Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P54 (08-19-20)
It is hard to understand the love of God when you see such prevalent evil all around, whether flaunted on television, presenting homosexuality as glorious, promoting a drag queen in teaching children in a library, or seeing people knocking down monuments, rioting in the city, and seemingly for no reason shoot a little boy in the head. So often people blame the wrong person for our problems, as in those who blame white supremacy or the police for our problems, and it seems God always gets the blame for something He never did.
The fact of the matter is that God is love. That depravity of man, that sin that is in man broke His heart. He knows what sin does to a person, to a city and to a country. It destroys all that He intended for man to be and have, to be able to respond to His love. No matter what the sin, whether a lie, worry, homosexual perversion or murder, it is sin. The root of all sin is unbelief in Jesus.
We were all born in unbelief, already under condemnation of sin and death. Out of His great love for us, while we were yet sinners, God did something for us we could never do for ourselves. He died for us that we might not face the just penalty for our sins. He walked on this earth to show us what we are like, that we are not like Him, and so that we might recognize our pitiful state of spiritual death, and seek new life in Him, a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Those are the things from the fruit of the Spirit. That is what God wants to produce in and through us.
But we were born without the Spirit of God. Until we know Him, we have no access to the Spirit and so cannot experience the things of the Spirit. That is really what we want, but we go about trying to obtain that without Him, which is impossible for us. We think we are getting love through sinful behavior, but that is not love at all. The human race is so blind and living in darkness. We were never designed by God that way from the beginning, in the original creation of Adam. God died in order to take away the cause of our death, which is sin, in order to give us new life in Him. He showed us what we are like, dead, and what He is like, perfect love and eternal life, that we might want the same life that is in Him.
What does every man live in fear of all his life? Is it not the fear of death? Perfect love casts out fear. If we fear God, why would we approach Him? If we have a faulty understanding of what God is like, as someone who is ready to zap us for every wrong thing we do or is some unapproachable or some uninvolved person up in the sky, why would we approach Him? But, while we were still a sinner, He showed us long-suffering, compassion, patience and kindness to us. He made the blind see and the deaf here. He told the woman caught in adultery that she is free now. He told her that neither do I condemn you and to leave her life of sin. Does that not lead us to repentance, to come to Him to receive what He has already provided for us?
It is God’s loving kindness that leads us to repentance, to trust Him for what He said He has already provided. What has He provided? He took away all our sins at the cross, and that before you and I were even born. We have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son. What else has He provided? He has given us who believe, His very life, placed in you. He offers to you the same Spirit of God that lived in Jesus, so that we can experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, His imputed righteousness, that is received by faith.
We walk in that same faith, under a New Covenant of grace, not under the old way of the law. We no longer live in the manner of the Old Covenant that the Jews lived under until faith should be revealed in us. Jesus finished the work He came to do. When we understand that when Jesus walked the earth, he was living under an Old Covenant, speaking to those living under that covenant, then we more clearly understand the gospels and the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus spoke of a New Covenant to come, but He spoke in ways to help the Jews, under the law, to see that no one will be declared righteous by observing the law. Only His perfection will do. That is why when Jesus said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”, that is so true. The issue is that we cannot do it, but He can, He will, and He did. Jesus had a conversation with the rich young ruler. He asked Jesus, “What must I do to be saved?” He was unable and unwilling to do what Jesus asked. He thought he could. When the disciples heard all this, they asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “With man this impossible, but everything is possible with God.” That is why Jesus came. To do something for man that man could never do for himself.
As we come to know Christ, we are continually growing in this grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, we are on this journey to grasp more fully this complete and perfect love of God that casts out all fear. This comprehension of God’s love is what enabled Paul, when He was led by the Lord to boldly proclaim the message of Christ, that after he was nearly stoned to death, he immediately got back up and preached to those who almost had him killed. He was fearless. Why? He knew the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus. He had come to understand that nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus His Lord. He reasoned that if God is for him who can be against him. So when He was led by the Spirit to do what God had planned for him to do, he was depending on Christ, His perfect love, to do what God had asked of him. Paul testified that to him to live is Christ and to die is gain.
What happened to Rome in their day? That is what happened to the Roman empire. Homosexuality was so rampant in that period of history that the population decreased substantially. Whenever you see a nation go downhill, every single time you will see the ultimate of perversion, not just engaged in, but flaunted in front of people, and even young people. I am not here bearing down on the specific sin because all sin is sin. But what I am bearing down on is why are people flaunting any kind of sin. Why do people go out and make stealing look glamorous? Why do people go out and make murder glamorous? In some instances people have done that as well.
(Romans 1 goes into details describing this perversion, and how this flaunting of sin comes about, originating from exchanging the truth of God for a lie.)
