Love Comes From Faith
Sermon by Timothy Williams. This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.
This is faith, today we’re going to be talking about faith and love. What we’re going to find as we begin to go through Scripture that every time, or almost every time you find faith mentioned you find love mentioned with it. Ephesians 1:15, it says:
Ephesians 1:15 – For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
Most people think that faith is a matter of doctrine or principles or beliefs or ideology. What we’re going to find is that faith and love are the same thing, they go hand and hand. A lot of people have already failed the test because they might have all the doctrines down straight, what they don’t have is the essential ingredient that shows your faith is true, which is love. Ephesians 1:15 again, “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.”
Ephesians 1:16 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
So the measurement of whether we have a true faith in God or not is how much we love one another. If you’re not able to love your brothers and sisters, you are not in a loving relationship with God, nor do you have faith in God. If you’re not faithful toward your brothers and sisters, you’re not faithful toward God. The two go right hand in hand.
Look at Colossians 1:3. He says:
Colossians 1:3 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
He says, “We always thank God.” Now you notice why he’s saying that they always thank God for them? He’s going to say “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you—”
Colossians 1:4 – because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—
And what is so sad and what is so pathetic today that what is called love and fellowship is not even remotely close to what Jesus Christ came to bring. It’s like people are willing to tack on and say, “Yeah, he’s my brother,” or “She’s my sister,” or to say, “We’re in a loving relationship with one another,” and they just tack those words on there and people don’t even know that they don’t even have what Jesus came to bring. Verse 5:
Colossians 1:5 – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
Faith and love that are what? Stored up in heaven for us. And so when we go into heaven, faith is going to be there but what is right there with faith, but love? To come into a faithful relationship with God is then to have His love within us that pours out through other people. And so the measurement of whether you have faith or not is not whether you can move mountains or not, not whether you can heal the sick or do any of those kinds of things, but how much you’re really laying down your life for other people. That will show you how much faith you have in God. Verse 5 again, “the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel.” To know whether we have the truth or not all we need to do is look and see how much we love. To know whether we really have the gospel of truth written on our hearts all we have to do is ask ourselves, “How much do I pour my life out for other people? How much am I a living sacrifice for them?” Not all the intricacies of the doctrine and those kind of things, but how much you’re really loving other people, is the measurement of whether you have faith before God or not.
Look at Luke 17:3. The disciples found this out early. It says:
Luke 17:3 – So watch yourselves.
If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
Luke 17:4 – If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him.
Now look at what the disciples say. Look at verse 5:
Luke 17:5 – The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
They did not say, “Increase our love!” The apostles turned to Jesus Christ and it would not seem to fit. I mean He’s talking about loving somebody and forgiving them. Why would they all of a sudden say increase our faith so that we can do that? You see most people don’t have a tendency to think, “God, give me more love.” We don’t tie love and faith together as the same thing. To come before God and say, “God, give me more faith,” is to say to God, “Give me more love.” Now look at verse 6:
Luke 17:6 – He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree. ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Now that’s what everybody thinks faith is. Everybody would think if I had faith if I could go out here and say to the mountains, “Move, and go down east or west a little bit further,” they would say that is faith. But what is He using this in context to? What is it He just got through talking about but loving one another? Rebuking one another? Forgiving one another? Isn’t He talking about relationships with each other? Aren’t they seeing that something is missing in their life and it’s not necessarily love but it’s faith, it’s a living relationship with God? It’s having that love that comes from Him. Then they can forgive, then they can rebuke, then they can do all of those things. As when we talk about faith that is able to move mountains or to uproot trees and to plant them somewhere else, we’re talking about a faith that means loving one another. So what Jesus is saying is that when people see how we love other people in the world and how we love one another it ought to be amazing to them as if we went up to a tree and said in the name of Jesus Christ, “Uproot yourself and go plant yourself in the sea.” They would be as amazed at the love that we have for each other as it would be able to move a mountain or raise the dead.
Now is that what the world is amazed at when it looks at the church? Is that what most fellowship is in most churches, an amazement of the kind of faith being lived out in that kind of action? Wouldn’t more people be more impressed that you can move a mountain then the fact that you love one another? It may be that we don’t love each other enough and we don’t have the faith that we say we do.
Look at 2 Thessalonians 1:3. It says:
2 Thessalonians 1:3 – We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers,” and now look at this—“and rightly so.” There are some people you can’t be thankful for. I mean brothers and sisters play this lie game all the time, don’t they? They get up and say, “I’m so thankful for this brother and sister, and I’m so thankful for their work and we love them,” and they lie to one another to convince each other they really do love each other. Most people don’t have the right to say that they have this kind of faith that is so amazing that they really do love each other. But he says but we rightly do so. Look at what he says: “ecause your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” As faith increases, love increases for one another. Why? Because it is a true faith before God. It is receiving from Him; it is a crucifixion of the flesh, therefore, more and more with each passing day what are you doing? Laying down your life for other people. You’re going to the cross for them. You’re giving them everything because it is an honest faith; it is a faith like Jesus Christ. But we have faith over here in this compartment. We think faith is doctrine or creeds or being able to heal the sick or all of those kinds of things and we don’t ever hardly think of faith being love. Verse 3 again, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” As we grow in faith we ought to grow in loving one another more deeply in terms of action, in terms of truth. Otherwise, our faith is a lie and it is a sham.
