When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15, NIV)
The question which heads this paper was addressed by Christ to the Apostle Peter. A more important question could not be asked. Our very salvation is bound up with it. Life or death, heaven or hell, depend on our ability to answer the simple question “Do you love Christ? “
A true Christian loves Christ
- The true Christian is one whose faith is in his heart and life.
- It is felt by himself in his heart.
- It is seen by others in his conduct and life.
- He knows his sinfulness, guilt and badness, and repents.
- He sees Jesus Christ to be that Divine Saviour whom his soul needs, and commits himself to Him.
- He puts off the old man with his corrupt and carnal habits and puts on the new man.
- He lives a new and holy life, fighting habitually against the world, the flesh and the devil.
- Knowledge, faith, hope, reverence, obedience, are all marked features in a true Christian’s character. But his picture would be very imperfect if you omitted his “love” to his Divine Master. He not only knows, trusts, and obeys. He goes further than this – he loves.
- Not believing and not loving are both steps to everlasting ruin.
- If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord! (1 Corinthians 16:22, NIV)
- Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (Ephesians 6:24, NIV)
- Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. (John 8:42, NIV)
- No man has a right to call God “Father” who does not love Christ. Well would it be for many Christians if they were to remember that this mighty principle applies to them as well as to the Jews. No love to Christ – then no sonship to God!
- If a man truly loves Christ, all is right – if not, all is wrong. Would you know the secret of this peculiar relationship with Christ which distinguishes the true Christian? You have it in the words of St. John, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NIV)
- A true Christian loves Christ for all He has done for him. He has suffered in his stead, and died for him on the cross. He has redeemed him from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin, by His blood. He has called him by His Spirit to self-knowledge, repentance, faith, hope, and holiness. And he loves Him besides, for all that He is still doing. This love to Christ is the inseparable companion of saving faith.
- Love cannot replace faith. It cannot justify. It does not join the soul to Christ. It cannot bring peace to the conscience. But where there is real justifying faith in Christ, there will always be heart-love to Christ.
- Love to Christ is the mainspring of work for Christ. The great workers of the Church – the men who have led forlorn hopes in the mission-field and turned the world upside down, have all been eminently lovers of Christ.
- Love to Christ is the point which we ought specially to dwell upon in teaching religion to children. To love Jesus seems within reach of their understanding. That He loved them even to His death, and that they ought to love Him in return, is a creed which meets the span of their minds.
- Love to Christ is the common meeting-point of believers of every branch of Christ’s Church on earth.
- Love to Christ will be the distinguishing mark of all saved souls in heaven. The multitude which no man can number will all be of one mind. Old differences will be merged into the song, “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5–6, NIV)
The peculiar marks by which love to Christ makes itself known
- If we love a person, we like to think about him. We do not need to be reminded of him. We do not forget his name, or his appearance, or his character, or his opinions, or his tastes, or his position, or his occupation. He comes up before our mind’s eye many a time in the day. Though perhaps far distant, he is often present in our thoughts. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
- If we love a person, we like to hear about him. We find a pleasure in listening to those who speak of him. We feel an interest in any report which others make of him. We are all attention when others talk about him and describe his ways, his sayings, his doings, and his plans. Some may hear him mentioned with utter indifference, but our own hearts bound within us at the very sound of his name. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
- If we love a person, we like to read about him. What intense pleasure a letter from an absent husband gives to a wife, or a letter from an absent son to his mother. Others may see little worth notice in the letter. They can scarcely take the trouble to read it through. But those who love the writer see something in the letter which no one else can. They carry it about with them as a treasure. They read it over and over again. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian delights to read the Scriptures, because they tell him about his beloved Saviour.
- If we love a person, we like to please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions, to act upon his advice, and do the things which he approves. We even deny ourselves to meet his wishes, abstain from things which we know he dislikes, and learn things to do which we are not naturally inclined, because we think it will give him pleasure. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian studies to please Him, by being holy both in body and spirit.
- If we love a person, we like his friends. We are favourably inclined to them, even before we know them. We are drawn to them by the common tie of common love to one and the same person. When we meet them we do not feel that we are altogether strangers. There is a bond of union between us. They love the person that we love, and that alone is an introduction. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian regards all Christ’s friends as his friends, members of the same body, children of the same family, soldiers in the same army, travellers to the same home.