In the final analysis, when you have people totally engaged in all of these types of things, it is people who have so much time on their hands. They are so spoiled in character that they have none. They not only have no character, they have no perseverance. They are unable to hang in there when there are trials and tribulations. Therefore, they have no character. In my life, I have not known too many people like Amy and her family that went through trials and suffering beyond recognition. They have more character than anybody that I know. They have a lot of character. I am not saying they do not have faults, for we all do. I am not saying we do not have weak points, for we all do. But there is a character there that I do not personally possess. It is a character that you seldom see in this country. It is because very few people have gone through that suffering that produces that kind of thing.
Are you born again Christian? Do you want Christian character? Yes. Do you want hope? Yes. Good. Prepare for suffering. It does not say there is any other way to receive that except by going through trials and tribulations of life. You do not produce character and hope when you have no hope and you have no character. What produces character is getting through those things. The person who falls to them and gives in to them and perceives themselves as this poor victim who is never going to get out of this situation, that is not going to produce character nor is it going to produce hope. You have suffering and you have hard times and tribulation and suffering alright, but you are turning to natural means instead of to God to deal with those issues. That does not produce character nor does it produce hope. It produces despair and a mindset that I will go to anything the world has to offer to try to get out of this situation and to get out from under this situation.
If you want to get pure gold, you will have to go through a lot of fire. The outcome of that is it produces character and it produces hope. When you give into the flesh saying “I am not supposed to have any problems. I am a Christian. I am not supposed to have any suffering because I am a Christian. Woe is me. How could these things be happening to me? How come people are not treating me in the way that I want them to treat me? Nobody particularly likes me and I am lonely and I never get any attention and I never get any pats on my head. Woe is me. I will just go sit and pout and possibly pray the prayer of Job’s good wife, who said ‘Why do you not just curse God and commit suicide?’” That does not produce character. Job had character. What his character was, the tenacity he had, is the fact that I am going to hang onto the Lord despite whatever I am going through. That is what brought hope to him.
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Here is the triplicate of faith, hope and love.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Do we realize that every person, including ourselves, that we are talking about, what God for us. He also reconciled them unto God through the death of his Son. That does not mean you are saved yet, for you are saved through His life, but as far as God is concerned, the forgiveness for sins for that person has already taken place. We are not talking about an unforgiving God. We are not talking about a God of condemnation for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Without Christ Jesus you are alive in the condemnation of the wages of sin is death.
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 free from the law of sin and death.
What we need to understand is that God has given us His Spirit and while we were yet powerless God died for the ungodly. Think about that for a moment.
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.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, (life is in the blood) how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! <sup11< sup=””> Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
So is that a marvelous thing? Yes! We received the reconciliation. We recognize something. I have been reconciled to God. That is the beginning of salvation. I have been reconciled to God through the cross. Now I am prepared to say what about the wages of sins, which is death? Anyone who has truly claimed his reconciliation through the death of Christ is ready to also believe what God says about you, that you are dead and with a deep desire to receive life.
We all must understand that there is no sin that is a greater sin than another. Anything that is not of faith is sin. When God said you are born a man and you try to act like a woman, you are not acting in faith. When God says you are born a woman with natural woman instincts and you say that is not true, then that is not walking by faith in truth that has been revealed to you, not by man and not by numbers and not by everybody getting together so we can find acceptance, but by God.
everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Worry is sin. That which is not of faith is sin. So you do not call it a healthy concern. You do not sit around and say “I was just human” or say “I was born that way.” For you could literally justify it that way if you wanted to. No, worry is not of faith. Worry shows me that I am not exercising faith. That should be the incentive for us to exercise the faith that we need in Christ Jesus. When I see ungodly desires come out of my flesh, which they do, that should show me my need for dependency upon Jesus. It is not to say I am born that way, to rationalize all of that, and then to flaunt it. It is the flaunting of sin that destroys, ultimately, not only you who are doing the flaunting, but to those who are watching you doing the flaunting. So, it destroys your environment. It destroys your sphere of influence and if that continues on on a massive basis, it will destroy a country.
Did Jesus forgive those sins? Yes, every one of them. There is not a sin that you and I have ever committed that Jesus did not forgive at the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
God has forgiven you. He has taken away your sins. He does not call sin a healthy concern. He does not call sin natural, although it is natural. He says it is sin. The reason He is against sin is because of what it does to you. When you come to faith and recognize you are justified by faith, something has been done to you. It gives you peace. That is what people are looking for in this world, peace, but people are looking for it in all the wrong places. People just like us are looking for love in all the wrong places.
