Understanding God's Love For Us
|The Author and Finisher of Our Faith|
Be sure to continue making lists as you read.
Ephesians 3: 17-19
Ephesians 2: 8-9
I John 4: 9-10
Luke 15: 4 -7
I John 1: 9-10 and 2: 1-2
Romans 8: 35-39
King James Version
New International Ver.
The Cross Centered Life
King James Version
Understanding God's Love For Us ... Part I - (Lesson 19)
This subject has been on my heart for some time. I've done extensive research to be sure that I have at least enough knowledge to begin the study. As I have stated in these lessons from time to time, this is really a 'learning together' experience.
I believe our Heavenly Father desires for us to understand the depths of His love for us. My prayer is that He will guide us into that understanding and open our eyes to the richness of His love and His plans for us.
Ephesians 3: 17-19 ... That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
First: We have to see that God loved us while we were UNLOVABLE! We were without a relationship with Him, in broken fellowship, utterly lost and in bondage to sin and evil. This seems so simple, but in the pursuit of the understanding of God's love for us, it is a concept we must grasp in its fullness. He loves us because we are His creation and He wants to have fellowship with us.
I John 4: 9-10 ... In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Consider then, how did we obtain His love? Was it because He saw something good in us or something we did to please Him? No, it was because He loved us, simply and unconditionally, He loved us. So God, Himself planned a way for us to be brought into His love and given eternal life and a lasting relationship with Him. This love God has for us is called AGAPE love. One of the many facets of agape love is: loving without expectation - that is, His love is given regardless of our response to it. It certainly does not depend on us deserving it. This is the pure 'Grace of God.'
To begin our search into His fathomless love we must start with the concept of our reconciliation with God and how we stand with Him. If we are to arrive at a deeper knowledge of this, then we must understand a few basic doctrines. One of them is the difference between 'justification' and 'sanctification.'
Do you sometimes think your performance is the key to making God love you, or to be pleased with you? I think we're all guilty of that in one way or another. But it's just not so! When we believed in our redemption by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for our Salvation, we were JUSTIFIED by our Messiah, Jesus' blood. We were declared righteous at that moment. At that time the Father welcomed us into His eternal Kingdom and rejoiced in heaven in the presence of the angels.
Luke 15: 4 -7 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Jesus shows the love the Father has for us so vividly in that time after time in the 'Shepherd Dialogues' in His teaching, He speaks of 'going after' and 'finding' the lost ones. He did not present the picture of our coming Salvation as something we would seek after, rather a gift where we would be agressively sought after in order to be given that gift.
I know that there are some Christian 'catch-phrases' or 'slogans' that we use so often in our dialogue with others and even in our minds. One of them is that we must 'find Jesus' or we have 'found the Lord.' Jesus said that all have gone astray and no one seeks after the Lord. So, He seeks us out and draws us by the Holy Spirit, even giving us the measure of faith we need to believe. He offers us the opportunity to repent and receive eternal life. If it begins with faith in what He has provided for us, it continues by faith in Him and what He has done, and not by our works, because it was not based on our works in the beginning.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Word explains that we were 'born again' .. meaning that our spiritual selves were created new right then. This had nothing to do with our 'works.' It had to do with us accepting the gift of eternal life, by faith. This gift was purchased for us by Jesus on the cross so we could enter into God's presence and into fellowship with Him.
Were we instantly perfected in righteousness in our physical bodies? No, we still live in these mortal bodies which are not yet redeemed. Our 'inner man' was redeemed from sin and death and someday our bodies will be risen in perfection, but until then our Salvation has an aspect to it that is known as SANCTIFICATION. Our walk with the Lord and our deeds and works now have to do with our sanctification. The biggest problem is getting the two confused. (Justification and sanctification)
When our faith and belief is new and fresh in our hearts we have a childlike faith in our Heavenly Father's love .. that is, unless we have those around us in spiritual authority who begin to tell us we have to start 'changing' immediately and giving us lists of 'do's and don'ts' while the wonder of it has barely had a chance to penetrate our spirits.
All of a sudden we feel a burden on our shoulders - to 'perform' correctly. We 'walk on eggs' because we fear that a little slip may cause God to take His love away from us or be instantly displeased and punish us somehow. I know .. I have been there! And many others have been there with me!
Is it a good thing to please God? Yes, of course, but when our faith in His love for us is based on performance, our good works can become a good thing gone bad. He does give us a conscience and we do know when we are not living according to the way our Father wants us to live.
Many of us know what it's like to arouse displeasure from our earthly parents when we misbehave. But does that make our parents take their love away or disown us? (I refer to normal parent/child relationships) No, they guide us and discipline us for our own good. It's not pleasant, but it's because of their love for us. They love us when we're good and love us when we're not so good.
