THE GOD OF LOVE AND LIFE
By Dan Luehrs
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NASB).
Most Christians know this verse quite well and can quote it verbatim. But do we really understand and perceive the depths of God’s love in it? NO! Mankind does not even know the earth’s depths or the universes great expanse, so how could we possibly know the depth and height of God’s love which is immeasurable? Yes, left on his own it is impossible to know God’s love. But with God ALL things are possible to them who believe! Oh what love He must have for us that He would lay down His life on a cruel cross to suffer and die for our forgiveness and life. The Bible tells us that by His Spirit, which lives within us, we can know His abounding love. He wants us to search for Him as we would for a lost treasure so we might be rich in Him by gaining life eternal (His love), not just living for earthly things that pass away with the wind.
“But, on the contrary, as the Scripture says, What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed]. [Isa 64:4; 65:17.] Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man's scrutiny]” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 AMP).
In these verses we can clearly see that God desires us to search for Him with all our heart. He invites us to see the deeper things of God, which are wrapped in His love. But He has hidden it like a great treasure from those who would not value it enough to seek for it with all of their being. I find that amazing because many people search the world over for someone of the opposite sex to love them, but will not search for the true love and acceptance that comes only from God. He desires to give this to them freely if they would just ask. Yet the opposite is true of those who love Him; for they will lay down anything that would get in their way of knowing Him more. There is a divine exchange happening when we do this. When we give up all that we are on the altar of our daily cross we are gaining much more of Him each day. Do you see it? As we give Him our life, He gives us His life! Jesus said in Matthew 19:29, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." As John 3:16 states, we will, “have eternal life" because the Father gave the Son. Please hear me. Jesus did not die just to bring us to heaven so that we could live in eternal bliss. Oh no, it goes much farther than that! He died so that we could sit on His throne with Him and gain the grand prize of His LIFE! He desires for us to have His life in ourselves even as God has life in Himself and gives life to all living things. This is the meaning of us receiving the HUNDREDFOLD of God’s love in fullness, which is the true eternal life that Jesus died to give us. Amen and amen!
“Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off”
(Romans 11:22 NAS).
There is another side of God’s love that we tend not to recognize -- His severity. Severity means, “to be severe or harsh.” In other words, God is not like a human parent that turns His back on a problem child, letting him get by with it when he does something wrong. No, God deals with every one of His sons severely and corrects them so they will come into full maturity as He is. "Endure hardship “as” discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons" (Hebrews 12:7-8 NIV). Just what is God’s discipline? God’s disciple is His love! We humans think of love as someone being a nice person who would never harm anyone. But God’s love is tough and He gets in our face to change us into His image so that we do not get our own way, for that would only lead to our own loss. If we insist on having our own way, God will let us have it, but to our own demise. In fact, God’s love does not always look or like love! I can definitely tell you that whatever happens to us in our lifetime has been allowed by God to teach us right from wrong. The devil does not get any sucker punches in on anybody! The Bible tells us to, "Endure hardship “as” discipline.” God is training us up through our hardships that He is allowing us to go through. Take for example the death of a loved one. Whether it is an older or younger person God allowed them to die. We can get mad at God or trust Him through it all, learning from it to help others when they are going through the same type of suffering. He disciplines us not because we are so evil, but because He loves us too much to let us have our own way. If God hated us He would leave us unattended like an overgrown garden with weeds and thistles in it. But because He does not, He disciplines us out of a loving heart that wants the best for us. His plans and goals are always much greater and higher for us than we could ever imagine. So we need to trust Him as Jesus did upon His cross. Let us say to the Father, “Into Your hands I commit my life!”
