Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SOMETHING CALLED LOVE”

Philippians 1.9

Philippians chapter one. Stand with me to read Paul’s introductory remarks in his letter to the Philippians, the church that was undoubtedly the favorite of all the congregations he had planted or was familiar with. Philippians 1.3-11:

3      I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

4      Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

5      For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

6      Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

7      Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

8      For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

9      And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

10     That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

11     Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

There are three distinct parts to Paul’s opening remarks we have just read. First, in verses 3-6, he thanks God for the way it had been between him and the Philippians, making mention in his remembrance of them that he prayed continually for them. I would hope that when you pray you pray for Calvary Road Baptist Church the way the Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippian congregation. After all, we fellowship in the gospel, investing our lives in serving God and reaching the lost together. As well, we, too, can be confident that He, which has begun a good work in us, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Second, in verses 7 and 8, he deals with the present, how it is between Paul and the Philippians at the time he writes this epistle. We addressed that passage some time back. How is it at present with you and the other members of your church? Do you have us in your heart, as Paul had the Philippians in his heart? Do we partake of each other’s grace? Do you long after others in our church “in the bowels of Jesus Christ,” as Paul termed it? That is, are you so invested in me and in others here that your love, your concern, your desire, and your emotional yearning for us can actually be felt? You ought to be so invested, should you not? Today we will begin to examine the third part of the Apostle’s introductory remarks to the Philippians. This third section deals with the future, how Paul hopes it will be with the Philippians. You will notice, if you look at verse 9, that while Paul told them he prayed for them in verse 4, it is in verse 9 that he actually begins to tell those folks what, precisely, his prayers were. He begins this third section, “And this I pray . . . .”

What Paul prayed for is discussed in verses 9, 10, and 11. What Paul asked God for in his prayers for his beloved Philippians were two things that produced two results. If you come from these three verses with the idea that Paul was a man who asked God for specific things to achieve specific results, you are right. He was specific in his prayers. If you had lived during Paul’s day and had opportunity to hear the man pray, there are several things you would not hear him say: First, you would not hear him say, “Father . . . Father . . . Father” repeatedly in his prayers. You see, Paul knew that God knew Who He was, so he did not engage in the vain repetition of God’s name throughout his prayers as a way of punctuating his thoughts. We should not do that either. Additionally, you would not hear Paul explaining things to God, as if his heavenly Father did not understand what was going on. It is one thing to appeal to God by rehearsing to Him His promises. However, it is quite another thing to instruct or inform God in your prayers. Paul did not seek to instruct or inform God. When he prayed, he cut to the chase and asked for what he wanted. We should do the same, because our prayers should be thoughtful, should be planned, and should follow guidelines and examples found throughout scripture. What would you hear the Apostle Paul say to God the Father if you had been so blessed that you heard him pray? At some point in his prayer, you certainly would have heard Paul pray for these Philippians he is now writing to. Philippians 1.4, remember, informs us that every time Paul prayed he prayed for these people. Now he is telling them what, precisely, he asked God for when he prayed for them.

Because of the constraints of time, and to give us opportunity for these things to sink from our minds into our hearts, I am only going to deal with verse 9 in this message. In verse 9, Paul identifies the two things he asked God to bless the Philippians with. We will look at one of those things, and the other one next week, Lord willing. The first thing Paul would ask God for when he prayed for those folks was abounding love: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more . . . .” Please take note that there is nothing that we see here that would suggest that these are not already a wonderfully loving people. Second Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 would suggest that these Philippians, as well as the other Macedonian congregations Paul refers to when writing to the Corinthians, were marvelous in their love for God, for the things of God, and for God’s people. However, because they were so precious to Paul, and because the apostle knew the will of God, he asked his heavenly Father to add to their abundant love even more love, and then even more love. In other words, Paul wants their lives to be flooded with love.

This all sounds well and good, but let us make sure we really understand what Paul is talking about before we continue. He wants superabundant love in these people’s lives, but what is this commodity called love that he wants so much more added to the great supply they already have? In the Greek language of Paul’s day, there were different words that were in fairly common usage that can be translated into our single English word love. One word, that is not found anywhere in the Word of God, is the Greek word erwV, from which our English word erotic is derived. The two words for love that are found in the Word of God are filew and agapaw. Though the two words are frequently used interchangeably, filew usually refers to affection, to like, and to consider someone a friend.[1] Agapaw (the noun form being agaph) refers to having a warm regard for someone, to cherishing someone, to having affection for someone, and to loving someone.[2] The noun form of this word is sometimes translated “charity” as well as “love,” is always and only used to describe the love of God and love for God, and also love for one another on occasion. It is this love that Paul is praying the Philippians will have even more of, so let us clarify some things about this love, this charity, this agaph.

