Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Please, you have to continue to love God

We often hear preachers telling us that God loves us. In fact, often when I ask people what is the most important thing to remember concerning God in relation to us, the answer is “God loves us.” Is that wrong? No, indeed God loves us. But do you know that you and I have to love Him back AND continue to love Him. Preachers, if they do mention it, they often only mention it as a “by the way” kind of thing. People are NOT stressing it, that we MUST love Him back AND continue to love Him.

Are you really saying it is about Him?
People say, “It is all about Him.” Do they really mean what they say? Increasingly it has become merely a lingo of theirs to mask their irresponsibility; typically this comes from such people:

“The Bible is all about God, NOT about you”. By that, they say, it is NOT about what you are required to do, or about anything you can do. It is about God, about God’s love, about God’s faithfulness, about God’s awesomeness, about actions of God. Purportedly, the saying of “You can neither earn or merit” covers it all. There is nothing for you to do, NOT to mention, to think about, for you don’t need to think for Him; it is He thinks, and you will know! You don’t have to think, you will know, and if you know NOT, then why do you do; don’t do. If you think you ought, then, that is works; that is NOT right, for it is NOT about you and your works. It is about God, and so, only His works matter. When you think and you work, you are putting yourself in, and that would NOT be pleasing to God.

No, it is NOT to be like that. If it is all about Him, it means He is the centre of everything; He is the centre of your everything. It means you are required to do everything He requires of you; and it is about you are to please Him with your thoughts and your actions. It is about Him, and so, it is about your love for Him, about your faithfulness towards Him, about your adoration of Him since He is so very awesome; it is about your actions as unto God; NOT it is nothing about you and I.

It merits us to do anything & everything after His thoughts/desires
Sure, we cannot merit His grace, and we definitely did NOT merit His giving of His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us; but all the more, it, His given grace and on-going grace, merit us to do anything and everything after His thoughts or desires or will.

When it is all about God, it does NOT mean we don’t think at all, and when we think, it is NOT necessarily that it implies that we are having the audacity to think for God. If He is the centre of your everything, it is you are to think and pay attention to that which will please Him and do them. Eph 2:10 clearly said that we are to do good works God would like us to do.

You don’t glorify God by just basking away
We are to glorify God. We don’t glorify God by thinking NOT, and doing NOT. We glorify God by thinking and acting in manners that pleases Him.

In the first place, Man was NOT created inanimate, or for inaction; no, Adam was assigned work; he worked; he looked after the Garden of Eden for God.

The opposite is putting yourself in
You are putting yourself in, when you decide you don’t do that which will please God; and that would be you saying to God, “I will go ahead and do what think I want to do; if you want me to do something else, the onus is on you, God, to tell me”.

If it is all about God, and you are putting God first, then it should be you are to be thinking and doing what pleases God; and you ask Him for “leave to go do something” you would like to do. That is what you would do to your employer - you please your employer, do the things you are supposed to do, thinking and acting for the benefit of the employer; and if you want to do something apart, you ask for leave. But you wouldn’t do that for God, when it is all about Him; you treat Him more worse than your employer? And of course, God is more than just your employer.

“It is finished”. Please explain it rightly.
Who say it is finished? You? Me? No, it was Jesus. Jesus said it was finished for Him; He finished His work; he finished the assignments Father God gave Him. No, it is NOT you and I have no more things to do; purporting that what we need to do is just enjoy ourselves and bask in grace.

No, it is time for us to work. When Jesus finished, we, the believers, take over; NOT the same work of literally be crucified on the Cross, but we, now, are to be the successors of Jesus. In Romans 8:29 we read that for those God gave re-birth (born-again), he also had in mind (wished, desired) that they be transformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, His Son, that He, Jesus Christ, might be the firstborn among many believers. In other words, we take over as ones whom God would continue to work with.

You need only to look at the example of Jesus
Jesus did NOT just sit there and do nothing, cried, “It is all about you, God. You get your act together; I will just sit here and watch, and bask in your grace!”

No, absolutely; that was NOT what Jesus did. His attitude towards God was NOT like that; rather when it was all about God, for Jesus, Jesus put God in the centre of His life; sinned NOT, meaning he did NOT do anything to displease God; and rather, did everything God had wanted done, even when He had to be persecuted and die that cruel death on the Cross.

