Comment by Betty Munga — February 21, 2013 @ 5:05 am
I think this article is a very good description of the kind of love God has for us. There are also many scriptural texts that say the same thing such as, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:10 NKJV). Even though there are many texts like this there are also some that give us trouble.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:16 NKJV).
What does it mean that everything was made "for Him?" Is He like a child playing with a toy for entertainment, that whatever He does is done for His own happiness? We all have seen how a child relates to pets. They don't distinguish the difference between living things and inanimate objects - to the child they are of equal value and so are treated the same. Is that what God is like where the things He has made are only lifeless pawns on a chess board to be moved at a whim? I would like to suggest that if that is our concept of God then there is no real point to being saved. We would then consider ourselves as merely slaves in the crudest most menial sort of a way.
If we instead view "for Him" with the idea that God ministers to His creation instead of Himself, "Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18 NKJV) and said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10:10 NKJV) then the "for Him" translates into "for His creatures." To me it is like parents that spend hard earned money on a gift for their son or daughter for the sole purpose of seeing them happy. While there certainly is a return benefit the real purpose is for the pleasure of their child, not themselves. Neither is it mechanical like putting gas (petrol) in a car so we can get from one place to another. We do it because we like to see someone else happy. That is how I see God's relationship to us. He enjoys seeing His creatures Happy so He does things according to "His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13 NKJV) to that end.
To me that is why He patiently has gone through 6000 years of pain that climaxed in His own death on the cross. That through it, His creatures would have an eternity of happiness for, "He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11 NKJV).
Comment by Tyler Cluthe — February 21, 2013 @ 11:54 am
Betty that is a good question that many should ask. I believe a good start is in Micah 6:8. By God's grace do what is just and right. Be merciful to others and humbly walk with God by prayer and Bible study and listening and responding to His still small voice. Do you have a church family to study and fellowship with so can be an encouragement to each other? Thank you for being here so we can encourage one another.
John 1:12,13, John 15:5, Psalm 40:1-3, Matthew 5:3-12, 2 Peter 1:5-7, Acts 1:8(first part).
Study these passages prayerfully and ask God to show you their meaning, claiming Psalm 32:8 and Matthew 7:7 as His promises to You. But your asking must be sincere and without giving up until you know you have found what you seek. God will prove your sincerity.(Matthew 15:21-28)
The only other vital part of this seeking is that nothing we know of must remain between us and God (Psalm 66:18). If you cannot remove it, acknowledge it and ask Him to remove it. He will if you let Him.
See also Psalm 139:23,24.
One thing you will realize is that you have nothing to do with your "success" beyond surrendering to God. You choose, He does the rest. (Romans 12:1,2; Philippians 2:13 & 4:13)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6
Comment by Robert Whiteman — February 22, 2013 @ 7:22 am
When Peter asked how many times one should forgive, Jesus said "seventy times seven". This must be the measure of God Himself, who was the one speaking through Jesus. What does it mean?
Jesus clearly referred to Daniel 9, and the probationary period given to the Jews once allowed to rebuild their ruined city. It is not a set number, but a limit set by the people themselves. As the time period closed we see a people no longer desiring forgiveness. This was what sealed their fate as a nation, not some set number. They fought against God and the Perfect Gift He sent to them to save them. They knew who He was.
Jesus is telling us that we are to forgive until the one offending no longer seeks forgiveness, no longer repents. This is what God does for each of us. His love extends to our very limit of faith, until we no longer believe. He never gives up on us, as William said, until we force Him to by our refusal to accept His eternal offer of Grace.
Comment by Robert Whiteman — February 22, 2013 @ 7:36 am
Robert, I like your understanding of forgiveness. The only wrinkle I can see is in the judgment of a person that died prematurely. In that case the person may not have committed the unpardonable sin but still might be unsafe to save. In cases like this I am glad that Jesus is the judge and not man.
For us I think what you say is true, we need to forgive without limit until the other person refuses to be forgiven. I also believe Jesus was basically dealing with the Pharisaical understanding of the law and their attitude of limits which they seemed to apply in many little fascinating ways.
I also think you may be right that Jesus was referencing Dan 9 but I wonder if He wasn't thinking more about the meaning the Jews had concerning the number 7. That would explain why He numerically added to the disciples understanding of forgiving seven times rather than stating something like 400 or one of the other numbers used in prophesy such as 2300.
Comment by Tyler Cluthe — February 22, 2013 @ 9:21 am
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Without him(Jesus) I cannot live for internal life. Thank you Jesus.
Comment by Sebutinde — February 22, 2013 @ 11:44 am
Tyler, with God there are no wrinkles and He will be just in every case, which the 1000 years will prove (Rev 5:13). What Jesus addressed was the limits of mercy, which God exercises until it is fully rejected with no hope of repentance. Mercy cannot be exercised when it is no longer desired, and God alone knows when that point is reached. In our cases, we are to forgive as we would be forgiven, meaning as long as forgiveness is desired, it should be offered.
