Tag Archive for 'God’s Love'

Knowing How Much God Loves Us

This is a repost from Nov 21, 2013.

My wife and I love cats, and love our cats, probably more than we should. Right now we have one. We just lost her brother a few weeks ago. (I’m not writing this for sympathy.) We have often said and still say, “If [they]she only knew how much we love her” or “If she only knew how well she’s treated.” Even though she’s gotten whinier since her brother died (which also means she’s healthy, because like her brother, she has kidney disease) and is a diva princess, we love her all the same.

I believe the love God has for his children may be similar in that way. Even though we have no idea how much God loves us, can’t begin to appreciate it fully–and even wonder why he seems so harsh–he still loves us more than we’ll ever know in this lifetime. That’s part of what real love is. When a spouse develops a disease that renders them unable to know you or appreciate how much you love them, you don’t divorce them, as some like Pat Robertson would advise, you love them as best as you can.

One of the differences with us compared to cats or people with something like Dementia (who, if you don’t mind the incredibly insensitive joke, might not be all that dissimilar) is that our knowledge of how much God loves us can be increased. In order for this to happen, we need to spend time in Scripture and also prayer. One nice thing about this is it can’t be put into the legalism category in any way. This is for our benefit, and God’s glory. Learning more about God’s love isn’t going to make God love us more. That doesn’t even make sense. When God tells us to work out our own salvation, that’s not a command to “do our chores”, it’s something for our good–something that’s possible for us to love to do. This is what is written about God’s law in the Old Testament over and over. David and other inspired writers loved God’s law, whether it’s the Pentateuch, God’s commands or the Old Testament as they knew it.

We are free to spend time learning how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for us. Even though much of this comes about through experience–God directing our circumstances, comforting us,  providing for us–Scripture is primarily where we gain the knowledge of God and his love. We can know that God will speak to his children through Scripture and reveal more and more of himself to us, even if there are times when he seems quiet in that regard. There is also comfort in God’s wrath, knowing how much he hates evil, how it will be destroyed forever in the end and how much God is for us in this evil world (Romans 8:31 and much of Revelation and Genesis and the Bible come to think of it). But that’s for another post.

Let’s participate, or keep on, more and more.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
103How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
105Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119:97-105

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2

Also see:
How Does God Love? – Word of Life Wisconsin

Does God’s Love For Us Change?

The author, Mark Jones, is quoting the Puritan Stephen Charnock (the inner quote).

“The more likeness we have to [God], the more love we shall have from him….If God loves holiness in a lower measure, much more will he love it in a higher degree, because then his image is more illustrious and beautiful, and comes nearer to the lively lineaments of his own infinite purity….(Jn. 14:21)….he loves a holy man for some resemblance to him in his nature; but when there is an abounding in sanctified dispositions suitable to it, there is an increase of favor; the more we resemble the original, the more shall we enjoy the blessedness of that original: as any partake more of the Divine likeness, they partake more of the Divine happiness.”
This is a remarkable quote [from Charnock] in today’s context where one frequently hears the very opposite of what Charnock affirms. These words from Charnock can even be applied to Christ during his earthly life, where “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:52) (emphasis mine).

I always believed (as far as I can remember) that just as we can grieve and quench the Spirit (along with rejecting Him), we can please God. These days we are so careful to make it clear that we can’t change our standing with God by our behavior. Our righteousness and general favorableness before God is on the basis of what Christ has done for us. Our minuscule good deeds aren’t going to change that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t please God, or that he sees everyone exactly equal to the next. Scripture shows us this over and over. See everything from how Jesus treated some of the disciples, to Paul exhorting us to please God, and the record in Revelation of how Jesus spoke to the various churches. Read the whole article below.

Can God’s Love for Us (and Christ) Increase? – Reformation21 Blog

For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27 HCSB

Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.
Luke 12:48b HCSB

This is no cause for pride for those who feel they have been given a lot if they are to realize that everything is from God (1 Corinthians 4:7) and if we compare ourselves to God (Isaiah 55:8-9) and not to others. Also see 1 Corinthians 1:26 and all of the others I didn’t think of. (That was kind of a joke.)

For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 HCSB

so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him as you bear fruit in every good work, and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10 NRSV

It’s only natural to want to please our heavenly Father out of our love for him, and it’s good for us (Romans 12:2). If we are lacking in any of this, we need to remember to pray in faith because these things are God’s will for us (1 John 5:14-15).

Of course, what Christ has done equally for all of the elect still stands. I would also like to state that I don’t think there will be various ‘levels’ in heaven, only various rewards of praise from God according to what we have done, which would be for another post.

Also see:
Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

God Is Love–And Many Other Things

I just finished reading The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson. The Kindle version is on sale right now for $3.99. It’s aimed at new Christians, but with all due respect, I don’t think he is one to write a book for new Christians. I learned a lot. He’s a quote machine. Because of that, it took me a long time to get through the book. I’ve been taking notes on books I read, and I was taking notes and blogging (first four links) on so much of what I read, it seemed to take forever.

I highly recommend it. The book is friendly to new Christians who like to read and investigate more than just the basics. It’s also great for seasoned Christians. He mainly uses Genesis, John and Revelation to talk about who God is and how he deals with people.