- If we love a person, we are jealous about his name and honour. We do not like to hear him spoken against without speaking up for him and defending him. We feel bound to maintain his interests and his reputation. We regard the person who treats him ill with almost as much disfavour as if he had ill-treated us. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ. The true Christian regards with a godly jealousy all efforts to disparage his Master’s word, or name, or Church, or day.
- If we love a person, we like to talk to him. We tell him all our thoughts, and pour out all our heart to him. We find no difficulty in discovering subjects of conversation. However silent and reserved we may be to others, we find it easy to talk to a much-loved friend. However often we may meet, we are never at a loss for matter to talk about. We have always much to say, much to ask about, much to describe, much to communicate. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! The true Christian finds no difficulty in speaking to his Saviour.
- If we love a person, we like to be always with him. Thinking, and hearing, and reading, and occasionally talking are all well in their way. But when we really love people we want something more. We long to be always in their company. We wish to be continually in their society, and to hold communion with them without interruption or farewell. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ. The heart of a true Christian longs for that blessed day when he will see his Master face to face, and go out no more.
- Look at the question in the face which Christ asked of Peter, and try to answer it for yourself. Look at it seriously. Examine it carefully. Weigh it well. After reading all that I have said about it, can you honestly say that you love Christ?
- To believe the truth of Christianity, and hold the articles of the Christian faith is not an answer
- To disapprove of a religion of feelings is not an answer. If you mean by that that you dislike a religion consisting of nothing but feelings, I agree with you entirely. But the Bible teaches us plainly that there can be no true religion [faith] without some feeling towards Christ. He that lives without love to Christ can be sensible of no obligation to Him. He that dies without love to Christ could never be happy in that heaven where Christ is.
- If you do not love Christ, let me tell you plainly what is the reason. You have no sense of debt to Him. You have no feeling of obligation to Him. You have no abiding recollection of having got anything from Him. This being the case it is not likely, it is not probable, it is not reasonable that you should love Him.
- The eyes of your understanding must be opened. You must find out what you are by nature. You must discover that grand secret, your guilt and emptiness in God’s sight. Begin to read the Bible like a man in earnest, and never rest till you become familiar with it.
- Perhaps you are one who has never known anything of real, hearty, business-like prayer. Take my advice this day and change your plan. Begin the habit of real, earnest pleading with God about your soul. Ask Him for light, teaching, and self-knowledge.
- To see your need of Christ and your amazing debt to Christ is the first step towards loving Him. To know yourself and find out your real condition before God is the only way to see your need. To search God’s Book and ask God for light in prayer is the right course by which to attain saving knowledge.
- Accept two parting words of comfort and counsel. The Lord grant they may do you good.
- If you love Christ in deed and truth, rejoice in the thought that you have good evidence about the state of your soul. Love is an evidence of grace. Where there is true love, there is faith and grace. You would not love Him if He had not done something for you. Your very love is a token for good.
- If you love Christ, never be ashamed to let others see it and know it. Speak for Him. Witness for Him. Live for Him. Work for Him. If He has loved you and washed you from your sins in His own blood, you never need shrink from letting others know that you feel it, and love Him in return.
“Man,” said a thoughtless, ungodly English traveller to a North American Indian convert, “Man, what is the reason that you make so much of Christ, and talk so much about Him? What has this Christ done for you, that you should make so much ado about Him?”
The converted Indian did not answer him in words. He gathered together some dry leaves and moss and made a ring with them on the ground. He picked up a live worm and put it in the middle of the ring. He struck a light and set the moss and leaves on fire. The flame soon rose and the heat scorched the worm. It writhed in agony, and after trying in vain to escape on every side, curled itself up in the middle, as if about to die in despair. At that moment the Indian reached forth his hand, took up the worm gently and placed it on his bosom. “Stranger,” he said to the Englishman, “Do you see that worm? I was that perishing creature. I was dying in my sins, hopeless, helpless, and on the brink of eternal fire. It was Jesus Christ who put forth the arm of His power. It was Jesus Christ who delivered me with the hand of His grace, and plucked me from everlasting burnings. It was Jesus Christ who placed me, a poor sinful worm, near the heart of His love. Stranger, that is the reason why I talk of Jesus Christ and make much of Him. I am not ashamed of it, because I love Him.”