How He Loves Us
Posted on 02/06/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear
Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do,
I honor You.
You are my King, Jesus
You are my King
If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed!
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
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Well, today's message may or may not sound very exciting to you, but it's something that keeps coming back to mind, and I believe it's what God wants us to talk about today.
The title of today's message is "How He Loves Us."
I think sometimes the subject of God's love for us can be an issue with which we struggle. Maybe we see ourselves as not worthy of love, or we misunderstand what love really is. Whichever the case, we don't recognize, or perhaps accept, God's love when it offers itself to us.
So today, I'd like for us to take a look at the Word of God so we can enter in freely to God's unending love.
What can we learn about the love of God from His holy Word?
Well, first of all, we see that the love of God has nothing to do with where we may be in life.
Romans chapter 5 and verse 8 says this:
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I think sometimes we act as though we can't accept God's love until we work out some issue in our lives. But here God clearly identifies His love for us as a love that loves us in spite of where we are right now. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
God sacrificed his Son, who had never sinned, for YOU, while you were living in sin and rejecting His love.
Our sin nailed Jesus to the cross. So we could say that, while you were hammering nails into Jesus, while you were beating him, pressing long thorns into his head, while you were whipping his back and tearing his flesh, God looked on you with love. And He said, "This sactifice is for you."
That's the amazing love of God. Mankind has criticized God from every angle, trying to prove that God is unjust, unloving, and anything but good. But while they are pointing their fingers at him in reviling hatred and rejection, He is pouring out His blood to wipe away their sins.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Most if not all of us know John 3:16 by heart: "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."
Some have said that Jesus was weak. But if YOU were God, and if YOU could call on a legion of angels and all the power of the universe to come to your aid, would YOU just lie there while you were mocked, beaten, and had rusty spikes beaten through your hands and feet?
I'll be honest with you -- I don't think I would. Many of us would have destroyed our attackers right then and there. I might have teleported myself to some other location, and left them scratching their heads.
But Jesus didn't utter a word in His defense. As Isaiah 53:7 says,
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
If your mission is to destroy your enemy, weakness might be to just let yourself be hung up to die. But if your mission is to die at the hands of your enemy for the purpose of paying for your enemy's sins, then a level of strength is required that most of us cannot even comprehend.
THAT is the power of the love of God for you.
So John 3:16 says,
16 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.
And then we read the following, starting with verse 17:
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
This is a good passage to remember when you hear, for example, an atheist claiming that they would believe in God if they could see any proof that He exists. But as verse 19 says,
"This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
We cannot conclude, through psychology alone, that the atheist hates the light because it exposes his or her own wickedness. But the Word of God tells us that's exactly the reason they don't believe.
And verse 21 says that the one who does the truth comes to the light. The word "does" could be replaced with "is truly seeking." If you love the truth enough to seek for it regardless of what it might cost you, then you have the heart of one who does the truth. And according to this verse, a person with a heart that does, or obeys, the truth, comes to the light.
Let's back up a few verses to verses 18 through 20, which say this:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
So verse 18 says they suppress the truth. They cover it up with pseudo-science. They form their own mythical scenario, calling it science, which states that everything came from absolute nothing, and just accidentally created the incredible landscape of life and complex laws which populate and govern our very existence.
With no intelligent life whatsoever, the fingerprints of vast intelligence were imprinted upon every fiber of matter, and woven throughout the vast tapestry of what we call "life."
To not see the hand of a magnificently intelligent creator, they MUST suppress the truth.
And verse 19 says that what may be known about God has already been revealed to them. It's right in front of their faces. But, usually without even knowing they are doing so, they pile up vain reasoning and build a wall made of empty arguments, until they feel more comfortable and justified in their delusion that there is no God and that they can live in whatever way they think is best.
And starting in verse 22, we read this:
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Professing to be wise, they became fools. This reminds me of Psalm 14:1, which says, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
Professing to be wise, they became fools.
Isn't that what they call Christians? We are foolish for believing a bronze-age myth which science has proven to be a fairy tale. But science has proven no such thing. Instead, they believe a computer-age myth which many laws of science prove to be a fairy tale, that the vast, obviously intelligently-designed architecture we observe all around us, just accidentally came out of an absolute vacuum; and all the laws that keep it in motion and which sustain life simply wrote themselves, based on the roll of self-created cosmic dice.
So the love of God comes to us when we don't deserve it, and the love of God is rejected by those who have rejected the truth.