The quote below is something I think about a lot. It seems like there is so much focus on the fact that God is love, it’s to the exclusion or diminution of all of the other things God is, as well as having a distorted view of his love as you’ll see below. God is to be feared (which shouldn’t need to be qualified), God is awesome (in the traditional sense of the word–not how it’s used now), he is a God of wrath, judgement, anger, he hates. For those in his Kingdom, these can be comforting things, in addition to warnings. I hope you like the quote.

Why People Today Find It Easy to Believe in God’s Love

If there is one thing that our world thinks it knows about God–if our world believes in God at all–it is that he is a loving God. That has not always been the case in human history. Many people have thought of the gods as pretty arbitrary, mean-spirited, whimsical, or even malicious. That is why you have to appease them. Sometimes in the history of the church Christians have placed more emphasis on God’s wrath or his sovereignty or his holiness, all themes that are biblical in some degree or another. God’s love did not receive as much attention. But today, if people believe in God at all, by and large they find it easy to believe in God’s love.

Yet being comfortable with the notion of the love of God has been accompanied by some fairly spongy notions as to what love means. Occasionally you will hear somebody saying something like this: “It’s Christians I don’t like, I mean, God is love, and if everybody were just like Jesus, it would be wonderful. Jesus said, ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’ You know, if we could all just be nonjudgmental and be loving the way Jesus was loving, then the world would be a better place.” There is an assumption then about the nature of love, isn’t there? Love is nonjudgmental. It does not condemn anyone. It lets everybody do whatever they want. That is what love means.

Of course, it is sadly true that sometimes Christians—God help us—are mean. Certainly it is true that Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). But when he said this, did he really mean, “Do not make any morally discriminating judgments?” Why then does he give so many commands about telling the truth? Don’t such commands stand as condemnation of lies and liars? Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves: doesn’t that constitute an implicit judgment on those who don’t? In fact, in the very text where Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” he goes on to say just five verses later, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matt. 7:6), which means that somebody has to figure out who the swine are.

In other words, when Jesus says something as important as “Do not Judge, or you too Wlll he Judged,” there is a context to he understood. Jesus, after all, cuts an astonishingly high moral swath through his time. So if people think “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” means that Jesus is abolishing all morality and leaving all such questions up to the individual, they have not even begun to understand who Jesus is. Jesus does condemn the kind of judgment that is judgmental, self-righteous, or hypocritical. He condemns such judgment repeatedly and roundly. But there is no way on God’s green earth that he is condemning moral discernment or the priority of truth. In any case there is more to God’s love, to Jesus’s love, than avoiding judgmentalism.

That means that when we think of God’s love, we need to think of God’s other attributes too—his holiness, truthfulness, glory (his manifestation of his spectacular being and loveliness), and all the rest–and think through how all of them work together all the time. Sadly, precisely because our culture finds it relatively easy to believe that God is a God of love, we have developed notions of God’s love that are disturbingly spongy and sentimental and almost always alienated from the full range of the attributes that make God, God.

the-god-who-is-there

Knowing How Much God Loves Us

My wife and I love cats, and love our cats, probably more than we should. Right now we have one. We just lost her brother a few weeks ago. (I’m not writing this for sympathy.) We have often said and still say, “If [they]she only knew how much we love her” or “If she only knew how well she’s treated.” Even though she’s gotten whinier since her brother died (which also means she’s healthy, because like her brother, she has kidney disease) and is a diva princess, we love her all the same.

I believe God loves his children similarly. Even though we have no idea how much God loves us, can’t begin to appreciate it fully–and even wonder why he seems so harsh–he still loves us more than we’ll ever know in this lifetime. That’s part of what real love is. When a spouse develops a disease that renders them unable to know you or appreciate how much you love them, you don’t divorce them, as some like Pat Robertson would advise, you love them as best as you can.

One of the differences with us compared to cats or people with something like Dementia (who, if you don’t mind the incredibly insensitive joke, might not be all that dissimilar) is that our knowledge of how much God loves us can be increased. In order for this to happen, we need to spend time in Scripture and also prayer. One nice thing about this is it can’t be put into the legalism category in any way. This is for our benefit, and God’s glory. Learning more about God’s love isn’t going to make God love us more. That doesn’t even make sense. When God tells us to work out our own salvation, that’s not a command to “do our chores”, it’s something for our good–something that’s possible for us to love to do. This is what is written about God’s law in the Old Testament over and over. David and other inspired writers loved God’s law, whether it’s the Pentateuch, God’s commands or the Old Testament as they knew it.

We are free to spend time learning how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for us. Even though much of this comes about through experience–God directing our circumstances, comforting us,  providing for us–Scripture is primarily where we gain the knowledge of God and his love. We can know that God will speak to his children through Scripture and reveal more and more of himself to us, even if there are times when he seems quiet in that regard. There is also comfort in God’s wrath, knowing how much he hates evil, how it will be destroyed forever in the end and how much God is for us in this evil world (Romans 8:31 and much of Revelation and Genesis and the Bible come to think of it). But that’s for another post.

Let’s participate, or keep on, more and more.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
103How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
105Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119:97-105

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2