Look at Matthew 24:9 because Jesus tells us that in the last days what? The faith of most will grow cold. “The love of most will grow cold,” He says. They both go hand in hand, don’t they? Matthew 24:9:
Matthew 24:9-10 – Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
“At that time many will turn away from the faith.” And what is the result of turning away from the faith? They “will betray and hate each other.” And so then the degree that we don’t meet each other’s needs is the degree that we’re cold in faith. To the degree that we don’t lay down our lives for other people—not only in the body but also in the world—is to the same degree that our faith is dead and it is not faith at all. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (emphasis added). Faith and love kiss each other, they greet each other.
Matthew 24:11 – and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Don’t we see that taking place today? An abundance of religion but how much real love is there out there and how much honest fellowship and walking right is there? In fact it is increasing so there is a rebellion against it. I know pastors right now that when you talk to them about having everything in common, being like the first church, they are now saying it is a sin to try and live out that scripture. We were told that several months ago that for us as a body to say, “Okay, we’re going to have everything in common. We’re going to lay down our lives for each other. We’re going to do those kinds of things,” they will say that it is a sin to strive and do that. There’s what? Faith that has love is compelled to live out things no matter how impractical it is. No matter how illogical it is it would be as if somebody went up to you and said, “I want you right now to stop loving your child.” It can’t be done. And yet these men and their doctrine and their lies and churches are so cold and dead they could accept that teaching very easily and very readily. Because their faith is not true faith, there is no love there. Verse 12:
Matthew 24:12 – Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
As men become more and more self-oriented, as even within the church is having a proper self-image and pleasing self and even as they talk about denying self, denying self becomes a means of pleasing self. Even as they talk about love it gets so sinister because what they do is say you need to deny yourself so you can love other people so you can find some fulfillment in your life. Therefore, the very act of denying self becomes a trap because why? It eventually comes back to what you can receive from denying self. It never is an honest what? Losing of you and your life as you are. Because of the increase of wickedness what? The love of self, the love of what? The love of most will grow cold. I don’t know how much “most” is but it seems like a lot.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1 it is a famous passage. It says:
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
How little love there is within the body. How much lying and deceit there is to say that something is love when it is not love. How much fighting there is against walking in the light and laying down lives for each other. How we excuse ourselves because what? We don’t have a proper faith and so men put their faith in tongues or their words or their religion or whatever it is they do. You might have faith to move mountains but if there is no love then you are nothing. So that’s why when Jesus is talking about saying to a mulberry tree, “Get up and plant yourself in the sea,” He isn’t talking about great exercises and great feats of grand miracles. The grand miracle He’s talking about that people don’t want is to love one another. That’s where the difficulty is. Great men do not want to lose their lives, they don’t want to lose their self in order to what? To begin to love one another. They don’t have an honest faith, they would rather uproot trees than they would to love one another.
In Galatians 5:6 it tells us that all of our religious works and attitudes and prayers and all those things mean nothing because something is missing. Galatians 5:6 says:
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Look at what he says: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” If you’re not loving your brothers and sisters, you have no faith in God. If you are not losing your life for other people and finding that to be a joy then you have no relationship with God. The only thing that counts is that your faith expresses itself as far as other people and toward the Lord and toward everything in this world in terms of love. And it would be far easier for us to go out here and move mulberry trees and put them in the ocean than it would to find a group of people that are willing to love each other as Jesus Christ would work it in their life.
Ephesians 6:23 he says:
Ephesians 6:23 – Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace to you and then what? Love with faith. Love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The two are tied together, you can’t break the bonds. To love is to have faith and to have faith is to have love. If it’s honest, if it’s true. And everybody strives to work up to have more and more faith and more and move emotion but how much more love do you see really being worked in the church and in the body. Peace to you brothers, they miss all the peace because why? Their faith doesn’t produce love and the love doesn’t produce faith. Very few of us feel the need to come before God when He says to forgive your brother seven times seven and we don’t ask to increase our faith. We never realize how much they go hand in hand.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:8. It says what? It says we belong to the day.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 – But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
Putting on faith and what? “Love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” What is in our breastplate? What shines forth? What is the main defense? What is the main thing that shines out and people see? Not just faith, but faith and love, they’re the breastplates of the thing that shines out, it shows, it’s what demonstrate we have on the armor of God. Again, most people will say what? That they do love, that they do have this kind of fellowship, that they do claim it. Look at Proverbs 20:6.
Proverbs 20:6 – Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?
