School of Practical Ministry
The Cross and Love
We must be willing to be treated like Jesus was,
to make it in any ministry.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren,
and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether
he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin
to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth
whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he
purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no
more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth
much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and
cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's
commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
In doing a recent study on what “agape” love is, I found that God’s love is not merely defined
by a set of Greek or Hebrew words. The word, agape, must be defined by scripture itself. I have
summarized it with the following phrases:
To have high regard for, to have preference for, or to highly esteem,
To be filled with good will towards another, and to have regard for their welfare,
To take pleasure in and highly prize above all,
To be unwilling to abandon or do without, John 3:16.
Someone has said that love may be described as the accurate estimate and the adequate
supply of someone’s need. Someone else defined love as living to promote the highest good of
another. It is in these definitions that we see clearly and logically how love must morality in clear
sight. In other words, it is impossible to truly love without morality.
Morality may be defined as the highest good of any person or group of people. God certainly
has this in view when he loves us. It is God’s word that defines for us what is our highest good and
also what is our true need. Loving someone has this in view. Through God’s word and principles
we can understand what a person’s needs are, and then we can determine to live to serve to fulfill
Many people have put love over against the standards of God. “She doesn’t need more
judgement or truth or teaching or discipline, she just needs more love.” However, when we
understand what love is we can see how ridiculous this observation is. It is meaningless. Love for
someone may or may not include confrontation of truth. It discerns need and goes about meeting
it in the most effective way.
I have often said that people may have the intention of loving but they may not have the
ability to carry it out. II Peter 1 brings this out. It shows the progression of developing several
qualities of Christian character that end in one having the tools necessary to love with. We can’t
love without patience, for example. But when one is truly loved with a godly love they know that
much power and experience has gone into that love for them.
Love is something that must qualify everything that the Christian is, says and does. Authority
without love becomes manipulation and control. Holiness without love becomes hypocritical at best.
Ministry without love has motives and fruit that is out of order and therefore becomes self serving.
The message by Steve Gray entitled, “Love Knows What to Do,” describes the answer to many
questions about the leading of the Lord in our daily lives and confusions. In fact love in the heart
is one of the best tests of whether we walk in faith or presumption.
There are some who, having been as faithful as the Ephesian Christians had been, who have
persevered and not grown weary, yet would be stretched beyond their capacity to accept this rebuke.
"We have done so much, have been under so much, and now, Lord, you are saying it is still not
good enough!" Or perhaps they would not be able to accept this rebuke from their messenger, the
pastor, as being from the Lord because of the sharp threat that Jesus gives them. "You will cease
to be my dwelling place." Note that they were still His dwelling place, even though HE had some
things against them.
There is such a thing as having and exercising a sharp penetration into the true and the false, a
correctness of judgment in sacred things, a zealous and self-sacrificing devotion to the right and true,
and an earnest-minded severance from false apostles and all evildoers, and yet being without that
warmth and purity of love which is the first impulse in the breast of young disciple, and without
which, well cherished and kept in vigorous life, there is unfitness to meet the judgment or to
stand in it.
First love is the love of espousal. Its notes are simplicity, and purity, marital love, the response of
love to love, the subjection of a great love to a great love, the submission of a self-denying love to
a love that denies self. First love is the abandonment of all for a love that has abandoned all"
I Cor. 13
Charity properly expresses that affectionate attachment we may feel to a person whose wants we
have been enabled to relieve; but originally it signified that want of the necessaries of life which produced
dearth or deathless of those necessaries; and brought the poor man into that state in which he stood so much
in need of the active benevolence of his richer neighbour. If the word be applied to God's benevolence toward
man, it comes in with all propriety and force: we are dear to God, for we have not been purchased with silver
or gold, but with the precious (costly) blood of Christ, who so loved us as to give his life a ransom for ours.
“Is not easily provoked.”
The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion
is not "prone" to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate. He
is calm, serious, patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured, yet he governs his
passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings. This, Paul says, would be produced by love. And this
is apparent. If we are under the influence of benevolence, or love to anyone, we shall not give way to sudden
bursts of feeling. We shall look kindly on his actions; put the best construction on his motives; deem it
possible that we have mistaken the nature or the reasons of his conduct; seek or desire explanation (Matt
5:23-24); wait till we can look at the case in all its bearings; and suppose it possible that he may be
influenced by good motives, and that his conduct will admit a satisfactory explanation. That true religion is
designed to produce this, is apparent everywhere in the New Testament, and especially from the example of
the Lord Jesus; that it actually does produce it, is apparent from all who come under its influence in any
proper manner. The effect of religion is no where else more striking and apparent than in changing a temper
naturally quick, excitable, and irritable, to one that is calm, and gentle, and subdued. A consciousness of the
presence of God will do much to produce this state of mind; and if we truly loved all people, we should be
soon angry with none.
