Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P55 (08-24-20)
If we are honest with ourselves, when we try to love God, we know that it falls short. In reality, we do not have the ability on our own to love God. Our love for God can only be in response to how we perceive God. If we do not know Him, how can we love Him? Do we have the nature of God in us? Do you know His nature? Are you like God or different?
If you think God is mean, vindictive, uninvolved, hard-hearted, and uncaring, then how would you act toward God? If I thought God was mad at me when I sinned, ready to punish me, then would I be inclined to want to go to Him, or would I respond in fear of Him? If we know He is the powerful, creator of everything there is, yet see Him as so holy and we are not, and that we justly deserve to die for our sins, but do not know God, nothing of His nature and love, how do you think we would respond to God? Would we not cower in fear of Him?
Our love for God is a response to God’s love for us. God is love and that is why God sent Jesus to reveal to us who He is that we might freely come to Him for life. All that God wants us to know about Himself was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. He wants us to know Him, the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – the one who is perfect love.
We love because He first loved us. He demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. He took away our sins, and that before you and I were ever born, in order to give us new life. He is not counting our sins against us. He took the just punishment of sin, which is death, for us. He became sin for us, so that in Him, we might have all that is Christ, His righteousness and holiness and redemption, offered to us as a gift, imputed to us. He came that we might have life and life to the full.
So ponder over 1 Corinthians 13, and think about all that is written in the scriptures concerning Jesus Christ. You will be amazed at His love for you. When you grasp His love for you, and realize there is no condemnation awaiting you who are in Christ Jesus, you can boldly go to the throne of grace in time of need. You can call Him, “Abba Father”, “daddy.”
You see, the perfect love of God drives out fear. We respond in the manner in which we understand the truth of who God is, His nature, His love to be. He even promised us that in whatever trials and tribulations we go through, whether self-inflicted or not, He will cause all things to work together for our good, as we allow Him to. He simply wants us to trust Him, for you, who are in Christ Jesus, are a child of God.
So when you are defining what love is, you are defining who God is and how God deals with you. You cannot separate the way God deals with you from God’s character and who God is. Who God is depends on how God deals with you. So when you are looking at love, you are looking at both of those things. You are looking at God, who is love, and how God deals with you. So let us look at that and allow these truths to embed into our hearts.
4 God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy. He does not boast. He is not proud. 5 He does not dishonor others, nor is He self-seeking. He is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 God never fails.
As a matter of review, let us take a quick look at where we have been, where we are and where we are going. First of all, when you are talking about abiding in Christ’s love, you are talking about how God loved us first.
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
He loved us first and sent His Son to take away the wrath of God.
1 John 4:19
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
That tells us something. That tells us that we have no ability on our own to love God, that our love for God is a response to God’s love for us. We can sit there and say, “I love God”, but if we do not know anything about God, it is like saying “I love air.” You can say “I love it”, but I got news for you, you know nothing about it. You do not know where it comes from and where it is going. You can see the effects, but you do not know it.
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[Numbers 21:4-9] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
That is the same thing with God. That is verbiage, as if saying “I love this God of my imagination.” That will fall on its face. That is love based on nothing except your own perception. What God is saying here is that you have an object of your faith, and you have an object of your love, who is God, who has revealed Himself to you in His Son.
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied.
