Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | September 20, 2013

The Triumphant Joy of God’s Love

God’s Love for Saul of Tarsus

When reading the description of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:1-2 it is almost impossible to imagine this person as the author of the New Testament’s chapter on love. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

In the following verses, however, we read of a miracle, a miracle of God’s love reaching down and loving the unlovely. In verses 3-6 we read, “3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From that point on, Paul was a changed man, something had happened to him that defies any natural explanation; from a persecutor of Christians Paul became a devoted Christian evangelist and apologist in a turn-around so dramatic the early church had difficulty even believing such a profound change was even possible.

We can all be truly thankful to God that with God all things are possible. Paul had been deeply and completely changed and was now prepared to devote his life to the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ; instead of breathing out murderous threats he was breathing out the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s Love for You

One of the things I have observed about getting older is the sad fact my collection of memories about personal sin is also growing. I can remember what seems to be an almost endless list of failures on my part for which I have been forgiven by God’s unmerited and undeserved grace. I rejoice in the promise of confession and forgiveness we have been given in 1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

There are times when I feel particularly unlovely and unworthy of God’s love; how can God love such a wretched man as me? This, of course, is my sin nature talking and is itself sin which needs to be confessed. The Bible is clear that our basis for operation is faith, not feelings; feelings are treacherous and not to be trusted, we must operate on the basis of what we are told in the Bible, what we know to be God’s truth for His children as revealed in His word.

God is completely aware of all of your sins, even those of which you may not be aware, yet He loves you perfectly and completely and always will. Verses 38 and 39 in Romans 8 are sources of never ending joy for me; they tell us, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What beautiful, wonderful words of assurance, Praise God!

The Greatest of These is Love

In 1 Corinthians 13 the one who was Saul of Tarsus and became the Apostle Paul tells us of the beauties and wonders of love. He concludes the chapter with these words, “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In verses 8-10 Paul wrote, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

Why then, of those three, is love the greatest? The Bible explains that in several places; first with regard to faith we are told in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When we are home with our Lord we will see what we have hoped for all of our lives; faith and hope will have been replaced by sight. We will see and be in the presence of the one we worship as Savior and God. The overwhelming reality will be love, our love for the one who made it all possible, the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the greatest and most enduring of these is love.

God’s Blessings to His Children

God knows full well the impact of the spiritual war on His children; He knows all too well the impact of Satanic attack on the lives of His children. In His grace and mercy, God has provided the helper needed to make it possible to rejoice in Him always and the way to let the helper provide the needed help at all times. The helper is the Holy Spirit of God who was given to us when we received Christ as Savior and will never ever leave us. The way we call on the Holy Spirit for help is the confession of sin so the fruit of the Holy Spirit can characterize our lives. In Galatians 5:22-25 it is written, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Notice the first quality mentioned is love; when our lives are controlled by the Spirit of God we can manifest Godly love to all. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul had described this kind of love when he wrote, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Please notice that everything listed in those verses is related to doing, not feeling. I believe the revered King James Version of the Bible used a word that conveys the thought more accurately, charity, we are told to maintain a charitable attitude toward others. While it is not feasible to try to achieve a warm personal feeling toward everyone it is possible to have a charitable attitude toward everyone; to exhibit those qualities described in verses 4-7.

A Final Thought

One of the joys of loving people and all of God’s creation is a better understanding of how God can love us. If each of us, with all of the flaws we know we possess, can love each other and God’s creation, it becomes much easier to believe a Holy God who is free of all of these flaws can really love us as much as He says He does.


Responses

  1. Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing. ~Blessings~

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  2. Loved your post today.

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  3. body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}Thank you, David!I have been set back by depression recently, a friend shared that it may be God’s way to slow me down for a SEASON, to refresh, to pray, to get ready for another new adventure. Its kind of hard to THINK that way during depression. Thank you for your blog! It helps!Are you attending a bible study at HAFBC? if so which one and what time?I may want to  become involved, its really difficult to start over in another church….Dave H.

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  4. Wonderful blog!

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  5. Your statement that the fruit of the spirit were about doing rather than feelings was just what I needed to hear. We can exhibit the fruit by “doing” it with God’s help. Often the feelings will follow. If they don’t, still worth the doing.

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  6. David, another great exposition. I shall pass it on. Dick

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