do not follow the voice of a hireling.  Why?  Because they know the Shepherd's voice and they follow Him!  Listen believers, spare yourself a lot of difficulty and know your Bibles.  Know Jesus Christ and love Him.  Quit being ripped off and hood-winked by lies, especially by the lies of your own feelings -- “well I prayed, and this is what I think God said.”  Far too many of us say we love God and yet we don't know Him well enough to distinguish between His voice and the voice of the enemy himself.  It's true, and it's tragic.  We love Jesus Christ with our lips, and yet we barely know Him.  The Lord says He allows this to happen to test us, to see whether or not we love Him with all of our heart, with all of our soul. (Deuteronomy 13)  Do you love Jesus Christ?  Do you know Him so intimately that you can distinguish His voice from all others?  Don't be quick to say yes.

Those Who Love Jesus Worship Him Joyfully.

1 Peter 1:8 says

"Though you have not seen Him you love Him, though now you do not see Him yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible full of glory.” 

That's a beautiful string of words right there.  The people who know Him, the people who really love Him, they can't contain it.  There is an overflowing of joy and love based on that relationship.  The psalms are full of worship written by people who have hearts for God and who love God.  That's what love songs really are.  Barry Manilow may write the songs that make the young girls cry, but  people who love Jesus write the songs that move the heart of God.  Why?  Because the Lord knows those songs of worship and praise have originated from hearts that love Him. 

It's not enough to say you go to church.  It's not enough to engage in a bunch of Christian activities.  Do you have a heart for God? 

Ephesians 5:19 says that one of the unmistakable marks of people who are filled with the Holy Spirit is that they will

“Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord.”

Some try to excuse their lack of participation in worship.  They say “I don't sing very well.” That doesn't have anything to do with having a heart of joy for God.  That doesn't have anything to do with worshipping God.  People who love God worship Him joyfully when they are alone.  That means that you don't just think about worship when the band strikes up to play.  It means that when you're in your car, when you're taking a walk, when you're working — whatever you are doing — you are worshipping the Lord you love.

There are things that come along that jog your mind and you say “God loves me and look at what He's done in my life and I love Him in return.”  If that isn't happening, you need to ask yourself if you love God.  People who love God worship Him joyfully when they're with the body.  If you are one who sits or stands with a blank stare, refusing to sing, do you love God?  It doesn't much look like it!  You may feel your singing voice is so bad that you don't want to be a distraction — then don't sing loud, but if you have no joy in your heart to express to God, don't kid yourself into thinking that you love Him.  Those may be hard words, but how can you say you love Him? 

I realize that it isn't always fair to God to try to use analogies of human love relationships when talking about God because the love relationship between God and a human being is so different than all other love relationship, but for those of you who are fortunate enough to really love your spouse, don't you ever enjoy being with them?  Of course you do.  (Those of you that don't, you're missing something.)  If you love God, you'll enjoy being with Him.  That should prompt joyful worship.  Do you love God, do you worship Him joyfully?

Those Who Love Jesus Love His Word. 

A couple of things out of Psalm 119.  Verse 97 says “Oh how I love Your law.  It is my meditation all day long.”  That's the heart of a person who loves God, alright!  He loves the Bible as well.

Verse 113 says, “I hate the double minded, but I love Your law, O Lord.”  Think about that, how do you feel about the Word of God?  I grew up as a kid in church and I know what my attitude toward the Bible was -- “It's a big fat dry boring book that I have no intention of ever reading — but I believe everything in it!”  What kind of foolishness is that?  Listen, if you love God you love His Word. 

Why is it that so many Christians have so little discernment?  We don't know His Word.  We haven't listened to Him enough to know when He says this or that, or if you hear something else, “that wasn't Him.”  We don't know His Word well enough.  John 8:31 says,

"Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will be My disciples indeed.”

This is an if / then statement.  Flip it over and what does it say?  “If you don't abide in My word, indeed you are not My disciples.”  Don't kid yourself saying,  “Oh I go to discipleship, I got the certificate.”  So what!?  Do you love God?  Do you love His Word?