You see what Satan wants to do is what? Break our love and keep our faith. He wants to convince us that we can believe in God and our love not increase. He wants us to think that we can have all these doctrines down but if we don’t love he’s got us right where he wants us to be. And in Proverbs 20:6 what does it say? “Many a man claims to have unfailing love.” Many people and many churches say, “I have an unfailing love for you. I love you in Jesus Christ.” They will claim it as theirs but it says what? “But a faithful man who can find?” A man who is always there, a man who continually serves a God, who is always there laying down his life for the people, who can find? I’ve learned this to be a bitter, bitter passage. It is true. I can’t tell you the number of brothers and sisters that said they love me. But where are they at today? A faithful man, a man who has what? An honest living faith with God that remains faithful then to what? To his brothers and sisters. Where a love compels in everything that is done. Where love is increasing day by day, as faith increases day by day. A faithful man that says, “I will be with you and I will stay with you no matter what the cost, no matter what the sacrifice.”
I’ll show you what I mean. Look at 2 Corinthians 2:12. Most of us are so self-oriented in terms of what God wants to do with our life, how He wants to fulfill our ministry, how He wants to build us up and how He wants to strengthen us. I mean, I’ve talked to so many people that had special callings from God who called them to serve ministries. They don’t have love, they don’t have the fellowship—they don’t even know it to even present it. And look at what happens in 2 Corinthians 2:12. Paul says:
2 Corinthians 2:12 – Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,
Now look at what he says in verse 13:
2 Corinthians 2:13 – I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.
He doesn’t say, “I praise God” and “I was full of Halleluiahs” and “He opened up this grand ministry for me and our ministry really took off.” “But everything I had hoped for and labored for and God had finally opened the door,” he said, “I still have no peace of mind.” And why didn’t he have a peace of mind? “ecause I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.” His ministry took second place to what? His fellowship with Titus. It would have benefited him, wouldn’t it, to stay there in Troas, wouldn’t it? It would have benefited his ministry. It would have benefited the work of God, so to speak. It would have benefited everything we think is important. But he said goodbye to them, because why? He couldn’t find his brother, Titus. Verse 13, “I still had no peace of mind.” That grandest ministry could have opened, God could open the door but I found no rest in that because something was missing, namely my brother, Titus. “Because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them.” He said goodbye to what was supposedly important to us. He said goodbye to that which we would tell Titus, “Titus, I’ve got this grand door open over here and I’ve got to stay. Bud, you’re just on your own.” “Titus, this benefits me in the work and the labor, this is answered prayer. Titus, I’ll just forget about you.” You see, the nature of love and faith there? He still had no peace. God opens the door for this work to be done and he says he won’t enter through the door, he won’t stay at the door because of all of one person: Titus. And yet men trade brothers and sisters for jobs, for opportunities, for convenience, for school, for whatever it is. And you know what they say? They say the Lord has opened the door. I’ll tell you the truth, in a lot of cases God has opened the door, but they failed the test. Did God not open the door for Paul? Was he not acknowledging that He opened the door and provided for that opportunity? Of course. Does God rebuke them because he said goodbye to them? Because he went to look for Titus? No, it’s commended in Holy Scripture. It’s written down for all of us to see at how easy it is to get caught up when I’m working on a tract or this and you guys call me and bug me and I want to get this done. That’s not what’s important. It’s not whether this opportunity is there or not, it’s loving one another that is so important and shows whether we have that faith that knows the living God or not. And yet we trade our brothers and sisters for lunch, we trade them for whatever opportunities come along. We’re quiet and silent because why? Our faith isn’t real.
We trust God to deliver us from what? All of our pains and all of sorrows and all of our sins. All the turmoils we go through. We have faith that can move mountains but the wrong mountains. We don’t have the love for one another. It’s all in vain.
Look at Malachi 2:13. When we break faith with one another we are breaking faith with the living God. A man who can break faith with his brothers and sisters, who can let the smallest of things get in the way of that loving relationship has no faith or relationship before a living God. And it starts out in small things and in small ways. It happens every day when we don’t encourage one another daily. When we’re busy with all kinds of other things, when love doesn’t compel us, but only our own needs, our own life. Malachi 2:13:
Malachi 2:13 – Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.
It sounds like a lot of emotion, a lot crying and weeping and wailing, doesn’t it? “You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.”
Malachi 2:14 – You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Because you have what? “Broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.” And we have pastors that are divorced and remarried and divorced and they’re preaching from the pulpit. We have divorces justified and rationalized within the church. And it all began where? It didn’t begin with the divorce or remarriage from, it began with fellowship with the church, it began in small ways with each other. It began with each of us breaking faith with one another in the very smallest of things in our lives, where our hearts were not devoted to one another, Scripture says. Our faith was a lie. Look at verse 16:
Malachi 2:16 – “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.
