Article by Josh Vestal
Disciples of the Lord Jesus need to never question His infinite love for them. Just think for a moment about what Christ has done on your behalf, dear believer. He has extended His grace and mercy towards you. He has redeemed you. You are precious to Him. That word precious may be one of the most beautiful terms in our language. I cannot think of a term that better captures affection , yet here we are, precious and dear to the very heart of God. Meditate upon that this day.
I often think of the words of Christ in John 3:19, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." This says something about man's dilemma--about man's predisposition, doesn't it? To understand the beautiful nature of God's affection for man we must first understand something of man's affection for God. Scripture is clear that, and there is a plethora of passages that agree, man is inherently wicked. Man, by nature, does not love God. His heart is stone. He can he? He does not seek for God. His eyes are scaled. How can he? He does not think of God. His mind is full of corruption. How can he? He cannot awaken himself to realize his plight. He is dead in sin. How can he? Think about this: Christ, the eternal Son of God, full of grace and truth, came into the world which He created, not to condemn the world, but to save it through His life and death. What type of reception did He receive? He received opposition from the beginning of His life to the very end. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Why? Because men loved darkness rather than light. Because their deeds were evil.
When we realize these truths about man's disposition, we get a better picture of just how vast and deep Christ's love is for humanity. It is summed up well by Paul in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That is it, my friends. That is the Gospel. We were once dead in sins and trespasses, but God has quickened us together with Christ! I am going to be frank, God did not have to provide a Savior for the world. He could have left man in his sins and just watched him plunge into destruction, BUT He is love. He is kind. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is longsuffering. He doesn't delight in the death of the wicked. He longs for sinners to take refuge in His Son's name. Remember that term precious we discussed in the beginning of this post? It is the reconciling power of Christ provided through belief upon His gospel that brings us into such an affectionate and intimate relationship with God. My dear friends, to be reconciled unto the Father, to know that you are in a place of harmonious relationship with God is worth more than all the gold and silver in the world.
By now, you may be thinking, "the two Scripture quotations above deal with my love for God, not His love for me. What are you getting at here?" I want to close this blog with a brief word of encouragement. It is so easy for us to look to ourselves and measure God's love for us based on how we many feel in the moment. For example, when things are rosy and we are not necessarily dealing with intense affliction, we may perceive that God's love for us is very great and in return our love for Him seems to be great. But when we are in the fiery furnace of affliction and feel that we are about to be swallowed up by hell itself, we can let doubt about God's love for us creep in, and we may ourselves seem to think that such affliction is the result of our small love for Him. We may feel that God has distanced Himself from us and may even be upset with us. My precious friends, let such a thought evade you. Sure, there many be times when our hearts are dull. There may be times when we are spiritually drained. We go through things and struggle with spiritual discipline. In those times say with Peter, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I live thee." Praise His name and declare with David, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength." Notice the clarity in this particular phrase. "I WILL love thee." When you go to God in prayer, go with the attitude of "I WILL LOVE YOU, GOD. I may be in a place in my life where it is not as evident, but You know all things. You know I love you. Rejuvenate and refresh my soul. Renew my mind. Let me look to the cross and find precious gems of grace there. I love you, Lord."
Know that when you come into covenantal relationship with God, you become a beneficiary of His covenantal faithfulness. God is faithful to keep you by he Holy Spirit. That is a promise that you can take to the grave with you. Look to God's character. Not yourself. Ask the Lord for greater apprehensions of His love for you. Again, say with Peter, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."
I want to share some words from a sermon I recently listened to that lifted my spirit in a time of personal need. In a sermon by Rob Dykes from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, TN the following words were offered:
When you come to God in prayer and unfurlough your anxieties before Him, you need to remember that He has only ever wanted your good and will move mountains to make it happen. That when you're faithless, He is still faithful. When you forget Him, He still remembers you. When you let go of His hand, He still holds on to your hand. When your heart sinks into despondency, you ae still the apple of His eye. He is always with you. He goes ahead of you. He indwells you. His arms are around you. He is for you, brothers and sisters. And you can always go to Him because you are His covenant one. And He is your covenant God. He is for you. Sometimes, at least with me, sometimes I can think that God is against me. It is as if God has done something to suggest that He is against me, but actually when I think about it, He's only ever been for me. And He has only ever been good to me, and yet sometimes I can just imagine for some reason, even in my subconscious that God is not for me, but covenant people of God you need to know this evening that He is for you and He loves you. And you can go to Him. If you ever doubt His love for you, as I said this morning, all you ought to do is look at the cross of Jesus Christ."
In the Lord Jesus,