“Believeth all things.”
It must mean, that in regard to the conduct of others, there is a disposition to put the best construction
on it; to believe that they may be actuated by good motives, and that they intend no injury; and that there is
a willingness to suppose, as far as can be, that what is done is done consistently with friendship, good feeling,
and virtue. Love produces this, because it rejoices in the happiness and virtue of others, and will not believe
the contrary except on irrefragable evidence.
Those who are animated with a principle of true brotherly love will in honour prefer one another,
Rom 12:10. They will do nothing out of a spirit of contention or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind will
esteem others better than themselves, Phil 2:3.
6Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is
cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the
substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
Grace says, because of who you are, not who I am, love me. Faith says, because you love me so I
will be safe in your care and your love will make me great. May it be said of us by at least one person in this
life, your love has made be great. When I was low and acting of no value and merit at all, your love came
and rescued me and made be great!! Here, my beloved is the acid test, and the final crossing place out of the
wilderness into the promised land.
Love is jealous for its object and for its own self defense. Jealousy as cruel as the grave itself in its
relentless pursuit will stand firm and say, no matter what may come my way I will not let love for you be
taken from my heart. I will go to the grave rather than let this love be stolen from me. My commitment to
walk out this love and prove my election of God’s decree is to me an irrevocable law. Whatever calls me,
woes me, tempts me to draw away from this love for others, saints and sinners alike, must be seen as the
gravest of all threats. If I can’t love the saints, what hope does the sinner have after the romance of the first
encounters have past and the entrenched sins begin to emerge? No! I will hold to this love like my very
breath. It is both my life and your only hope. The war around me will never be allowed to strike the heart
of God within my breast and destroy love’s existence. It is our only breath from heaven. To lose it is to die
to God and others. It is to live lonely and afraid of life.
This love, like the grave, holds in a grip that can not be loosed by any man or devil. Love holds its
object like the grave itself in its power. It is forever settled. Any challenge will be met with the fire of Jah.
The fire of God will burn against any challenge to love, any forsaking of it. God’s fire will not come down
from heaven to burn up those challenging Jesus Christ, but rather it will come down upon any who attempt
to keep another, sinner or saint from that love. To forsake the love of God for someone is like coming
between a Father and his firstborn, the love of his life. To let love be taken from your heart for another is
to put yourself in such a position of danger! Do not let the devil take you in!
This is an inextinguishable flame that many waters of assault can not stop. Is that the love in your
heart for others? It is the love in the heart of God for you and for others. To deny it and let the devil quench
it is to step out of union with God and go down the road of making yourself his enemy!
(Böttcher: "He whom Death assails must die, whom Love assails must love")
To lose love is to die inside. It is to live like a mere mortal. It is to live the natural verses the
Love will move to defend the vilest sinner as one beloved. It is the force that says to the one
beating the life out of your very flesh, I forgive them. Father, do the same. It is the reigns that holds the flesh
to the cross until it is dead and the spirit of God can emerge and win the day and vindicate the suffering with
Some years ago there was a shipwreck off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. A crowd of fishermen
in a nearby village gathered to watch the ship as it was smashed on the rocks. A lifeboat was sent to the
rescue, and after a terrific struggle the rescuers came back with all of the shipwrecked sailors but one. "There
was no room in the lifeboat for him, so we told him to stay by the ship and someone would come back for
him," shouted a young man.
"Who will come with me?" shouted a young man.
Just then a little old lady cried out, "Don't go. Jim, my boy. Don't go. You are all I have left. Your father
was drowned in the sea; your brother William sailed away and we've never heard from him; and now if you
are lost, I'll be left alone. Oh, Jim, please don't go."
Jim listened patiently to his mother's pleading, then said, "Mother, I must go! It is my duty. I must go!"
The onlookers watched as the men in the lifeboat fought their way toward the wreck. Anxiously Jim's
mother wept and prayed. They saw the boat start back, a frail little shell tossed about by the angry waves.
At last it came close enough to hear, and they shouted, "Did you get him?"
And Jim shouted back, "Yes, and tell mother it's William!"