If we are not careful we can gradually begin to live our lives before the Lord as if we were and are, justified by our works instead of faith. Then we become legalists.
But, what of our 'works?' They are not 'things done' to keep our Salvation or God's love for us, they are a working out of the love of God which dwells within us. They are a result of being a new person in Christ. His agape love is His 'essence' or 'spirit' living in us. This causes us to desire to do good works. (or behave, like good children should) They are the demonstration of His love in us and our love for Him and each other. Our performance (our works) is a process of growth and maturing in our new lives. It is NOT our working to EARN God's love or for maintaining our Salvation. Our works show the reality of our faith and that the agape love of God lives within us.
But remember, we are still in these earthly bodies and there is the battle in our flesh. We do not always walk according to the way we desire to walk in our 'inner man' - the new person in Christ. It would be impossible, we all know that. Paul said he desired to do that which was good. I won't write the whole passage here as most of us are familiar with it, but look it up and study it for yourself later. (Romans, chapter 7)
According to the scriptures (I John as an example) it is not God's will that we sin, of course, but He knows that in our mortal bodies we will - and He has a provision for our sins, to show His love for us as His children so we do not have to be afraid of losing His love, rather, go to Him as His beloved children to be cleansed from those sins. This does not refer here to our original new birth and our redemption from the penalty of sin. Even a brief study of the wording in the original language will demonstrate that fact. It is a cleansing process that goes along with our sanctification and our living as His children ... our walk with our Father.
He is not unhappy with us if we don't 'do it right' all the time. He sees the intent of our hearts. Because our hearts are 'toward' Him now. We have the truth written in our hearts if we have been made new creatures. We have a desire toward godliness because we are the creation (the new one) of our Father. For this reason we will try to do what we understand will please our Father. We will not consider we have a 'license' to sin. In fact, I see in the letters John wrote that even though we are not perfected in our flesh we will still be able to sin, but in our spirits we do not sin. Paul called this a war between the flesh and spirit. We battle this because of our new nature, otherwise we would be very comfortable with sin.
So, I have to conclude that Jesus, as our advocate, knows all we are ever tempted with, and understands that we are still flesh and blood, and will 'blow it' at times. But, He's there making intercession for us to our Father. Why would He have to make intercession if we were not capable of sin? It does not state anywhere that we need to be 'born again' over and over or justified over and over. How many times would Jesus have to do an atoning work again for us? Did He not say, "It Is Finished?" And how is He able to 'make intercession' for us, acting as our 'advocate?' ... meaning similar to that of an attorney. He is able to do that because of His shed blood which He took and poured out on the alter of heaven once and for all to cover the sins of those who believe, forever.
We now 'walk after the spirit' ... and how do we do that? Since there is no good in any flesh, as Jesus pointed out, it must be that we walk in newness of life in our spirits.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Note: An in depth study of I and II John will show that even though we do sin at times, we are not 'habitually' sinning and ruled by or in bondage to the sins we once were. That is a complete study in itself and for a later time.
I John 1: 9-10 and 2: 1-2 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. ... My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
I found a list of the differences between Justification and Sanctification that I want to share with you here. It's from a book titled, 'The Cross Centered Life,' written by Rev. Mahaney.
Justification - is being declared righteous.
Justification - is our position before God
Justification - is objective (Messiah's work
Justification - is immediate
The commentary stated in part that we will never be more justified than we were at the moment we believed and trusted in the finished work of Jesus. But on the other hand, sanctification goes on and will continue while we still live in these bodies here on earth until the resurrection.
Ephesians 2: 8-9 ... But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Would we try to diminish the works of Jesus? Not consciously, but we do that when we consider our works the basis of our salvation. My Salvation was not bought by my good works so how can I maintain my eternal relationship by my works? And who could separate me from that agape love that my 'Abba Father' has bestowed freely upon me? Am I bigger than death, life, angels, height, depth, principalities, powers, things now or in future??? Will tribulations or distresses of all kinds separate me from the love of Christ? No! Paul was teaching a great truth in the following scripture ...
Romans 8: 35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I will continue this subject, addressing the issue of 'faith and works together' - in Part II of 'Understanding God's Love For Us'
Note: If you disagree with my interpretation of the Word on this subject, I ask only that you agree to disagree and do not let differences in theology or doctrine separate us in our love as fellow believers and children of our Father.
May our Lord richly bless you. I know He's pleased at your desire to study His Word with us. Please refer these studies to others if you would. I will try to have a new study ready every few weeks, except for the months of November and December.
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Love In Christ,