First, consider the Source of this love. The Source is God the Father. Turn to First John 4.7-11:

7      Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8      He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

9      In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10     Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11     Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

We do not have time to explore the depths of this passage, but there are several things that are abundantly clear, even after the first reading. First, it is clear that God is the Source of love. John writes, “for love is of God.” Second, we see why God is the Source of love, verse 8. “For God is love.” This means that of all the things God the Father is, one of those things is love. Love, then, is an attribute of God. It is not just something He does, but one aspect that comprises His nature. What a horrible thing sin must be, then, to be so abhorrent to One Who is by definition love.

Second, staying right in this passage for now, consider the Savior of this love. Verses 9 and 10 both show us that God the Father’s love is manifested, is demonstrated if you will, by the sending of His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sin. Therefore, God the Father is the Source of love, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of love. There is, of course, another verse in the Bible which supports this description of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of love; John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Back to First John 4.10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This verse provides insight into the unusual nature of this thing called love. It is not really love to love God. After all, God is altogether lovely. God is worthy of our undying adoration and love. God deserves to be loved. However, what about His love for us? What about His love causing Him to send His Son to die on a cross as just satisfaction for our sins? That, my friend, is unusual. God the Father is the Source of love. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the triune Godhead, is the Savior of love. The Spirit of love is the Holy Spirit of God. I say the Spirit of God is the Spirit of love because of two things: First, because when a sinner trusts Jesus as his Savior he is immediately sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.[3] So important is the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life that the Apostle Paul declared, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,” Romans 8.9. Second, notice what the Holy Spirit begins immediately to do in the lives of those He indwells, Romans 5.5 and Galatians 5.22: “. . . the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” and “the fruit of the Spirit is love . . . .” The Holy Spirit, then, the Third Person of the triune Godhead, is the conduit of God’s love into the life of each one who trusts the Savior and is then indwelt by the Spirit. Amazing. We see, then, that love is an attribute of God. God is love. Love is also what some theologians call a communicable attribute of God, in that what God is, love, He can actually give to His Own children.

As we look back at what we have learned about this love which Paul prays these people will get more of, observe two things: First, observe that although love necessarily has an object, someone to love, to be a recipient of the love that is being expressed, we are not told in Philippians 1.9 what the object of love is to be, who we are to love. This causes me to think that Paul is asking God to give these people greater love for whomever they are to love. Greater love for God. Greater love for truth. Greater love for believers. Greater love for the souls of lost men. In other words, greater love for whoever or whatever is the proper object of a Christian’s love. Second, observe that so far we have seen absolutely nothing that would suggest or necessitate that the love we are considering is an emotion. Sure, there are feelings associated with this love. However, this love is really a decision, not an emotion. It is a decision that results in an action. “For God so loved the world that he gave . . . .” Therefore, people who talk like and act as if love is an emotion or a feeling, have no real concept of love at all. Since God is the real Source of love, anything that is sinful cannot possibly be connected to real love, because the God Who is love and Who is the Source of love is also holy, and those two attributes of God are not in conflict in any way.

Think about this thing called love, Christian. If you are saved, through faith in Christ, then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you. The Holy Spirit gives love to and through those He indwells. Do you love the brethren? Do you love God? Do you love the Savior? Do you love the lost? If you are genuinely converted, you do. Paul’s prayer is that his beloved Philippians would just love more than they already do. That is my prayer for you, as well. To just love more. By the way, Second John 6 says, “And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.” Do you love God by giving Him the tithe? Do you love believers, enough to encourage them, instead of discourage them? Do you love the lost, enough to witness to them, to repeatedly invite them into your home, and to tactfully bring them to church? Love more.

Related to love is something called jealousy. I think it is safe to say that I am a jealous person. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians “. . . I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.” I do not think my jealousy is ungodly. I think it is godly jealousy. However, I know it is jealousy. There is no doubt about it in my mind. I am jealous over a number of things.