Jesus said at the end of His life, “It is finished”, and He went to be with God. Because He, Jesus, did the works assigned, He could say, “It is finished”. So, we who are fruits after the Firstfruit, are we also now doing the works Jesus or God assigned, so that when we are about to breathe our last, we can also say, “It is finished”? Are you doing that?

What did Jesus say He required of us?
Is it “It is finished”, and so, nothing required? No. Among the most important things that Jesus said are: Love the Lord your God with all of you (your heart, mind, soul and strength), and love your neighbours as yourself.

Obvious? Apparently NOT, for some. Does the above tell us to only love God at our entry into salvation, and that would be enough? Was it a one-time thing that we are to love God?

In Luke 10:25-28, before He gave the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus revealed to us what is needed to inherit eternal life? The question asked of Jesus (by a Sadducee) was this: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

It is reasonable to assume, by then, Jesus, knew He would NOT be living on earth for a long, long time; and it is reasonable to assume, He, with His knowledge of the OT, including understanding of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, that He would have, then, knew He would die persecuted (this points to it – Luke 4:1-21). But we did NOT note that Jesus’ reply was, all that people had to do, was to believe and accept Him (Jesus), and NOT reject Him, after His death and resurrection. At this point Jesus still pointed to the laws of God. In Matt 5, we can also read that Jesus said He did NOT come to abolish the laws but to fulfill them.

Jesus actually replied by asking the Sadducee, an expert, in the Law, how he, the Sadducee, understood from the Law; and the Sadducee replied,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

And Jesus’ reply to that was that the Sadducee answered correctly. Jesus added, Do this and you will live. (v28). It is very clear that we have to love God to live. If your common sense still does NOT tell that it is NOT a one-time love of God, any slight knowledge of the OT laws would reveal to us that we cannot just love God once, and then NOT continue to love Him.

NOT “it doesn’t matter it lasts NOT”
There is a WORLDLY Chinese saying about love that translates to: “What matters, is that we once had, it does NOT matter it lasts NOT.”

No, it is NOT like that; we are to love God continually. There is such a thing as “has loved” and “continue to love”. You may have loved, but the call is to continue to love. The love of God is revealed to us, in Scripture, like that, too, apart from Luke 10:25-28, which I have expounded above. Scripture said God “has loved”, so we ought to love Him back.

God “has loved” you when He gave His Son to die for you. If you are a believer, you can be said as “having loved” Him back. You have begun your loving God when you entered into your salvation. The question is, “Is that what it is supposed to be, ‘a one night stand’ (so to speak)?” It is NOT, right? What is your expectation? Are we NOT expecting God to continue to love you? Sure, we do. The Apostle Paul said, in Romans 8:38-39, that he was convinced that God wants to continue to love us. The overall counsel of the Word reveals to us that God does want to continue to love us.

So you want God to continue to love you
So, you want a relationship with God? And you want God to continue to love you? Don’t you think you and I ought also to continue to love God? In fact, we have to grow our love for God. Surely, the “Love your God with all of you, your heart, mind, soul and strength” is referring NOT, to the one-time act of love, of saying the Sinner’s Prayer on entry into salvation. It is untenable to argue the greatest command of Jesus was a call for a one-time love by us. In this relationship with God, for it, the relationship to operate properly, it requires you and I to continue to love God, even as God continues to love us.

The key way of loving God – obey His commands
Before I give another important text to show further, the “has loved” and “continue to love”, let me give us the key way of loving God. When I ask people, “How does one love God?” Often the answer is “Love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength”. But that really does NOT say HOW we love! You see, if you and I are saying, “It is all about God”, then we ought to be looking at how God defines “loving Him”.

Jesus defined loving God or Him (Jesus) this way: Those who love me, obeys my commands (John 14:15), and those who obey my commands are the ones who love me (John 14:21a).

So, as a believer, you “have loved” God. At your entry into salvation, God said, “Accept my Son, Jesus, who has died for you”, and you have obeyed – you have loved (you accepted, as commanded). Likewise, you continue to love God when you continue to obey His commands. When you refuse to obey His commands, what does it tell on your love for God? The answer is obvious.

