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Saturday, October 19, 2013

John's Gospel -- New Way and Love -- Faith, love, grace and truth

Gospel of John – Love (continued)

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

1 John 3:1: How great the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.

Those who love and follow Christ are the Father's adopted children.  Adoption is the act of taking a person by choice into a new relationship of love as a parent to a child. A worldwide adoption took place when Jesus died on the cross. In adoption, the parents choose the child. God chose the nation of Israel as His firstborn son. But Jesus expanded God's adoption to all the world. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, I chose you.” John 15:16 As God did the choosing in the Older Testament, Jesus does the choosing now because God has given Him all authority. Why would God give Jesus all authority? God knows that Jesus will never contradict or go against God, His will or His ways because He is God.

Small Beginnings

God began small in the beginning as Jesus did in the gospels. God at first chose one man to carry out His plan and purpose on earth. (i.e. Noah, Seth, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—Gentiles and Hebrews) Then He moved to the twelve sons of Jacob who would become the small nation of Israel who multiplied and grew. Jesus, like God, also began small. He chose twelve men to begin building and establishing His Kingdom on earth. These 12 grew to 120 when the Holy Spirit came down in the Upper Room. These 120 quickly grew to 3,000 at the preaching of Peter, and then kept expanding until the Gospel of Christ reaches the whole world. All—both Jew and Gentile--must be grafted back into the tree of life (Jesus—the olive tree -- the Anointed Tree of Life) in order to come into the presence of Eternal God. The root (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) support us -- both Jew and Gentile -- the two branches.  Many teach that the root of this tree is Israel, but actually it represents the Tree of Life whose root is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Israel is as guilty of sin as the Gentiles are.  God wouldn't graft us into a tree of sin and death.  No, this tree is the tree of life whose root is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit into whom all must be grafted because we are all sinners. Both Israel and the Gentiles have to be grafted into this tree of life.

God and Jesus' Great, Eternal Love

Because of God's great love given through His Son Jesus, we are called God's own children. Sinners could not approach a holy God full of sin, so God Himself took care of that by sending His very own Son to make us righteous by His sinless, shed blood. Since we are dead in sin, God had to make us spiritually alive in His Son through grace that emanated from His eternal, great love. Those who love and follow Jesus can come into the presence of God boldly and without fear. We are righteous “in Christ” making us able to approach a holy God. Our righteousness in Christ also prepared our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.  What is holy can only come into a holy place.  Because we are "in Christ," believers are entwined in God and Jesus' great love and grace. The first revelation we must have as believers is the deep and eternal love that the Godhead has for us. This great love is given to us from the heart of God and Jesus. However, this love cannot be complete until it is received and we return love to them from our hearts.  One-sided love is not complete.

Royal Law of Love

James 2:8: If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

The Godhead's ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) God wants us to walk in His royal law of love, not the Law that brought death. The entire Older Testament proved that no one could live up to the standards and demands of the Law. We don't walk in royal love by celebrating feasts or doing some other ritual. God wants to place His royal love in our hearts. The Godhead is always concerned with love and our hearts because God is love.  Because Jesus and the Father loved us with a royal love, they want us to love them with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and love others as ourselves.

Jesus did all that the Law required while He was on earth to fulfill it and release us so we could now operate out of love for God and others freely and willingly. We put on the Divine by letting the Godhead change our hearts so we walk in both Divine love and Divine Truth. Walking in God's royal love pleases the Lord. Jesus did this perfectly. The Father witnessed of Jesus as His beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased. He is well-pleased with Jesus because He obeyed God perfectly by only speaking what the Father told Him to speak and doing only what the Father told Him to do. Believers in Christ please God also when we obey Him. By its very essence, love wants us to please the one you love. Believers need to know God's heart and connect our hearts with His heart as John did.

God knew that we wouldn't be able to walk perfectly and love perfectly in our flesh body because the flesh is weak. He does, however, want us to continually grow in His holiness. He gave us the power of the Helper – the Holy Spirit – and His powerful Word to help us. God wants us to learn of Him and love Him voluntarily from our hearts. God's grace and mercy sent through Christ must not be used as an excuse to enter or remain in sinful behavior. Our actions and words show whom we love and serve. Christ's Bride is being prepared for her Holy Husband in the pursuit of holiness.

New Heart and a New Spirit

God takes our stony hearts and gives us a new heart of love and compassion. (see Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) His gift to us is love through His saving faith and grace. He wants to transform our dead in sin, unbelieving hearts and spirits into a heart that loves with the heart of God and becomes a living, eternal spirit.

Faith in Jesus is done in a single moment but it is a continuing relationship that must be nurtured, grown and strengthened. This will happen over time as we continue to spiritually grow through the study of the Word, prayer, meditation, learning, experiencing and uniting with other believers. Faith in Christ will bring us into a new relationship with God. God gives us a measure of faith when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That faith must be strengthened over time. “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord....” Philippians 3:8 Before we can gain spiritual strength, we have to be weak enough to recognize that there is no spiritual strength apart from Jesus and His Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God with God and are greater than the weakness and sinfulness of our flesh.

