His Love Answers All

In this series of blogs from 1 John 4:7-21, we have already observed several wonderful facts concerning God and His love for us. In this blog, I’d like to take a moment to outline a few more truths that will help us to identify God in all things at all times, for His love is the answer to all of our human problems, struggles and questions.

Acts 14:15-17, NKJV:
And saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

1) His love explains creation.

Everyone has wondered why God created the world at one point or another. Why did He create us? Does the earth testify to the existence of God or are we here by chance?

If God is love, He cannot exist in lonely isolation—He must have someone to love and someone to love what He has made. Acts 14:15-17 speaks of all God made from Heaven and Earth to the sea and all that’s in it. When He created, He wasn’t willing to leave us without a proper witness to His handiwork. This is why there is a natural theology where all that God has done testifies to His great love for us.

2) It explains free will.

In order for love to be genuine, it must be freely given and freely received. If God was only law then He would have made the world to obey, like robots, responding without genuine feelings. But where is the love in that? By definition, love has got to be a free response that comes from the heart.

So God, as a deliberate act of self-limitation, made man with a freewill, so we could freely choose to love Him, as an autonomous response to the fact that He first loved us. We can’t help ourselves as it relates to salvation because we were all dead in trespass and sin—we can, however, respond to the love of God when we hear the gospel message. This is the only way God could have a true, loving relationship with His creation.

3) It explains His providence.

God plays an active role in the administration of the earth. He takes pleasure in the lives of people and the care of all created things. This is so much better than the deistic view of a God who exists on autopilot, not giving care or attention to His creation! People seek to indict God by pointing to the bad or evil in the earth, but remember God is not capable of evil—all good and perfect things come from above. Believers can trust in the providence of God and that He takes care of all that belongs to Him.

4) It explains redemption.

If God were only concerned with law and justice, He would have left us to ourselves, resulting in the consequences of sin crashing down on us. Jesus would have stayed in Heaven and we would die in our sin and be eternally separated from Him.

Thank God for redemption! Because God is love, He came to seek out the lost and offer salvation. He provided the remedy for sin, redemption.

5) And, God’s love explains eternal life.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you understand how difficult it can be to imagine life without them. If God were simply a creator, then the fate for men would be death. All created things would cease and God would, again, be in isolation. But thankfully, because of His love, God has offered us the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

To all who have accepted this sacrifice, physical death is merely a doorway into His eternal presence.

For me, it truly is God’s love that causes things to make sense. So many of the questions that trouble us fade away when we shift our focus towards the love of God and embrace a relationship with Him. I hope something I’ve written here will help make sense of something for you too.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

Choose Love

1 John 4:12, KJV:
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

From 1 John 4:12, we learn it is by love that God is known. Although we can’t see wind or electricity, we are able to see the their effects. God is a spirit, so we cannot see Him physically, but as with the forces of wind and electricity, we are able to see God’s effect, which is love.

When the spirit of God enters into a person, he is clothed with the love of God and God is made known in the earth by this effect on that individual’s life. The best demonstration of God is not established by argument, but from a life filled with the love of Christ.

1 John 4:9, KJV:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

The full manifestation of God’s perfect love was demonstrated by His gift to humanity, Jesus Christ. With this in mind we can quickly glean two important truths about the love of God:

1) God’s love holds nothing back.

2) God’s love is totally undeserved.

The Bible says He has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places. In fact, His love was so overwhelming that He was willing to give His only son as a sacrifice for us—an unimaginable sacrifice beyond all human comprehension.

After all His blessing, it really would make sense for us to love God, but the truly amazing thing is that even if we don’t, He still loves us! That’s right, God even loves those who are disobedient and don’t love Him back. When there was nothing good about us, He directed His love towards humanity—a love that was totally undeserved.

So Human love is fundamentally a response to the divine love of God. In other words, we love God because God loved us first. Without this arrangement, we couldn’t truly love at all because it’s in His love that we gain the choice to love. Very simply, the love of God and the love of man are inextricably linked to each other. As C.H. Dodd finely put it, “The energy of love discharges itself along the lines which form a triangle, whose points are God, self and neighbor.” When we claim the love of God for ourselves, we are equally bound to love one another because the only proof we love God, is that we also love our neighbor.

Like so many things in life, this is easier said than done. Some folks are hard to like, let alone love. It’s difficult to love someone who lies to, abuses or mistreats you, yet when Jesus experienced these same crimes, He still managed to choose love every time. For a believer indwelt by God’s spirit, there is a choice.

The next time you’re faced with an offensive situation, you can choose offense, anger and bitterness, but I encourage you to choose love. It’s not only the best choice, it’s God’s choice. I’ve found that when I do, He honors my decision with great peace and makes my enemies my friends.

Because I chose Christ, I also choose love.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

All We Need is Love

With the recent tragedies in Bellefontaine fresh on the minds of our community and the nation, I’ve given a great deal of thought to the unnecessary and increasing violence in the world. The violence isn’t limited to the grand-scale evil perpetrated by men such as Moammar Kadafi or Osama bin Laden, there seems to be a pervasive hatred towards our fellow man on every level. When our senior citizens, schools and universities are repeatedly victim to pre-meditated violence and mayhem, it would seem that we are in desperate need of some love!

When the Beatles were asked to come up with a simple song that all nationalities could understand, John Lennon wrote “All You Need is Love.” Later, when an interviewer suggested “Give Peace a Change” and “Power to the People” were propaganda songs, Lennon answered, “Sure. So was ‘All You Need Is Love.’ I’m a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.”

Interestingly enough, the concept was not the product of a young revolutionary from Liverpool. The message was first heralded two thousand years earlier, by a revolutionary from Bethlehem, the greatest reformer of all.

Luke 10:27, KJV:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

Some of the most powerful words in scripture about God are found in 1 John 4:7-21. In his first of three epistles, John gives us some incredible perception into the nature and character of God. This passage is so rich with insight about God, that I’m going to dissect it over my next several blogs.

1 John 4:7-8, KJV:
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loves is of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.

Love has it’s origin in God because it is from Him that all love finds it’s source. Chapter one of Genesis teaches us that we are made in the likeness and image of God, so human love is simply a reflection of something found in the divine nature of God. We must love, if we want to be like Him, because He is love.

The love Jesus taught not only emphasized our need to love God, but also our obligation to love one another—He even commanded us to love our enemies. Theologians regard this radical love we strive to walk in as the ultimate goal of moral perfection. According to the Apostle Paul, even our faith works by love, so it’s not just a divine mandate, it is the very fuel that drives our lives into the gracious presence of the Lord!

How are we measuring up to the standard of love that God desires from us—the standard of love demonstrated by Jesus? While no one can live up to this standard all the time, despite our human weakness, all of us have the capacity to love more perfectly. It’s an acquired taste, so taste and see the Lord is good! If loving God leads to knowing God, loving one another must lead to knowing one another, creating real, Biblical community that overcomes the hate and violence of the world.

Let’s love strong at Ignite this week and see God pour out His presence and blessing on us all!

– Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can Listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.