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Bible Study Fourteen: The Three Great Commands

If the Lord was coming back tomorrow, you would want to know the gospel in its simplicity. No time for theory, no time for human reasoning, no time for foolishness. Just tell me straight, tell me what I have to know.

Have you ever heard the expression: “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? In other words, you miss the big picture. Is it possible to read a thousand passages of Scripture and not see the big picture? Is it possible to read one book after another and not get the main point?

In the time of Jesus, there were the Pharisees and Sadducees, the very men who had studied the Scriptures the most.

Yet in Matthew 23:13-33, Jesus called them “hypocrites” seven times, blind guides twice, blind fools, child of hell, whited sepulchers, snakes, and a brood of vipers. How had these men, steeped in the law and the history of Israel, miss the mark? In fact, the spiritual blindness was so profound that they crucified the world’s Redeemer.

1. How did Jesus teach? Mark 12:37; Matthew 11:25

We find that “the common people heard Him gladly.” While many of the wise were deceived by their own erroneous ideas, theories, and opinions, Jesus recognized that the most simple minded often grasped His instruction. As Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Matthew 11:25

Jesus made the truths of God’s Word understandable to the common man, even for children. The Sermon on the Mount explained the gospel in simple and practical terms: beatitudes; salt and light; practical application of the Law; prayer and giving; not judging others; the golden rule; and walking the narrow way

2. How did Jesus even make it simpler? Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus had just been peppered by the Sadducees with detailed questions on the Law. Now the Pharisees wanted their shot at Him, to see if they could trip Him up. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’”

Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unot it, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” Matthew 22:35-40

Do you think they were expecting it to be so simple? Love God. Love your neighbor.

3. Would the Pharisees have answered their own question the same way? Matthew 23:4, 13

This may seem like a very subjective and unfair question, but the Pharisees were taskmasters, not burden bearers. Their “heavy burdens” were a part, not of the laws of Moses, but of rabbinical tradition. These rabbinical requirements made people discouraged, not loving.

Instead of illuminating the way of salvation, they burdened it by their rabbinical traditions and hypocritical examples.

4. Did the Old Testament express the command to love God with your whole heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself? Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with al thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18

5. Can we separate love to God and love to our neighbor? Matthew 25:40, 45

Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Loving our neighbor as ourselves is like loving God with all of our being. So then, Jesus equated loving our neighbors with loving God. The two are interconnected and intertwined.

6. How does God define a true fast? Isaiah 58:6-8

True fast is equated with feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and bringing justice to the poor. In fact, all religious activities without love are meaningless. Read 1 Cor. 13:1-3

In summary, the first two great commands are to: Love God. Love your neighbor.

7. What is the third great command? Matthew 28:18-20

The third command is to go and tell the world about the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. No matter a person’s race, religion, social status, education, or location, go and teach them the plan of salvation.

8. What is to be connected with the proclamation of the gospel? Luke 4:18, 19

Here we find linked together loving our neighbor with proclaiming the gospel. The three great commandments linked together. To proclaim the gospel to all the world will take love.

Every act of loving service, every kindness; every sacred concert, every song; every minute you teach a child to read and write; every natural remedy applied; every seed sown, every agricultural practice taught; every prayer and Spirit-filled Bible study given and sermon preached; every visitation and words of encouragement given—all these things are to build up the kingdom of God.

It is simple.

  • Love God

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

  • Teach the gospel and make disciples for Jesus.

Is that simple enough? Spread the kingdom, by pen and voice, acts of kindness—done by the power of the Holy Spirit. No giving up, no retreat, no rebellion, no regrets. But it won’t happen if we just keep looking up in the sky waiting for Jesus to come. We have a work to do.

It won’t happen with man’s wisdom or man’s methods. It is not complicated.

  • Love God

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

  • Teach the gospel and make disciples for Jesus.

9. How sacred is this simple plan? John 20:21

As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. No permission of men is necessary. You go, as commanded by Jesus.

  • Love God

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

  • Teach the gospel and make disciples for Jesus.

You, me, let’s go! We have an urgent work to do!

10. Is there a need for these three great commands? Romans 10:14, 15

It is important that we learn to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. It is also important to be trained to share the gospel. In this way, we can be sent that men may hear, they might believe and be saved.

Then people will ask you….

  • Why are you helping me with my health problems?

  • Why are you spending time helping me to learn?

  • Why are you here to share God’s Word?

  • Why are you here helping me with my needs?

You can say:

  • I love God.

  • I love you.

  • Jesus sent me.

11. How can God us me to share the gospel? 1 Corinthians 12:6

There is are diversities of gifts, talents, and personalities within the church. God can and will use each one of us to meet the needs of precious souls.

Often we use the word “talent” to refer to musical, artistic, writing, or preaching skills. But talents also includes unique personality and character traits. There is nobody just like you. Therefore, everyone has a special talent.

Some are outgoing, contemplative, determined, visionary, or thoughtful. Talents also include life experiences, your family background, education, work history, life’s trials, relationships, and connections. Nobody has your exact personality, nor do they have your exact life experience.

There is also the interests and passions that God Himself has placed in your heart. Perhaps you have a passion to serve in some part of the world, or with the poor, and to create special programs for evangelism.

Then there are what the Bible calls “spiritual gifts.” Romans 12:6-10; 1 Cor. 12:1-12, 28; Ephesians 4:11. These include such spiritual gifts as spiritual discernment, giving, leadership, mercy, administration, teaching, evangelism, wisdom, and exhortation.

When you think of “going to teach all nations,” think in broader terms, and not just in terms of a specific ability you might have. Peter was a fisherman by trade, but God used his passion and impulsiveness to make him a “fisher of men.”

Paul was a zealot with a brilliant mind, something God used to plant churches and to educate the church. But Paul had other talents, he was a Roman citizen, and God used that as a talent.

Sometimes just the position we occupy—not even our abilities or personalities—can be used by God. Consider the book of Esther, her royal position saved the entire Jewish race. We can say the same about Daniel and Joseph.

While we may consider they various abilities, our availability becomes paramount. You may have all the talent in the world, but if you do not make yourself available to reach out to others, then all those talents are of no eternal good.

Begin the day by giving your heart to God. Express your great love to Him, and contemplate His great love for you. Receive the love of Jesus in your heart towards others. And finally, ask God to use you in His service for that day.