I am jealous about Christmas. I do not think anyone who is not a Christian has any business at all celebrating the birth of the Savior they reject. What lunacy it is to celebrate, even in a worldly and materialistic fashion, the birth of One Who will someday judge you, the birth of One Who you personally reject and deny. So, I am jealous about Christmas and I voice my jealousy. I am also jealous over you folks. Like Paul was with the Corinthians, I am extremely concerned about the spiritual input into your lives and am very suspicious of anyone on the radio, on the television, or who writes books and pamphlets who seek to influence you. I get concerned about the possibility of someone reading a book and thinking himself to be somebody, all the while failing as a father, as a husband, as a provider, as a Christian. I remember a guy I once knew who had become an amazing expert on the Jehovah’s Witness cult. He was brilliant. He was insightful. He had read all the books by all the writers. He was well versed in all JW literature and could argue them to a standstill. Then one day I chased down some curious anomalies in his personal history that he had let slip out and I cornered him into admitting that he was not married to the woman he was living with. Incredible! How can we begin to do the secondary things until we are successful doing the primary things? Therefore, based upon men like that who seek to influence who they can, I have reason to be jealous over you. I will never knowingly allow a man to influence you who does not have his act together at home, or on the job. Additionally, I will seek to end the influence of a man I once thought qualified, but who proves himself unqualified. Many people would love to stand on this platform and preach the Bible. Men who think they know a great deal. Men who think they know more than I do. And maybe they do. However, until they have a wife who follows, children who obey, and a boss at work who praises, they will never mount this platform. Why? Because I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.

I am also jealous about a concept. I am literally filled with righteous indignation when I see or hear or read someone, anyone, abuse and distort this thing called love. I get angry when two fornicators say they love each other. I get downright obnoxious when I hear some goof ball say she loves her cat. I am saddened at the untold harm and damage done to our young people by the music we, as parents, listen to from our unsaved past, which distorts and confuses children into thinking that love is a feeling, that love is an emotion, that love is always connected somehow to romantic affections and yearnings.

This evening my message is titled “Something Called Love.” I bring it to you who are not saved because you do not know what love is. You cannot know what love is. It is impossible. Since God is love and since God is the Source of love, as I have earlier shown, because you are not touched by the love of God in a saving way you have no connection with genuine love in your life. I hope that changes very soon.

First, THE OBSERVATION OF LOVE

Take a brief look with me at what love is and what love is not. I have already given myself away a bit, but this will reinforce what has already been said to this point in time. Turn to First Corinthians 13.1-8a:

1      Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2      And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3      And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4      Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5      Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6      Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7      Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8      Charity never faileth . . . .

Let us first take note of what love, here translated by the word charity, is not. In verses 1-3, Paul surprises many of his readers by pointing out that there are many apparently commendable activities that can be performed without love. However, without the love that we now understand comes only from God, there is absolutely no benefit. Look at verse 1. Are you a wonderful speaker? Can you stand up, go on and on, and enrapture people with your oratory? Do you get great delight in listening to yourself talk? Marvelous. Just understand that it means nothing. It turns out to be just so much noise. Look at verse 2. Can you preach wonderfully? Have you read all of the books and know where all the theological bodies are buried? Do you know lots of stuff? Do you have mountain-moving faith? Let us applaud you. Just understand that without love, without charity, you are nothing. No impact. No accomplishment. Do you do good things? Do you give your things to feed poor people? Do you minister at the convalescent hospital every Saturday? Are you even willing to give your life, sacrificing your body to be burned? Understand that everything I have mentioned can occur in a person’s life without even a tiny bit of love. And without that tiny bit of love, none of this counts for anything.

Now we take a look at what love is. Verse 4. Love, here seen as charity, has four characteristics. Long-suffering, kind, without envy, and without the puffing up comes from pride. Verse 5. Again, we see four more characteristics. Love is not unseemly, is not self-seeking, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil. Let me comment on love not behaving itself unseemly. This means that love does not behave disgracefully, dishonorably, or indecently.[4] In other words, love is expressed along well-defined guidelines and principles. Just another bit of evidence to show that those engaged in what they claim to be love that violates God’s Word is not in any fashion expressing love for each other, no matter how loudly they proclaim it. Verses 6, 7, 8a. Love rejoices in truth, not iniquity. It bears, believes, hopes and endures all things, and never fails. Friend, I do not care who you are and how much you think you have been loved. You have never experienced this kind of love. Perhaps you have known something that suffered long, but it was not at the same time rejoicing in truth instead of iniquity. I could go on and on with examples, but the points I seek to make are these: First, you have never been loved in this sense before if you are not a Christian. What you have experienced has been more akin to emotional attachment or physical appetite, not Biblical love. Second, the stuff that you call love, which is in essence sentimentalism, emotionalism, and the selfish meeting of your own desires, is not love at all. It is lust. Therefore, it is nothing.

