Here is your weekly newsletter created for listeners and friends of
Paul Heil's "The Gospel Greats" syndicated radio program.

The Gospel Greats Weekly Newsletter
Published February 9, 2016

In This Edition

Paul's Epistle
"God Is Love"

If you were asked to describe God in one word, what would it be?

Well, common expressions about God include such things as "omnipresent," "omniscient," "omnipotent," and, of course, "Holy." All of those, and many more such adjectives, are certainly true. But the Apostle John, who sat under Jesus' own teachings, summed up the nature of God in just one word – "love."

In 1 John 4, John twice says (in verses 4 and 16), that "God is love." He didn't say God has love or that God is loving, although that is certainly implied. He said, simply, that God defines love. God is the quintessential definition of love. Where God is, love is. You can't have God without love. Nor can you have true love apart from God.

How amazing and stunning this concept was to people of John's time. God had previously been thought of in many ways, but seldom, explicitly, as "love." The Old Testament includes references to God's love for His people (such as in Deut. 7:7-8, Zeph. 3:17) and even God's desire to be loved by His people (Deut. 7:9). But nowhere (that I could find) does it say explicitly that "God is love."

This shouldn't be surprising, because Christ came to give us a new understanding of God, to show us the Father, and this is revealed to us in the New Testament. Christ said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). And, especially, Christ came to show us God's love.

The best-known verse in the New Testament explores the extent of God's love: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). If we say that God is love, there is no way that God could NOT have sent His Son. Failure to do so would have meant a failure of love -- a violation of God's very character.

What's more, to say that "God is love" sheds light on what is arguably God's most essential nature. Love, after all, is relational. One cannot truly love if there is no one to love. A quick check of the dictionary's definition of "love" finds that all of the primary definitions involve relationships. So to say that God is love means that God, by His very essence, is – and wants – relationships.

This should come as no surprise – because that's why He created mankind, to have a relationship. God wanted someone – a people – upon whom He could shower the love that is His essence. But that initial relationship with Adam and Eve was broken by sin. So, God sent His Son to restore that relationship. "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Now, I'm saying this, not just to give you a "warm and fuzzy" feeling about God, but to remind you of an essential truth of the Christian life. In all that we do, we are to strive to be like Christ. And He called upon us, as His followers, to "abide in My love" (John 15:9). That means we are to "live in" God's love. It's to be how we live. What's more, living a loving life is not just a suggestion. "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (v. 12). And again, "These things I command you, that you love one another" (v. 17).

So, if God is love, and we're to be like Him, we had better pay close attention to what the Bible says love is. 1 Corinthians 13 is often called the "love chapter." Let's look at a few things Paul tells us love is, beginning at verse 4: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..." (Verses 4-8a). Wow. Paul sets the bar pretty high for living a life of love, but that's what Christ wants -- and demands.

But Christ doesn't just demand it, He empowers us through His Holy Spirit -- to the extent we allow it -- to exemplify God's love. "Love" is, after all, the very first "fruit of the Spirit" listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22. If God is in you through His Holy Spirit, you will evidence that by your love for others. And, in so doing, you will be manifesting Christ in your life. To be a true follower of Christ, you really have no other option. "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments..." (2 John 1:6). "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11), and "this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (v.21).

There is great benefit to this. As we live a life of love toward others and, more and more, allow our lives to be governed by an exercise of love in all matters, we'll find our relationship with God grows and deepens. The poet Samuel T. Coleridge put it this way: "He prayeth best who loveth best."

The more we love, the more we are like God, Who is love.

- Paul

Note: This column first appeared Feb. 12, 2008.

Comments on this?
(To ensure that we get your comments, please use that address and do not simply hit "reply" on your email program.)

A printable version of the Epistle above is linked from our newsletter archive page, listed by date and title:
NOTE: That same page includes a link to the audio version of this "Epistle."

Your Turn:  What is your favorite word in the Bible?  Just one word.  Think about that and let me know what it is, with a brief one-or-two sentence reason why you chose that word. I'll develop a column about the words that were cited most often ans share some of your reasoning. Let's exclude the word "Word" (as in John 1) and any proper names. I've already chosen my favorite word. What's yours? Email me at the "comments" address just above. This should be interesting.

Coming on the broadcast the weekend of February 13th & 14th, 2016:

Love Theme!   All of our songs and artist comments will be about love — God's love for us, our love for God and our Christian love for one another. Hear thoughts about love from Jordan Wilburn (Wilburn & Wilburn), Susan Whisnant (Whisnants), Matt Hagee (Canton Junction), Melissa Brady (Jim Brady Trio), Joseph Habedank, Josh Feemster (Legacy Five) and Wes Hampton (Gaither Vocal Band). Please join us as we turn our thoughts toward love.

