Sermon Delivered August 30, 1997

by Pastor DJ Gettys

McDonald Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

God's Loving Love

Do you ever get to thinking that we have so many problems, God just doesn't love us. Have you ever thought that? Maybe you've got some disease or some sickness or you've had an accident or you got fired or something bad happened to some of your children. God just doesn't love us. He can't love us. All the problems we're having. But I want to tell you this morning that God does not love you because your are good. He doesn't love you because we are valuable. You are valuable because God loves you. That's why you have value. God knows what you look like. He knows your past. He knows your future. He knows your inmost thoughts, even those you try persistently to hide. And He still loves you. What a God we serve. And you know what? He loves you because He is love. That's why He loves you.

Let's look at 1 John 3:16. We love John 3:16, let's go over here to First John 3:16, an interesting verse. Here's how to know what love really is. "This is how we know what true love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

You can know something of what the love of God is by seeing what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary. That's how deep that love is. It is a good thing God is love, because if He was hate, wouldn't this world be an awful place? A master torturer, a master "Sadam Husein". Because If God loved us as much as we love him, we'd be in tough shape there, to, wouldn't we? But He loves us with a great love. Never measure God's love with your own love. You can't compare to Him in love. The sun shines just as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in the clouds. The sun is still shining. The difference is not in God's love but in where we are.

Jesus is love. God is love. Humans cannot fathom this everlasting love. Jesus' love stands in complete contrast and contradiction to every bit of earthly Human love.

The new testament writers had a bad problem. In order to describe the great, wonderful, divine, warm love of God they had come to know, they had to choose from four Greek words, because the New Testament was written in Greek.

So that's the word they chose.

Agape love is just the opposite to human love.

1. Human love is always CONDITIONAL. You love your wife because she loves you back, or you love your children because they are your children. There's always a reason We love only when we are loved back. But God's love is unconditional. It just flows from Him without cause, totally independent of our goodness or our works. He does not love us because of who or what we are but because of Who He is and what He is.

2. Human love is not only conditional, it is CHANGEABLE. It is fickle and fluctuates with moods and conditions. And I want to tell you that God's love is as steady as a clock. His love toward you, you can't diminish it by your actions. You can go out and get drunk, you can do anything you want, but you will not change God's love. He always loves you with a perfect love. Now, He might not be happy with what you're doing: drinking is wrong and all these other things are wrong, and He wants to give you the victory. He want to give you a hatred for sin. But, He still loves you.

In BONN, Germany, a German group of psychologists, physicians and insurance companies who cooperated on a research project, designed to find the secret to long life and success. One thing they discovered was very interesting to me. They made a surprising discovery, in fact. The secret is that if you kiss your wife each morning when you leave for work, you'll live longer! So, you men need to do that. These meticulous German researchers discovered that men who kiss their wives every morning have fewer automobile accidents on their way to work than men who omit the morning kiss. The good-morning kissers miss less work because of sickness. And if you kiss your wife before going to work you earn 20 to 30 percent more money than non-kissers. I want you to know that our love is changing. It's changeable. (Dr. Arthur Strabo - W. Germany)

All to often we tell our loved ones we love them IF we have time, IF we're in the mood, we give our wife a kiss. Our love is as changeable and as fickle as it can be. We ought to pray that God will give us a love that is divine for our family and our wives and our children and our church and for Himself.

God's love is unchangeable. Look at I Corinthians 13:8. I love the 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, the love chapter, if you please. "Love never fails." God's love never fails. If there are prophecies, they're going to cease; there are tongues, they'll be stilled; if there's knowledge, it will pass away. But love never fails. You can depend on it. Human love does fail, doesn't it? Sometimes, you even wonder if you love your children. But you do. But God always loves us. God's love never fails. His Agape love flows out to us as faithful as the sun comes up every morning. Just like His sunshine falls equally on the home of the Prostitute or the Pastor, just so His love flows equally upon both sinner and saint. God loves everybody with equal love. He loved Adolf Hitler as much as He loved Ellen White. He was disappointed in Adolf Hitler, but He loved him. He loves everybody.

