No Other Foundation
Book 2
Needful Truths for Children of Light

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Chapter Eight
God's Love

    On that ominous day in the garden of Eden the serpent presented himself as an innocently curious questioner. But each question was crafted to strike an imperceptive yet deadly blow at the trustworthiness of God. In just a few moments, with just a few questions, he convinced Eve to see God as unworthy. The next thing she did was predictable. In fact, it was so predictable the serpent had designed his entire battle plan around it. In response to her new-found distrust of God, Eve chose to depart from God’s way of love and go her own way of self-interest.

              Since that day, the devil has done the same with every one of us. Because he knows selfishness is our first and foremost response when we think God is untrustworthy, he works hard at convincing us God is unworthy of our trust. And convince us he does. We have all chosen to depart from God’s way of love to go our own way of self-interest because we have presumed God to be untrustworthy.

             Learn this truth. Distrust of God in any amount or to any degree is the primary driver behind our unwillingness to love Him supremely. It is the driving force behind our self-centeredness. It is our excuse for our love affair with sin.

            God confronted this lie about His character, and He continues to confront it. His costliest effort in confronting this lie was when He sent His only son, Jesus, to the cross to take our place in paying the penalty for our sin. His most prolonged effort is found in His patient waiting while we decide if we want to repent of our sin, trust in Him, and be reconciled to Him. Like the father longingly waited for the prodigal son to come home, God longingly waits for us to repent and return to Him so the broken relationship between us can be restored. He passionately desires to be loved by us, and He wants to share a mutually loving relationship with us, forevermore.

            However, many still question - indeed out and out doubt God's love for them. To them, God’s love is mostly a theory, a theological construct, a teaching about God which came from God – and they’re not so sure they can believe it completely. In fact, their view of their life experience seems to offer enough contradictions to the ‘God is love’ theology that they’re not even sure they want to believe it completely, or even at all. So what can we do to see if God’s love is enough to subdue our heart, capture our mind, and give us reason enough to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? We can take a look at how God loves.

            The Bible says God is love. When it says that God is love, it does not mean that His nature or essence is love. If God, by His nature was love, He could do nothing but love us.  His love would never be an act of His will, for it would be involuntary. He would be like an animal unable to do anything other than what His inborn love instinct drives Him to do. In other words, He would have no control or choice over whether He loved us or not.

           Such involuntary behavior would never be mistaken for love for long by anyone who knew Him intimately. For you see, love is only love when it is an act of the will – when it is a free, cheerfully intentional choice on the part of the lover to seek the good of the one being loved. And love is only love when it has within its fabric a deeply felt desire for relationship so that it does all that love can do to make shared relationships of love and trust possible with whomever possible.

           Therefore, loving type deeds done from a sense of obligation, or from a feeling of duty, or for the hope of reward, or in an effort to appease, or out of fear of retribution can never satisfy the receiver’s longing to be loved. They may make him feel good for a while, but in time the loveless motivation behind the deeds will strip the deeds of their ability to satisfy. Why? Because the most loving deeds done from a motive other than love can never be anything other than the fruit of selfishness. And, the selfishness of others can never satisfy our fervent desire to be loved.

           So, what will satisfy our deep longing to be loved? Being loved by someone who of his own free-will wants to love us because we are precious to him. It is only when the one who loves us is free to not love us yet does love us because he values us enough to care about us that we feel loved, important, wanted, cherished, or adored.

          It is the freedom to not love which gives believability to love when someone adores us enough to love us. Therefore, true love, the kind that convinces us we are loved, the kind that can make relationships everything they are intended to be, must come from an act of the will. It must be voluntary. It must be freely given. And, it must have the power and liberty to do otherwise.

         This same principle is true for the love which God has for us. We have no rational reason to believe God really loves us unless He has a choice in the matter. And He does. He has the power and the freedom to not love us. And it is His power and freedom to not love which makes His love for us so real – especially given all the reasons we give Him to not love us.

          Therefore, we know God loves us because He has of His own free-will chosen to love us. He voluntarily and cheerfully (as opposed to grudgingly and of necessity) seeks our good in all things. And the fact that He cherishes and adores us is validated by His tender pursuit of a mutual relationship with us – a relationship where we each voluntarily and cheerfully seek the other’s good.

         Therefore, when the Bible says God is love, it means He wants to love us enough to make a voluntary choice and a deliberate decision to promote and protect our good in everything He does which in any way affects us. Now because He is God, He loves perfectly. His love is so pure, so consistent, so faithful, so comprehensive, and so complete that it seems as if He can do nothing but love – and yet His love is a choice.

          When the Bible says God is love, it means He is so committed to the principle of love that He would not, under any circumstances, do anything other than what is loving. No one need convince Him of the irrationality and irresponsibility of doing anything other than what is best for everyone affected in any way by everything He says and does. He is convinced already. He is so convinced about the value of love and so committed to the practice of love that He won’t do anything other than love.

