Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jim Renihan: True Love: Understanding the real meaning of Christian love (Encore Presentation)

MP3 Available Here

Jim Renihan, Dean & Professor of Historical Theology at the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary California (see, will address the theme of his new book: "True Love: Understanding the real meaning of Christian love" (see

1 Corinthians 13:
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

9For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

As Dr. Renihan very aptly puts it in the Preface of his book:

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.

‘Jim Renihan warmly and ably opens up the great subject of love in 1 Corinthians 13. He challenges our self-centredness and urges us to pursue true love - a love which is founded in God's prior love and is to permeate and motivate every aspect of the Christian's life.'
Robert Strivens, Principal, London Theological Seminary

'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

This profound and lively study shows how 1 Corinthians 13 fits into the message of the Epistle as a whole of the and not just how it connects with chapters 12 and 14. Taking that wider and more biblical focus enables Jim Renihan to talk to Christians and to churches in a truly pastoral spirit.'
Hywel Jones

'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

Dr. Renihan received his M.Div. from Seminary of the East and his Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has more than 15 years of pastoral experience in Baptist churches, and is currently an elder at the Escondido Reformed Baptist Church in California (see

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