Friday, January 2, 2015

"To know that you are loved … this much!!"

Over and over the Psalmist writes, "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say this - those He redeemed from the hand of the foe …" (Psalm 107:1-2).  He goes on to repeat throughout the psalm, "Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men …" (107:8,15,21,31).  And he concludes, "Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD" (107:43).

There is in these words a truth that explains why many reject God, turn away from religion and live without a sure and certain hope … they are not redeemed and therefore are not wise!  It is only those who have been "redeemed" who can even begin to comprehend God's love and to respond by loving Him back.  And it is to these that the Holy Spirit gives wisdom to grasp, though partially so, the depth of God's love for us in Jesus Christ … a love so amazing that apart from His Spirit we cannot possibly come to grips with its power to transform us.

To begin, those who glibly claim that "God loves everybody," miss the meaning of those familiar words from John 3:16:  "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son …"  The meaning of the word, "world," there refers to people from all nations.  From the time of Abraham, God had shown His love and declared His love to one people group:  Israel.  They were and are His "chosen people."  Out of a human race in utter and total rebellion against Him, God chose to reveal Himself to these people.  The rest of the world lay in spiritual darkness and even most of the people of Israel were not given the wisdom required to truly know God and love Him and serve Him.

Jesus declared that God was now fulfilling His promise to Abraham by sending HIM to be a blessing to the "world," to ALL nations.  God was now choosing some from every people, tribe, nation and tongue to be adopted into His family through faith in His Son, the promised Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is these that God sent Jesus to "redeem," to "purchase" with His blood, shed on the cross.  John's vision of the Lamb seated on His throne in Revelation 5 reveals the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders singing a new song:  "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9).

Though God would have been perfectly just to judge the entire human race because of our sin and rebellion, He determined to set His love on those whom He chose to be His and sent Jesus Christ to "redeem" us by His blood shed on the cross.  "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ …" (I Peter 1:18-19).  This is why Jesus said to His disciples, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. … You did not choose Me, but I chose you …" (John 15:13, 16).

That was true of the disciples and that is true of every person who is redeemed by His blood and born again by His Spirit.  God's amazing grace is tied to His amazing love.  "Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD" (Psalm 107:43).  If you have come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord you need to understand that it was not the choice of your own "free will" … the decision of a heart and mind dead in sin.  John says it so clearly in I John 4:19:  "WE love because He FIRST loved us" (I John 4:19).

Many today are caught in the trap of religious duty because they do not truly know the love of God.  Believing that God loves everybody the same, they think it no big deal that they are "saved" because it was their decision.  These seem to believe that God should be happy they chose Him and so they go on about life living to please themselves and offering God their leftovers.  Preachers and teachers then try to prod them to do good, to obey God's commands, to worship, to pray, to give, to serve … but their words seem to fall on deaf ears.  It is because those who are "listening" are not HEARING!!  Their ears are still deaf and their minds are still closed because their hearts are still hard.

God's Spirit is the only one who can break through the darkness and create a new heart and the evidence of the new birth is LOVE!!  This love for Christ arises from a deep awareness of God's holiness and of my sin … an awareness that drops me to my knees in thanksgiving for a Savior.  If you do not understand the depths of your sin and of your need for forgiveness, you will never understand the depth of God's love in sending Jesus to pay the penalty for sin.  So many in the church (and all those outside of it) fail to understand these things because they do not have the wisdom that comes only from the Spirit.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14).

We who by God's sovereign choice and amazing grace have been born again have been given the wisdom to understand that there is nothing we have done, can do, are doing or ever will do to earn God's love and grace … nothing!!  We stand as guilty as the vilest sinner before a holy God, and yet, my Father in heaven has set His love on me and has opened my heart and mind to receive Jesus as my Savior, to acknowledge Him as my Lord.  My life is His and I love Him … I love Him!!!  And I am so very thankful for His redemption that I willingly and joyfully serve Him, even to the point of death.  So great is His love that I owe Him my very life … forever!!

To know that you are loved this much will transform your life!  No person can ever accuse God of being unfair.  If He judged everyone, He would be fair.  And because He is God, His choosing of some reveals His wisdom, grace, patience, mercy, compassion, love and so much more.  When you know you are one of His chosen ones, then and only then will you begin to grasp how much you are loved. "Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD" (107:43).  I pray that you will join me in making this a lifelong pursuit.

No comments:

Post a Comment