Second, THE OBJECTS OF LOVE

Considering only the genuine love that we have seen described in God’s Word, there are two kinds of objects of this love:

First, there is love for those who are lovely. In John 3.35, we are told that God the Father loves His Son, Jesus Christ, and we know that the Lord Jesus Christ loves His Father. This love is a wonderful thing, but it is also quite understandable, since God, the Father is lovely and the Lord Jesus Christ is also lovely. What must this then say about you who do not love God and do not love the Lord Jesus? If They are altogether lovely, why do you not love Them? In John 8.42, Jesus points out that you do not love God because He is not your father. Let me tell you that if God is not your Father, that is only because Satan is your father, John 8.44, and the lusts of your father will you do. Think about it my lost friend. If you do not love God, and love for God is shown by obedience to God, then you have no love at all, but instead are consumed by the lusts of your father, the devil. It is a serious thing not to love God. Not loving God, Who is so easy to love unless you are completely corrupted by sin, means you are lost, means the devil is your spiritual father, and means you are going to Hell when you die.

However, love does not love only those who are lovely. Love also loves those who are unlovely. Think about this: You do not love God. You do not serve God. You do not tell folks about Jesus and their need to be saved. You fill your mind and heart and life with so much garbage, filth and wickedness. And the sins that you do not commit you enjoy watching others commit. You know what you are? You are wretched. You are wicked. You are spiritually filthy. You are a stench in the nostrils of God. Everything you do and everything you personally stand for is hateful and obnoxious to God. Still, He loves you. That is right. God loves you. Real love, God’s love, has the capacity to love that person who is unlovely, and there is nothing on this planet more unlovely than you, my friend. Yet you sit there an object of God’s great love.

Finally, THE OBJECTIVE OF LOVE

Modern day neo-evangelicalism and the Charismatic/Pentecostal movements are not orthodox Christianity. Not only do they confuse the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and muddle the roles that each person of the Trinity plays in salvation, but they are completely ignorant of so basic an issue as love. They think that being loved by God and loving God is a mood permeated by emotionally moving music and being caught up in wonderful feelings. However, such a thing as that would have been foreign to Paul and the Christians of his day. To them, because it is Bible, love has to do with the meeting of the profoundest need of man.

Consider the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that the Father because of His love for lost mankind sent the Lord Jesus Christ. So, what did the Lord Jesus Christ do when He got here, party and make sure everybody felt good about themselves? No. Using His Own words to characterize His ministry, Jesus said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”[5] The way the Lord Jesus Christ expressed the Father’s love was to seek the salvation of the lost, just like you.

Consider, now, the ministry of the early Christians. If the Lord Jesus expressed the Father’s love for lost people by seeking the salvation of lost people until that time that He suffered, bled, and died for the sins of sinful mankind on the cross, how was His love for the lost expressed after He rose from the dead and ascended to His Father’s right hand in heaven? Second Corinthians 5.14-21 tells us. Allow me to condense and paraphrase that wonderful passage: The love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for you, my lost friend, is expressed by our church’s efforts, not to make you feel good about yourself, but to convince you of your sinfulness and to seek to persuade you to come to Jesus by faith for salvation from your sins.

The observation of love shows us that love is not feelings, but the meeting of profound needs. What need could you have more pressing than the need to be saved from your sins? We also saw that love of the divine kind loves even those who are unlovely. Who is more unlovely than a rebellious sinner is? Who is more unlovable to a holy God than you, one who is dead in trespasses and sins? Yet He does love you still.

What is the objective of God’s great love for you? To save you from sin. Consider this: Sin is so repugnant to God that He will cast you into the lake of fire because of it, though He loves you. However, at the same time His love is so great toward you that He sent His Own Son to suffer the cruelty of the cross so that you could be saved from your sins.

Would you be saved from your sins? There is only one way. Forsake your sins and flee to the safety of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the most perfect expression of God’s love for you, and trust Him. Then and only then will you know the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.



[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 1056.

[2] Ibid., page 5-6

[3] Ephesians 1.13; Romans 8.9

[4] Bauer, page 147

[5] Luke 19.10



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