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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Assured Assurance

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Only the Spirit God can inwardly “bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16), thus He continually confirms and assures in our understanding we are His, which none other can do. Then there is the outward indication (which is not necessarily affirmed conformation) of being a child of God, which is “you shall know them by their fruits” (Mat 7:16).

 

I believe Romans Eight is one of the clearest descriptions concerning this discernment because it alternates between that which is of the sin nature, and that which is of the Spirit. The reason for its clarity is due to the use of contrasting between that which is true only of a believer, and that which is true only of an unbeliever.

 

It begins with the clear separation between the two by identifying those “who walk not after the flesh” and those who walk after the Spirit; and neither of the two can do both. Nobody can will after the “things” of the sinful nature and after the things of the Spirit of God (Rom 8:5). “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt” (Mat 7:18; 12:33).

 

“No man can serve two masters (i.e. sin nature and the Spirit), for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Mat 6:24). James states parallel instruction with, “Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? . . . so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (3:11, 12).

 

To “walk after” designs the intention of that which one wills over all things. Though believers are yet effected by the desires of the “old man,” their overriding and ultimate desire and will is always to please God; and it is this all prevalent “desire” (Phil 2:13) of which believers are continually aware. These are not only comforting and assuring but—ever present!

- NC

 

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