So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Faith and love, they’re a strong rope. How little we have it. And each of us will be tested and we’ll be found out how many of us have a true faith, but how many of us in the last days because of the increase and love of self that the men will hate and betray each other. We’ll find out if our faith is true. And even now God puts us to the test and we have to ask Him during the week, “God, what test did You put, what door did You open, what avenue do I walk down? What distraction did Satan bring or did I put in my own life that caused me not to love my brothers and sisters in a way that I should? That I wasn’t devoted to them or to other people? Where was the love in all that I did all week long?” These are the question we should ask before the living God, aren’t they?
Let’s go to Ruth 1:3 and let’s see the test. And let’s ask God to show us this week that as we, and I’m talking about people in the body, but I’m also talking about people in the world where we didn’t show them love. You know what’s so rotten about that is we’ll share our faith but we don’t show them love. What we share with them is a lie. The book of Ruth 1:3, it says:
Ruth 1:3-5 – Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
God says in Ruth chapter 1 verse 6:
Ruth 1:6 – When she heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.
Ruth 1:6 says that what? They’re all preparing to turn back to the Lord. They’re all preparing to return to come out of captivity. They’re united together, there’s fellowship there, there’s unity there, there’s love there. Isn’t there? Verse 7:
Ruth 1:7 – With her two daughters-in-law she left the placed where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
They’re returning to the living God. Now in verse 8 what does it say?
Ruth 1:8 – Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.”
Now here begins the test. Now look at the subtlety of the test. Does Naomi begin with a rebuke? Does she say to go back to the land of idolatry? Go back to the land of sin? Go back to the land of captivity? That’s not what she says. What does she say? “May the Lord bless you, may the Lord show you kindness, may the Lord be with you. The Lord has opened a door for my ministry, may the Lord be in all that is going on.” And she’s pleading with them to go back to the sin, go back to slavery, go back to your captivity, “Don’t come with me to go before the Lord.” But she says it in such a way as what? It doesn’t appear like a trap. It doesn’t look like a test.
In verse 8 Naomi says, “Go back to your mother’s home, go back to what is familiar. Go back to that which you would like. Now may the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to your dead and to me.” She also speaks of what? Their faithfulness. She also speaks of their love, doesn’t she? The last thing that you would think this appears to be on the surface is a test. “Go do the work, the Lord show you kindness, the Lord remember your faithfulness, how you prayed and served and given. Lord, remember all the good things you’ve done and all the praying and the weeping and repenting. May the Lord remember all of those things that you have shown to everybody else and all the works and labors you have done.” Yet it is the test of all tests. Whether man is faithful to God or not. If it comes out in what? In his relationship with his brothers and sisters. Verse 9:
Ruth 1:9 – “May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Then she kissed them and they wept aloud
Something they wanted desperately, I’m sure, a husband. And even more than that they wanted rest with that husband. She’s bribing them, she’s saying, “May the Lord bring those things,” and no doubt they would believe that God would work those things. May the Lord provide all of those things for you and it says what? They kissed each other. Look at the love on the outward that is showing in this. Many a man professes to what? Have unfailing love. “But a faithful man who can find?” It says they kissed each other, they wept aloud with each other. They showed emotion, they showed love, they showed devotion, they showed that “I will never leave you.” All of that was there, wasn’t it? Verse 10:
Ruth 1:10 – and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
“We will go back.” Both of them say, “We will go with you, Naomi.” Both say, “We will be faithful.” Both declare before a living God that they’re devoted to Ruth, that they’re devoted to God, that they’ll go to the land of Judah, that they’ll go to where the living God is at. They’ll go to get as close to Him as they possibly can. That’s where they will go. It says, “We will go back with you to your people.” Verse 11:
Ruth 1:11-13 – But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me!”
Not appeals to logic. “Look, there’s no logical reason for you to stick with me.” We’re seeing a glimpse of the cross. There’s no logical reason to say that I belong to Paul, his ministry isn’t grand, everybody doesn’t love him. It’s a life of foolishness, it’s a life of the cross, it’s a life of shame and humility and brokenness. There’s no reason. “You can be blessed over here, God can grant you that. I have nothing to offer you.” You see why people stay with each other in the church is because why? Because somebody else offers them something. They can feed from them, they can leach from them. They can gain something from somebody else. But Naomi is declaring the truth. She says, “I have nothing. God is against me. There is no logical reason for you to call me or to stay with me and call me ‘sister.’” And it will be so with each of us. With each of us it’s testing in small ways during the day of remaining with each other and there’s no reason to stay, no logical thing that says, “You’ll be blessed or the whole business.” No promise of anything. If they go back she thinks they might find a husband. “Go back and find a husband, you’ll get the blessing there. If you go with me I got nothing to offer you.”
And eventually Ruth goes but she goes what? She goes not believing she’ll ever get a husband. How little she knew that out of that union would come Jesus Christ. But there’s no way for her to see it now. Logic, outwardly, everything dictates that there is nothing valuable in the relationship that she will gain from it. Indeed you’re staying with someone that says in verse 13 what? “The Lord’s hand has gone out against me. You stick with me, folks, you’re sticking with somebody who God deals with angrily and bitterly and deals powerfully with. There’s no reason, you won’t be blessed here.”