3. Human love is SELF-SEEKING, God's love isn't. We love for what we get out of it. God's Great Love is diametrically opposed to our love. God's Love is self-sacrificing. During His short ministry Jesus showed us about His love and how great it was: the heavenly example of true love. Jesus love is self-emptying.

A man told about the illness of his child. In fact, his little son almost died. And as the man was standing there with his wife at the death bed of their little son, he thought about his son, and he though, You know, my little baby is going to die. And he thought about what he would regret the most if his son died. As he pondered this question, the answer came clear. I would regret that he died never knowing how much I loved him. Fortunately the son did not die.

With that, I think that man revealed an insight into the character of God: and that is that, God grieves because we, the lost, die without Christ and we never even really knew Him. We didn't know how much He loved us. And I want to tell you this morning that God loves you.

God's loving love is reaching out to you. It doesn't mater what you have done in the past, He wants you to be saved. He regards you as His child, as a child of the King of Kings. If you know how much God loves you, you can be absolutely certain that Jesus loves you, too. He loves you with that same love, and He loves you just as you are. whose great heart grieves over every lost soul. "Surely", he said, "God grieves because the lost, who die without Christ, never know how much he loves them."

Let's turn over to 1 John in your Bible. 1 John is a lovely book of the Bible. I really appreciate it. I hope you read the Bible. I read 3 or 4 chapters this morning. I love reading the Bible in the morning. We need to do that. And you need to read the Bible to discover what God is like, and what a wonderful person He really is.

1 John 4:7-10 (NIV) - Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Now, at Creation, the devil made an interesting move. The devil introduced a false type of love: self-love (Eros). There was never any self-love before the devil came along. The devil introduced that into the universe, even before Creation. In the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, the old devil degraded Agape love and introduced "SELF LOVE".

Another event, after Jesus died and went back to heaven and all the apostles died the devil went back to meddling with what Jesus tried to do. When Jesus came to this world He tried to show us what trues love was, again. And the devil tried again to destroy that and wipe that out. I want to show you, I want to give you a little history lesson. The first thing the devil did in the great controversy after Jesus went back to heaven into the sanctuary, the devil tried to destroy the concept of God's love, that Jesus had demonstrated all His life here on Earth. What he attacked was not the Sabbath but the idea of just how deep God's great love really was.

HISTORY LESSON: The eleven disciples were Jewish. Of the four Gospel writers, three were Jewish and one was Greek, and that was Luke. After the disciples died the leadership of the Christian church passed into the hands of leaders that we call the Church Fathers, and almost all of them were Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek! When they read the New Testament and came across the obscure word, "Agape". Now read carefully. This is vital to your salvation. It was a word they did not like. They did not understand it. These men felt that they were insulted by what the New Testament writers put in the Bible, they used the word agape, and they should not have used it. These men felt insulted that the New Testament writers had ignored PLATO'S term for love Eros which he gave a heavenly meaning. We speak of this as PLATONIC LOVE. So whenever they found the word agape in the text, they took it out and put in the word, eros, platonic love. Only, these men should not have had the right to do that. These men eventually changed the Bible. For instance, 1 John 4:8 God is love (Agape) they changed to God is love (Eros).

Then along came Augustine, the Catholic thinker. Using Greek logic, he came up with a new word for love, which was CARITAS in the Latin. This is the source for our English word charity. He put that word in the Bible, and so every place where it said, "God is love," it says "God is caritas." All Christianity accepted this. Caritas combines the two ideas of Agape (God's) love and Eros (human) love. They may say, "Boy, this is deep. Her's where we're coming to." It combine the two ideas of God's love and human love. It put them together. So, from that moment the gospel lost its power. Galatians 2:20 became perverted from "not I but Christ" to "I PLUS Christ". In other words, human love, divine love are united together. At that time the Christian church lost its power and plunged into great darkness for a thousand years and did not come out of the dark ages until Martin Luther again re-introduced the "agape" love and put this back in the Bible. Today, do you know what word is in here? Agape. Praise God for that!

