Love to All the Saints
Paul heard of their love to the saints.
1. Paul had not been to this church and did not know the people personally. But he HEARD a good report about them.
a. The report came from Epaphras (vs.7-8)
b. News of folks demonstrating the love of God travels!
2. Vs. 3 – Since he heard, he continually thanked God for it.
a. Cf. Eph. 1:15 – Paul said the very same thing about the saints in Ephesus. He also heard of their faith and love for all the saints.
b. The report of the love of the Ephesian saint’s caused Paul to thank God in his prayers.
c. God was thanked, praised, and thus glorified because these saints loved one another!
d. The same thing was true in Colosse… and the same thing can and should be true in Salem!
e. Their love for one another caused others to thank and praise God! (Cf. II Cor. 9:12)
• Their love offering caused the immediate recipients to praise and glorify God for the gift… they attributed it to the Lord!
• And others who heard of the marvelous provision of God – and how God worked in the hearts of others to bring this to pass – also glorified God.
• This one love offering had a ripple effect… and each ripple brought glory to God in a wider circle…
• And the folks who gave to that offering had no idea what a marvelous effect it would have… but it did!
3. Our love for one another can bring glory to God… in ways we may not even be aware of!
a. Bringing glory to God sounds a bit nebulous and ethereal… and perhaps out of our reach. However, this passage makes it clear that there are some very down to earth ways in which we can bring praise and glory to God: show love to His people!
b. This can have a “ripple effect”… that continues to travel on and glorify God – in ways and in places we might not be aware of!
c. Simple deeds of love to the brethren redound to the glory of God…
d. It results in MANY thanksgivings to God… and serves to enhance the testimony of Christ in the region.
e. It is like a sweet-smelling odor… that wafts off in all directions… and who knows who will get a whiff of it…
f. Paul heard of the love of the Colossian believers for one another – and it was like a sweet smelling savor to him.
g. Eph. 5:1-2 – And so it was to the Lord too!
h. To bring glory to God it is not necessary to do some great thing… just a small thing – even a glass of water given as an expression of God’s love brings glory to the Lord… every little act of love for the brethren glorifies God.
The KIND of Love They Had
A. Agape Love
1. They had agape love for each other.
a. Defined: Agape love is the kind of love that is produced in the heart of a yielded believer by the Holy Spirit and is expressed in a willingness to sacrifice self for the spiritual well being of another.
b. This kind of love is more related to the WILL than it is to the emotions.
c. It is a choice to bestow that which is best upon another, and does not always include warm feelings.
B. Distinctly Christian Love
1. John writes about the commandment to love one another.
a. I John 2:7 – John states that he is NOT writing a new commandment, but an old one which they had from the beginning.
b. I John 2:8 – Then he says that he is writing a new commandment.
c. How do we reconcile these two statements? Is it a new commandment or an old one? This was not a mistake or an oversight on his part. He put it this way on purpose.
d. There is something old AND something new about the commandment to love one another.
e. It is the same old commandment (love one another) – but there is an entirely NEW basis for the command under grace.
2. The old commandment (Lev. 19:18)
a. Under the law, men were commanded to love one another.
b. Under the law, the basis or standard for that love was self-love. (Love others as you already love yourself!)
c. That is a pretty high standard for God’s earthly people Israel. It was a high standard because we really love ourselves… don’t we?! We take excellent care of self…
d. When Jesus taught the disciples the law in the Sermon on the Mount, the standard was the same: self love: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
e. That was the old commandment – love others – and use self as the standard or measure of that love.
3. The new commandment: (John 13:34)
a. Jesus said that the new commandment to love one another had a new standard… AS Christ loved us!
b. Jesus was about to be crucified as He spoke these words to the disciples. John heard all of this… and was taking mental notes.
c. After Christ died on the cross… and the reality of what occurred began to sink in… the words of this new commandment began to radiate in a whole new light…
d. John 15:12 – loving one another AS Christ has loved us: without limits; with no strings attached; expecting nothing in return; selfless; sacrificial; even unto death!
e. And Christ loved us when we were yet sinners! He died for the ungodly. This kind of love is shown even toward enemies!
f. The commandment to love one another is the same old commandment – but taken to new levels… levels impossible in the flesh. It requires the operation of the Spirit of God in our hearts.
g. This elevates love as high as the heavens are high above the earth! Love under grace is infinitely superior to love under the law.
h. This makes the new commandment distinctly Christian… as opposed to the old commandment which was Jewish.
i. Eph. 5:2 – we are to walk in love AS Christ loved us…
j. Eph. 5:25 – husbands are to love their wives AS Christ loved the church… and gave Himself for it.