We must understand that the cross did not look at all like a symbol of love to those who watched Jesus suffer and die upon it. To them it was very confusing because He looked stricken and smitten of God. One day He was doing great miracles and the next He was suffering and humiliated on the cross. How could this be love? Because His love looks so entirely different from what we think love should be. God sees the end from the beginning in all things and knows what discipline to administer at the proper time to help us be changed into His likeness. If God’s love did not permit Jesus to suffer and die or let us suffer, then not one son would have ever been brought to glory. "In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering" (Hebrews 2:10 NIV). When we choose to pick up our cross daily (which is to follow His will for our lives) we will encounter sufferings; that seem to come one after another, completing our faith in the fires of life. These fires, my friends are the love of God that brings us into the very likeness of Jesus Christ. Our tribulations are not our enemies as we suppose, but in reality are our friends! For it was the vehicle of the cross that brought Jesus to glory and it will be ours also! Other people may look upon us too as being stricken and smitten of God in the midst of our suffering, just like Jesus. Suffering never makes sense to the natural mind because we cannot figure it out and it is indeed painful.
We came from our heavenly Father to earth to live and die as Jesus did, even though He came to die for our sins so that we too could be glorified in Him. "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one" (John 17:22 NIV). If there is no cross, then there is no glory. If there is no glory then there is no throne for us to sit on with Him because this is the purpose for which He came to die for us. “By this the love of God was manifested “in” us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9-10 NAS). God wants us to live through the life of Jesus Christ that is in us because His love must be experienced and not explained by someone that has it. His love is the life that we now are to be living and trusting in. His love is life, and His life is love! We cannot have one without the other. Love truly does make the world go around! In fact, we are commanded in scripture to pursue love because that is what God is; and this is what He wants for us to be. When we are walking in love we are truly being the spiritual people that we were created to be. Then we are giving the life of God away to those who need it most. It is a known scientific fact that when love is given to a baby it grows much faster and stronger than one that does not get love. Do you see that God’s love is within us to be given away and not kept for one’s self. When we do give it away, He then gives us more to give. But human love and compassion can get in the way of God’s love from ever manifesting itself through us. Take for example the social services of the United States. They were set up to be compassionate to poor people, but have only caused that same people and their children that received the money to become more dependent on the system to supply their needs without having to work for it. This was not true love or compassion but rather was completely the opposite. It actually created bondage and not freedom because it was based on human compassion and not the love of God that would have caused people to get a job and provide for their own families.
When we are seeking after the things of the God we will find His unconditional love and severity. But when our life is over will we have learned to love as He does? True love is to give; to give ourselves away unconditionally to God and others which will give life and peace to our inner man. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit (the things of God) is life and peace” (Romans 8:6-7 NAS). If we are resting in God’s love we will be at peace under all circumstances because, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18 NIV). Our life will be built on the fact that God is in control of all things and there is nothing that can get to us that He has not allowed for our good. We can and must trust His great love!
True love flows from spirit to spirit because love is spiritual. It does not flow out of the mind of man but out of the spirit where God is and gives life from. Take for example the womb of a woman. This is where human life begins, but also in that same region of her body the spirit of God abides in her. "The human spirit is the lamp (life/light) of the LORD, searching every inmost part" (Proverbs 20:27 NRSV). In the natural she gives life to a baby from her womb, but she can also give spiritual life/love to that same baby and to others when she gives love from her spirit. It is when we are giving from our spirit to another person’s spirit that we are giving true love. If a preacher just gives head knowledge to the people that he is speaking to, he is not giving life, but death. Yet if he speaks from his spirit to their spirit he gives life to the hearers. Just as a woman gives natural life to a baby from where her spirit is, so a man gives life from his spirit area or from his reproductive organs that are inside of him, to the inside of a woman, bringing forth natural life in the form of a child. The two have become one in the form of a child. "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63 NRSV). Just as our natural body can give human life, our spirit is able to give life/love because God breathed His life into us when we were created. He is the only being in the universe that is able to give life. “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 AMP). It was not until God had breathed spiritual life into Adam that he become a “living being.” And it is not until we give life from our spirit do we truly give the life/love of God.
One of the most wonderful hidden truths in all of scripture is this: that God would have us to be filled with the all the fullness of Himself, which is the fullness of His love. Such a thought we cannot comprehend with our mind, but with our spirit we can by faith. In the natural we are not even able to grasp the ocean depths, let alone His love. Yet the scriptures do not lie, because He is able to give us faith for such a thing, if we just dare to ask and believe Him for it. For nothing is impossible with God! Has He not said it? Then all we need to do is have faith in His word! This is true faith; God said it, I believe it!
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:17-20 KJV).