We have to understand that truth. That God sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. There are many people who have called on the broadcast about what is called a Jesus-only movement. The problem with that whole concept is this. It is not that our focus is not to be on Jesus but they do so at the denial of the Trinity. All that God is going to enable us to see about His character is revealed in Christ Jesus. Quite frankly, Christ Jesus did not reveal His creative abilities. Jesus did not come to show us the sky and the ocean and all of the beauty of God’s nature, but He did come to reveal the nature of God, not the creative nature, but the loving nature of God. All that God wants us to know about Himself was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” That does not mean there is no father. That means everything the Father is is in Jesus. There is no difference between Jesus the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit. So when you have seen one, you, in essence, have seen them all. That does not mean looking physically at that. He did not mean that. What you are looking at is the Father because God is Spirit. What you are looking at when looking at Jesus is his outward appearance that was a body. But internally the Spirit of Jesus is identical to the Spirit of the Father and identical to the Holy Spirit.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
So, what we are doing is throwing out the baby with the bathwater by saying it is all Jesus and nothing else. That is false. You even have a false Jesus if you do not see Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit are one. So, you have people talking about baptism in the name of Jesus and I wonder why sometimes that why worrying about baptism anyways, for baptism does not save you. If you are saying I am being identified with Jesus, who identified the Trinity. Then you can say there is nothing wrong with that at all. We are told to go into the world and identify people with the Triune God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But the only way you are going to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is through the knowledge of the Son.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In the New Testament, of people baptizing people in Jesus name, they also would have done so with the full knowledge that Jesus is the way to understand the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is the Triune God.
We have to understand that God sent His Son to this world so that the world could understand God in His totality, and especially His love.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
Even the most vile of sins was not counted against us, to those who come to Him for His resurrected life, and in that resurrected life is the receiving of that provision of forgiveness of sin. We do not initiate any of that. God initiated that. We respond to that love. But you cannot respond to love unless you understand love.
1 John 4:19
19 We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:10
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
So, as long as we have a perception of God as this angry God in the sky some place, and this God that is vindictive, and a God that is hard, harsh and demanding, then the only way we can respond to Him, quite frankly, is in fear. I know of no other way to respond to a harsh, demanding, hard-hearted God except to realize that this God is powerful enough to make this universe and is mad at me. I am in trouble. I know of no other way to respond except through fear.
1 John 4:17-19
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us.
We talked about fear last week, that there is no fear in love. When you understand the love of God, there is nothing to fear. The perfect love of God is what drives out the fear of God. Fear has to do with punishment. If my perception of God is a punishing, vindictive, mad irritable God, then I am going to respond the only way I know how, and that is in fear.
I do not sit there and say, “I am going to initiate fear in you Lord so you will get mean.” So why would I say “I initiate love to you so you get more loving.” So we have to understand all those things start from perception. Perception is either false or correct.
What the bible wants you to know is that God loves you. Because He loves you and because the punishment for your sins is already paid. It is not that God blinked at sin, or winked at it. God punished sin. But the punishment of your and my sin went upon the sinless Jesus. He did not take some of your punishment. He took all of your punishment. That is why there is no condemnation awaiting you who are in Christ Jesus.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death. There is no punishment. That enables you to walk in no fear because there is no fear in love. That perfect love of God that was demonstrated to us through Christ Jesus is what drives out the fear of God.
1 John 4:18
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
In other words, you have an incomplete love of God if you are living in fear of God. What brings about fear is the fear of punishment. What brings about the fear of punishment is the fact that God is demanding something of me and I cannot do that. Therefore, I conclude that I am going to be punished for that. It is certainly true that God demands perfection. And God demands perfect holiness in order to enter into the presence of a perfectly and holy God. The issue is how are you and I going to get there? The issue is you cannot.
10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one”
Yet God is a righteous God. How am I, who is unrighteous, ever going to enter into the presence of a righteous God?
In every one of those things, the answer came in Jesus Christ. Jesus became your righteousness. Jesus became your holiness.
1 Corinthians 1:30
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
But you see, the demand of God for perfection, that is completeness, holiness and sanctification, all of those things, have been given to us in the perfect Son of God.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John testified of what Jesus was going to do, and later did, when he died on a cross. John the Baptist identified Jesus as the promised Messiah to Israel.