Here is the text of Jesus presenting us the “has loved” and “continue to love”, with the obeying God’s commands thrown in, as the key way of loving God:

John 15:9-11 - 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

The above clearly says that God has loved you, and to remain in His love, we need to obey His commands (as THE way of loving Him). Jesus said He was subjected to the same, and likewise it is applicable to us. Jesus said He told us this, so that when we do it, i.e. love Him by obeying His commands, His joy (Jesus’ joy) may be in us, and that our joy may be complete. In other words, Jesus was saying, our joy will be complete when His joy enters us; and His joy enters us when we love Him by obeying His commands. Here is a little secret for you – to NOT lose peace and joy, don’t disobey His commands.

Are you saying God’s love is NOT unconditional?
Brother Anthony, are you then saying that God’s love is conditional? Yes, but please let me explain.

My understanding is that the Greek word, “agape” used as the “love” word in the New Testament (NT), was NOT originally bearing the meaning of “unconditional love”; it was more pointing to true love, as opposed to sexual/sensual love (eros), brotherly love, like friendship (philia), and natural love, like mother for her child (storge); it was more of a sacrificial love, like dying for another, like what Jesus did, died for us. It has element of without undue demand, but it is NOT really completely unconditional. For example, the love shown by one on the street, seeing a beggar weak from hunger, and giving his/her own lunch pack over, can be said as agape love. This love does NOT demand anything from the beggar - NOT that the beggar must do some “trick” to amuse the person before the food is given. The person sacrifices his/her own lunch. It does appear unconditional in this case, but it does NOT mean that agape love is completely unconditional.

Sacrificial and without undue demand
The modern use of the Greek word may have forced it to mean unconditional love, through usage, but, as far as I have looked at the subject, it was NOT with that intent of being totally unconditional. God’s love or Jesus’ love is sacrificial, and may appear totally unconditional, but God’s love is NOT totally unconditional.

To fully explain this, will require another article, but it suffices to state that God’s love for men is love unto righteousness (`ahab love). And the righteousness of God is the outworking of the holiness of God and His wisdom (principally). In other words, the love of God for men is subjugated to His holiness. In practical terms, it means, ultimately God cannot love you and I, unrighteously, or in contradiction to His holiness. There is a condition to God’s love for men, and that condition, which is applicable for all things, is that it must satisfy the demand of God’s holiness. The demand of holiness is NOT undue demand.

You have to embrace His holiness, and so, you have to obey
We have to obey God’s commands, for they flow from the righteousness and justice of God which in turn, is the outworking of God’s holiness and wisdom. We have to love God for who He is, and He is goodness absolute or holiness. We cannot love God unless we embrace His holiness, and that is why THE way of loving God has to be obeying His commands.

God is ever-ready (to love) but we have to align in
Now, when Jesus said that we have to do such (obey His commands, as loving Him) to remain in His love, it is meant to say that God is ever-ready to love you and I, and He has loved with that love, only that we have to align in.

The best way I can put it, is a parable of the light. It beams forth, but we have to align into the path of the light-beam to receive it.

Assured, most assuredly, for those who love Him
I cannot stress enough that there are so many significant verses in Scripture that tells us that the goodness/blessing/favour of God is assured, most assuredly, for those who love Him.

Ps 91 which have many of the beautiful and powerful promises of God for protection and well-being, it is assured, most assuredly, for those who love God; Ps 91:14-15 tell us so:

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

Romans 8:28, commonly quoted to comfort believers in stressful trouble, it too, is assured, most assuredly, for those who love God; it is written right there in the verse, “…. for the good of those who love God…”

James 1:14 - Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Now, even in the OT, we can see the same thing portrayed; we can see this in the opening line of Nehemiah’s Prayer (Neh 1:5-11) - “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments

Continue to love Him by obeying His commands
Today, realize the secret to our Christian well-being is to love God. I have already, in this article, said THE way to love God, is to obey His commands. Of course, we can break it up, and expound further, how we can love God, and perhaps, I will do that in another article, but ultimately it still comes back to obeying Him/His commands. So, now, love God by obeying His commands. You have loved God? You still have to CONTINUE to do that.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Loving God is the secret to our Christian well-being.

PS: Those wanting to read an exposition of Ps 91, can go here: “Secret of our well-being – Ps 91

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