4. The Colossian saints were demonstrating a NEW kind of love… appropriate for those living in the age of grace.
a. They loved one another AS Christ had loved them.
b. This was a powerful testimony.
c. John 13:34-35 – by this NEW kind of love onlookers would know that they were distinctly followers of Christ… that their love was modeled after Christ – and not after the format of love left by Moses in the Law.
d. Demonstrating the old kind of love – with self as the standard – men might assume they were followers of Moses… but the new kind of love made it clear that they were followers of Christ!
e. Christian love has the CROSS right at the center of it all… the love of Christ should be our standard… selfless… sacrificial… wanting the very best for others… gracious…
f. The love of God demonstrated at Calvary is our new standard of love. This is distinctly Christian love.
C. Brotherly Love
1. Their faith was placed in CHRIST; their love was for the SAINTS (for believers; not the community at large…)
a. Paul is thanking God for the love that the believers in Colosse have for the BRETHREN.
b. The love Paul is speaking of in Col. 1:4 is agape love; distinctly Christian; and it is brotherly… for the family of God.
c. Gal. 6:10 – Yes, we are to do good to all men…but especially to the household of faith… the Christian brotherhood.
d. The bulk of our good deeds and love is to be shown towards God’s people.
e. It is our testimony in the world. (How they love one another! By this, shall all men know that we are disciples. John 13:34-35)
2. Consider humanitarian efforts that are NOT distinctly Christian… and are not aimed at the Christian brotherhood.
a. Humanitarian efforts are aimed at mankind in general.
b. The world’s religion, humanism, defies God and spiritual things…you might find yourself aiding a community of men who are in rebellion against God.
c. Sometimes giving money or working for a humanitarian agency might be unwise.
d. Some of them have agendas that are distinctly ANTI Christian. (Promote abortion clinics; gay rights; etc.)
e. Philanthropy (love of mankind) is good, but its benefits are only earthly… temporal… addressing social issues rather than spiritual ones.
f. The love for mankind is not always an expression of the love of God. It could be just the opposite.
g. The antichristian will create a “brotherhood”… working together for the common good of mankind… but in rebellion against God.
h. Philanthropy and humanitarian efforts are earthly and their value limited.
i. Be careful where you send your money. Some humanitarian fund raising agencies have agendas that are quite radical from the Christian point of view.
j. The only lasting value humanitarian efforts can have is if there is a Christian testimony or message attached.
k. What good is sending aid, food and medicine to a people – only to enable them to die and go to hell on a full stomach?
l. But if it comes with a Christian message – THEN it becomes an expression of Christian love… and is thus valuable. (Grace Dental Mission)
m. And be careful in sending money to a “Christian” fund raising organization (orphanage; hospital; etc). They may have a message attached to their good works… but WHAT message? Is it sound doctrinally?
n. Phil. 1:9-10 – in showing love – be discerning! Don’t be duped… don’t be fooled… don’t be misguided… be careful!
o. A well meaning believer might attempt to help and show love… but that misguided believer might actually be aiding organizations whose agendas are antichristian in nature.
3. Do good to all men… but be careful. But ESPECIALLY demonstrate deeds of love towards the household of faith… towards the brethren.
a. Heb. 13:1 – let brotherly love continue…
b. Brotherly love is the love of God produced in the heart of a yielded believer and expressed toward other members of the family of God… just because they are a brother.
c. The real value of brotherly love is in its testimony to the world!
d. John 13:35 – “by THIS (love) shall all men know that ye are my disciples.”
e. Acts 4:32-33 – herein lay the real power behind their testimony in the world – their love one toward another!
f. We too need to practice this kind of love one toward another.
• It is a great help to the recipient of those deeds of love…
• But more importantly, it is a powerful testimony to the world!
• It attracts others to our Savior. Folks want to be a part of something that is genuine…
• The love of God is a powerful attraction. The gospel points men to the CROSS – where both the righteousness and the love of God are demonstrated.
• Our lives as Christians, living out that kind of love, is a proof of the reality of the message we proclaim!
• So keep it up! This kind of love is a fundamental of our faith!