I am not being hard on specific people in society. But in the world we are living in today, for some reason, people have decided to flaunt, advertize and glorify sinful behavior. Maybe next year it will be glorifying some other kind of sinful behavior. You are not going to stop sinful behavior through advertising but you can certainly promote it through advertising. Why would people advertise the very things that are going to destroy our lives?
On television, in Vancouver, the police department decided that putting drug addicts in jail is not helping them to keep them off of drugs. So they decided to see if they could do something that will help. So they went out on the streets with a video camera. The video recorded them in the horrible conditions they were in. They began to show them those things and then began to help them where they became their friend rather than their enemy. It showed a number of people who were off of drugs for a period of time. They videotaped them and it was like they were not the same person. So here is someone going after something with a positive attitude. Drugs are not glamorous. Movies try to make it look like it is. Every one of them said they would do anything to get off of this. Do not let people get started on this. Yet, it is being advertised as fun, and everyone is sitting around saying “it won’t hurt you.” Yet that is often a gateway drug to something else that is stronger and more addictive and deadly. It is advertised as fun, yet it is destructive to humanity.It truly is something that disturbs my heart when you hear and when I see what is going on in the world and see how this kind of sin is being flaunted all over the world. It is only when we approach the teaching of the New Testament, of realizing what we are talking about, when you go through life, you will go through sufferings that will produce character in you. So do not have unrealistic expectations about life. Only when we see that will we see Christianity begin to fall in place.
When we were raising our children, Amy and I were trying everything possible to keep our children from trials and tribulations. Do you know what, honey, what we are doing is teaching our children to have no character. Until our children go through trials and tribulations and hard times are they ever going to have character. They are never going to see that the Lord is bigger than those things. The time to let a child go through those things is not when they are off at college but while they are at home. Many times, in essence, you have to be careful with this, but you need to give children freedom to fall on their face where you are there to pick them up. Let them see how trials and tribulations in life, if they are in Christ, will produce the character that ultimately produces the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
Notice the pattern. Our love for God, our dependency on God and our obedience to God are the result of knowing God’s love for us. It was the love of God that was demonstrated through Jesus Christ that drew us to Him when we first believed. It is the love of God that motivates us to walk in total dependence upon Christ Jesus today. The message of God’s unconditional love and grace that He freely gives us in Jesus Christ is what transforms our hearts and our lives. So the key to the Christian life is learning to abide in Christ’s love.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
How does Jesus love us? He loves us perfectly. How much do you think the Father loved Jesus? Perfectly. Therefore, how great do you think Jesus’ love is for you? If that is the case, now love one another. You have now received something to pass on. You cannot generate that any more than a branch can produce fruit. But you can abide in His love and be filled with His love and when you are filled, out comes fruit.
That is why you prune a branch. You prune a branch so it will bear more fruit. Many times trials and tribulations in life is the pruning action in our lives that enables us to walk by faith and hope in Him. He is the producer of fruit. To abide in God’s love means you will grow in your understanding of God’s finished work on the cross.
1 John 4:9-10
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the propitiation for our sins.
Propitiation means that God turned aside His wrath and took away our sins. How did God show His love toward us? Did He demonstrate that? Yes He did. How? Through His Son Jesus Christ. What did Christ do? First of all, there is much misunderstanding on the New Covenant. We have people who have called on that regard, and reveal their lack of understanding when they ask, “Are you saying then that Jesus teaching is not applicable?”
Jesus taught under the Old Covenant. There was a purpose for His teaching. Everything He taught was totally true and everything He taught is totally applicable. When Jesus said to be perfect, and we respond “How Lord?” “As the Father in heaven is perfect and that is all that will do.” That is true teaching that a perfect God will not accept an imperfect person into a perfect heaven. The issue is how am I going to make myself perfect? Jesus said to be perfect. Then you reply, “Well, Lord that is impossible.” Jesus says, “Now you got it.”
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[Exodus 20:12-16; Deut. 5:16-20] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[Lev. 19:18]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then, of course, after the cross and resurrection, you read in Hebrews.
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”[Jeremiah 31:33]
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
“You cannot do it. That is all that will do. But you cannot do it, but I can.” When God says, “Be righteous”, what do I say? “Thank you, Lord.” “But, how am I going to go about that?” Lots of luck.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
That is the only way I knew how to be righteous. That is the only thing that will do, perfect righteousness. “But you cannot do it. I did, I can and I will.” We have been imputed with His righteousness.
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was also able to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
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.