Everybody wants to stick and minister or somebody else in the body they’ll be blessed from. They don’t do what verse 14 says:
Ruth 1:14 – At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.
Again, all the weeping, all the tears, but one says what? Good-by. How easily we’re taken in by people who weep and say they love us. Many a brother professed to having been in love. But only one clings to the cross. Only one clings to that life of following God and going where God is at. Only one says, “I will not leave because I know that God is in the land of Judah and I want as close to God as I can get. I will not leave you.” Verse 15:
Ruth 1:15 – “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
She commands her, she directs her to, she tells her to. She says, “Look, other people are leaving. Nobody else is staying. It’s not logical for you to be here.” Do you understand the overwhelmingness of the test? Do you understand that in 2 Thessalonians it says that God will send a powerful delusion so they believe a lie, it will be what? Overwhelming. And the love of most will grow cold. There will be very, very few people who will cling to one another in Jesus Christ and remain there. Indeed, you can’t even find hardly a church today to practice it. Verse 16:
Ruth 1:16 – But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
She knew where Jesus Christ was. She knew where the cross was. She left her family, her religion, everything that was comfortable. She left the logic, she left the outward, she went with a God that was angry with Naomi. That’s who she stayed with. Look at verse 17:
Ruth 1:17 – Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.
Hey, this doesn’t sound like a whole lot of hope does it? “Where you die I will die”? “Where you’re buried I’ll be buried”? Nothing grand about this religious experience. “Where you are in your foolishness I will be,” she is saying. “I would rather be with you with God being angry at you than be over here with my pagan gods,” is what she is saying. “I’d rather worship at a stupid looking church than be over here in some grand church. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.” Now listen: “May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Now she understands what she’s saying. Doesn’t she see Naomi’s lot? Hasn’t Naomi declared, hasn’t she seen her sons die and her husband die? I mean Ruth knows fully what she’s saying here. This is no abstract concept for her. “May God deal with me ever so severely.” And you know what is sad? Everybody who is baptized takes this oath. Everybody who says they belong to Jesus Christ and have faith in Him take this oath. Everybody who says to you that they are a Christian has taken this oath. Because the greatest commandment is love the Lord your God. And then what? To love your neighbor as yourself. And yet how little love there is within the body. How little faith there is to cling to and not let go. How little there really is being able to say, “I believe that brother will never leave. He may gain other benefits and he may be allowed to go somewhere else and all that may take place. But I know his faith is real.” Verse 18:
Ruth 1:18-19 – When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. Kind of an amazing place to go to, huh? Little did she know what blessings would come out of that town. Little did she know that she’d be in the lineage of Jesus Christ and that one day, out of all this would take place that Jesus Christ would be born in that town. Because why? “I’ll cling to you and not let go. Your God will be my God.”
Ruth 1:20 – “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”
Now brothers and sisters, look at the God that Ruth is staying with. But she recognizes the hand of God and she’s willing to stay with a God who makes people’s lives bitter. Because why? She has faith in this living God. And because she has faith in the living God then she stays with other people whose lives are bitter. Or who have nothing to gain except the love of Naomi. Nothing to gain, everything to lose. And Naomi’s life was bitter. But Ruth said, “I will stay with one whose life is bitter and I will not let go.” Is that not what the cross is? Is that not what Jesus did? He laid down His life. Verse 20 again, “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” A faithful man who can find? But how many profess to have unfailing love? Verse 21:
Ruth 1:21 – I went away full but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.
“I went away full but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Hey, these are the facts. This is the truth. This is no lie, this is no faith game with God. This is the honest situation. “Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” And all this grand religion that is taking place and all these people that are having all these super blessings take place in their life. Where is the shame of the cross in their life? Where is the foolishness of the gospel in their life? Where is it that your flesh is embarrassed to be with this brother or sister?
Look at 2 Timothy 1:7. You see, we don’t get into love, our faith isn’t real, there’s nothing active about it. 2 Timothy 1:7 says:
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of what? Of power, of love and of self-discipline. So what’s it say in verse 8?
2 Timothy 1:8 – So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
Cling to a Paul, cling to a Naomi and say, “I will not let go. I’ll stay where it’s foolish, I’ll stay where it’s stupid, I’ll stay where the shame of the cross is. I’ll stay where the weakness is. I’ll stay where I gain nothing from the relationship.” “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.” You see, to have united yourself with Paul was not that they called him some super apostle. How many ministers are left today that you’re embarrassed and ashamed of because they’re so living the gospel to say, “I belong to them?” This is the spirit of love. This is the spirit of power. This is the spirit of not having timidity but being bold and saying, “I belong to Him. We are brothers and no matter what God puts us through and no matter what it costs and no matter whatever grand things that please me or would open doors for myself we are united together and they will not interfere.” That’s what he means by verse 7, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity.” When you think of that in terms of what? Walking down the mall and sharing the gospel. Well certainly that’s a part of it but where’s the love? Where’s the spirit of power and love and all of those things that says, “I’m not ashamed of the prisoner Paul”? “I love the Naomi’s of this world. My brother and I are inseparable and we cannot be separated.”