Featured Artists:   Our Featured Artists on this edition will be the extraordinarily gifted Collingsworth FamilyPhil & Kim Collingsworth and their offspring, Phillip, Courtney and Olivia. You'll hear a few songs from their current CD, "That Day Is Coming," including that title song and their current radio song, "What The Bible Says." Kim will tell you about a song that was so good they added it to their recording at the very last minute. Join us for our visit with the multi-award-winning Collingsworth Family.

Who can YOU invite to listen this weekend?

Click here to hear the audio announcement regarding this next program.

From the broadcast the weekend of February 6th & 7th, 2016:

Our broadcast the first weekend of February each year is special for us because it marks another anniversary for the program. In this case, this program marks The Gospel Greats program's 36th anniversary on the air. Wow — that's a long time for anything like this. God has certainly blessed. And, although we have only a very low-key mention of this anniversary on the program (unlike some of those "major" multiple-of-five years) I certainly don't want to forget to express our thanks to every station that carries (or has ever carried) our program and, of course, to all of you who listen so faithfully each week. By the way, if you've been listening for most or even all of those 36 years, I'd like to hear from you. As I mentioned on the air, I'd like to thank you personally for being such a loyal listener. In it all, God has been good. Very good.

Our Featured Artists on this edition were the Jim Brady Trio, with songs from their new "Timeless" CD. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their versions of some of those classic songs that, perhaps, you grew up hearing. How long has it been since you've heard songs such as "Until Then," "Wonderful Peace" and some of those other songs? They did an outstanding job in bringing these old songs to life again. Jim Brady (who you may have gotten to know as a member of the Booth Brothers), his wife, Melissa, and Tim Parton have been singing as the Jim Brady Trio for little more than a year, but they're certainly not newcomers to the field. And they have been very well received by Southern Gospel music lovers everywhere. In fact, as you've heard on our program, they had the number one song for 2015 — an amazing feat for any group during their first year.

The Jim Brady Trio's CD featured on this program, "Timeless," is available from our mailorder service, Springside. Just call 1-800-38-MUSIC to order. Call by Friday, February 12, 2016, ask for the "Featured Artist Discount," and get 20 percent off this item. You can order easily from our webstore by using this link to go directly to this item. Note, too, that our "Featured Artist Discount" applies to any other currently in-stock recordings by this artist. While ordering online, when you get to the "Checkout" page, find the "Special Instructions" lines near the bottom, type in "Featured Artist Discount - 20 percent" to get the discount. Note that the discounted price will not be reflected online or in your first confirmation e-mail, but it will be applied here when the order is processed and before it is charged or shipped.

I always enjoy visiting with the guys from RevelationThomas McCalmont, David Strange and Andrew Calderwood. Thomas and David formed the group ten years ago. What makes them "unusual" as Southern Gospel singers is that they're based in Northern Ireland. You heard Thomas say on the program that the first request they usually get at a concert venue is not for a particular song — but rather to talk. People love to hear their accent! (I confess, I do, too!) The three songs heard on this program's Artist Spotlight segment were from Revelation's "Christ For Me" CD. As they proclaim on their website, their "goal is to sing the Gospel to as many as possible — whenever and wherever — to teach, uplift and encourage."

This program marked the second and final chance to enter our 2016 Daywind Quartet Festival giveaway at the beautiful and historic Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, this April. See the entry form on our website for details. Perhaps Shelia and I will see you there.

For the song list from this broadcast, click on the link below.    (PDF viewer required.)

Hear last weekend's Headline Update report about your favorite artists by clicking on this link:

New item available this week from
  • Dallas Rogers - New Beginnings   (CD)

Click here to view this Southern Gospel music item and others in this week's Springside Music Update newsletter — including 20 percent discounts on this week's new releases. Or get the Springside Music Update newsletter by email each Monday. Details can be found here. Or call 800 38 MUSIC during weekday office hours to ask about this week's specials or to order. Your purchases from Springside help support The Gospel Greats program.

Shelia Shares

Karen Carver works with her husband, Chuck, pastoring a church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The following is a story she shared that demonstrates so well God's love for us.

"The Greatest Love Story"
by Karen Carver

I love a good love story. Whether it is in the form of a good movie or a good Christian novel makes no difference to me. I am a true romantic at heart. I even cry at commercials. Remember the Pepsi commercial where the sky-writer writes, "Marry Me Sue"? (At least, I think her name was Sue.) That was a tearjerker if there ever was one! How about those Hallmark commercials?

