Saturday, February 16, 2013
How Does God Love Me? Let Me Count Three Ways.
Valentine’s Day started me thinking about perfect Love, the Supreme Lover, and the ultimate Loving Gift. God’s love for us is infinite, eternal, and unconditional, for it has no limits, transcends all time, and requires nothing in return.
His infinite love reflects His almighty power (Genesis 17:1, 18:14; 28:3, Jeremiah 32:27; Colossians 1:16) to give us all good things (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13); His perfect wisdom, to know and do what is best for us (Psalm 139; Romans 8:28; 11:33-36); and His omnipresence, to protect, embrace and comfort us no matter where we go (Psalm 139; Revelation 1:8).
He alone is love itself (1 John 4:8), the source of all blessings (James 1:17), and the light that overcomes all darkness (2 Samuel 22:29; Psalm 112:4; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:5; 8:12; 12:35,46; 1 John 1:5). He made His loving plan for us (Jeremiah 33:2-3) from the foundation of time (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4); He loved us from before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:16;Jeremiah 1:5); and His love is everlasting, continuing throughout eternity (Jeremiah 31:3). We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
We know His unconditional love through His grace, as He gives us blessings we don’t deserve (Ephesians 2:8); His mercy, as He spares us from the punishment we do deserve (Psalm 109:26; 136:26; Isaiah 30:18; Romans 11:30; Ephesians 2:1-7) and His universal acceptance of all who have faith in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection as the only way to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), regardless of their race, sex, or religious heritage (Galatians 3:28).
Because His love is unconditional, it is self-sacrificing to the point of death (1 John 3:16), it flows from a servant’s heart (John 13:5-14), and it is unmerited, for there is nothing we can do to earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9). He gave us the perfect Gift of His sinless Son, Who willingly laid down His life for us (John 15:13), empowered by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:2-4). And He did all this while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:5), rebels against His truth (1 John 4:3), and His enemies (Romans 5:10).
The incomprehensible richness of this love is possible only because He is One in Three Persons: our Father (Matthew 6:9); Jesus, our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15); and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter (John 14:16). Each Member of the Trinity not only exemplifies what each of these relationships should ideally be like with their earthly counterparts, but each is perfect, complete, and ever present to sustain us.
God the Father sits on His throne in Heaven (Psalm 45:6; 47:8; Matthew 5:34, from which He rules all things, everywhere, throughout all time, commanding all matter, space and time. Yet He is our Abba Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), our Daddy Who loves for us to come running to Him for reassurance, forgiveness, and encouragement (Luke 15:20). We can boldly approach His throne (Hebrews 4:16) with our requests because when our Holy Father looks at us, He does not see our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son Who was the perfect sacrifice reconciling sinners to Holy God (Romans 3:25: 1 John 2:2).
Not only was Jesus that perfect Sacrifice, and now the High Priest Who intercedes for us while sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews12:2), but He is also our Betrothed, for the church of born-again believers is His bride. He is our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), Husband (2 Corinthians 11:2), and Beloved (Song of Solomon 2:3,8-10,16,17), as we saw in an earlier post..
According to the Jewish marriage custom, a man seeking to marry breaks bread with his beloved and her father, and if she accepts his proposal, she drinks from the same cup that he does. He then returns to his father’s house to build an addition for himself and his bride, and when his father decides the new home is ready, the groom returns unannounced to claim his bride, carrying her off with a great shout in the middle of the night. Therefore, the bride-to-be must keep herself pure and ready, for she knows that he will come back for her, but she doesn’t know when.
When we place our faith in the power of Christ’s shed blood, it is as if we drink of that cup of suffering with Him, and during the remainder of our earthly life we become more conformed to His image through those sufferings and through the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). We are the bride awaiting Christ’s return, and only the Father will determine when the mansion He is preparing for us is ready (John 14:2-3; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). Without warning, at the sound of the trumpet, He will snatch us away to meet with Him in the air (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) and take part in the marriage ceremony and feast (Revelation 19:7-9).
We must therefore be like the wise virgins awaiting the Bridegroom’s return, keeping our lamps trimmed and filled with oil, symbolizing being filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1-13). Only through the Spirit is it possible for us to remain separated and holy as His bride, preparing for His return.
Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit, Who indwells each believer at the moment of salvation (John 14:17), is our constant Comforter, Companion, and Guide (John 16:7). At the moment of salvation, He gives each of us at least one spiritual gift to use to grow the church by sharing the Gospel, to fortify the church by helping, exhorting, and teaching fellow believers, and to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 12).
Throughout our Christian walk, the Comforter enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, described in three groups of three (Galatians 5:22-23): the sweet fruit we enjoy of love, joy and peace; the fruit governing our relationships with each other (longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness), and the fruit of self-control (faith, meekness, and temperance).
As our Companion, He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), for He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). How can He leave us, for He inhabits our very body (1 Corinthians 3:16) as His temple! As our Guide, the Spirit constantly draws our focus to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:13-14), teaches us to understand the Scripture (John 14:26), and allows us to know that we belong to God evermore (1 John 4:13-16).
Praise Him that He allows us to be children of God the Father, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) through our relationship to Our Father and as the betrothed of God the Son, and His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) through the work of the Holy Spirit! What greater love could there be?
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
© 2013 Laurie Collett
Photo by Wingchi Poor