In Psalm 85:9 it says:
Psalm 85:9 – Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear Him. That’s right, it is. That His glory may dwell in our land. Yes it is. Now look at verse 10:
Psalm 85:10 – Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
“Love and faithfulness meet together.” That’s why salvation is there. That’s what real faith is. That’s when God glorifies Himself. And it comes out in our relationships with each other. It comes out in our relationships of sharing the gospel with others. It comes from finding a brother that when everybody else is gone you have someone like Mike who stays. When there are no brothers left there is no benefit to stay. Only stupidity and foolishness. Verse 11:
Psalm 85:11 – Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.
Do you understand then? Are we back to Jesus Christ again? Faithfulness looks toward heaven and God grants righteousness to the faithful, doesn’t He? And how does it come out in terms of the faithful? What demonstrates our faithfulness? “Love and faithfulness meet together.” Our love for one another brings us to a faith with God. Our faith in God brings us to love one another and it springs forth from the earth and God looks down upon it and He grants life, He grants salvation. When we get to glory just ask Naomi if that’s true. They very much prepare the way for the Lord to come.
Psalm 85:12-13 – The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
And yet people hop in and out of churches and change situations, but the truth is with most brothers and sisters, we’re very disposable items. They come in, take all they want, bleed, and take everything that they have and want to take and leave. And they’re so blessed in the Lord.
In Mark 15:31 it tells us why. You see the strange thing is most people don’t want the true faith that is in Jesus Christ. Oh they have a belief but it’s not of the cross. In Mark 15:31 it says:
Mark 15:31-32 – In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
“Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross” so that what? “That we may see and believe.” You see, if you present a Jesus Christ without a cross they’ll believe in it. If you pick up a cross and begin to honestly lose your life and God is able to crucify the sinful nature and self no longer lives and is no longer available to be even pleased—they don’t want that kind of love. They want a love that comes down from the cross. Take away that part of the message—oh, we’ll love then. We’ll believe then, we’ll be believers. The truth is that’s what most people live that they call love. There’s no cross in their life. Oh, Jesus for them has come down off the cross and they believe, but it is not the Jesus that is in heaven, it is the Jesus that is represented in hell. They please themselves; no matter what they do it always comes back to them. There’s always gain for themselves. “Come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” And that’s where most believers really are.
Look at Proverbs 3:3. It says what?
Proverbs 3:3 – Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
That sounds like some speakings and whisperings of the Holy Spirit to me.
Proverbs 3:4 – Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
“Love and faithfulness.” Most people don’t even know it’s needed. Those who do don’t even get themselves to really live it. How much more we need it. Let it never leave you. Love and faithfulness, they’re together. “Bind them around your neck, and write them on the tablet of your heart. I will be with you and I will stay with you and I will love you, in Jesus Christ.”
Proverbs 16:6 says:
Proverbs 16:6 – Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.
“Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for.” We weep and we wail and we cry and we hurt and we fall under conviction and we read the Word and we do all these things, but where is the love and the faithfulness from all of that? Where’s the devotion to one another? Everybody calls upon what? The blood of the Lamb and the blood of Jesus Christ that has covered all my sins. Then where is the love? Where is the faithfulness in all of that talk? Where’s the deep understanding of what it is to lay down our life for each other?
Before you think this is some Old Testament thing look at 1 Peter 4:7. But we think this is some legalistic law thing that had to do with the old law. Let’s flip right over to 1 Peter 4:7 and it says:
1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
Then look at verse 8:
1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Above all. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” To have the blood of Jesus Christ washing us is to be deeply, deeply devoted to one another. And in that faithfulness and in that love and in that grand joy of being allowed to love one another sin is atoned for. And it covers over a multitude of things you do wrong. Give me brothers and sisters who make mistakes all day long but who love me and are faithful. Those are the brothers and sisters we cry for and long for. That covers over all the multitudes and mistakes and sins that take place in our lives. But how many people there are that say they are covered by the blood of the Lamb, that they belong to Jesus Christ and yet there’s no love, there’s no faithfulness, there’s no devotion, there’s no deeply loving one another and they think all of their sins are covered.
2 Timothy 1:13 says:
2 Timothy 1:13 – What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
It’s not an issue of doctrine, just doctrine alone. He says, “Keep the doctrines, keep the sound teaching” with what? “Faith and love in Christ Jesus.” In 1 Timothy 1:5 it says:
1 Timothy 1:5 – The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The goal of this command is love.
1 Timothy 1:6 – Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.
They say the Lord leads them over here and the Lord spoke to them there and the Lord guided them there. It’s nothing more than meaningless talk because why? They don’t have a pure heart. They don’t have what? A sincere faith or a good conscience and so they do not have love. Verse 7 says:
1 Timothy 1:7 – They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
Turn to 1 John 3:23.
