Do You Love Jesus?

Why do I ask? This time of year reminds us that “love is in the air.” During these summer months the air often reverberates with the sound of the wedding march. As we gather for these occasions, we are reminded of the goodness of belonging to a family. Witnessing the covenant that signifies the beginning of a new family, we have fond memories of past family gatherings, reunions, weddings, and summer vacations. Times when we were able to visit with relatives and share the company of those who have lived longer and learned more than we have.

And just as important as it is to think about our families, it is likewise of use to us to think about those things families stand for and believe in. One generation inevitably influences the next. Parents teach their children what to expect, what to believe, what to doubt, how to feel, and even how to get along with others in society. Often it is said that our view of God is determined to a large extent by our relationships with our fathers.

It is true. Families know what to discuss and not discuss – and are wise to forewarn visitors and guests. Politics, religion, and sports usually top the list! But of those, only one area that quickly exposes differences and varied opinions is actually of any value. Politicians will all one day leave office, willingly of not. Sports empires come and go. But religion – that one topic is of eternal importance! You see, your religion is either right or wrong. And whichever it may be for you, your eternity is at stake.

I want to take this brief moment to ask you a question. Do you love Jesus Christ? Many will hastily confess that they believe in God. Many will agree that Jesus is an important person in history. And there are some who will answer this question by thinking to yourself just now, “Of course I love Jesus.” But I want you to really think about the question. Do you love Jesus?

In turning to the Word of God let us look briefly at John 14:15. There Jesus says to us, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” Also in verse 21 we read, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” To further make the clear case, 1 John 5:3 tells us “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” So the Bible equates love for God and love for Christ with obedience to the commands of Holy Scripture. To love God is to obey Him.

In order for us to answer the question by proclaiming “I love Jesus” we must see if we meet the test of loving Jesus that He Himself gives to us. Are we today giving evidence by our lives that we love Jesus? Are our lives decorated as it were with acts of obedience to the Word of God? Or do we instead live in rebellion to His Word and apathetic disregard His commands. If so, we cannot claim to love Christ. For no matter how we feel about it, love is not a feeling! To love God is to obey Him.

No one should take it for granted that he loves Christ or is a Christian today because he has joined a church and helped swell the numbers of any specific denomination. Judge for yourself – what does your life say about the confession of your mouth? And let us be clear – we either love Christ or we do not love Him! As Charles Spurgeon preached, “To each one of you I say with all my heart, let the separation be made by your own conscience as to whether you love God or not. Ask yourself right now, ‘Am I on the Lord’s side? Am I for Christ, or for His enemies?’” There is no other answer, no middle ground. No purgatory, only heaven or hell. True or false, right or wrong. No ambiguity.

How can we know? What is the test? Can we be sure that we truly love God and have not been deceived? Again, the Bible gives us our answer. The first command that we must obey if we really love Christ is also the first word of the gospel. What is the gospel? It is the “good news” that Jesus Christ has come to seek and save that which was lost. The gospel is necessary because it tells us what God has done to free us from our sin and its consequences. He is a perfectly holy God and we are each born sinners, lost and doomed. We are by nature sinners and we deserve nothing less than God’s full wrath for our sin. Our sin separates us from Him. And our sin will indeed doom us to the torments of hell forever if we rely upon ourselves to pay the price for our wickedness.

Because we are all sinners the first word of the gospel, the first command we must obey if we love Christ, is the first word He preached when He began His ministry. He said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John the Baptizer preached the same message. The Apostle Peter at Pentecost preached the same message. The Apostle Paul preached the same message. This then is the first word, the first command of the gospel. Repent.

To repent means to reject our sin. It is literally a change of mind. We realize that we are wicked and sinful as we turn away from our sin instead of chasing after and loving our sin. We repent. Have you repented? Remember, if you love Jesus then you must obey Him and His first command and His last command in the Bible is that we repent of our sin.

The second command that we must obey if we are to love Christ is the command that immediately follows repent – it is believe! When Paul and Silas were in jail for preaching the gospel and the Lord sent an earthquake to open the cell doors, the jailor thinking all the prisoners had escaped cried out “What must I do to be saved?” The immediate answer is also a gospel command, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” As we repent and turn away from our sin we must also turn in faith to Christ. We must trust Him to save us. We must believe Jesus. To love Him is to take Him at His Word and do what He says, and He tells us that we must have faith, we must trust Him.