Because of that I know I am righteous in the sight of God. I know I have been made holy in the sight of God. I know I have been set apart by God. I know my eternal destiny because I know my eternal present. So I have no fear to enter into the presence of God, calling Him Abba Father, daddy, for receiving mercy, not punishment, in my time of need.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,[daddy] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Until we come to grasp the perfect love of God for us, we have no way of responding back in love to Him. It is not that we loved God, so quit trying to conjure up love for God. You cannot conjure up love for God any more than you can conjure up hunger. Like you are going to make yourself hungry. That is a natural response to your bodily functions. I also cannot make myself love God. I can only respond as I understand His love for me.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13 is a definition of love. God is saying let me show you a better way. He is explaining to us that if we could speak in the tongues of men and angels but we do not have love, we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. What difference would it make in what language or how many languages we spoke in? If we did not speak in love, what good does it do? He goes on to define what love is.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
We look at that, many times, and forget to realize that God is love.
1 John 4:8
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So when you are defining what love is, you are defining who God is and how God deals with you. You cannot separate the way God deals with you from God’s character and who God is. Who God is depends on how God deals with you. So when you are looking at love, you are looking at both of those things. You are looking at God, who is love, and how God deals with you. So let us look at that and allow these truths to embed into our hearts. Let us ponder these things.
God is patient with you. Well, I wonder how many of us think God is patient with you. How many times have you heard the same thing, “I bet God is sick at His stomach with me. He probably has a big tonic bottle of pepto bismol He takes every time He thinks about me. How could God love me? Why I failed Him. I keep sinning. In the things I want to do I do not do. The things I do not want to do, I do anyway. I told him. I walked the aisle a thousand times. I committed to Him a hundred thousand times, and I will not do this again, and I turn around and do it again. How can He love me?”
The answer to that is this. God says, “because I do not love you for what you are doing. I love you because of what my Son did in you. He gave you His birth. I am patient with you.” “Lord, but how patient?” “Look at Israel. How long was I patient with Israel? How long have I been patient with Israel before I came to earth and how patient I am, when I come again. Who am I going to go back to? Israel. At that time, I will show myself to them once again, and at that time, every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.” He is patient with you.
God is kind to you. He seeks out the best for you. He is not envious of what you have, or jealous of what you have. He is not boastful with you. God does not boast to you. He is not saying, “How can you do this to me?” God knows you. God came to this earth. He was exposed to all of the techniques of Satan in regard to temptation. He was tempted at all points yet without sin. That does not mean Jesus was sitting there, gutting it out, struggling with wanting to do what Satan was encouraging Him to do. But every attack Satan has come up with, he tried on Jesus. Yet Jesus is without sin. He is not boasting about that, saying “after all, I am God, and you are not.” He is aying, “I understand your weakness and indwelling sin. That is why I came to give you a new heart and a new life. So do not think I am ever dealing with you on the basis of being proud or envious, but I am kind to you.”
God is not proud. He is not sitting there saying, “I am too great as God to reach down to you as man.” Think about it for a moment. Here is God, hanging on a cross, being beaten half to death by his own creation. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. He looked down on creation and he could, with a puff of his breath, annihilate every person on the face of the earth. He could have called legions of angels to protect him. Yet he allowed himself, even though he is God, to be ridiculed, maligned, beaten and tortured by His own creation. Why? In order to save this ridiculous creation. Man looks up at Him and says, in essence, in our vernacular, “You saved everybody else. Why don’t you save yourself?” God looks down at that proud arrogant person, and in His heart says, “you, dear friend, if I saved myself, I could never save you.”
Think about our arrogance. These little arrogant things we are, shaking our fists in the face of God, saying “God, you say this is wrong, but I say it is right. You say this is sin but I say it is an alternate lifestyle. You say this is worry and I say it is a healthy concern. I am not going to listen to what you say one iota. I am going to determine right from wrong on my own.”
In the midst of that proud attitude that we have toward God is this humble attitude that God has toward us. That is just like the father with the prodigal son. Whenever you are ready to come home, you come unto me and I will give you peace and rest for your soul. Folks, that is not pride. That is total humility. Here is the God who made this universe that was of such a humble serving spirit that said to those proud people down here, that we created, “I am going to humble myself and become one of them. I am going to be tortured, insulted, ridiculed, and everything else by the same people I came to save. But their salvation is worth it more to me than their praise and adulation. So I am going to a cross to take upon myself their sins, and I will, in essence, become sin for them so they will be able to find righteousness in me.”