Love and faith are inseparable. When there is committed faith in the Lord Jesus, love for others will also pour out of us. Faith takes the Lord into our hearts--His heart and character. Once we have Him in our hearts, He wants us to extend that love, nature and character to others. The love of God knows no favorites. It is extended to all who will receive it. If we say we love God, then His love must flow from our hearts to others – even those who may have hurt us and we want to withdraw from or retaliate against. God didn't love us because we were unstained or pure. He extended His love through His Son Jesus when we were sinners—filthy and unclean. This is true love--loving the unlovely. Not only did He extend His love, He will not leave us or stop loving us but will continue to finish the work He has set out to accomplish in and through us. One of those things is to help us love as He loves.

God also gives us grace. Grace is getting the favor of God that we don't deserve. We deserve God's punishment for our sinfulness, but instead God extends grace to us out of His and Jesus' great love. This great love and grace was extended in the very beginning of scripture when He didn't give the first man and woman the penalty they deserved for sinning against Him. Instead, He covered them with a blood-soaked skin of an innocent animal to atone for their sin. God loved Adam and the woman because they were created in His image and likeness. His was an eternal love in spite of the fact that they had sinned against Him. Adam and Eve had to suffer consequences for their sin, but they didn't die a physical death until after they had produced sons to fulfill God's command to them that they be fruitful and multiply. This was God's love and grace extended to sinners right there in the beginning of Genesis. Humanity had to continue and remain to produce the Seed who would defeat the serpent (devil). Jesus is that Seed.  And now, we are His seed that He wants to use to defeat the devil with the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  God knew the plan and God would carry it out in spite of mankind's weakness and sinful nature. This, brothers and sisters in the Lord, is God's great love and grace.

Our whole Christian walk is dependent upon God's grace. God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 God's grace is extended from the wealth and love of His heart. When we see and understand God's heart of love, our hearts and love pale tremendously in the comparison. It is God's desire to make our hearts and spirits more like His heart and Spirit. When God sets His heart upon us, He will never let us go. From the beginning of time and the scriptures God's unfailing love for humanity has been long-suffering and bringing people to salvation and eternal life.  God does not change.  Therefore His love will never change or leave us.  His love will continue eternally after all has been completed.

Jesus will pour His love and grace into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more we know and understand God and Jesus' love, the more tenderly we will love and forgive others. We will uplift and encourage to build each other up.  We will not tear people down, condemn and judge. We are to imitate God's love in Christ. This godlike love counts no cost or sacrifice too great.  God illustrated this at the cross.  Love by its very nature requires sacrifice.  Loving God and others will require sacrifice.

Our Christian walk is also dependent upon God's truth/Word. Hearing and understanding God's Word, believing it and doing it is essential to our Christian growth. Jesus spoke the Word of God with authority because He is the Word of God. Christ is revealed in every page of scripture – both in the Older Testament and the New Testament. When the Word of God dwells richly in us, Jesus dwells richly in us. Humanity was designed for God's glory. The original Man/Adam was clothed in God's glory and light when he was created. Jesus, the Second and Last Adam, wants His glory to radiate from us.  God will use the Word anointed by the Holy Spirit to put our flesh to death and clothe us in His glory and light.  The Word of God is:
  • Spiritual food – 1 Peter 2:2
  • Source of new life – 1 Peter 1:23; Psalm 119:25-27, 33
  • Standard of conduct – Titus 2:5
  • Guide – Psalm 119:33-35-36, 105
  • Restraint – Psalm 119:9-11
  • Source of comfort and hope – Psalm 119:49-50
  • Sustains -- Psalm 119: 116-117
The unfolding of God's Word gives us light and understanding. (Psalm 119:130) Knowing God's high and holy love, grace and truth will bring us to spiritual maturity and a closer and deeper walk with God. Jesus is Grace, Truth and the love of God displayed in fullness. When we walk in Jesus, we will walk in His love, grace and truth.

May we be ever mindful that love begins and ends in You, Lord God, and that faith, grace and truth also begin and end with you. You have been so generous with your love and grace. You have bestowed it upon the weak and sinful because of your great love. Teach us and draw us into a higher love for You and for others dear Lord. Help us radiate your love, beauty and grace to those who are hurting and in the darkness of sin. Let your light shine before men when they see the good works you have begun in us. Let them desire to know you and your love in a deep and abiding way. Help us, your sons and daughters, to be your light-bearers, your love-bearers, your grace-bearers and your truth-bearers so others may know the height and depth of godlike love and who you truly are. What joy that would give Your heart as You see us doing these things to the glory of your Name. Help us Lord. In Jesus' precious Name, I pray.

                                                             Blessings and love,

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