Love — Lesson 1



1) What is the guiding principle of life?

a) Sigmund Freud – pleasure drive or pleasure principle.

i) In the first part of his career he taught that all neuroses were due to sexual repression.

ii) He later learned that other factors were involved, but he continued to use the word libido (Latin word for “desire” or “lust”) to describe the instinctual energies and desires that are derived from the so-called id.

iii) In the Freudian construct, the id represents our (animal) drives: vanity, gluttony, lust.

iv) This basic desire for pleasure had to be moderated; accomplished by the superego (censor), which means that there is a constant tension in every person between wish and morality.

v) The tension was to be resolved by the ego (the self or “I”). It’s job was to regulate our desires and adjust them to reality.

vi) Whether frustrated or regulated, the driving force in all humans is the pleasure principle.

b) Alfred Adler – Freud’s pupil and disciple until 1911 when he started his own school of “Individual Psychology.”

i) Each person, he taught, represented a unique psychological problem.

ii) He thought Freud applied a general principle indiscriminately to all – the frustration of the libido lay at the heart of every human problem.

iii) Adler did the same thing, however, with his compensate-for-inferiority formula.

iv) Sex and libido were only a setting for the struggle to gain power.

v) Adler saw all relationships as a struggle to gain power: child tries to throw off parental authority; husband and wife strive for dominance; etc.

vi) It all begins with an inferiority complex for which people try to compensate by achieving power.

vii) He did teach that this struggle for power as a compensation for inferiority complex should be channeled into positive and useful accomplishments.

viii) But his principle was that the basic drive in people is for power and accomplishment.

c) B.F. Skinner – a more contemporary psychologist, proposes that neither pleasure nor power are the principles of life, but that we are all the irreversible result of our conditioning or programming.

i) This logically invites us to avoid responsibility for our lives.

ii) If we receive pleasure from conduct, we tend to repeat it; if conduct produces negative results, we tend to avoid it.

iii) In his book, Beyond Human Freedom and Dignity, he refutes the concept that humans can choose their own life principle.

iv) His theory is behaviorism that amounts to determinism.

v) Life is a phonograph, already recorded, waiting to be played out.

vi) The score cannot be changed; we are predetermined.

2) What is the guiding principle of Christianity?

a) It can’t be:

i) pleasure – Matthew 4:3. [1]

ii) power – Matthew 4:7. [2]

iii) determinism – Matthew 4:10. [3]

b) Mark 12:28-31. [4]

c) If there is an ethical imperative in Christianity it is love one another. John 13:34 [5] ; 15:12, 17 [6] ; Rom. 13:8 [7] ; 1 Th. 4:9; [8] 1 Pet. 1:22; [9] 1 John 3:11, 23; [10] 1 John 4:7, 11, 12; [11] 2 John 5. [12]

d) Love is at the heart of every ethical instruction. Gal. 5:13; [13] Col. 3:14; [14] Eph. 5:1,2; [15] Eph. 4:15; [16] Gal. 5:6. [17]

3) Why, then, is love so little taught? Why is its importance not understood?

a) I have never taught a course just on love.

b) Books on love are hard to difficult to find.

4) The purpose of this course is to help us understand the nature and importance of love in the Christian scheme of redemption.


1) If you were asked to define love, what would you say?

a) Biblical responses.

i) I Cor. 13 – But that is a general discussion of how love behaves, not a definition.

ii) 1 John 4:8, 16. But that gives rise to the question, “What is God,” and risks circular reasoning.

b) Some suggest that it cannot be defined.

i) I know it when I see it. But do you see it, or events that you think flow from it.

ii) I know it when I feel it. But is love only a feeling that can be handled with a good dose of Pepto-Bismol?

iii) Inability to define may be because we don’t know.

(1) I love ice cream spoken as easily and quickly as I love Jesus Christ.