          When the Bible says God is love, it means He is, by His own choosing, supremely devoted to seeking and securing the good of all. No one is loved more than another, and no one is loved less. His devotion to the well-being of everyone is so great that He will never do anything for anyone which in the doing harms someone else.

          We see the truth of this in the fact that God sustains life for the sinner and righteous person alike, for the scripture says that God makes the sun shine and rain fall on the sinner and righteous person alike. God turns the planted seed into a plant to be harvested for the sinner and the righteous person alike. God makes the body rejuvenate and heal itself for the sinner and the righteous person alike. God empowers the mind with the ability to reason and think for the sinner and righteous person alike. God is good to all because He loves us all.

          It would seem, though, that He loves those who love Him more than He loves those who don’t. But think for a minute. Doesn’t the rebellious child say the same thing about his parent’s treatment of his obedient brothers and sisters? Is it that his parents love him less and the other children more? No! The rebellious child seems to be loved less because he cannot be trusted with the same privileges and benefits his parents bestow on the other children. If they are good parents, their hearts will be breaking over not being able to bestow those same privileges and benefits on the rebellious child. But they hold back because he will abuse the privileges and misuse the benefits to his own hurt and the harm of others.

          Good parents love each of their children even though they do differently for the rebellious child as compared to what they do for the other children. But are they really doing differently? No! They are doing the same for all their children. They are seeking the good of each child with loving consideration for how their treatment of each child will affect the good of the others. The same holds true in God’s dealings with us.

          But the Bible says: “And we know that God works in everything to bring good out of everything for those who love Him and live according to His will.” Doesn’t this prove favoritism? Once again, the answer is no. God wants to do this for all, but only those who through faith in Him patiently wait for Him to work things out for their good are able to receive this gracious gift from God.

          Let me explain. When life isn’t going the way we think it should or when trials and tribulation come our way, some of us stop believing God works all things out for good, and in so doing, we take matters into our own hands and do what we think best to improve our life, secure our well-being, or get relief from the troubles of the day.

         However, when we take matters into our own hands, we inevitably step outside the boundaries of godliness and love into territory where the only available options are selfish options and the only solutions are sinful solutions. And though these options and solutions may seem inviting for the moment, in the end they create more problems than the ones we are trying to solve. Thus, what appears to the selfish, fearful, or despairing eye to be a good option or solution is really a temporary fix loaded with more problems for ourselves and others.

         To consistently experience God bringing good out of bad circumstances, we must trust Him, remain within His boundaries of godliness whatever the circumstances or cost, and patiently wait for Him to do whatever has to be done to bring about good. If we will trust, obey, and remain patient, He will work out a solution with no immediate or future problems that can harm us or anyone else affected by the solution. (Note: Romans 8:28)

          There is an additional truth here that must be addressed. God’s love for you is never expressed in any way which unjustly or unnecessarily harms you or anyone effected by His love for you, and that includes unbelievers. Therefore, it may sometimes seem like sin is winning and God is losing. It may sometimes seem like sinners are getting the advantages while Christians are suffering loss. It may even seem, sometimes, that God stands aside while evil people force undue pain, suffering, and even death on His children. However, God always seeks the good of all who are affected in any way by everything He does.

          What appears as God’s failure to protect the righteous from the sinful ways of sinners is really God being patient with those who are selfishly sinful. And who hasn’t been selfishly sinful? Who hasn’t God been patient with?

        God is patient because He wants to give ample opportunity to every sinner to come to repentance. He wants every sinner to voluntarily turn from selfishness and sin to a life devoted to love and godliness so that He does not have to banish them. He does not want to send anyone to hell. Think about it this way – when our life on earth comes to an end the opportunity for repentance comes to an end. Because this is the only life-time any of us has to repent, God holds back on His judgment during this life in an effort to give each of us the greatest possible opportunity to repent and be saved from eternal damnation. (Note: II Peter 3:9)

           As long as God graciously gives sinners time to repent there will be unnecessary suffering and destruction in the world. If you are a Christian, remember that He gave you time to repent. While He waited, you continued to be self-centered. You continued to practice sin at the expense and to the hurt of others. You can be certain they did not want to endure any unnecessary suffering and pain just so you could have time to come to your senses and repent. Yet they did, and God allowed it for your sake.

          If God were to act quickly in protecting others from the effects of your self-centeredness, He would have to end your life once you began knowingly doing what you knew was wrong. Patient waiting would not be an option if God were to stop your sinfulness after your first or second, or even your tenth or twentieth sin. Ending your life would be His only reasonable solution. Yet if He had ended your life, He would also have ended your opportunity to repent. I am sure you are thankful He didn’t do that, for if He had you would be spending eternity in hell.

