Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P8 (08-24-21)
Love is What Motivated God’s Provision of New Life for You and Me
Jesus Christ is the life we need. We are to rest in Christ’ finished work for us. Forgiveness of sins is over. All punishment was placed on Jesus, with none left for you. That provision for sin allows us to freely approach God, for there is now no fear of punishment. We can come to Him to receive what He really came to give us, eternal life, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead to be placed in you forever. So let that perfect love cast out fear so you can love one another with the same love God has given you. God’s love preceded His provision for forgiveness for sin.
Many of us have grown up in church and heard the song sung, Amazing Grace. Have you pondered over how the grace of God surely is amazing? When church leadership incorrectly teaches people to ask God to forgive you when you sin or to keep short accounts with God, what is amazing about begging God to forgive you? That is not acting in faith, asking God for what in Him you already have, the forgiveness of sins. That is a denial of what Jesus cried out on a cross, “It is finished””, Tetellestai, or paid in full. There is nothing amazing about God forgiving me if I ask Him. That is not amazing. That is bringing God down to our level of forgiveness. If you come to me and tell me you are sorry and act sorry enough I will forgive you. That is not amazing at all. What is amazing is that you have already been forgiven, that while you and I were yet a sinner Christ died for us!
Consider the meaning of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 in terms of the heart of the father. Did the father accept the prodigal son only if he humbled and begged him to forgive him? Before a word came out of the son’s mouth, what did the father say and do? The story tells us that the father had already forgiven his son, and was longing to be gracious to him, longing for his return. He said, “kill the fattened calf” in celebration. Give the guy some shoes, which is an indicator of sonship. Slaves did not have shoes. His father said, “No, you are coming back as my son.” That is amazing! There is nothing amazing about forgiving a person begging to be forgiven. That is not amazing. That is commonplace. What is amazing is love that is there all the time.
In the midst of our rebellion, whether in God’s dealings with the Israelites under the law of Moses, where they were a stiff-necked and rebellious people, or you and me today under a religious system denying the finished work of the cross, putting on our fig leaves, playing church and hiding from God, afraid to approach God for fear of punishment, either ignorant or defiant of what God said is finished in Christ Jesus. In the midst of that, of our incredible rebellion, Christ was sent by the Father out of His great love for you and me. He sought us out that faith in Him might be revealed to us so we can approach God and come to Him to receive His provision of abundant grace, of new life in Christ Jesus.
Until I see myself as who I am, a wretch, that grace is never amazing. Until I see the result of sin, death, that there is life, that is truly amazing. If I do not realize I am dead, why would I be amazed at receiving life. If I did not see myself as a sinner, why would I ever be amazed at His forgiveness. Not forgiveness because of my begging and asking, but forgiveness that has reached out to me 24 hours a day, 12 months a year until the Lord returns. That is amazing grace! The result of that is that when we know that kind of love, we have been the receiver of it, and therefore we experience it, and when we do, we pass it on to others.
Ponder over these passages of scripture, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:8-9, John 13:35, John 15 and Galatians 5:22-23. As you do, think of how God originally intended man to function when He created Adam and Eve with the Spirit of God living in them. What kind of trust relationship, dependency on God, they must have had. What kind of trust relationship did Jesus, the first person born with the Spirit of God in him, have with God the Father? What manner of life did Jesus live, a model of intimate trust in the Father, that we should imitate? What is notable about the love of God in Christ Jesus is the same love Jesus had with the Father is what He has for you and me. What kind of love is this?
But when we comprehend this love, what kind of love will flow through us into the lives of others? We are recipients of God’s love and we love because He first loved us. Indeed, the parable of the vine and the branches is a visual picture of what was like for Adam before the fall, demonstrated in Jesus as He walked on the earth, and in you and me, who are born again, walking in the Spirit He has given us at new birth. There is a dependent relationship on God the Father, that Jesus expressed when he said, “I do nothing on my own initiative. I do what I see my Father doing and I say exactly what my Father tells me to say and how to say it.” He lived like us, who are not God, so we can learn to live as He did, in total trust and dependency in God’s love and evidenced by His love for people, for people like you and me.
People will know we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another, relying on God, who is love, to produce that love through us as we rest in Him. We cannot produce that kind of love in the energy of the flesh. Only God is love, and by resting in the vine, who is Christ Jesus, we bear fruit as a branch, depending on God, at rest in Him. It’s God’s love that flows out of person who is in Christ Jesus and understands God’s total love for them. If you are truly Jesus’ disciple you are going to be abiding in His love and the result of abiding in His love is that you are going to be bearing fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.
There is much more to salvation. God did not come just to get us out of hell into heaven. He came out of heaven to give life back to man, to restore life to the lifeless, to give hope to the hopeless, and salvation to the lost. All of that motivation behind every bit of that was love. That is exactly how John described God, love, and how He demonstrated His love toward us.
Let us discern what keeps us from entering that rest, to rest from our works just as Christ did from His. Consider the passage in 1 John 4:18-19, where perfect love casts out fear. Why do we fear? Is it because we do not know what God has provided for us in Christ Jesus? Is it because we do not know the love of God, that He has already taken our sins away from the eyes of God and has given us everything we need already for life and godliness? If we think we need our sins forgiven, then how can we approach God without fear of punishment? Are we afraid God will zap us if we do not tithe, not knowing that tithing is not for today, but for those still under a Levitical priesthood until Christ finished the work? Are we uncertain of our relationship with God being secure because we think we have lost fellowship with Him because of a sin we did that we have not yet confessed? What kind of artificial clothing, Christian fig leaves, do we put on so that God will not see our sin? Do we not realize that He remembers our sins no more and He is not counting sins today? How can we go boldly to the throne of grace if we do not understand this amazing grace of God for us, already provided in Christ Jesus, that we can just rest in His love and enter into that love.
Does this not show us how feeble we are, so prone to doubt in our natural flesh, that the root of all sin is unbelief in Jesus. How many times do we worry every day? Is that not sin? Is God looking at that sin? No. He is looking toward us as His child, to guide us into all truth so we can walk in complete freedom, and be at peace in the midst of whatever we are experiencing day to day. He is love and He deals with us not in regard to a law of sin and death but in regard to the law of liberty in Christ Jesus, of allowing us the privilege of participating in the divine nature without any fear of any condemnation for we are His child. He has given us new life. Can you experience that peace that surpasses understanding. Do not let Satan play with your mind by getting you to fear, for fear is what casts out perfect love. Recall Peter stepping out of the boat, walking on water, until he took his eyes off Jesus. What happened? He began to sink, having been overcome with fear of the wind and the waves of life. But who was there to pick him up? Jesus. And what did he say to him? Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt? God is looking for our faith, for that is what pleases God. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. There was no condemnation towards Peter. When a child is learning to walk, what kind of attitude do you have toward your child? Jesus was training Peter for the day when the Spirit of God will be placed in him at Pentecost.
Consider all these passages of scripture and ponder the meaning of what God is speaking to you today.
- Romans 5:7-8
- John 15:13
- Genesis 3:8
- 1 John 4:18
- Hebrews 10:1
- 2 Corinthians 3:6
- 1 John 4:18-19
- 1 John 4:8
- John 13:34-35
- Hebrews 10:14
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
- 1 Corinthians 13:8
- Hebrews 3:17-19
- Hebrews 3:1-3
- Hebrews 4:9-11
- 1 John 4:16-17
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19