Folks, that is unbelievable when you think about it, that God is not proud.
God is not rude to you. Can you imagine with God, and all that He knows, how easy it would be to make you look like a total idiot. To think we are so smart and intellectual! Can you imagine how God could just annihilate us with His intellect. That would be rude to do that, to show you up, to show you how dumb you are, in comparison to who He is, the I am. I will even listen to some of your dumb prayers. So realize God is not rude. We are rude, but He is not rude.
God is not self seeking. He is seeking after your good. It is not His. God is not sitting up there to not do this or that because it is going to make me feel good. No, it is good for you. You will destroy yourself if you continue in the lifestyle you are working in.
When talking about God’s love is not self seeking. It is always that He is looking out for our interest above His own. Why did Christ come to die for us? He certainly did not need to. For He was looking out for our interests above His own. He was willing to suffer and die so we might live and be freed from the punishment and suffering that was due to us for our own sins. That is not self-seeking, folks. That is seeking the benefit of His creation. So we have to realize that He was willing to go to extremes of going to a cross in order to enable you and me to go free. How is He dealing with you today? Is He dealing with you in a self-seeking manner? Or, is He always looking out for your best? The latter is obviously true. That is the love of God, always seeking the best for you.
That is amazing. We do not understand that. A lot of times, we will see trials and tribulations come into our lives and the first thing we say is, “Why are you doing that?” “Because I am seeking the best for you. If you just rest in my love, then you will see my plan in regard to this issue.”
So we go through trials and tribulations, and many times we look at them as punishment. No, God says He will disciple us in the midst of trials and tribulations so that in the midst of it, we see that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God. Disciple is not punishment. It is saying in the midst of whatever you are going through, whether self imposed or not, the issue is, regardless of whatever you are going through, “if you will allow Me, I will disciple you and I will teach you and discipline you so that you can see that I will cause it to work together for your good.”
I do not know what trials and tribulations you are going through today, but if you see the love of God, you will understand something and that is He is going to work it together for your good if you let Him. Obviously when you do not let Him, nothing is going to be done, for He will not enforce Himself on you. I can take you to the most marvelous and spectacular scenes in the world and you will not be able to see it. Huge in scope but you could not see it. I could take you to the Grand Canyon. I could stand you 6 feet from the edge of it and you will not see it. All you have to do is turn your back on it. It is there but you have your back turned on it. It is the same thing with God’s provision and love. It is there. But when you turn your back on it, you will not be a recipient of it. Only when you see God is at work in you, to will and to work for His good pleasure, that we are able to walk by faith in whatever we are going through, with total knowledge that God will cause it for you, to work together for your good.
God is not easily angered. That is good news. Yes, but you do not know what I did. Well, no. I do not know what you did. God does. But I do know what some other people did and I know what he did at the cross and what other people did at the cross. You had people there who mocked him. You had people there who made fun of him. You had people who dragged him into the lower part of where he was tortured and beat him half to death. It is said in scriptures that he was beaten as no man. You had big soldiers plucking out his beard, putting a hood over his head and punching him in the face as hard as they could. “So if you are a prophet, tell us who hit you?” You had beatings, a flogging with a whip with a bone in it of such severity that it says the bowels and sinews of his own body was exposed to the human eye. After all of that through the bleeding and agony of that, putting his cloak back on, ripping it off, which would undo what had taken place with his wounds, just bringing more pain upon him. I know what they did. I know the people that put a crown of thorns down on his head, those sharp horns piercing his forehead, then hitting him on the head to then go deeper in his body. I know what they did. I know those same people then, not only drove nails into his feet and into his hands and pierced his side with a sword. Then those people were there gambling for his cloak, mocking him, making fun of him and I know they did that to him.
I know what Jesus said, after all of that. “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” That does not sound like he was angered to me. If that does not make you angry, then I think you can forget about some of the things you have done that you think has angered God. The same God that looked down on that torture and abuse and said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”, then we have to realize God is not easily angered with you.
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