February 21, 2016
Engagement takes a dating relationship to a whole new level. When a couple first starts to date, both put their best foot forward. Each wants the other to see the best sides of their personality. Kindness is shown. Gifts are given. Why do we do this? Well, if we think there is potential for the relationship we give gifts to let the other person know we have more to give. As we grow to love someone we invite them to receive deeper expressions of our love
God is love and God has shown his love in many different ways. The Bible points out that God created this world to sustain our lives and that God gives us breath. He sends the sunshine and the rain. These gifts are given to invite us to receive even deeper expressions of God’s love. Paul tells us that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. As we continue looking at grace gifts from Jesus to us this morning we want to consider the gift of God’s love. God’s love is available to all people.
I. JESUS REVEALS GOD’S LOVE. Jn.14:9
Who can comprehend the person of God? In 1Tim.6:16 we learn that God dwells in unapproachable light and that no one has ever seen God. In fact in Ex.33:20 the Lord said to Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." What we know about God comes from the Bible and our experience with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible. I say this because any experience we might have with God will always be in keeping with the overall teachings of Scripture.
Before I say anything about how Jesus reveals God’s love, it is important to point out that God the Father loves the Son. And remember that when we refer to Jesus as the Son of God we are not suggesting that Jesus is God’s son by birth. The sonship of Jesus has nothing to do with biology or reproduction. Rather we are saying that the second person of the Trinity, enjoys an intimate and unique relationship with God the Father. The Son has always existed and is fully equal with God and yet, as the Son, he does all that the Father tells him to do. In each of the Gospels we read about the baptism of Jesus. In Mt.3:16-17 we read, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Listen to some other verses that speak about the love of the Father for the Son. In Jn.3:35 we read, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” In Jn.5:20 it says, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” In Jn.10:17 Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” And then, in Jn.14:31 Jesus says, “but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”
In the love between the Father and the Son, we see selfless giving. The Father has given all things to the Son. He shows the Son all that he does. The Son lays down his life in obedience to the Father and does and says all that the Father commands.
Now what is love? We use the word in many different ways. But when we speak about God’s love we are referring to a specific kind of love. One scholar writes that, “Love is the will to good…One who loves promotes the good, or wills the benefit and strength, of the beloved; this is the nature of God.” In Jn.8:54, Jesus says, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.” In Jn.17:1, as Jesus was praying he said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” The Father glorifies the Son. The Son glorifies the Father. The love of the Father and Son does not seek its own welfare or glory.
God’s love is a self-sacrificing, giving kind of love. In Jn.3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” Now let’s think about this. When we think about the Father sending his Son, we tend to focus on the cross. Personally I believe it is important for us to focus on the entire life of Jesus. His incarnation was an incredible humbling of himself to become a man. His earthly ministry consisted of three years in which Jesus continually expended himself for others. He went around doing good and teaching about how people can enter into and live from the kingdom of God. On the cross he became sin for us. Instead of exercising the prerogatives of his deity, he emptied himself and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The hymn writer says that he emptied himself of all but love. Through the cross he reconciled all things to God. And then he rose from the dead for our justification. He ascended to the Father that he might be our great high priest and intercessor, reigning in our lives. And he is coming back to establish the kingdom of God in all it’s fullness in a new heaven and a new earth. The entire life of Jesus reveals God’s love for us in providing for our salvation.
The question is, do you find the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ to be compelling? When we read about Jesus and see how he lived to serve others, when we see how he died to bear our sins and provide forgiveness, when we see that because Jesus rose from the dead he has eternal living to give, is that not compelling?
II. JESUS INVITES US TO LIVE IN GOD’S LOVE. Jn.14:9-17
In Jn.14:9, Jesus says, “Abide in my love.” Most people who give ascent to the existence of the God of the Bible would agree that God loves everyone. “God so loved the world.” He, “…gives to all mankind life and breath and everything,” as Paul said to the citizens of Athens. It is one thing to agree that God loves everyone, but that does not mean that everyone experiences the fullness of God’s love. Jesus said, “Abide in my love.” Clearly there is a difference between the person who lives under the assumption that, “Of course God loves me,” and the person who intentionally seeks to abide in the love of God revealed in Jesus. I wonder which kind of person you might be. Do you assume God’s love and never give it another thought, or do you abide in God’s love in Christ?
How do we abide in God’s love? Look at v.10. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” Clearly, the way to abide in the love of Jesus is to obey his commandments. In Jn.14:15 Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
What kind of person keeps the commands of Jesus? It is the person who understands that in love, Jesus gave his life so that we can have new life. This person turns from their self-directed life and embraces Jesus as their Savior-King. When we embrace Jesus we enter into his love and new life in the kingdom of God. We come under the good rule of Jesus. If you don’t think you are guilty because of your disobedience and rebellion against God, why would you call on Jesus? If you are satisfied with your life on earth, why would you sense any need for Jesus?
When we come to Jesus it is important to understand that we are given a new life to live now. When you embrace the King, you begin to live in his realm, under his rule. So the person who abides in the love of Jesus will seek to discover what his commands are. Well, are you one who seeks to discover the commands of Jesus?
Someone says, “Wait I thought all a person had to do was pray to ask Jesus to be their savior. Salvation is a free gift of God and now you are telling me that I must obey the commands of Jesus to be saved?” What I am saying is that if you embrace Jesus as your Savior you will desire to abide in his love by obeying his commands, just as Jesus obeyed the Father’s commands. Salvation brings transformation and that transformation involves obeying Jesus’ commands. Do you know what Jesus has commanded? I want to encourage you to find out by reading the gospels.
In Rm.5:5 Paul writes, “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As we abide in the love of Jesus by obeying his commands, the love of God is poured out into our lives. Why is that? It is because as we live according to Jesus’ commands, we are becoming more and more like Jesus in our living. And so we are not surprised by what Jesus says in Jn.15:12-13. Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Those who have entered into the love of God through faith in Jesus will love one another. When Jesus says, “one another,” I believe he is referring to our fellow believers. We are to love one another with the love that has been poured out into our hearts. In other words we are to will the good of one another. We are to promote that which is good and that which benefits each other. What a wonderful gift the love of God is for each of us. It is wonderful because he compels us to desire what is best for each other. But if we do not know each other how can we desire what is best for each other? And if we do not desire what is best for each other we will fail miserably in our witness to the world.
In Jn.13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Our witness to the world is connected to our love for our brothers and sisters in the church.
How do we love one another? In Phil.2:1-5 Paul writes, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Jesus Christ revealed the love of God to us, by loving us. All who come to Christ enter into his love. And when we enter into his love we love one another with the love he gives to us. Now it is true that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. And sometimes the love of God in us doesn’t look very pretty because we are redeemed sinners. So we must draw ever near to Christ, abiding in his love and love one another with all our hearts. It is what Jesus commands us to do.
When I married Angie 34 years ago I entered into a new life, a better life. It is a life in which Angie and I abide in each other’s love. We desire and seek to promote what is good for one another. And while we fail in many ways we are far better for it. When we enter into life with Christ, we enter into his wonderful love. And as we abide, live in his love, we are enabled to love others with that very same love he gives to us. The more we spend time getting to know Jesus and his commands the more of his love we will know. And the more loving we will be. Amen