Next, let's take a look at Proverbs 3:11-12 (NKJV), which says this:
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Take a look at the Church today, and consider how we react to chastening. If you take someone addicted to porn, and show then what the Word of God says about lust, many of them are likely to quote the verse which says "Judge not, lest you be judged."
Or show someone living a lifestyle of homosexuality the passages which show that God forbids us to practice such things, and many of them will tell you that God doesn't condemn them, but loves them just as they are.
And they are partially right: God does love them just as they are. But what they don't realize is that is is BECAUSE God loves them that He is correcting them by having you speak God's words to them concerning their sin.
"For whom the LORD loves He corrects."
Do you never accept any correction as coming from the Lord? Then you have a false image of God. If you will worship only a God who doesn't correct you, then you worship a false God who also doesn't really love you; "For whom the LORD loves, He corrects."
So when you hear a message preached about the sin you think you are excused to practice, I encourage you to recognize that correction as love, not condemnation. God loves us enough to tell us the truth. The only condemnation comes if we choose to turn a deaf ear to that correction and we choose to not believe what God has said; as we read in John 3:18, "he who does not believe is condemned already."
Your level of belief is measured by your level of obedience. If you believe, you will obey. If you don't obey, you don't really believe.
This can be seen in John 14:15 where Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments;" and John 15:10 where he says, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love."
So if you love God, you will obey Him. If you are not obeying God, whether it's the voice of His Spirit or something written in His Word, then you are not loving Him.
You see, God loves us by correcting us when we're wrong; and we love God by accepting His correction and obeying what He says.
And this is the only thing that can separate us from God.
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) says this:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You see, nothing outside of yourself can separate you from the love of God. We can be separated from the love of God only by rejecting his love until we die.
We've all rejected God's love, both before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and since then, but not obeying what He has said.
We know that anyone who stops rejecting God's love before they die, and who instead accepts His love and responds to it with true repentance, cannot be separated from that love by anything outside of themselves. Not death, not demons, not circumstances of the past, present, or future, not their location, and not any created thing, can separate you from God's love -- that love that comes to us when we don't deserve it; that love that disciplines us when we sin; and that love that we return by our obedience -- nothing can separate us from that love.
But just as the atheist can, on his or her death bed, continue to reject God's love and can enter eternity separated from God's love, so we too can reject the love of God and put ourselves in danger of be separated from it.
So the next time God corrects you, even if you think it feels like condemnation, and you think it doesn't feel like how you think love should feel, rejoice! And above all, don't reject His love by calling it judgement or by telling yourself it can't possibly be coming from Him.
Yes, God loves you. And yes, there's nothing you can do in your life time that can completely separate you from His love. But that love will correct you, sometimes sternly, when you are straying off the path of life, and you either don't return that love by refusing to obey something He's said, or you DO return His love by obeying Him.
To say we love God is a wonderful thing to say. But if we are choosing to live a lifestyle that He has told us not to live, then our claims of love are only delusion -- they are only words.
So choose. Choose whom you will serve. And once you have chosen, don't allow yourself to get upset and condemned by your failures.
When we stumble and fall, the enemy points his finger and laughs, as he taunts us with words such as, "See, you're a failure! You can't obey God. You can't please Him. He's mad at you now, so you'd better not pray. You'll never amount to anything. You'll never earn God's love."
But satan is a liar and the father of all lies. The truth is at "when you are weak, then He is strong." And if you sin, and confess your sin to God, then He not only forgives you, but washes that sin away, as though it never happened.
Yes, you're going to mess up the rest of your life. But when you fall, get up again. You're only defeated if you give up. And as long as you're still alive, God is working in you, changing you into the image of His Son.
Let's close today with a time of prayer and surrender, as we let go of our own ideas of what love is, and as we instead accept what GOD says love is.
You're all invited right now to get out of your seat and make your way to the front, as we gather for a time of prayer and ministry.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message Mariposa or anyone else on the staff or ministry team. You can also contact me by going to almcyberchurch.org, and clicking on the pastors' offices. To those who came in during the message, I can't login to Second Life until we pay the island fees of almost $200, which you can help with by going to almcyberchurch.org.
Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and I pray you have a week filled with the love of God, as you learn to return your love to Him in the form of obedience.
Come, and let's spend some time at the altar, remembering and submitting to How He Loves Us.
*** listen to audio for closing and prayer ***