A Question for Your Consideration by Tim Brister | Jan 24, 2009 | Conversion, Gospel, Jesus | 17 comments Question: “Is it possible to have life in Christ without love for Christ?” Please answer/discuss in the comments. Darby Livingston I’ll bite. I think the answer is yes for at least two reasons. First, if we say no, it messes with our ideas about substitutionary atonement. Did Jesus take the punishment for every sin except lack of love for him? When Jesus died on the cross, did he not die for the fullness of human psychological, moral and emotional experience, regardless of object? Second, I think our love for Christ is one of degree at any given time. IOW, our union with Christ is an objective reality before it is a subjective one in our conscience. This is true both chronologically and logically, so that at any given time, we can be quite safe in Christ while feeling far away. I think Peter is a biblical example of one who showed no practical love for Christ after the arrest, yet was quite safe because Jesus had prayed for him. Ashley That’s tough. Forgive me for getting semantic, but this is how I look at it: Can you be alive in Christ, that is a Christian who has experienced salvation, without having feelings love for Christ? – yes, we all have those seasons and it does not change the fact of our salvation. Can you be alive in Christ, that is a Christian who has eperienced salvation, without the will to love Him by seeking and striving to do His will and obey God’s word? Probably not. If you can, it still seems like a dangerous place to be. Can you have life in Christ, that is the fulness of life that He modeled for us and calls all Christians to, without both the will to love Him and the feelings of love, joy and gratitude to accompany your will to love Him? Probably not. D.L. Kane What is “love”? Now that would be an interesting question to ask your readers. First: I think one must clarify what is meant by the word “love”, in this context, before the question can even be understood; let alone answered. We all have different understandings of what “love” means and what love is. Second: It is also interesting that the question is rather “man-centered”, i.e. focused on our standing in Christ as opposed to whether or not our lives can bring Him glory if we do not love Him. A different slant on the question: “Is it possible for our lives to bring glory to God if we do not have love for Christ?” “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Timmy- Great thought provoking question–and as you know, one that men have pondered down through the centuries. “What is Love?” Perhaps we need to begin there. Grace and Peace to you, D.L. Kane Dr. Paul W. Foltz NO. Paul said, ”If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema Maranatha” [cursed at the Lord’s Coming]. bkingr I agree with Ashley and Dr. Foltz. Diane Lytle I agree with Thomas Chalmers (1780-1846), leader of the Free Church of Scotland as he stated in reference to the unregenerate yet religious man: “[He] may accomplish the doing of what God bids; but have no pleasure in God himself. The forcible constraining of the hand, may make out many a visable act of obedience, but the relish of the heart may refuse to go along with it… He may fear God; he may listen to God; and, in outward deed, may obey God. But he does not, and he will not, love God; and while he drags a heavy load of tasks, and duties, and observances after him, he lives in the hourly violation of the first andf greatest of the commandments.” Or as Jonathan Edwards boiled it down (and I dumb down further for my own understanding) The non-Christian does not desire to obey God and so he doesn’t The religious does not desire to obey God but tries to for his own benefit The truely regenerate desires to please God (has been given a heart that loves God) All of that is in “A New Inner Relish – Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards” by Dane Ortlund…a must read. I finished it today and will begin re-reading this excellent work. Chad Beck That begs to question can you be a disciple of Christ and not a believer of Christ? Jonathan Hill I think life in Christ begins when you love Christ. (love being understood as not just a fickle emotion, but an abiding commitment) D.L. Kane Interesting discussion. Revelation 2 came to mind–Christ’s warning to the church at Ephesus regarding “love” and of course John 14:15-24. Speaking of Edwards and kinds of love and/or degrees of love, he says: “The sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert. This is quite different from any vague feeling that Christ loves him or died for him. These sort of fuzzy feelings can cause a sort of love and joy, because the person feels a gratitude for escaping