Albert N. Martin
True faith in Christ will always lead to and be accompanied by love to the Person of Christ. The Scriptures are very clear in declaring to us the unique place of faith as the sole means by which we appropriate and receive Christ and all the salvation that’s in Him.
We must never, never budge from a clear understanding that faith is assigned a unique place. We are never said that we are saved by means of repentance, by means of self-denial, by means of love. We are always said to be saved by the instrumentality of faith.
Now, if that faith is real it will be accompanied by repentance. Yes, as we shall see, if it’s real it will issue in and be accompanied by love, but we must never, never, never, never allow ourselves to move away from the great watchwords of the Reformation, “Our salvation is by grace alone in Christ alone and received by faith alone.” I don’t know how to state the matter more clearly than I’ve stated it. However, the same Bible which teaches this: namely, that we are saved by grace alone, by Christ alone, through faith alone, teaches with equal clarity that the faith that lays hold of Christ and His salvation is a faith in Christ that will always lead to and be accompanied by love to the Person of Christ, so that wherever there is a true believer in Christ you will find a genuine lover of Christ.
There are several texts that make this unmistakably clear.
1 Peter 1, verse 8. Peter, seeking to encourage these suffering saints, we back up to verse 6, having set before them the glory of the salvation that yet awaits them, their marvelous inheritance, he says:
“Wherein [that is, in this great reality] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; [now notice] whom [and that refers to Jesus Christ] having not seen you love; on whom, though you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
When Peter writes to God’s people, indiscriminately he identifies them as elect sojourners of the dispersion, elect according to God’s foreknowledge and sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood. He gives these generic descriptions of all the believers in Asia Minor. Now he says of all those true believers these two things are joined: they love an unseen Christ; they believe on an unseen Christ. But he assumes that wherever there was true belief in Christ there was genuine love for Christ.
He is not saying, “Whom not having seen you ought to love; you will eventually come to love; shame on you if you don’t love Him.” No. He says, “Whom ye have not seen you are loving, on whom, though you see Him not, yet believing.” They believed on Christ. Christ is the terminus of their faith, and the Christ on whom they believe is the Christ whom they love.
I want you to look at two texts that are often overlooked as kind of tucked away and little throwaways at the end of two of Paul’s epistles.
First of all in 1 Corinthians 16. (We looked at this a couple of week’s ago with respect to the presence of that word maranatha.) I direct your attention to 1 Corinthians 16. Paul has said in verse 21, “This is indeed a bona fide, sure-enough, real, authentic, Pauline letter, this salutation of me, Paul, with my own hand. Compare my signature and my handwriting with previous correspondence. Nobody could fake it. This is a letter from me,” as he often dictated his letters and he validated their genuineness by writing something at the end.
Then he says this at the end of this epistle in which he’s dealt with a broad range of problems in the church at Corinth. We could demonstrate how in every single instance, from the problem of division to the problem of gross immorality, to the problem of abuse of Christian liberty, he keeps taking these Christians back to Christ, back to the sufficiency and the implications of the work of Christ. After showing that Christ indeed was the answer to all the concerns he had to address it’s as though he says, “If after all of this you do not find your heart running out in love for this Christ, you deserve to be damned.”
Look at the language of the text: “If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be..” and now he takes a word which is the strongest word at his disposal, to come under the fury of God’s wrath and to be cursed. He says, “If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be damned.” “Let him be accursed of God.”
This is the family of words used with respect to Christ bearing the curse of the law for us: “For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangs upon a tree.’”
This is what Paul pronounces on those who would tamper with the gospel in Galatians 1:8-9: “We say unto you if any man brings any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.” “Let him be accursed of God!” “Let the fury of God break loose upon his wretched head.”
So confident is he that every true believer who is trusting in Christ also loves Christ! He can say, “If any man loves not the Lord, let him be accursed of God.” As surely as the Scripture says, “He that believes not, the wrath of God abides upon him,” (John 3:36).
We should accept the validity of the last part of the gospel of Mark, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Here Paul is saying, “If you love not the Lord you come under the curse of God.”
Why? Because there is no true faith in Christ, but that it issues in and is accompanied by love for the Person of Christ.
The other epistle is Ephesians chapter 6. Right at the end, having written of the great salvation that is the indiscriminate possession of all true believers, all who are in Christ, he now comes to pronounce his apostolic blessing upon the people of God.
Notice his language in Ephesians 6:24, “Grace be with all them..” and how should we think of the people of God towards whom the goodwill and favor of God comes as a constant benediction? They are under a canopy of grace. Who are they? What is their distinguishing mark?
“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bible References: 1 Peter 1:6-8; 1 Corinthians 16:21-22; Galatians 1:8-9; John 3:36; Ephesians 6:24