D. A Manifestation of LIFE
1. I John 3:14 – Loving the saints is a sign of life.
a. John gives a sure sign that a person has been born again: a genuine love for the brethren.
b. It is a FAMILY kind of love – that is part of the new nature. The new creature in Christ is naturally going to love others of like precious faith.
c. This love is not something that WE manufacture. Rather, it is the result of indwelling LIFE. It is supernatural… the fruit of the Holy Spirit… the result of the LIFE of Christ in us.
2. I John 5:1 – if you love the Begetter, you will love the ones He begets.
a. These two go hand in hand – a love for God AND a love for God’s people.
b. If we claim to love our invisible God, we must show love to His visible representatives!
c. Anybody can CLAIM to love God. The test comes in loving His people.
d. I John 4:20-21 – the one who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar!
• “If any man SAY…” This is a warning against pretending… against hypocrisy…
• If we SAY… there ought to be something to back it up… or it is just words… empty words.
• This COMMAND applies in the Christian home too!
• If a husband claims to love the Lord – but doesn’t love his wife – he is a liar! The reverse is true too.
• Nobody can claim to love God if they are holding grudges against a brother… or if there is bitterness or an unforgiving spirit in them. They are lying to themselves…
• The way we treat believers is a reflection of the way we treat God.
• Some folks SAY they love God… but don’t treat His people very well.
• But they are not fooling God. God sees right through our phony little sham. He knows our hearts better than we do.
• We can put up a big front… we can devise our own calculated, cleverly formulated lines of reasoning (which really serves as a smokescreen in our attempt to cover up bitterness and sin in our heart) … and conclude that this doesn’t apply to me… but God knows better.
• God can see right through all the smoke and mirrors. His word is able to pierce into our heart dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and INTENTS of the heart.
e. If you don’t love God’s people, you don’t love God. It’s that simple. It is the same LIFE… God’s life!
f. This love is not based upon similar interests or hobbies in the world. It is not based upon anything but a relationship to God!
g. Believers love God and God’s people. The reverse is true too. The world loves neither God nor His people!
h. When a person comes to faith in Christ, that faith CHANGES a man… from selfishness to thinking of others…
i. Faith in Christ also changes our former affinity we had towards the world and sin… and produces an inner attraction for the people of God.
E. Unfeigned Love
1. I Pet. 1:22 – a true, unfeigned love for the brotherhood of believers is the natural result of the new birth…
a. The main command in this section is “love one another…” (agape love)
b. HOW were they to love one another?
• With a pure heart.
• With their WHOLE heart… fervently…
c. HOW is a pure heart obtained?
• By obeying the truth, their hearts had been purified.
• By walking in obedience with ALL of the Word of God.
• By confessing their sins… and forsaking them.
• By DEALING with impurity in their hearts… not by brushing it under the rug.
• That purified heart will RESULT in unfeigned love of the brethren.
d. In other words, the obedient believer will have a pure heart.
• His heart has been cleansed by the Holy Spirit… and is under the control of the Holy Spirit… and will thus produce the FRUIT of the HS: love.
• His heart has been purified – all JUNK has been removed… all the filth… all the debris that HINDERS love… (anger, wrath, bitterness, malice, grudges, resentment, an unforgiving spirit).
• All that junk has to be removed from the heart before REAL love can be manifested.
2. Notice that the result of a pure heart is UNFEIGNED love (pure love… not the phony kind).
a. This unfeigned love is philadelphia – brotherly love.
b. This is the kind of love that includes warm affection, brotherly fondness… not a cold, compassionless, Stoic choice to do good for someone – but a warm hearted love, because the person is a brother.
3. In other words, a defiled heart CAN produce FEIGNED love… a phony love… a superficial love…
a. The feigned, phony love says, “Well, I’ll love him because I have to, but I don’t have to like him!”
b. This passage uncovers the lie behind that kind of thinking.
c. A PURE heart produces pure love… unfeigned affection and brotherly fondness.
d. An impure heart produces an impure, phony love…
4. But for the real thing to occur, sins must be removed… real love cannot flow from a defiled heart.
a. What a rebuke to us is found here.
b. When we are having a hard time loving a brother, it’s not their fault. Don’t try to put the blame elsewhere.
c. If love is not flowing out of our heart for a brother, don’t blame them. Don’t say: well you don’t know how he/she treated me! You don’t know what he did… or said… or what he put me through! It’s his fault I can’t love him/her.”
d. In reality, if love for a brother is not flowing from our heart, it is because there is impurity in OUR heart!
e. Something WE have allowed to simmer in our heart is preventing love from flowing out: something called SIN.
f. It may be bitterness, anger, jealousy — any number of things. And that impurity must go before the love can flow!