Reality says there are times when we are tired and we don't want to read.  That's not what I'm talking about.  What I'm saying is overall does your love for God's Word drive your life so you say “I want to know what He says so that I can do it.” 

Loving the Word means obeying the Word.  John 14:15 says,

“If you love Me keep My commandments.”

In 1 John 5:3 the Apostle says,

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.”

Now His commandments truly are burdensome to people who do not love God.  They are not burdensome to those who love God because they know God loves them.  They know that since God loves them, if He's told them to stand on their heads and spit wooden nickels, then standing on their heads and spitting wooden nickels is the best thing for them.  Because they love God, they can't wait to flip over and start spittin’.  The good news is that, He doesn't say that.  But do you see my point? 

If you love God's Word and if He tells you to honor marriage, if He tells you to be honest, if He tells you to not forsake the fellowship of the saints, whatever He tells you, obeying is not a burden for you because you love God.  If it's a burden for you, your problem isn't needing more discipline to do better.  No.  You need to fall in love with Jesus, because His commandments aren't burdensome for those who love Him. 

John 15:9,10 says:

“As the Father has loved Me I also have loved You.  Abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” 

No commentary needed.  You're intelligent.  You know exactly what that means.  If you love Him, you obey His Word. 

Do you love God?  Do you love His Word?  Do you obey His Word?  If not, check out your love quotient.  Forget trying to be more disciplined.  If you don't love Jesus, more discipline won't help.  Remember, the most important question is, “Do you love ME?”  not, “How disciplined are you?”

Those Who Love Jesus Love His Church.

My former pastor used to say, “If you love Jesus you love His church and you love His work.”

How in the world can a husband say “I love my wife and yet I don't want anything to do with her body.”  How can a wife say “I love my husband and yet I don't want to touch him.”  Or how can we say that we love someone if we don't want to have any kind of physical contact?  What is physical contact with Jesus?  Physical contact with Jesus Christ is contact with His body and His body is the church!  If you love Jesus Christ you love His church.

Four things about loving His church: 

1.  Love the people.  You might think I'm going to say “Love the Pastor.”  No no no, don't worry about that.  I've got enough people loving me more than I deserve.  You aren't loving the church by loving the Pastor.  Don't love the church by loving the programs.  Love the church by first of all loving the people.  Do you notice how many verses I'm quoting out of  John and 1 John?  Do you get the idea that John understood something about love that maybe we don't?  John wrote extensively about this.  He writes in 1 John 4:7,8:

“Beloved let us love one another for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

He goes on later in the same chapter, verse 20:

“If someone says 'I love God' and yet hates his brother, he is a liar for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

Do you love God?  Then do you love His church?  Do you love His church?  Do you love His people?  Love the people. 

2.  Don't just love the people, serve the people.  Also in 1 John 3:18 the beloved Apostle says,

“Little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but let us love in deed.”

Let us do.  Let us act.  Let us serve one another. 

What did Jesus say to Peter in John 21:15-17?  Jesus asked: “Do you love Me?”  And Peter said “Yeah.”  And Jesus said “Great.  Then He went His way.”  That isn't what it says!  He says “Do you love Me?  Then He said, feed, tend, care for the sheep.”  Because of his love for Jesus, Peter was commanded to serve.  If we love Jesus, no less is expected of us.

3.  Support the church financially.  It's amazing to me, the church mentions anything about money and immediately people think “There they go again.”  Have you watched KCET?  Those people beg for money a whole lot more than I do, and they're preaching a false gospel.  People are not offended by everybody in the world begging for money but if the church says anything about money the reaction is:  “There they go again.”  Well here I don't go again because I don't do this very often.

1 Corinthians 16:1 says,

“Concerning the collection for the saints, I have given orders . . .”

Orders are not suggestions.  He says:

“I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so must you do also.”

This is an order that we must obey.  He continues,

“On the first day of the week, [Sunday] let each one of you lay aside something storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collection when I come”. 

