It is so encouraging to prayerfully study and consider the Lord’s word to the church in Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, for in such a church we are those loving the brothers! The word Philadelphia means brotherly love, having affection for a brother, a love that is characterized by delight and pleasure (2 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 3:7).
The church in Ephesus was rebuked by the Lord for leaving the first love, but here in Philadelphia we see the brotherly love being recovered, practiced, and perfected. The church in Philadelphia prophetically depicts the church of brotherly love, that is, the proper church life, the church life in the Lord’s recovery.
The Lord reacted to the mixture and confusion in Thyatira (the Roman Catholic Church) by raising up Martin Luther and the Reformation, and the Lord further reacted to the deadness in the Sardis (the Protestant churches) to raise up the Brethren and the Lord’s recovery to be the reality of Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love.
The church of brotherly love started in the early part of the 19th century, when the Brethren were raised up in England to practice the church life outside any system of divisions, denominations, and sects; this church will continue until the Lord comes back.
Today in the church life we KNOW that we have passed out of death and into life because we love the brothers (1 John 3:14). When we were regenerated and saved, we were not only revived and revitalized with the new eternal divine life of God but we also were brought out of the sphere of death into the source, essence, element, and sphere of life (John 3:3-6 5:24).
Now as believers in Christ we love the brothers, and the Lord’s constant and greatest commandment is to love God and love the brothers. In godliness – which is the expression of God – we need to supply the brotherly love for all the brothers (1 Pet. 2:17).
When we love one another, all will know and see that we are the Lord’s disciples, and the Lord has a testimony (John 13:34-35).
Furthermore, in order for us to bear fruit we need to love the Lord, abide in Him, and love our fellow branches in the vine, the brothers and the sisters in the Lord; when such a love is practiced and expressed, we will bear fruit for the glory of the Father (John 15:16-17).
Loving the Brothers is a Strong Evidence that we Passed out of Death into Life
The way we pass out of death into life is by having faith in the Lord; when we believed into the Lord, we were transferred out of death into life. Love toward the brothers – that is, the love of God in us toward the brothers – is the evidence that we have passed out of death into life (1 John 3:14).
We know we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. Consider your experience: when you received the Lord as your Savior and life, you passed out of death into life, and a great change in life followed; you started reading the Bible, praying, seeking the Lord, desiring to live a life of righteousness and love, and suddenly you started to love the fellow brothers and sisters.
Every genuine believer in Christ has God’s love in him, and this love is for all men, in particular for the brothers; this is not something outward only when we meet with the believers but a change in our being and a proof that we passed out of death into life.
Loving the brothers is a visible evidence and an observable sign that we are regenerated and saved. If some say that they have faith in God, they also need to have love for the brothers.
Have you ever wondered, how come we spontaneously love people we never met, people who are completely different from us, and people who may not be “our type”, simply because they have God’s life in them and therefore are our brothers?
Love is the nature of the divine life we have received. Because the essence of God is love, the life of God has the nature of love. Love is the essence of God’s nature. When we have Him as our divine life, we have the nature of this life, which is love. We Christians, the children of God, have a life that aspires to live rightly with everyone and everything and also aspires to love others. We have such an aspiration because of the divine nature within us….If someone does not live in a way that is right with everyone, everything, and every matter and does not live a life of loving others, there is a serious question whether this one has received the divine life. (Witness Lee, Life-study of 1 John, pp. 238-239)
The nature of the divine life in us is love; God is our life, and the more we enjoy Him, the more we love Him and the more we love the brothers. The more we enjoy the Lord, read His word, pray, and fellowship with the Lord and with the saints, the more we desire to live a righteous life, love the others, and especially love the brothers.
The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and now we spontaneously love the saints. To have faith is to receive the eternal life (John 3:15); to love is to live by the eternal life that we have received (1 John 5:13; 4:7).
Toward the Lord, faith is to believe Him and receive Him, and love is to enjoy Him; furthermore, to love is to live by the life that we have received. We need to love one another because love is of God, and God Himself is love; he who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.
If we don’t have love for the brothers, we can only conclude that you simply don’t know God, for God is love. Since God loves us, we should also love one another; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is completed in us.
Loving God and loving one another is the condition for God abiding in us, and His love is completed and perfected in us by loving one another. The love we receive and possess of God is God Himself, and this love needs perfecting by us loving one another.
May we be those who live by the divine life we have received so that we may spontaneously love the brothers and love one another!
Thank You Lord for pouring out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Thank You for not only regenerating us but putting in us the ability to love God and love the brothers. Hallelujah, we have passed out of death into life by loving the brothers! Lord Jesus, we love You and, by the love that You have put into our hearts, we also love the brothers! Amen! We want to live by the eternal life that we have received so that we may spontaneously love the Lord and love the brothers.
Having an Unspeakable Love for the Brothers Issuing from Genuine Faith in Christ
If all the believers in Christ would just live by the divine life they have received at the time of their regeneration, they will love all the brothers. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God, and everyone who loves God (the One who has begotten us) will also love him who has been begotten of God (1 John 5:1).
If we love God – the One who has begotten us with His divine life – we will also love those who are born of God; this is an unspeakable love issuing out of a genuine faith in Christ.
Loving the brothers is a proof that the faith we have is genuine; this love for the brothers is something special, for we don’t love the brothers because we like them or they are according to our preference but simply because they are our brothers in the Lord.
The saints are different from us: they have a different educational background, temper, family, opinions, and views, but we love the brothers simply because they are our brothers. When we live by the divine life in our spirit, there’s a spontaneous desire to fellowship with other believers, and we have an unspeakable feeling of love toward the saints.
The more we enjoy the Lord and eat Him in His word, the more we will pass out of death into life by loving the brothers. We love the brothers not because they are good, lovable, or kind, but simply because they are our brothers and they deserve our love.
However, not loving the brothers is evidence that we are not living by the essence and element of the divine love and thus we don’t remain in the sphere of this love. If we don’t love the brothers, we abide in death; we may physically still live, still meet with the saints, but spiritually we live in a different sphere – the sphere of hate and death.
Once we have the divine life, enjoy this life, and live by this life, we will also want that others would receive Christ as life, and we spontaneously will be drawn toward hose who have this life.
The divine life in us issuing from our genuine faith in Christ takes pleasure in the presence of the saints; our delight is not in the world or with the people in the world and their things, but in the meetings with the saints, where we love the Lord and love one another.
The divine life in us takes pleasure in the presence of the saints, and it delights in communicating with them, having a spontaneous love for them.
Lord Jesus, we want to live by the divine life in our spirit so that we may spontaneously love all the brothers and sisters and desire to fellowship with them in the church of brotherly love. Thank You Lord for putting in us the divine life which takes pleasure in being with the saints and delights in fellowshipping with them and loving them. Wow, Lord, we have an unspeakable love for the brothers issuing from our genuine faith in Christ, and by the love that You are in us, we can love all the brothers! Amen!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 50, “Messages for Building Up New Believers (3),” ch. 47, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 7 (week 7), The Church in Philadelphia.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Jesus is getting us together, / Come and see the saints in one accord. / His love is knitting us together, / To the stature of the fullness of the Lord. (Hymns #1232)
# To maintain the sweet communion, / Brotherly love; / Fellowship and healing union, / Brotherly love. / Love believing for the brothers, / Hoping all things for the others, / Suffering all with one another, / Brotherly love. (Hymns #1277)
# When we’re together our joy is made so full; / The love of the Lord fills our hearts, / And we all partake of the Spirit bountiful. / We’ve found, here in the family life, a part. (Song on being God’s family)
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