          The patience God had with you He has with others. And though you may not have thought about this in this way, it is probable you are thankful for His patience because it gave you time to come to repentance and saving faith in Jesus Christ. Admittedly, it seems harder to appreciate God’s patience with others when it means unnecessary suffering and pain for you. Yet even God endured some or even much suffering as a result of your sin while He patiently waited for you to repent. Therefore, He is only asking you to do for others what He has done for you – and in this way, love as you have been loved.

          If you will love God and others in this way, you will see the unnecessary suffering and destruction caused by unrepentant sinners in a different light. It won’t make the unjust suffering inflicted on you enjoyable, but it will promote gratitude in you that God is extending the same grace to them that He extended to you.

          When the Bible says God is love, it does not mean that He can be moved to give us whatever we want. To do that would be like spoiling a child. Spoiling children by giving them whatever they want creates self-centered monsters. They don’t get better because they get what they want – they get worse. The more they get, the more they want. The more their demands are satisfied, the more self-centered they become until they’ll treat whomever in whatever kind or cruel ways they must to get more of what they want. The same is true for adults.

            God loves us, and that is an undisputable fact. His love is devoted to seeking our good. It is also devoted to seeking the good of everyone affected by what He gives us and how we use what He gives us. He wants to bless us with every good thing, but He won’t spoil us. He won’t feed our self-centeredness. He will not give us what we want if what we want impedes our progress in sanctification and growth toward spiritual maturity. Therefore, God gives us what we need. He gives us those things which have the greatest potential of bringing us to godly maturity while at the same time satisfying our physical needs.

           When the Bible says God is love and that He loves sinners, it does not mean that He is approving or tolerant of their sinful behavior. God abhors all sin, all selfishness, all pride. These evils needlessly destroy people and relationships. They are the cause of all the suffering in our world, and whatever immediate benefits come from such evils, they always leave suffering victims in their wake. His love, especially the patience part of His love, should never be confused with tolerance. God never approves of sin.

          When the Bible says God is love and that He loves sinners, it does not mean that He delights in them or feels endeared to them while they are in their sinful condition. He wants them to repent. He longs to share in a relationship with them. And though He blesses sinners with a stable world, four seasons, ground that receives seed and produces food, and many other needful things, don’t ever think He delights in anyone who is intentionally or perpetually harming others for the sake of personal gain. Don’t ever think God feels endeared to someone who willfully rebels against Him and selfishly hurts those He loves. These are not endearing behaviors. They are offensive behaviors. They are alienating behaviors. They stir God’s wrath and drive His discipline or punishment. Therefore, though it remains true that God loves sinners, He does not delight in them or feel endeared to them when they are deliberately continuing on in their sin.

            When the Bible says God is love, it means He has done everything He can reasonably do to gain our confidence and our trust. In love, He has revealed Himself to us through nature, the Bible, and in Jesus. In love, He died for our sins in order to free us from the penalty, power, and practice of sin so we can live forever in a love relationship with Him and all who love as He loves. In love, He becomes our provider and protector so that we are able to safely make the pursuit of His kingdom and His righteousness our primary pursuit. In love, He disciplines us when we sin and thwarts our selfish/sinful efforts in order to bring us to our senses in hopes we will repent and pursue true love. In love, He will ultimately banish the unrepentant sinners (to hell) in order to protect those who have repented and are living as He created them to live (new heavens and new earth).

            When God commands us to love Him supremely, He is not acting as an insecure ruler who seeks to satisfy his need for acceptance. He is not acting as an egotist who must be adored to feel good about himself. He is acting as a loving father who knows we need to love Him supremely in order to live life to the fullest, that is, a righteous life free from all sin. When He asks us to obey Him, He is not acting as a demanding boss who is only happy when he is in control. He is acting as a loving father who knows His ways are the only path to a life filled with true joy, lasting security, genuine pleasure, loving relationships, and every other good thing. When He asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He is not trying to benefit them at our expense. He is trying to protect the good of all mankind, including us. When He disciplines us, He is not acting as an angry God who wants to punish us for disobedience. He is acting as a loving father who wants to steer us in the right direction for our own good and the good of everyone affected by what we do.

            God always has our best interests in mind. He is always seeking and working for our good. This is why He is not to be feared, but revered and loved. The Bible says there is no fear in love because perfect love removes all fear. We never have to fear that God will do anything less than what is best for us no matter how He feels about what we are doing. We never have to fear that God will stop wanting relationship with us even when we are driving Him away or running from Him by our behavior. We never have to fear being too bad, undesirable, or beyond God’s love, because there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Therefore, if we have sinned or have been living in sin, we have only to repent and place our faith in God to immediately find out just how much He loves us and wants us to love Him. 

            God is love. Those who know Him have been captured by His love. They have come to see that God’s love is perfect, pure, trustworthy – in fact all they could ever hope love to be. Their day-to-day experiences convince them God loves them. When they look back over time, they see how safe they have been in God’s love so that they confidently trust Him for whatever lies ahead.

          Do you see how reasonable, just, and complete God’s love is? Do you see how safe you are in His love? Contemplate God's love and let His love capture your heart.

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