Christ is our righteousness. I cannot make myself righteous. It is not negating those teachings. It is Jesus explaining God’s perfection. In so doing, He showed us our imperfection, our inability to do what we are asking God to do, forgive. He says if you do not forgive your brother, your Father in heaven will not forgive you.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Uh Oh. I am in trouble. That would certainly be true if it weren ’ t for what Jesus went to the cross to do. His teaching was preparatory for His going to a cross and a burial and a resurrection. If those people were not willing to see themselves in their condition, then that is what Jesus teaching did for them. It showed us ourselves and it showed us Him. When we look at Him, we say that is not me. Then He demonstrates me and says that is not Him. When we know that I am not Him and He is not me, then we are ready to turn what He came to provide for us, that provision at the cross and the newness we have in the New Covenant we live in today. All of that is applicable in regards to what we need to know in order to come to Him by faith.
We looked at the whole issue of peace with God. I am justified by faith. I just do not believe that. I have to enter into that by faith. There is nothing that will separate me from the love of God.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If that is the case, is there anything to fear? The number one thing people fear is death. There is no fear in love. A person who is functioning in fear is not functioning in love.
1 John 4:18
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.
We can do all of the things that the church tells us to do, but it still comes down to this simple truth. If you are functioning in fear, you cannot be functioning in love. We approach and we have the Y2K thing that puts everybody under a panic. Well, not everybody. It did not put me under a panic or anybody listening to me under panic, for there was nothing to fear. I have no fear of death so why should I have fear of life.
If God’s grace is going to sustain me at the time of death, why would I not think that God’s grace is sustaining me in the time of life? What do I have to worry about. It is not that if a lion jumped in this room, that I would not experience fear. But I am not going to sit around worrying about a lion jumping in it. A lion is a fearful thing if I jump in the cage with him. But if the lion is in the cage and I am not, then there is nothing to fear is there?
It is our lack of understanding in regard to the perfect love of God for us that creates fear in us. Fear is Satan’s number one weapon to keep us away from the number one thing God wants us to know, His love. Perfect love drives out fear. So, where are the two elements there? Love and fear. If perfect love drives out fear, fear will drive out perfect love. So guess where Satan lives? In trying to drive out the perfect love of God. How does He do that? Fear. It is his number one atom bomb.
We do not realize that. When fearful thoughts come into our hearts, what do we need to say to ourselves? What do we need to go back and say? Hold on a minute. This is not coming from God. There is no fear in perfect love. Perfect love drives out fear. But there, I am all fearful. You look at that and say, “Okay, you need to confess that.” I tell you what you need to confess is the truth that this fear is the proof of something. It is the proof that I am not abiding in the love of God.
When I first started in the grace of God, the scripture that got me is this.
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
“He who loves me obeys me.” I had to say, “Lord, I am not obeying you in all things. I am just going to have to face up to the simple truth that I evidently do not love you.” It is a very hard thing to admit to God. “But that is what you said. I believe what you said. I can rationalize that but I am not going to. You said that He who loves you obeys you, and I am not obeying you in all things and therefore I am not loving you.”
I remember when I did, about the first couple of weeks I was saved, for that is all I knew. The Lord said, “Now, you have got it. There is your problem. Your problem is not in your disobedience. Your problem is in not understanding my love. The reason you do not understand my love is because you have not finalized the cross. You are saved but in your heart you have not finalized that. You are just as diligent as an Old Testament saint, going back to the day of atonement, getting forgiven over and over again. You have not finalized anything. You are not walking by faith. You say you believe this but you are not walking by faith in my love. My love is perfect. My perfect kind of love drives out all fear.”
What is it that you are fearing? Not doing enough good or not loving enough? They are fearful. I wonder if He accepts me today? I did not act real good. That is all fear stuff. The only thing that drives that out is the perfect love of God. Fear has to do with punishment. When fearing you are wondering if I am going to get zapped for this. How many times do you hear this, that God is going to get you for that one. That is not God, folks. That is from the enemy of our souls.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love. That does not mean you are not saved. That means you are not allowing God to make you perfect in His love, to make you complete. What is the completeness in that? That nothing can separate me from the love of God. Why was Paul able to say that? He had been made perfect in love.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If Paul had any fear in Him at all, can you imagine after being nearly stoned to death, knocking stones off you and then going back to preaching to those who almost stoned you to death? That is a person who was fearless. Was he an unusual guy to be fearless? No. He was an ordinary guy who came to understand that the perfect love of God, that if God is for me who can be against me.
18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
All of us are getting to know the fullness of the grace of God. When we do, we notice something. This fear is going away. He says you are on your path. But there is no fear in love. So, when I am fearing, look at that just like I had to look at it. It means when I am not loving God, it means I am not relying on His love. Thank you for showing me this fear. It is showing me something. I am not depending on your love. Thank you Lord for showing me that. Thank you for allowing this fear to come out of me to show me where I am walking. Where I want to walk is in your perfect love.
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