In other words , Paul didn't want to have to make special pleas, “Well I'm here, pass the plate a second time.”  He says, “Look, if you're consistent in your giving on a regular basis there is never need to plea for extra money.”  He continues in verse 3,

“And when I come, whomever you appoint to prove by your letters I will send to bear the gift to Jerusalem.”

He says be careful about who you have handle the money, and we seek to do that.  You love the church, you support it

financially.  Yes, the living water is free but the buckets to carry it in cost money!

4.  Attend the meetings.  People who are members of Rotary are fined if they don't show up.  People in church don't go to church, and say “Good, I don't have to give this week.”  Sadly, people feel no obligation to show up.  “I'm going to Disneyland this week.”  We'll never ever make Disneyland tickets available in this church again, because so many people said “The Word of God? or Disneyland?  Hmmm.  We're going to Disneyland!  After all, Sunday is my only day off to go!” 

What?  The Lord's day is your only day to go to Disneyland?  Why not take a day off work?  Can't afford to?  But you can afford to disobey the commandment of God concerning honoring the Sabbath?  Sunday is your only day to go to Disneyland?  Disneyland is open every day!  The church of Jesus Christ gathers but one day a week!

Attend the meetings.  The only place worth being on Sunday morning if you're a child of God is in the house of God worshipping God with the children of God.  If you think other than that, I think you've got a problem.  I think your problem is that you love something else more than you love Jesus.  Is that to say that vacations are never permissible?  No, but it is to say if you love God, you'll seek out an assembly of believers while on your vacation.  It means that you might plan your vacations with the church calendar in mind.

Acts 2:42-47 tells us that the early church got together in fellowship once a week when they felt like it.  Right?  No.  They got together DAILY! 

Hebrews 10:24-25, says

“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as is the manner of some, ... but exhort one another daily and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” 

Do you love the Lord?  This one's got to bite on you because in this happy-go-lucky, ‘com-si, com- sa,’ ‘we'll see how I feel on Sunday morning’ society of ours, if we ask ourselves, “Do we love the Lord,” and answer by how much we love His church, the answer for many people is “not very much.” 

I was talking to my former pastor a couple of weeks ago, and he shared with me an interesting insight into the passage in John 20:26-29.  Its about poor “Doubting Thomas.”  He suggested that Thomas' problem wasn't a lack of faith as much as it was the fact that he hadn't been there with the others when Jesus appeared the first time.  My Pastor told me “Errol, do you know what the secret of church growth is?  Show up.”  Let it be seen that the Church of Jesus Christ means something in your life by being a vital part of it — and not just if there's nothing else to do that seems more exciting! 

Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you love His Church?  Do you love the people here?  Do you love Christians?  Do you have a heart for His people?  Do you have a heart to be there and to support the Church financially and in all these other ways?

Those Who Love Jesus Have A Heart For The Lost.  

If we love Him, it stands to reason that we would love what He loves.  Does that make sense?  If you love someone and they love something, then chances are, you will love what they love.  It kind of makes sense. 

In John 3:16 Jesus taught us that, “God so loved the world.” 

In Matthew 28, Jesus gave us the Great Commission.  Did He say: "Go make disciples of all the people who look like you and talk like you and smell like you and you like.”  That is not exactly what it says.  It says make disciples “of all the nations.”  We are to go out into all the world and make disciples.

Too many of us live in a Christian ghetto.  We've got all Christian friends, we do our Christianity in the ghetto.  We do leave the ghetto every now and then.  We go out into the world to get money.  We go out to partake of the world's entertainment.  We go out to get what we think the church can't provide for us.  We run out across enemy lines to get from the world.  Listen, the reason to get out of the ghetto is not to get some of what the world has!  The reason to go into the world is to take what we have out to them! Do you see a difference?  We tend to make the same mistake Israel did concerning the Gentiles.  Israel was given a great commission too, you know .  They were told that they were supposed to be a light to the Gentile world.  They were supposed to tell the world about God, and how to convert and become Jewish,  entering into the covenant relationship as well.  So what did the Jews say?  “We hate Gentile dogs!  We're not going to have anything to do with them — except to dabble with their idols!”