5. When those sinful things which defile the heart are removed – the heart is purified.
6. THEN, from a purified heart and soul flows the pure, genuine, unfeigned love of God.
7. The word for “unfeigned” is the Greek word for hypocrite… (with a negative prefix). It was used of the masks worn by play actors in ancient times.
8. Don’t kid yourself. If there is bitterness, or a grudge, or anger, or cold hearted resentment in your heart – REAL love will never flow from it.
9. Whatever kind of love does flow is not the product of the Holy Spirit, but is the product of the flesh – wood, hay, and stubble. And it is phony.
10. God can see right through our hypocritical mask. You can’t fool a God who is omniscient.
F. Then comes the COMMAND: see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently!
1. Thus, the order Peter sets forth is this:
a. Get your heart and soul right with God. Remove all the impurities that will hinder the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
b. Then brotherly affection and fondness will flow from your heart. (Philadelphia love)
c. But don’t stop there: in addition to the Philadelphia love, add agape love… which translates the affection into action based upon grace…
d. And don’t be content with a little agape love. Do it FERVENTLY… with intensity… not a mere dribble here or there!
2. In other words, God requires BOTH kinds of love for the brotherhood; brotherly kindness and agape love.
3. In fact, in his next epistle, Peter DEMANDS it! (Add to your godliness brotherly kindness (Philadelphia)… and to brotherly kindness… charity… or agape.
G. A Product of the Holy Spirit
1. I Pet. 1:23 – being born again…
a. Peter states in vs. 23 – that this kind of fervent love for the brethren is the natural result of the new birth… being born again.
b. The new birth results in a new heart… a regenerated heart… a new capacity for love – supernatural love… God’s love.
c. This verse ADDS to the sense of the previous command, “love one another with a pure heart fervently SINCE you are born again!”
d. The new birth ought to naturally produce such love.
e. Only the person who has a regenerated heart… and whose regenerated heart is purified (right with God – filled with the Spirit) can produce this kind of supernatural love.
f. Those who ARE born again WILL produce it. It’s how you can tell if someone is truly born again…
2. The work of regeneration is attributed to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament: born of the Spirit.
3. Peter states here that it is BECAUSE the Spirit regenerated us that we are ABLE to love with agape love.
4. Loving the saints is an indication of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
a. Gal. 5:22 – love is the FRUIT of the Spirit… a proof that the Spirit is working… operating…
b. Rom. 5:5 – the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
c. Col. 1:8 – love in the Spirit = love produced in them BY the Holy Spirit. It is supernatural fruit…
d. The flesh can only produce a cheap imitation… a feigned love… that is not gracious in nature, but selfish.
e. This is a heaven-high concept – a supernatural kind of love that God expects of us… one that only God can produce in us.
f. Our job? We can’t produce it… we can’t imitate it. But we CAN yield to God… and allow God’s Spirit to take control of our members… yield our members unto God – and God will use them for His glory… by manifesting the fruit of the Spirit THROUGH us.
g. Again – if the love of God is not flowing out of our hearts – we need a heart exam. Either there is sin and impurity preventing the love from flowing out… or we are not yielded to God.
h. If we keep on confessing our sin… and keep on yielding our members, God’s love WILL flow out of our hearts.
i. It may take a while for the feelings to get back to where they ought to be… but that will come in good time.
H. Without Respect of Persons
1. Col. 1:4 – love which ye have to ALL THE SAINTS.
a. It’s easy to show love to the saints whose company you enjoy.
b. It’s not so easy to show love to the saints who aren’t so kind… who rub you the wrong way.
c. But it is precisely THERE where genuine love is demonstrated…
d. Agape love gives, expecting nothing in return.
e. Agape love gives regardless of the worth of the recipient.
f. Agape love demonstrates its true colors toward the unlovely.
g. It’s easy to love lovable people. It’s not easy to love the unlovable… but that is the true test of agape love!
h. Evidently, there were no divisions in Colosse as at Corinth. (I am of Paul; I of Appollos) They loved ALL the saints in Colosse.
i. Brotherly love is to be extended to ALL the saints – it knows no denominational limits.