Every couple has their own story of special romantic times in their lives. But there is one story told to me about one of our church members that will touch your heart just as it touched mine.

Floyd and Alice were married in 1936. They were crazy about each other and that love lasted many years.

For Christmas in 1937 Floyd wanted to give his bride something very special. He knew she needed a new Bible. On his quest for that special gift, Floyd purchased what he thought was a Bible. Instead, he had bought a black-bound Webster's Dictionary. Proudly he presented this gift to his beloved wife. Alice was so touched by his love, she never told him his mistake. You see, Floyd had never learned to read. How sweet was their relationship! Alice cherished that gift the rest of her life. What a wonderful act of love demonstrated that day on both their parts!

Two thousand years ago the greatest demonstration of love was God's Christmas gift when He sent His only Son Jesus to a lost and dying world. It's comforting to know that God's love does not depend on what we do or how we act. It's an unconditional love between us and our Heavenly Father. Even more importantly, we know that God loves us in spite of our failures and our weaknesses. He loves us no matter our color or race. He loves us despite what our past holds against us. God's love is infinite and eternal! And to think, God loves you and me as if we were the only people on this earth. We should be overwhelmed at the thought of such a gift of love offered to us.

God's greatest gift to the world is told to us in John 3:16:
God — The greatest Lover
So loved — The greatest degree
The world — The greatest number
That He gave — The greatest act
His only begotten Son — The greatest Gift
That whosoever — The greatest invitation
Believeth — The greatest simplicity
In Him — The greatest Person
Should not perish — The greatest deliverance
But — The greatest difference
Have — The greatest certainty
Everlasting Life — The greatest possession

When you know you are loved, it changes your outlook on life. God's love does conquer all! I can almost imagine Alice thinking that Webster's Dictionary was the greatest gift she had ever received from her beloved Floyd. They loved God and each other dearly. What a special love story!

But even greater is God's love story to us written in His love letter, the Bible. God's gift of eternal life is available to ANYONE who will accept. If you have not accepted this precious gift, won't you do that now? If you possess that gift of eternal life, won‘t you pass it along to others? It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Comments on this?
(To ensure that we get your comments, please use that address and do not simply hit "reply" on your email program.)

A printable version of Shelia's column above is linked from our newsletter archive page, listed by date and title:
NOTE: That same page includes a link to the audio version of this "Shelia Shares."

On the Lighter Side

So Busy

I have so many problems that if a new one comes along today, it will be at least two weeks before I can worry about it.

Why A Local Minister Says He Stopped Attending Sports Events

Positively Negative

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

Unanswered Prayer

Years ago when my two girls were small, they were taught how to say their blessing before eating their meal. One night as I was busy scurrying around the kitchen, I told them both to say their blessings without me. I took a moment to watch them as they both squeezed their eyes tightly shut over folded hands. As my 4-year-old finished, her 3-year-old sister kept on praying. Another minute or two passed before she lifted her head, looked at her plate, and in an indignant voice said, "Hey! My peas are still here!"

Super Bowl Postcript

My mother hates sports, so after being forced to go to a football game with her grandchildren, this was her conclusion: Football consists of twenty-two men on the field desperately in need of a rest and 40,000 in the stands desperately in need of exercise.

Are You Ready?
1 Thess. 5:2-10; Matt. 24:44; Luke 21:34,36
Free Gift
Pray for the President!
Until next Week...Keep Looking Up!

The Gospel Greats Weekly Newsletter subscription maintenance information
  • We trust that you enjoy these weekly Tuesday morning newsletter that you requested.  But if you need to make a change, here's how to do it.  To REMOVE your name from the list or to CHANGE your address, simply send us an e-mail and tell us what you want done (telling us why would be helpful).  We attempt to make all requested changes prior to the next mailing, but, depending on when requests are received, there may be a delay of up to a week.  If unsubscribing, please tell us (as a courtesy) what we could do to improve the newsletter.
    If you are unsubscribing simply because you no longer hear the program locally, please first check the "Station Finder" on our website to be sure the program hasn't simply moved to another station in your area.  Also please remember that the program is available online.  And you are most welcome to continue reading the newsletter's devotional columns, which usually are not really directly related to the program. 
  • You may also request any of the above changes in writing by postal mail to our physical postal address: The Gospel Greats program, PO Box 1372, Lancaster PA 17608-1372.