the punishment of their sin. In actual fact, these feelings are based on self-love, and not on a love for Christ at all. It is a sad thing that so many people are deluded by this false faith. On the other hand, a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ causes in the heart a supreme genuine love for God. This is because the divine light shows the excellent loveliness of God’s nature. A love based on this is far, far above anything coming from self-love, which demons can have as well as men. The true love of God which comes from this sight of His beauty causes a spiritual and holy joy in the soul; a joy in God, and exulting in Him. There is no rejoicing in ourselves, but rather in God alone.” Debbie Kaufman D.L.: While I agree with you concerning the love we are to have for Christ and the passages you have given, to say that expression of gratitude for what Christ has done for us is “warm fuzzy feelings” and “self love” leads me to ask if you would say the same about the Apostle Paul, who continually gave his testimony in Acts, Romans, Ephesians. The woman at the wells response, the man who Christ healed of blindness, and I could name several others. I would have to disagree that this is false faith. In fact, it is a sign that God has touched that person, and there eyes were opened. It’s a sign of God’s Gracing them. It leads to a deep love for Christ. D.L. Kane Debbie: It was Jonathan Edwards who expressed those thoughts and I will not even begin to attempt to argue for him. His thought (that I quoted above) was just an excerpt from a very long and detailed thesis on the topic. As I went to bed last night, I continued to ponder this thought provoking question. Measuring love and the legitmacy of it is as difficult and impossible as attempting to describe the fragrance of a violet to someone who has never smelled one. Somethings must be experienced to be understood. I also turned the question around in my mind: “Is it possible to love Christ, without having life in Christ?” Again it begs the questions, “What is love?” and “Who is this Christ that you think you love?”. There are those who say they love Christ and yet they love a Christ of their own making. Not the Christ of the Bible. I would ask someone “Tell me about this Christ that you love?” , “Tell me why you love Him?” Do “feelings” of love for Christ save us? I think not; and, yet can one be in Christ and not have feelings of love for Him? I think not. This is a wonderful discussion! Thank you Timmy for introducing it and my the Lord use it to draw us closer to Him and to enlightened our heart. souls and minds to His beauty and His truth. Pingback: A Follow Up Question « Provocations & Pantings() tim i hope so. I don’t love him every day. phil Timmy, I did a study on this at one point as part of a larger study on the free grace movement. You can find it at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/freegrace.html. You’ll have to scroll down a bit (about 2/3 of the way through the article) to a section entitled “The Ultimate Test: Love for Christ”. I point to 19 Scriptures that seem to point clearly to the fact that a true believer will love Christ. For example, in John 8:42 Jesus says clearly, “If God were your Father, you would love Me.” Tim: I understand how you feel. My love for Christ can certainly grow cold at times. I do address that very point in the article; I hope it helps. Good (and important) question. In Christ, -Phil Steve Paul’s admonition to us in 1 Corinthians 14:1 is to “pursue love” or “follow after charity” or “follow the way of love”. This seems to me to line up with Jesus responding to the question of which is the most important commandment. His answer, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. It looks to me that a love for Christ is a vital part of a walk with Christ. D.L. Kane The Lord is still using this “question” to compel me to think. Tim’s comment is heavy on my heart. He said, “I hope so. I don’t love him every day.” “Love”– Again this is such a difficult term for many. There are degrees (types/kinds) of “love”, yes? We don’t love our neighbors as we love our wives or husbands or children. I guess my desire was for Tim to understand what he was really “feeling” or thinking and thought that this might help him. Tim, You said, “I don’t love Him every day”. Ask yourself this” Are there days when you can honestly turn to the Father and say, “I DO NOT love Christ today”? or is it more that you don’t “feel” a deep emotional closeness to Him everyday? There is a huge difference here between the two. Debbie Kaufman D.L. Read Jonathan Edwards “The Religious Affections” D.L. Kane Debbie: I have and hope many will be encouraged to do so because of your recommendation.