We need to get a world vision.  Paul said the love of Christ constrained him.  If you look at the context of 2 Corinthians where he wrote that, you'll see he's saying the love of Christ constrained him to be “an ambassador of the good news” and  “to be a minister of reconciliation.” 

Paul wrote to a man who loved God, a man named Philemon.  In that little book Paul commended Philemon with a little phrase that I think is interesting.  He says “I've heard of your love for God.”  Can you see the importance of that?  Can you imagine if your love for God was news?  Can you imagine that, when people talked about you, they didn't say “He's a carpenter.  She's a homemaker.  That person sings.  That person plays softball”  but imagine if they said “Oh, that person loves God.” 

I'm busted.  I don't think anybody says that about me.  They might say “That guy always tries to beat us into loving God” but they never say about me that I love God.  I stand convicted.

If you love God it's going to show.  It's going to show in how you treat your wife.  It's going to show in how you treat your kids. 

It's going to show in how you treat your business.  It's going to show in just how you are.  If you love God you're going to have a heart for the lost and it's going to show as you go out into the world.  Do you love the Lord, do you have a heart for the lost?  Or are those people out there yucky?  Remember, apart from the grace of God, we are those yucky people! 

Because of our involvement in community activities and affairs, a person in the community recently told us “You know, I'm not a church-going person.  But if I did go to church, I'd go to Grace.”  I think it's great we're involved in the community.  It's great  that people in the community say “Grace is a great church because they're involved in the community.”  When was the last time anyone in the community was heard saying  “Grace is a great church because those people really seem to love God?"  What are we known for?  Oh we've got a band.  Great, but do we love God?  That's what we need to be known for.

Those Who Love God Hate Evil. 

Psalm 97:10 says  “You who love the Lord hate evil.”  Let's see, what's he trying to say?  We don't have to go to seminary to figure that one out! “You who love the Lord hate evil.  He preserves the souls of His saints.  He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.”  How does this take on a practical application?  It means we're not indifferent when people blaspheme God.  My heart grows just as numb and cold and callous as anyone else's and I end up fraternizing with the enemy, but I'm saying pray for me because I don't want to.  And I'm praying for you that you won't want to either. 

I cannot believe how many Christian people recommend movies to me and my family where every other word is ‘GD’ and ‘Jesus Christ.’  That is blasphemy!  “Well it's got a little bad language in it.”  A little bad language?  It's blasphemy!  How can we say we love God and then pay money to invite someone into our homes to blaspheme our Lord?  How can we sit there with our popcorn, giving up two hours of our time, not reading the Bible or witnessing or doing something productive with our kids, in order to listen to someone blaspheme our Lord? 

How did David feel about that?  Goliath was challenging Israel.  They were cowering in fear.  David said “How can you people stand by when this uncircumsized Philistine blasphemes our God?  You're a bunch of wimps!  You don't want to face him, I'll do it!”  And little David did! 

I think maybe we need to get a little bit more angry so that we can love God more.  Or maybe love God a little bit more so we can be a little bit more angry, I'm not sure which.  How can we not be offended at blasphemy and unrighteousness?  1 John 2:15 says,

“Do not love the world or the things of the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 

What's he trying to say?  Hmmmm.

“How long will you halt between two positions” the prophet in the Old Testament asks.  “If God is God, then serve Him.  If Baal is God, then serve Him.  But quit trying to straddle the fence, it doesn't work!” 

Let's go back for just one second -- what's the question Jesus asked Peter?  “Do you love Me?”  These are the marks of a person who loves God.  Do you love God?  How do you feel when your God is blasphemed?  How do you feel about the evil in this world?  How is it that like the people of Jeremiah's day, we seem to have forgotten how to blush?

Those Who Love God Simply Trust Him.  