1 John 3:23 – And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
“To believe in the name of his Son.” And then what’s the second part? “To love one another as he commanded us.” I can’t believe and have no love.
Look at Acts 2:44. It says:
Acts 2:44 – All the believers were together and had everything in common.
What are the first three words? “All the believers.” All the believers. Were together and had everything in common. Do you not see faith and love hand in hand, kissing each other, greeting each other? “The believers were together and had everything in common.” And yet there are men today teaching us today that it is a sin to even try and do that.
Acts 2:45 – Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
They were believers. It was true: they were devoted to each other. Verse 46:
Acts 2:46 – Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
How many brothers and sister are there who are that faithful? Churches really are disposable items and so are we. It doesn’t fit in the plans, it doesn’t fit in with God’s plans for them they’re gone. We have to plead with people to join. Think how pathetic that is. You have to plead and beg. You have to go through the doctrines. You have to cover all of those things. What’s in our hearts that are so cold? Why is it we don’t have people coming in and saying, “You know the believers had everything in common”? Are we looking for believers all this time? The believers walked in light. Now they come to you as believers and you’ve got to teach them that we need everything in common. They come as believers and you say, “You know you have to walk in the light.” They come as believers and you have to show them all the things they need to do. There’s some things very, very backwards. And very sinister. Acts 4:32, it says:
Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” In unity and the devotion and the grace. How they belong to each other! What we have to say is what Micah 7:4 says:
Micah 7:4 – The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion.
It really is the watchword of the day. I’m worn out with men telling me they love me, worn out with everything everybody else saying the same thing. We don’t see it in the land. “The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.” The love of most has grown cold. And brothers and sisters, you know the danger is, is that it’s easy to look loving when everybody else is turning so cold. It is easy to appear righteousness in the land where there is nothing but briers and thorns. The very best we have to say is thorns, you get pricked here and you get cut here and you get to challenge here and all those things. The love just isn’t there. The devotion isn’t there. Each man has independent pride that says, “It’s just me and God alone.” They can drop brothers and sisters as easily as they can drop anything else. Men and their arrogance, sitting around saying they’re not dependent on anybody else. Love and fellowship doesn’t cross their hearts. The best is but a brier or a thorn. It says, “The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion.” Verse 5:
Micah 7:5 – Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.
When you talk about Jesus Christ with other people, when we share with them the things that are in the Scriptures and the things in our lives, when we handle those pearls, you be careful of your words. Don’t you let men get by with saying, “Yeah, I love you.” And you know it’s not in their life. You know they don’t even know what they’re saying yet. Why do we let them get by with it? Why are we not careful with our words? And why do we have to be shown this? Because we don’t have the love ourselves. How could you tolerate it otherwise? If somebody is telling me in a lying fashion, their heart doesn’t love and they tell me all this, how can I put up with that and how can I tolerate that? How can you trample on that which I know is holy? And you say you belong to it. “Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.”
Look at 1 Thessalonians 3:5. It says:
1 Thessalonians 3:5 – For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
“I sent to find out about your faith. I want to see what your faith is.” Now look at verse 6 and see what his measurement of faith is.
1 Thessalonians 3:6 – But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.
That is his measurement of faith. But Satan comes with his lies and he seeks to divide and all of the things that he does. And he says our efforts might have been useless. It is a measurement of whether or not Satan has gained victory as whether they have a faith without love. “He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.” You see the unity there. You see the Ruth and Naomi there, you see the devotion there, you see the love there. Nothing can divide it. And yet how easily Satan brings us along and we’re debating and talking with somebody and they throw jabs in here and jabs here. We don’t know one another. We don’t have that love for one another, we don’t have that faith in God so we don’t see anything clearly and Satan walks all over us and we believe the lies that other people put before us.
They tell you one of the things they did to Jesus Christ when they brought Him to trial was to bring lies, didn’t they? False accusations. And as you look at a Jesus Christ being crucified and that takes place you’re tempted to say, “That isn’t my brother. Maybe it’s true.” Not so with these people. They longed to see Paul and they have pleasant memories. Verse 7:
1 Thessalonians 3:7 – Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.
Because of what? Your faith. Goodness. In all our distress and all of our persecution it was you that gave us joy. Look at verse 8:
1 Thessalonians 3:8 – For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.
Think of the emotion with what he is saying. “Because of your love, because of your faithfulness, because of pleasant memories, because you long to see us, because of all these things, we live. Because you’re devoted, because you’re not ashamed of my chains, because you belong to me and we to each other because we are in Jesus Christ, I live.” Verse 9:
1 Thessalonians 3:9 – How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?
“How can we thank God enough for you.” So devoted to Paul. Overwhelmed before the throne room of God saying, “I can’t thank God enough for you. I couldn’t begin to do it.” All because everybody said, “If anything but death separates us may God deal with me ever so severely.” Verse 10:
1 Thessalonians 3:10-12 – Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
This prideful, arrogant independent spirit comes straight from hell. This faith that will chuck a brother or sister at the least opportunity to gain something for itself is not the Jesus Christ that dies on the cross, doesn’t belong to God. Understand that clearly.