Not until 1000 years later when Luther came along and undid the mistake of Augustine did the Christian church finally get its power back. - Jack Sequeira, Beyond Belief Pacific Press Publishing Association

Until you grasp that idea of agape, you're not going to have any power in your life either. Just like the church floundered for a thousand years in the dark ages, you need to get the concept in your heart, in your life, that God loves you with a pure love that is totally independent of any action on your part. Agape love is the unconditional good news that God loves us with undeserved favor. Gods love is so great that if we do not resist, we will be saved in Heaven. That's what kind of love He has. Can you see why the Gospel turned the world upside down in the disciple's day? And again it can turn the world upside down.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You need to accustom yourself to the wonderful thought that God loves you with an eternal love, a tenderness, a generosity, and an intimacy that surpasses all your dreams. You can never change God's love and your direction. His love is big. Give yourself up with joy to the full confidence in our loving God and have courage to believe firmly that God's action toward you is a masterpiece of care and love.

The love of God is so great we can't grasp it.  
   Could we with ink the ocean fill, 
   And were the heav'ns of parchment made, 
   Were every stalk on earth a quill, 
   And every man a scribe by trade, 
   To write the love of God above 
   Would drain the ocean dry, 
   Nor could the scroll contain the whole, 
   Though stretch'd from sky to sky.       Chaldee Ode 

What a beautiful love God has toward us. We will never, ever, through all eternity be able to grasp how great God's love is. God is a wonderful person. He is so kind. We can know a little bit of what God's love is like by examining some of God's attributes.

Today Jesus wants you to get into His love. He wants you to glimpse a small fraction of His magnificent merciful matchless love. His love is not dependent on your actions, but if you love Him you will respond by living the Christian life. You will be victorious. I want you to get a small glimpse today of the magnificent, merciful, matchless love of God. It is my humble opinion that no one would ever be lost if they could once get their mind wrapped around a little bit of how much God's AGAPE love is flowing in their direction.

I ran across this letter from Jesus. It says,

"I had to write to tell you how much I love you and care for you. Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I hoped that soon you'd want Me to walk along with you, too. So, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited -- you never called -- I just kept on loving you.

"As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted to touch you. I spilled moonlight onto your face -- trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn't even think of Me; you went to bed without talking to Me. I wanted so much to comfort you.

"The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into glorious morning just for you. But you woke up late and rushed off to work -- you didn't even notice. My sky became cloudy and My tears were the rain.

"I really do love you. I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky. The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colors of all the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing for you.

"I warm you with the clothing of My sunshine and perfume the air with nature's sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than any need in your heart. I want you to realize how much I care.

"My Dad sends His love, too. I want you to meet Him -- He loves you with His great Agape Love! He cares, too. Fathers are just that way. So, please; call on Me soon. No matter how long it takes, I'll wait -- because I love you. And it's signed: (Your Friend, Jesus)

If Jesus could write a letter and send it to you. maybe it would say something like that. Jesus does love you. He died on the old rugged cross to save you. If you could just grasp... Would you die on a cross...? Would you go to the electric chair in Nashville, Tennessee, and would you die for somebody you never met, somebody who didn't even like you, and maybe would never even respond to your love? Would you do that? That's exactly what Jesus Christ did for you. He died to save you. I want to respond to that type of love. I want to be a loving and loveable Christian. There's no argument against a loving and loveable Christian. I want to be that type of Christian, and the only way I can ever be is if somehow I get a glimpse of God's great love for me. The more I understand of that the more like that I can become through His power and His help.

Romans 8:28-39 (NIV) "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son." He want every person to be like Jesus. "The he might be the firstborn among many brothers among many brother." So that you can be saved. And those He predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." He died to save every person.

"What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" If you've got a great loving God who is for you, how are you going to be lost except that you turn your back on Him? "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Jesus Christ, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

   For your sake we face death all the day long;
             we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." That's how you become a victorious Christian. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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."

Nothing you can ever do will make God love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can ever do will make God love you any less than He already does. He loves you with a perfect love. If you just respond to that love You'll be saved. He will draw you to Himself. His great love is unconditional, impartial, seething, everlasting and perfect. I love Him because He loves me. What a wonderful God we serve! O the wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me!

Scripture Reading:  1 John 4:7-10
Opening Hymn  249                
Closing Hymn  75  
O the Wonder of it all!  
Just to think that God loves me!

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