One thing I've noticed about those who love God, they are not exempt from problems.  There are a lot of people who love God who have got a lot of problems.  As a matter of fact if you want to find out the ultimate group of people who love God and have problems, go back and read your Bible.  Read about the people who were killed for their faith.  Read about the people who hid out, living in caves.  Read about the people who the book of  Hebrews says were sawn in half for their faith.  Read about the people who loved God and had difficulties, and then when you get that firm in your mind, think about the difficulties you have.  Think, and realize that your difficulties are real.  Then when you've got that in your mind, turn to Romans 8:28.

“For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and who are the called according to His purpose.” 

That doesn't mean that we don't have difficulties  It  doesn't mean that all things are good or all things are working well.  What it means is that if we love God, we have our eyes fixed on Him and in the midst of difficulties we can say “I know He has not forsaken me.  He will work this out somehow.”  Whether by life or by death He is still the Lord. 

Do you love God?  Do you believe He is sovereign when all hell is breaking loose in your life?  Or is that just a doctrine we say we believe when we've finished Discipleship?  Do you trust Him when you are facing or in the midst of trouble? 

There are three groups of people; normally I say there are two, saints and aints, but I'd like to close by addressing three groups of people.  The first one is very simple.  For those of you who love God and have these marks on you:  Right on! Dig in! Don't give an inch of ground to the enemy!  Hang in there!  Do everything in your power to obey the will of God and go for it!  Just go for it! 

There's a second group of people.  They are the ones who have these marks on them, and that means they're doing all the right things but they don't really love God.  It is not possible to love God without having these marks on your life, however it is possible to have these marks on your life, doing all the right things, and still not love God.  Jesus didn't ask Peter “What are you doing?” and then say, “ Fine.  Love Me.”  He said “Do you love Me?  Fine.  Do the right things.”  Love comes before all the actions and all the things that we would do.  If you're doing all the right things but do not love Jesus then you are either a Christian whose heart has grown cold, or you are a religious person who is not really a Christian.  Did you catch that?  If you're doing all the right things and you don't really have a heart for God, it's either because you are a Christian whose heart has grown cold or because you are a religious person who is not truly a Christian. 

If you are a Christian whose heart has grown cold, may I remind you in Revelation 2 Jesus spoke to a whole church full of people who were doing the right things but had left their first love.  His counsel to them was very simple; return to your first love.  We all began by loving Jesus.  We can depart from that love, allowing it to grow cold.  We must return to loving Jesus if our hearts have grown cold. 

If you're a religious person who hasn't surrendered your life to Christ as the only means of salvation, quit trying to get to God based on your goodness.  It won't work.  Engaging in Christian activities doesn't make you a Christian.  You will never become a Christian by going to church, by serving or by giving.  All pastors who are worth their salt are concerned for the people in this world.  But our hearts pound for the people who go to church week in and week out and who do all the right things and yet don't know Jesus Christ.  It's obvious when people are in the world and are lost, but what about the people that are in every church who aren't saved?  Many times it is because they grew up in the church, and while learning all the right words, never learned the tune. They know how to go through the right motions.  They know how to say “How's it goin' brother” and “Oh just abounding in amazing grace” and all that jazz, and yet they have never come to a place of receiving Christ.  If that is you, don't think you can be made acceptable to God by your Christian activities.  Forget it, you need to humble yourselves and ask Jesus to do for you what you cannot do for yourself and that is make you acceptable to God by what He accomplished by dying on the cross and rising again.  That's the heart and soul of this thing.  Continue to do the right things because Jesus has made you acceptable to the Father, not in order to become acceptable to the Father.

There are those who have the marks and do love God.  There are those who have the marks and do not love God.  Thirdly, there are those who haven't got the marks and it's because they don't love God.  It's real simple what we need to say to them, and that is “God loves you, He sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross for you.  Your sins can be forgiven, if you will receive Christ,  if you will humble yourself.  God loves you, He wants to bless you.  Sin is in the way.  Repent, call upon Jesus, He'll remove the sin. 

What's it going to be?  What decisions do you need to make today?  If you don't think you need to make any decisions, I think you missed something here.  I say that because as I prepared this message, each time I went through it I've got a whole list of decisions I've got to make. 

Do you love God?

That's the question.

What's the answer?