Loving the Brethren: The Acid Test of True Faith

Ephesians 1:15
       I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): This is the sum and substance of the gospel, that we believe and love.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Why is so important? Why is this loving of the brethren something that comes in as an acid test immediately after faith in the Lord Jesus?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Faith cannot be separated from love.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Oh, I’ll tell you, it is an absolute proof of life this [love of the brethren]. You see, by nature, we all hate one another. You dispute that? Well, the apostle says so, and I think he’s saying the truth―this is how he puts it: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful,―and hating one another,” Titus 3:3. That’s man unredeemed. That’s man by nature…The natural man, the man who’s not a Christian, the man who is not born again, he has no interest in Christian people, he dislikes them, he finds them dull, uninteresting, downbeat―those are his terms about them. And he certainly wouldn’t like to spend a number of hours in the presence of such a person. He feels that there’s no affinity, no community of interest. That’s the natural man. Therefore, you see, if it can be said of a man that he loves the saints, you can be absolutely sure that the man has been given a new nature; he’s been born again.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is possible to love a saint, yet not to love him as a saint; we may love him for something else, for his ingenuity, or because he is affable and bountiful. A beast loves a man, but not as he is a man, but because he feeds him, and gives him provender. But to love a saint as he is a saint―this is a sign of love to God.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): The love of God’s saints to each other is as far superior to the natural love of relationship, or to the common friendship of the world, as the heavens are higher than the earth. This love emanates from God. It is a Divine cement that unites the one family of heaven.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Surely we should love those whom God hath loved, and so loved; and we shall certainly do so if we have any love for God…This love to the brethren is love to God in them; and where there is none of this love to them, there is no true love to God at all…Every true Christian has that in him which inclines him to love all true Christians as such.

JOHN CALVIN: If we would so love the saints as to please God, we must bear in mind that their names are written in heaven and on Christ’s heart; otherwise we shall love some because they are lovely, and dislike others because of their blemishes.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We are drawn to one another; blood, we say, is thicker than water. Yes, exactly, and you’ll forgive things in people who are related to you which you wouldn’t forgive in others. Why? Well, you’ve got the same blood in you, you belong together, there is this community of interest. Now then when you find yourself beginning to feel that way about Christian people, about the saints, well, it’s an absolute proof that you must be one of them. There must be a community of interest, there must be the same blood, you must belong to the same family, and of course that is the truth about the Christian…I ask myself, why do I love these saints? And the answer is I love them because they are in the same relationship to God as I am.

JOHN CALVIN: Faith and brotherly love are united; for since God regenerates us by faith, He must necessarily be loved by us as a Father; and this love embraces all His children.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): As soon as the love of God was shed abroad in my soul, I loved all, of whatsoever denomination, who loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity of heart.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You notice that Paul says that he’s heard of their love unto all the saints. Not only some of them. Not only the ones you happen to like, but all the saints. Not only the clever ones. Not only the learned ones. Not only the pleasant ones. Not only the ones who belong to a particular social strata. No, no, all of the saints. You see a Christian is a man who’s got a new test―He’s only interested in one thing about him: Is he a child of God? Is he my brother? Is this my sister? Are we related?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Have a great love for the people of God, even the poorest of them. Count them the aristocrats of the world, the blood-royal of the universe, the men and women who have angels to be their servants, and who are made kings and priests unto God. If you remember Christ, you will remember His people. If you remember His love, you will feel a love towards them.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): We know that the love we bear them is for His sake; and when we consider His interest in them, and our obligations to Him, we are ashamed and grieved that we love them no better.

MARY WINSLOW: I have this one evidence, if I have no other, of my election of God—I love all the saints in the bowels of Jesus Christ. I feel a oneness with them that I feel to no other.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I have sometimes thanked God for this test when I have been assaulted by Satan. When he seems to have pressed me so hard, and driven me almost into the corner, I have sometimes fallen back on this: “well, whatever I am, I would sooner spend my time in the presence and in the company of the humblest Christian than with the greatest in the land who is not a Christian.” You can’t answer that. That’s a final proof―if you really love the saints, or love the brethren. Or I could put it like this to you: it’s a proof that the Holy Spirit is in you. We don’t really love, and we cannot love truly unless the Holy Spirit is resident within us; it is He who produces love, and especially love to all the saints. So you see, if we love the saints, it is a proof that the Holy Spirit is in us.

JOHN NEWTON: Our Lord’s express declaration, is brotherly love: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another, John 13:35 No words can be plainer.

C. H. SPURGEON: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren, I John 3:14. If we do not love the brethren, we are still dead.

MARY WINSLOW: Oh, I do love the saints. I have this one evidence that I have passed from death unto life, because I love the brethren. All who love Christ, I love. And I shall love them even better when I get above.


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