In 2 Corinthians 7:2 Paul has to plead with the Corinthians, not with those in Thessalonica. 2 Corinthians 7:2 says:
2 Corinthians 7:2 – Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.
“Make room for us in your hearts.” What a thing to have to say.
2 Corinthians 7:3 – I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.
Who said the same thing? Ruth. “I will die where you die. Your people will be my people. I will live where you live. I will be devoted to you. And if anything but death should ever separate us may God deal with me ever so severely.”
Let’s finish us with Matthew 26:6. May God cause our love to increase for one another. May He give us grand opportunities to be devoted to each other. May we be found to be faithful toward each other because why? We pick up a cross. It doesn’t matter what we gain from each other, it’s whether or not we can serve each other. That’s living faith. In Matthew 26:6 it talks about most people who claim to be Christians.
Matthew 26:6-12 – While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”
This is what Jesus Christ is asking you to do. To pour out the most expensive thing you have, for Jesus is going to die. To love brothers and sisters whose lives will look foolish. To stick with them in their pain. To love them and to be devoted to them. To show the world that there’s something more than just doctrine and prayers and incense and all of those things. There is a devotion to one another. That sticks through the trials and is not ashamed. “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.” And it causes everyone in their flesh to object. This woman didn’t preach a sermon on love. She didn’t come in with a tract on love. She didn’t have a revival service on love. She came in with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and broke it open. The smell of that filled the house. Her actions are now declared everywhere. Why? Because it’s an essential part of the gospel. It’s loving one another. It is breaking the alabaster jar at each other’s feet that will be to prepare each of us for burial. Verse 13:
Matthew 26:13 – I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
Why? This perfume smells to this day. And if we love one another as Jesus wanted and as we grow in that, that perfume will cause all kinds of excitement. Why do you think Jesus says the worst enemies you have will be members of your household? If you have someone who doesn’t love the Lord in your household and you begin to love other people, much more than you do them, in terms of pouring out alabaster jars, they’re going to object. That could have been spent on us. You should give us that devotion. It’s poured out for Jesus Christ. Verse 14 it says that somebody couldn’t stand this.
Matthew 26:14 – Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests
He had his limit. When it comes down to this love, see, you can talk about faith, you can talk about sacrifice, you can talk about the Lord calling you to do this, you can go down through all the lists but when it actually comes down to pouring out everything before the Lord and that love and selfless devotion unto Jesus Christ, the Judases of this world cannot stand it. So they betray Jesus Christ. They betray you. They betray each other. All because of what? Now think about this. All because of love. They betray you, they leave you, because they have had enough of this foolish, ridiculous, emotional, total love for Jesus Christ. They cannot stand it. It’s just not practical. Verse 15:
Matthew 26:15 – and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.
He went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me?” And that’s the key. I don’t care what the price is, but I can name you many brothers that have left because they gained something from leaving. I can recite for you many brothers or sisters who left and just betrayed their brothers and sisters because they gained something when they left. I don’t care what the price was, it’s immaterial. It is the spirit of Judas. It is a faith that comes from hell. It is what Jesus said, that the love of most will grow cold. It says, “So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.” Now look at verse 16:
Matthew 26:16 – From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Now you watch, this isn’t any big mystery, usually. I’m not saying there aren’t brothers and sisters you might be surprised to leave you. But usually what you can do, is you can watch them and you can see they’re looking for an opportunity to leave. You know they’re waiting for something, a door to open up. They’re waiting for something over here that will feed their flesh. They’re waiting for you to trip up. They’re waiting for something not to be exactly as they want it to be. They’re just waiting for that opportunity when they can say, “I’m leaving,” and feel justified. Judases look for opportunities to betray and to leave. Ruth’s cling and don’t let go. “Give me any excuse,” Judas says. “Give me anything, give me noble reasons why I can betray this man and why I can leave.” And they’ll weep and they’ll kiss and they’ll say goodbye. Remember all the weeping in Ruth? All the false sorrow.
Faith and love greet each other. Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, may our love increase for one another more and more. Father, may we give ourselves to You so fully that we give ourselves fully to each other. And let us not ever, Father, measure our love by what’s going on around us because, Father, it is too easy to be dead because everything else is just so rotten. It is so easy to look righteous, Father, when love or what is called love if You went in the church today, Father, is nothing but cold and calculated socializing. Remove self from us, Father, that we may not fail the test. Cleanse us and purify us, O Lord, that we might have a sincere faith, that we might have love. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.