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Sunday: “For God So Loved …” — 4 Comments

  1. Some time ago I read an interesting article on what the author considered to be the greatest love stories of all time in history and literature. There were many familiar stories listed: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet of course; Lancelot and Guinevere from King Arthur, Darcy & Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice — all great stories of great feeling and sacrifice. But I noticed one thing about them — none of these were real! They were all works of fiction! But the greatest love story of all time is not found in any novel. The greatest love story of all is TRUE and it's found in the Bible!It tells the story of the love which God has for us.
    John 3:16, “For God SO LOVED the world …” teach us that it is all about God, not us, and that He is a very specific God the Bible describes, who initiated salvation. Mankind did not dream up a way to God; GOD made a way of salvation for us. It’s all about God. But WHY did God do what He did? WHY did He make a way for us to come to Him? He did He make the costly sacrifice in Jesus that He did? The Bible tells us in this verse that He did it, out of LOVE. It says: “For God SO LOVED”.
    From the very beginning God made us to know Him and love Him, but from the Garden of Eden on, we all sinned and turned away from Him to try to satisfy ourselves by disobeying Him instead. Ephesians 2 says “we all lived in the lusts of the flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” None of us are an exception to that: Romans 3:23 says, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s what God saw in us. So how did God respond to that?

    He could have, theoretically, responded in a number of different ways. He could have immediately wiped us out with a lightning bolt from the sky! He could have responded to us with contempt or spite or anger. But instead the Bible says He responded with love. “For God SO LOVED.” We see this taught all through scripture:

    — Ephesians 2 says that when God saw all that, :4 says: “But God, being rich in mercy, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE which He had for us …” sent Christ for us.

    — Ephesians 5:2 “as Christ also LOVED you, and gave Himself up for us …”

    — Titus 3:4 “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His LOVE for mankind appeared, He saved us …”

    God’s response to us, even in our sin, is LOVE. Jesus didn’t come to the world in anger; He came in love. John 3:17, says: “For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” God responded to us — even in our sin — with love.

    We should not be surprised at this. I John 4 says “God IS love.” Everything God does, He does with love. So we should not be surprised that God would respond to the world with an amazing, undeserved love.

    Amen!(41)
  2. Romans 8:20-23
    Creation was subjected to the curse on man's sin and will benefit from the redemption of humanity.
    It was God who subjected creation in hope. It was not the work of either satan or man.
    Creation is groaning with a labor pain to be delivered from the bondage.
    Every time you see the trees with death and animals running away from humanity let us remember this was not how God created the world to exist.
    It is so difficult to count the number of good that humanity has accomplished on this earth.
    Not only creation all those who are waiting upon the Lord are groaning within ourselves waiting for our adoption to be completed in Christ Jesus.
    If all our focus is on this world then we are the most miserable people.

    Amen!(13)
  3. Rom 8:20-23 The Broader plan of Salvation.
    Humans are subject to vanity(death). Going back to Gen 2:17 after Adam was created he was told not to eat from a certain tree, for in the day that thou eatest therefore thou shalt surely die. He ate anyway. Because Adam sin we all are subject to (vanity)death. Humans have a right to die. Humans choice.

    Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator’s law. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish. God had made them the recipients of rich blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would forfeit His gifts and bring upon them misery and ruin. PP 53
    There comes a time when we (some people will die), but the same Jesus who ordained death also ordained that Christians should live again.
    Good New!!!
    Now rolling forward 2000 years after, at the fullness of time Our Heavenly Father send his son who is Love to die for sinners.
    Whosoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have eternal life. When Jesus came the 1st time, He came not to condemn sinners but to save sinners. He gave sinners a second chance, a choice to obey. It was through love it all happened.

    Amen!(5)
  4. Today's lesson states:

    "Justification is really not just about getting our sins forgiven. Ideally, it should also be about how, through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord creates the family of God, who celebrate their forgiveness and assurance of salvation by, among other things, being witnesses to the world through their good works."

    The second sentence in the above quote is essentially talking about sanctification rather than justification - the 'flow-on effect' that naturally stems from justification. Sanctification in a nutshell is the progressive restoration of our character back to Christ-likeness (see Great Controversy 469.1). Consequently, this leaves the first sentence in the above paragraph being the reference to justification - and in fact representative of the typical view of justification.

    So, is justification predominantly about getting our sins forgiven? If our main problem is our legal standing before God, then it makes sense that justification is primarily a legal matter. If this is true, then yes, our greatest need is to get our sins forgiven/pardoned (in order to avoid the punishment that allegedly 'must be applied to those whose sins are not forgiven'). And that will likely be our focus.

    But what if our greatest issue is not legal - but rather that we have a terminal condition that needs to be healed otherwise it will destroy us (see 2 Pet 3:9)? What is justification under such a paradigm? Is it not being re-aligned (ie justified) so that our hearts (ie our deepest desires) are once again re-aligned back into harmony with self-renouncing love - like they were within humanity prior to the events of Genesis 3?

    And if we were to realise that our greatest need is healing (a re-aligned heart) rather than legal pardon, what would our priority become? Does Ps 51:10 sound familiar about now? How about John 3:3-6?

    The lesson and comments here on ssnet often note that we do not treat others the way we 'should'. I would invite you to think about this for a minute...

    If I see my greatest need as getting forgiveness for my sins (legal pardon), this will be my priority and focus. And things will pretty much end there - no deeply changed life but rather a recurring cycle of sin, confess/repent, sin, confess/repent, sin confess/repent ... Sound familiar?

    But, if I realise that instead my greatest need is the actual re-alignment of my heart (via Ps 51:10) that then goes on to change my character back to Christlikeness as I 'work-out' my re-aligned heart of self-renouncing love (Phil 2:12-13), then life change begins to flow and I start to treat others with compassion and love from a heart that has been re-born/re-aligned. Not because I 'should', but because I realise that this is what abundant life is about and because I want to - it has become the desire of my heart (Ps 40:8)!

    This is why I would propose that how I view what salvation is about makes a profound and practical difference in my life. It is not merely a semantic discussion for the sake of stirring up intellectual debate.

    Amen!(9)

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