Sermons

Summary: Paul took very seriously the exalting of love to the supreme place in the Christian life. In all of his letters it is the supreme goal, for to be filled with agape love is to be filled with Christ.

Someone has said, "You can never win in the game of life if you don't know where the goal

posts are." You can't win in any game if you don't have a goal. Great men in every walk of

life have been those with a goal, and a determination to reach it. It is difficult to be

determined if you are not certain where you are going, and so the end must come before the

means. The goal must be established, and then comes the best means for reaching that end.

I remember a successful businessman who spoke to the students at Bethel one day, and he

said that the very first rule in being successful is to set a goal and then strive to reach it.

Studies show that the one thing they all had in common as America's most successful men

was the ability to set a goal and pursue it. This principle applies to the spiritual realm as

well.

Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible commentator, was not successful in producing the

works he did because he was uniquely gifted. It was because he was a man who set goals and

persisted in using every means necessary to reach them. He set out in 1692 to deliver a

series of lectures on the questions on the Bible. He began with God's question to Adam,

"Where art thou?" Twenty years later he finished the series on the last question in

Revelation. When he set a goal he persisted to the end.

Paul wanted Timothy to be this kind of a pastor, and he wanted the leaders and teachers

of Ephesus to be like this as well. Therefore, he writes to Timothy and tells him to put an end

to the nonsense of Christians getting all wrapped up in fables and genealogies. He urges

them to make love the primary goal of their ministry. He then gives the three means

necessary to arrive at this goal. They are a pure heart, a good conscience, and a genuine

faith. Verse 5 in the RSV reads, "Whereas the aim of our charge is love..." Phillips has it,

"The ultimate aim of the Christian ministry, after all, is to produce the love which springs

from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith."

Paul is giving a standard by which we can measure the success of our ministry.

Whatever else we have done, if we have not aided men to move closer to the goal we have

failed. The end is love, and if teaching and preaching does not make Christians more loving

it is an ineffective means, for it is not doing what God intended it to do. If all the lessons and

sermons you hear, and all the books and papers you read do not increase your love, then

they are all for nothing, for that which does not move toward the primary goal is of no true

Christian value. If your Bible knowledge only makes you clever in winning arguments, but

does not increase your ability to love the unlovable, you are making no progress at all. The

end is love says Paul. The goal of the Christian life is to be a channel through which the love

of God can flow.

Paul took very seriously the exalting of love to the supreme place in the Christian life. In

all of his letters it is the supreme goal, for to be filled with agape love is to be filled with

Christ. To love and to be Christ like are synonymous. In Gal. 5:14 Paul writes, "The whole

law is fulfilled in one word, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The Old Testament is

not to be used as a source of material for speculation, but as a source of material to be

fulfilled by love. Alexander Maclaren, the famous English Baptist preacher, wrote, "The

Apostle here lays down the broad principle that God has spoken, not in order to make acute

theologians, or to provide material for controversy, but in order to help us love."

The number of persons won to Christ by argument and condemnation is from small to

non-existent, but the number one through love is legion. No wonder Paul said that

knowledge, eloquence and sacrifice are nothing without love. None of these things can open

a man's heart to Christ. Love alone is the key to the human heart, and so it is the goal of the

church's ministry in the lives of its members. Our lack is not power, but love. Paul said you

can have all kinds of power and still be nothing without love. Love is the key factor in every

situation.

Paul was the greatest theologian of all time, but his goal was not to be a great theologian,

but rather, to be a channel of God's love. He wrote to the Corinthians that the love of Christ

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