Before the preacher began his lesson from one of the epistles of the apostle Paul he stated that we were reading a letter written to someone else. And in one sense that is true because the epistles were written to various congregations and different individuals. Some were general epistles that were written to no one church or individual. But that does not mean that other persons could not read the same epistles. While there are various passages that would teach that the letters written in the first century could be read by others, I think I Corinthians 1:2 would be sufficient: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (NKJV, Emphasis, mine, RE).
Some religious leaders in an effort to lessen the need of obedience on the part of the believer, and, to emphasize that we are saved by grace and not by any works on our part refer to the epistles as ‘love letters’. Personally I have no problem in speaking of the epistles as ‘love letters’. All that God has done for mankind in the matter of salvation and instructing us what we should do and become has been done because He loves us.
The words of Jesus written in red letters as found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in some Bibles can be misleading. In actuality, all the New Testament is blood red. In Luke 22:20 we read, “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Emphasis, mine, RE). In reference to Jesus, the inspired writer penned these words, “But He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was based on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:15-17). The New Testament was dedicated with the precious blood of Jesus Christ so it would be reasonable to understand all of the writings contained therein to be called books and letters of love from the Lord Jesus Christ.
These ‘love letters’ did not originate in the wisdom of men. Before Jesus departed from the world He made promises to His apostles regarding the sending of the Holy Spirit to be with them. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I said to you” (John 14:26). “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13, 14). Please observe that the Holy Spirit would only speak what He would hear and that it would glorify Jesus Christ; and whatever the Spirit would declare to the apostles would have been from the Father and the Son.
Please read carefully these words from the apostle Paul as found in I Corinthians 2:12, 13, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” In short, the epistles that Paul and the other New Testament writers wrote were what Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, had them to write. In Ephesians 3:3-5, Paul wrote: “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets…” In other words, the epistles are really ‘love letters from the Lord’. Furthermore, what is said of the Son can most certainly be said of the Father. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). In summary, the source of all the books of the Old and New Testaments is God the Father.
The ‘love letters’ in the New Testament’ do not in any sense lessen my response to the directives and commands of the “law of the Spirit” (Romans 8:2) and the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). The truth is that we must respond in love, being submissive to the will of our Lord.
Jesus plainly taught that true love requires actions on the part of mankind in order to prove our love for Him. He told his disciples, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus stated it very plainly that we show our Love for Him when we do what he requires of us. In John 14:21, He said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Jesus obeyed His Father’s will and was loved by His Father and He loves those who keep His commandments (John 15:10). The Lord said in John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandments, so I do. Arise let us go from here.” Jesus proved beyond a shadow of doubt that He loved His Father by keeping all the commands He received from Him. To be like Jesus, we must also obey the commands our Lord has given to us. Otherwise, we show that we do not love Him as we should. Jesus expressed it in this fashion as recorded in John 14:24, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”
The apostle of love, John, wrote in I John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” God does not require anything of us except it be for our ultimate good. We should respond to His commandments out of a heart of love. When love is the motive, His commandments are not grievous or overbearing. The precious words of our Savior bring joy to the heart of a Christian as is found in John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” When we sing the hymn, “I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus”, it means that we will be submissive to His will. We should not respond to the commands and directives of our Lord merely because ‘we have to’; rather it should be our “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).