(2) I love Bagwell and Biggio falls as quickly from the lip as I love the Bible.

c) The Greeks over define it.

i) Eros – passionate love that desires the other for itself. Creative eros stands at the heart of the fertility rites, and prostitution flourishes in the temples of the great goddesses, often under oriental influence. The sexual unions of gods and men narrated in mythology find current actualization in the cultus.

ii) Phileo – represents tender affection. Phileo and Agape are never used indiscriminately in the same passage. If each is used with reference to the same objects, each retains its distinctive and essential character. Phileo is never used in a command to men to love God. The distinction between the two finds a conspicuous instance in the narrative of John 21:15-17. The context itself indicates that agapao in the first two questions suggests the love that values and esteems (cp. Rev. 12:11--And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death.). It is an unselfish love, ready to serve. The use of phileo in Peter’s answers and the Lord’s third question, conveys the thought of cherishing the object above all else, of manifesting an affection characterized by constancy, from the motive of the highest veneration.

iii) Agape – the characteristic word of Christianity. It expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver. It relates to the love of the higher, lifting up the lower, elevating the lower above others, including the lover. Verb form must often be translated to show love; it is a giving, active love on the other’s behalf.

2) If we can’t define it, maybe we can understand its importance.

a) Turn to 1 Corinthians, one of the mountain peaks of scripture.

i) Just reading the words is uplifting.

ii) Many are the poets who have tried to capture what Paul has achieved in this masterpiece, but none has achieved it.

b) More than beauty, however, Paul is concerned about what he is saying.

i) The content is more important than its beauty.

ii) Its beauty is derived from its content.

c) Paul uses language that is anathema to the modern mind—I am nothing.

i) A startling word to apply to a person!

ii) Nothing – it means not anything, not at all, the opposite of something, of no account, of no value.

iii) Nothing, nihilism, even means nonexistent.

d) Who is this nothing person?

i) One who speaks with the eloquence of men and of angels, but has not love.

(1) What if I could speak every language known to man?

(2) What if I could communicate with the inhabitants of eternity?

(3) Would I not say that I am something, really something?

ii) One who has the gift of prophecy.

(1) If God gave to me complete knowledge of all future events.

(2) Through the centuries theologians have argued whether even God has this power, and about the only thing that they have agreed on is that God knows all knowable things, but there is no agreement on what is knowable.

(3) If I had this knowledge, I would know more than any person who has ever lived or who ever will live.

(4) I would really be something.

iii) One who understands all mysteries.

(1) What if I could unravel the mystery of cancer?

(2) What if I could solve every other mystery of man.

(3) I would know more than all of the scientists who have ever lived.

(4) I would be able to answer all of God’s questions to Job in chapter 38.

(5) I would really be something.

iv) One who has all knowledge.

(1) He is a walking encyclopedia.

(2) What if I could read it and remember it all?

(3) Suppose all knowledge in the world were stored up in my mind.

(4) I would really be something.

v) One who has all faith so as to remove mountains.

(1) Possible reference to Matt. 17:20.

(2) Faith can handle the seemingly impossible.

(3) The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.

(4) If I had all faith, assume that I could do all things – have the power of God.

(5) I would really be something.

vi) One who gives all his goods to feed the poor and his body to be burned.

(1) We all appreciate our possessions, and to give up everything is something most men cannot do.

(2) Burning at the stake probably started later, and some see a reference to giving one’s body to be branded as a slave, a bond servant to the Lord, a sacrifice in its most complete form. Rom. 12:1,2.

e) If I have all of these things and have not love (agape), I am nothing.

3) Clearly, love is the guiding principle of Christianity. That is true of no other religion.

a) God is Love. 1 John 4:8, 16.

b) The great commandment and the second commandment. Matt. 22:34-40.

c) Husbands and wives. Eph. 5:25.

4) If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15.


1) We can test our Christianity by our love.

2) It was said of first century Christians, “See how they love one another.”

3) John said it this way: 1 John 4:17-21. Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19We love, because he first loved us. 20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 21And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.

[1] And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.

[2] Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.

[3] Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

[4] And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 31The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

[5] A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

[6] This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you. 16Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye may love one another.

[7] Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law.

[8] But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;

[9] Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently:

[10] For this is the message which ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another: 23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment.

[11] Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. …11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us:

[12] And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote to thee a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

[13] For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another.

[14] and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.

[15] Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.

[16] but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

[17] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)