We must understand that God is able to give us more of Himself than our little minds can even ask or think. Yet it all has to do with the power that is working within us and that power is great indeed! Love is the greatest power there is; it is the fullness of God because that is who He is. But in His love there is the fullness of joy because joy is the product of love. And so is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the things to be most envied of any person, let alone God. Our mind says it is impossible for us to possess the fullness of such qualities in this lifetime because we know of our shortcomings of the flesh. But we must remember that God is abiding in us, which makes nothing impossible to us!
The love of God is so great that it took away all our sin; this is what love does. In fact, love could do nothing else. It has been said that a person in love will climb any mountain and cross any valley to get to the person they love. Think about it. Didn’t Jesus do just that when He took all of our sickness and pain upon the cross because He loves us and wants to be with us? Love could do nothing else because God is in-love with every person that has ever lived! When we truly love someone we want to share what they’re going through and would gladly take any sickness or sadness from them so they could be happy and free of any pain. The opposite is also true; when we love someone we will gladly give them any gift we can afford because that’s what love does! This is just what God has done for us by giving Jesus to us and by giving us His kingdom. This includes us sitting on the throne with Him so we can be close to Him because we love Him. We wonder how God could do such a thing for us. It’s all because of His great love! "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (1 John 3:1 KJV). When I used to read this verse I would wonder why it was such a big deal to be called a son of God. Was that not only right and proper if I was born of Him? But that is not what this verse is pertaining to at all! It is referring to the fact of God’s love, that we humans could be sons of God like Jesus and that He would share His glory and power with such worms as us. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:7 KJV)
SEEING GOD AS A GREAT MOSAIC
"Since God had provided something better so that they (those before us) would not, apart from us, be made perfect (complete or whole)" (Hebrews 11:40 NRSV).
A large mosaic has many small pieces in it that make up the whole; it is not until every small piece is in place that is it complete. Whether we understand it or not God has put a full part of Himself into every human being that ever lived. When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He breathed Himself into him so that he would be a living and life-giving creature able to give spiritual life to others. All the saints who have gone before us that make up the temple of God could not be made whole without us because we are all a part of one another and are the living stones of God’s temple. "In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God" (Ephesians 2:21-22 NRSV). None of us can be made whole without the other because each of us is a piece of one another; we are all a chip off the same Rock; that rock being the Father. And it is not until we are all back in the Father that we will be made whole and be as ONE in Him! Then God will be all and in all.
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called “their” name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Genesis 5:1-2 KJV).
When Adam was created he was created as a whole being with Eve on the inside of himself, he being both male and female. Then God put Adam into a deep sleep and took the female out of him so that He now was to cleave to his wife to be one together with her. For us to become one with the person of the opposite sex in marriage is for us to become like Adam was before God separated him in two. Adam was one with Eve just as God was one with us in the beginning of creation. This is why people are continually looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right so they can be whole and one together. In reality they are really looking for themselves in the other person to make them complete. When people are searching for their mate they want to find someone that has the same likes and dislikes so they are not always fighting one another. When Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23 KJV). What he was saying is, “I finally found someone like me!” He found himself in Eve! And that is the picture of the body of Christ becoming one with Jesus to be His bride throughout eternity. Why would Jesus marry a bride that is not like Him? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 NIV).
I know what I am about to write may bother some people, but nevertheless I must write what I see. Because of the Biblical types in the Bible we can see that Adam and Eve could not be made whole without the other; nor can the body of Christ (the temple of God) be made whole without one another. The being we call God is a picture of the whole because all things come together in Him, without Him there is nothing. The way I see it, God has divided Himself up into small parts calling them human, He has breathed His life in them, which is a part of Himself. It’s much like the ocean. When you take a small part of water out, you will have everything that is biologically and chemically in the ocean. When we receive a part of God we have God! When His creation is complete, we will all be one in Him again being wholly like Him, knowing good and evil, but too never choose evil again. "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…” (Genesis 3:22 KJV). This whole experience that we call life on earth is about us coming to know God and be coming like Him. Even as part of the ocean is not the whole, but part of the whole, so we too will be like Him in all areas. Yet we will not be God because God is God, you are you, and I am me.