2. If a person is born again, we should have genuine agape love for that person… wanting that which is spiritually BEST for him.
a. And sometimes that means separation. (Separation IS an expression of love… when done in a right spirit…)
b. But even if that brother is disciplined by the Body because of doctrinal deviation or disobedience – we still LOVE him as a brother! (II Thess. 3:6, 14-15)
c. We are to love ALL the saints… even though that is sometimes expressed in ways which are misinterpreted. The world and worldly believers define love as “embracing everyone and everything.” Not so! That’s not agape love.
3. The world had never seen such love.
a. In paganism, there was a love for one another… on a human level.
b. They loved others like them…
c. The Romans loved other Romans; the Hittites showed love for other Hittites; the wealthy landowners were kind towards each other.
d. Christianity was a new thing in the world: a community of folks who were held together NOT by geography, politics, language, ethnicity, economy, or social status…
e. Rather, Christianity was a community of folks held together by a bond of LOVE… for each other regardless of their background: Jew and Greek; bond and free; male and female; rich and poor; learned and ignorant; red, yellow, black, white; none of that mattered.
f. They were all ONE in Christ. They could all come to the communion table together as ONE…as brothers… family.
g. They were one because they shared a common faith… and a common love… for the Lord and one another.
h. In those days, there were a lot of loved-starved people to whom that kind of communion was quite attractive.
i. Today there are even more such people…
j. People who are looking for a love that is real…
k. A love that works… and is not merely words…
l. The early church won many converts by displaying this kind of unfeigned… brotherly love.
m. There is no reason why we can’t do the same today.
n. You have no idea how powerful even the smallest deeds of kindness done in the name of Christ can be to a visitor who comes in our midst.
o. And the accumulation of a whole body of people living that kind of life can be overwhelming… and attractive.
p. The love of God manifested in the yielded life of a believer can be more effective in communicating the gospel than any sermon I can preach.
q. The love of God manifested through the body of believers here is PROOF of indwelling life… it is PROOF of the new birth… it is PROOF that our Savior who was crucified is yet alive!
r. We would do well to take heed to Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians: (I Thess. 4:9-10) You are already practicing brotherly love but INCREASE more and more!
s. God’s love knows no limits…
• There are no limits in degree to which it can be manifested.
• There are no limits on the effect it can have on those who are recipients.
• There are no limits on the power of evangelistic persuasion it can create in the hearts of unsaved onlookers.
t. Paul continually thanked God in his prayers when he heard of the love that the Colossians had toward all the saints.
u. Let’s follow that example – and increase more and more.
I. IF YOU ARE NOT BORN AGAIN… CONSIDER THE LOVE OF GOD MANIFESTED ON THE CROSS – FOR YOUR SINS!
1. HOW do we show love to God? He’s invisible… He’s in heaven.
a. God doesn’t NEED anything from us.
b. We can’t improve His quality of life.
c. He isn’t sick; lonely; short of money; in the midst of a project where He needs a helping hand; He doesn’t have a fence that needs painting;
d. We can show love to God THROUGH the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
e. Christ is the Mediator between our invisible God and men upon the earth.
f. Our access to God is THROUGH Christ… the God-Man… He is the link. The way we show love to God is THROUGH Christ and through His Body in particular.
g. Helping Christ’s Body is the way we show love to Christ… to God. Ministering to the saints… edifying the Body… is the only way we can minister to God Himself…
1. Why persecutest thou Me?
2. Ministering to one of His “brethren” is ministering to Him.
• But ministering to the Body of Christ has eternal value.
• Aiding the Body of Christ is aiding those who love the Lord
• Loving the brethren is an expression of the love for God
• Loving the brethren is the WAY we show love to God
• This makes the local church the most important institution on earth
• The local church is where the saints gather… where we are ABLE to minister to one another on an ongoing basis… it is where the rubber meets the road… where real life applications are in play… where Scripture is practiced… the life and love of Christ is demonstrated…
• How we treat the Body is an expression of our heart’s attitude towards God Himself.
• If you don’t love the brethren whom ye see, how can you love God whom you can’t see?
• “To dwell in love with saints above, that will indeed be glory; to dwell below with saints we know, well, that’s another story!”
• Love which you are HAVING… ongoing love… it’s never “done.”
2. Relationship between the faith and love.
a. Gal. 5:6 – faith is proven to be real by works of love.
b. If our faith is real… it WILL be expressed towards the brethren in DEEDS of love.
c. Faith is never alone. It always results in deeds of love…
d. If faith is genuine, it will produce fruit – the fruit of the Spirit – namely, LOVE for the brethren.