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True Love: Understanding the Real Meaning of Christian Love (Renihan)

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Evangelical Press

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Christian love is central to the life of every believer. When Paul speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' followers, love is the first item he mentions (Galatians 5:22); when our Saviour prepared his disciples for the events of that final night in Jerusalem, and everything that would come after, he spoke to them about love (John 13). Perhaps it is not an overstatement to say that love is at the root of the Christian faith - it is God's abiding and everlasting love that gives impetus to the incarnation of Christ and the redemption of his people. At first glance, it is surprising that there is so little literature available about love. There may be different reasons for this. While the topic is very important, it is also difficult. Love is not easily defined. In some ways, it is simpler to experience love than to characterize it. Similarly, no author should think that he or she adequately understands, and especially expresses love. When we ask ourselves questions such as ‘Am I qualified to write to others about love?' we recognize how far short of the standard we come. We are all striving after a better expression of this grace.



James M. Renihan (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Dean and Professor of Historical Theology at the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California. He has served in the pastoral ministry at churches in Massachusetts and New York, and is the author of a variety of articles published in American Baptist Quarterly, The Banner of Truth, Evangelical Times, Reformed Baptist Theological Review, Baptist Review of Theology, The Gospel Witness and others. His is editor of Daily Treasure: 366 Daily Readings from the Treasury of David; Denominations or Associations: Essays on Reformed Baptist Associations; and Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ.



"Many have only heard 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings. This sublime description of love mentions fruits which must be found in a home if marriage and child-rearing are to succeed. Yet Paul's matchless portrayal of love is actually placed in another setting. The apostle was describing the highest contribution a Christian can make in the church or in the lifelong service of God and man.In his day, as in our own, there were claims of more dazzling and colorful spiritual abilities granted to Christians, such as miracle-working and tongue-speaking. These seemed to be so much more productive and helpful than were ‘mere' love. Yet after listing the great gifts granted to followers of Jesus, Paul said, ‘I show you a still more excellent way. What follows is this masterpiece on love.Mr. Renihan's work draws out the indicators of love so that we may search out the level of this gift of the Spirit in ourselves. Furthermore his study aims to make us aspire to have and to exercise this gift more than any other and to value it as the most eminent quality in others. You must not neglect this subject!'" - Walter J. Chantry

"The part that most people seem to like about Christianity is love. How many times have you heard 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings? Yet love is gravely misunderstood in our culture, apart from the wider scope of God's character, commands, and saving work in Christ. James Renihan deserves our gratitude, because he neither sentimentalizes nor intellectualizes love. Here is a rich, vivid, and concrete exploration of this fantastic subject." - Michael Horton