The next command we will examine gives us no room for error. It is the command that just as God is holy so we too must be holy! We must be fleeing sin and embracing righteousness. We must hate sin. To claim to love Christ and at the same time to be engulfed in unholiness is a great contradiction. We are commanded in Ephesians 5 to be imitators of God by walking in love. How can we do this if we are unholy? Unholiness and love do not co-exist. Love is never unholy!

Again, to be very clear, even though you may have attended church or listened to preachers before, you may not know God’s plan for pardoning sinners. You may claim to love Christ without ever thinking that this means you must obey Him! And the first command that we obey to evidence our love for Him is the command that we refer to as the gospel – the command to repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ.

Do you know the plan of salvation? Charles Spurgeon said, “Hear it and live by it. You have offended God; God must punish sin; how can God have mercy on you, a sinner? Only this way: Jesus Christ came from heaven and He suffered in the place of all who trust Him; He suffered what they ought to have suffered, so that God is just and yet at the same time able to forgive the very worst sinners through His dear Son.”

Your debts, if you be a believer in Him, Christ has paid on your behalf when you were not able. If you will but come and rest upon Jesus, rest upon Him fully and only, God cannot punish you for your sins, for He punished Jesus for them on the cross, and it would not be just of Him to punish Christ and then to punish you, too.

My dear hearer, whoever you may be, whatever you have done in your life, however you have lived, if you will repent and trust Christ you will be saved from all your sin and guilt in a single moment and your whole past will be blotted out, forgotten by God and paid in full by Christ. There will not remain with God a single charge against you unanswered because “Jesus paid it all.” If you believe today, He has taken your guilt and left you justified and clean before God.

Another way to look at this is to see that if you believe something then you will act on it. If you believe that you love Christ then you will act like you love Christ! Imagine – anyone can say, “I believe my house in on fire,” but if he wanders calmly down the hall and goes to bed and falls asleep, it surely does not look like he really believed his house was on fire. If a man’s house is on fire, he will try to escape!

Many of you may say, “I do love Christ,” and you will cry at our sermons and feel passionately the conviction of sin, but then you will go home and remain unchanged. Your confession to love that is not followed by obedience will be revealed when your facade melts in the heat of trials and temptations. For you sin and sin often, and then go to church and worship, then you go and sin and go and worship again. You feel the power of the gospel and yet revile it with your way of life. You have been telling lies to God all these years by saying, “I love You,” while you still have not obeyed His voice.

Some of you know this is true. You know that while you have the appearance of being a Christian you are not. You know your life has not changed and you have no power over the evil desires of you heart. You give every evidence of being dead in sin instead of alive to God and yet you do not feel alarmed by this state of affairs! You know the truth. You know and know and know. And you feel and feel and feel again, yet your sins, your self-righteousness, your carelessness, and your wicked willfulness cause you to say, “I love God,” while you never really do. You lie to God with your very life. Your faith is dead or it would produce the fruit of good works and obedience. Dead faith cannot save you.

Again, Spurgeon preached, “As I have taken the time to speak clearly to you, if you claim to love Christ but do not obey Him, then you are dead in sin. God will not need any witnesses against you before you are cast into the Lake of Fire. You have incriminated yourself well enough. Before it is too late flee this self-condemnation!”

While you have remained unsaved, you have seen others saved, you know others who claim to love Christ and who live like it! The worst of men and women have found the grace that has had no effect or power on you. You know you are not saved. You may not have ever been accused of murder or the like, nothing so bold and evil. But you are still unconverted! You are still saying to Christ, “I love You,” and yet you are still not obeying His Word. You are without God. What a dangerous thing to live life content without God! You are lost!

But remember, I have good news for you. For although for many years you may have made false professions before God there is yet room in the gospel for you. If the Lord will break your heart you will be willing to love the Lord Jesus. If He moves upon your heart in grace you will be willing to rest by faith in the completed works of Christ alone.

As we are here surrounded by the theme of love, let me ask one last time, do you love Jesus Christ? Does your life prove that you love Him? If you are not sure, please make it a point to reach out and let us help! We, through the Word of God, can show you the Way! Nothing would please us more than for you this day to proclaim, “By the grace of God I will not be a pretender any longer; I will give myself up to those dear hands that bled for me, and that dear heart that was pierced for me, and I will this day submit to Jesus’ way.”