I believe Jesus' reference is directly to Daniel's prophecy of God's forbearance with Israel, as a perfect example for us, as we have now the record of their rejection of God's best Gift. What further proof than this of repentance no longer being desired? Remember, they had every evidence including the raising of Lazarus and Jesus' own resurrection as reported accurately by the terrified Roman guard who were paid to lie. Still they persecuted God's messengers to the last opportunity, knowing they too worked by the power of God. They condemned and stoned Stephen without a proper trial, though seeing his face as an angel. Jesus wept over the doomed city because He knew that repentance would not come from those He died to save, yet afterwards He still sent His disciples first to Jerusalem until they were driven out, and many did repent.
Comment by Robert Whiteman — February 22, 2013 @ 11:48 am
Robert, I hadn’t thought of the connection to Dan 9 before so I am glad that you brought it up. The more I think of it the more you seem to be right but I am not too sure that Jesus wasn’t dealing with more than one issue there.
I don't know if his disciples could have make the connection to Dan 9 at that point in time, after all, they basically didn't even understand Christ's ministry and the most fundamental understanding of the plan of salvation which was a situation that persisted until some time after the cross. They also had a profound reverence for the scribes and Pharisees who really didn't have any more understanding of what God was about than fisherman did. What the disciples could understand for sure was 70 times something which was way beyond what the Jewish leaders were telling their people was the limit of forgiveness.
For all intents and purposes the Jews had no sense of mercy. They considered the Gentiles dogs, hated the Samaritans, and even looked down on the poor and diseased within their own community as being cursed by God. The problem was that that attitude had infiltrated and polluted the thinking of even the best in Israel and needed to be straightened out, at least among the disciples.
I am thinking now that what Jesus said would probably have been better understood by His disciples after the cross when they finally could grasp the connection between the Old Testament prophets and Christ's ministry. After the cross when Jesus made that connection such as He did on the road to Emmaus then other prophesies would fall into place as well including the 70 week prophesy of Dan 9. To me then, what Jesus said had an immediate application but to those living after the cross there would be other things to contemplate that He said that they could appreciate. I feel that it was a similar situation that existed between the Old Testament prophets and the new (1 Pet 1:12). So, to me Jesus was taking care of multiple things at the same time and teaching that forgiveness was unlimited.
Comment by Tyler Cluthe — February 22, 2013 @ 3:19 pm
I like what you said, "His pleasure is in seeing us happy, and our happiness should be in seeing God and others happy."
We all have hope because God is so patient and merciful towards us.
I had never thought of things this way: "Probation closes when the sanctuary is forced out of business, because it no longer has “customers” asking for mercy." We'll still need God but not to forgive us.
Thanks for reminding us of how much God cares for us.
Comment by Jane Sirignano — February 22, 2013 @ 5:06 pm
Exactly! Jesus was teaching for all ages to come. Through the promised Holy Spirit He would teach the disciples what they were not yet able to comprehend, including those who would turn to Him after His resurrection and to everyone who would receive the gospel until the end of the world. Amazing is the infinite wisdom that could take Peter's ignorant idea and turn it into such a wonderful illustration of what it means to be a forgiver. God is our example and we are to become "perfect" as He is. Perhaps I should say; we are to be MADE as perfect as He is, within our sphere of influence and ability. This is part of being presented "faultless" before God's presence "with exceeding joy"(Jude 24).
Comment by Robert Whiteman — February 22, 2013 @ 5:30 pm
The heading of this section in my Bible is "The Pre-eminence of Christ"
"What does it mean that everything was made “for Him?” Him = Christ
All things were created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:16 NKJV). Thus, all things were created through Christ and for Christ.
Comment by Sieg Hoppe — February 22, 2013 @ 9:44 pm
Thank you William for sharing this very encouraging piece. May God continue to bless you and use you in His service. Shabbat Shalom.
Betty, there are two other passages I should have included in the first list: Matthew 11:28-30 and Philippians 4:8.
We have a part in our sanctification, which though small, is vital. We choose. Constantly we are choosing because God gave us free-will and the intelligence to reason from cause to effect. In the two passages above it reveals the choices we must make to allow God to sanctify us.
It is for this purpose that Jesus lives, and stands before God as our mediator, and our right choices give Him the ability to "work in us to will and do of His good pleasure". We alone can stand in the way, as Paul points out in Romans 8:38,39.
Comment by Robert Whiteman — February 23, 2013 @ 5:48 am
The fact that they would never accept God’s grace is seen by the fact that no one repents during the last plagues and of course nobody repents at the end of the thousand years. The problem is not that they can’t but that they won’t. Please explain this statement.My understanding is probation is already closed and the spirit of God had been withdrawn from the earth the question is this,do man still have the mind to repent without the presence of the Holy Spirit?
Comment by George Lypher — March 4, 2013 @ 7:32 am
Thank you for writing. It may be like the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? You are right, we can't repent without the help of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only leaves though when He realizes nobody is going to repent. If someone would repent He would stay. The Holy Spirit only withdraws when He is being continually ignored, thus the world is searing its own conscience.