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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Ambassadors For Christ

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us” II Corinthians 5:20 NASB

Clearly all Christians are called to ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is an individual living in a foreign land representing the interests of their own nation. Their goal should always be what the best interest for their nation is and how to progress the interests of their nation. The nationality of all Christians, regardless of their location, is the Kingdom of God and Jesus is our King. As ambassadors for Christ our goal should always be, what the best interest of Christ is.

When King Solomon was praying to the Lord in the dedication of the temple he asked of God to look not just upon them but also on the foreigner who would pray to God, “so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as do Your people Israel” (II Chronicles 6:33). God’s heart has always been that all of His creation would turn to Him and trust in Him. The temple was a testimony of the power and the presence of God in the midst of His people.

Today through Christ the New Testament teaches us that our bodies are now the Temple of God. (II Corinthians 6:19). God chooses to reside in us today through His Spirit for the same reasons He chose to reside in the Temple amongst the nation of Israel, so that the lost people of the world may know Him through His presence within us. As an ambassador we do not promote our own agenda, or our own plans, or even our own ideas. Everything we do points to the one of whom we represent.

As Christians we are in this world but are not of this world. We are foreigners in a foreign land. This world is naturally hostile toward the things of God yet we are called to represent God in this hostile world. Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” When we simply try to blend in with the world and not allow Christ to shine through us we not only dishonor the Lord, we also do this world an injustice.

The world thinks that their way of living is perfectly fine, that they are on the right track, and they have everything figured out. However, they will never find peace, joy or any sense of contentment in what this world has to offer. I believe that God has put a natural void in the heart of every man that longs for God and cannot be filled by anything else. When the people of the world see the joy, the peace, and the sense of satisfaction within the lives of Christians they are then confronted with the realization that something is missing in their lives.

When we are ambassadors for Christ sharing the marvelous light of Christ we welcome the foreigner who has come to realize how brutal this world has treated him; the foreigner who is ready to give up his citizenship to this world and become a citizen of God. The church has now become the embassy welcoming him as a refugee-but more than that. Now that he has transferred his citizenship, he is a fellow citizen of the Kingdom of God-a brother in Christ. Apart from the ambassadors for Christ how would the foreigner ever know of Jesus marvelous light, how would he know he is welcome, how would he ever become a brother? He would be left to his doom.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Praying Powerfully Through our Mediator

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NASB

As a result of our saving relationship with Jesus Christ the bible teaches that all believers have direct access to the throne of God. (Hebrews 4:16). James 5:16 tells us that, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” We have no righteousness of our own. However, those who have trusted in Christ as their savior have a righteousness that is found in Him. (Romans 3:22). As we lift up or voice to God we are also encouraged with the great news that Jesus is the mediator between God and man. (I Timothy 2:5). So what does all of this mean? It simply means that through Christ we have direct access to the throne of the Father. The righteousness that is found in Christ is a perfect righteousness; therefore the prayers of a righteous man can accomplish much. Our prayers through Christ are powerful.

Have you ever been told or even thought to yourself that someone is too far gone? As I stood at the graveside of my mother I tried to give the pastor who just finished preaching her funeral some money for his time and effort. He graciously declined but upon my persistence he said to me if I really wanted to give the money then I should come to church that Sunday and put it in the offering plate. I agreed and began to walk away. He then grabbed my arm to turn me back around and spoke these words to me, “Rusty I’m going to pray for you until you turn your life over to Jesus.” At that time in my life I was a drug addict that was consumed with anger, rage, hatred and bitterness. Not only was I a drug addict, I also considered myself to be an atheist. As he spoke those words to me I shrugged it off like it was nothing. Fifty-six day later I accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord over my life. We are never too far gone and there is great power in prayer; if we pray.

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Royal Priesthood

            The more we understand the Gospel the more we understand that the good news of God keeps getting better and better. The bible clearly teaches that God has saved us even though we are unworthy, and that He has called us into a calling that is set aside for His purpose; a calling of which He will provide our every need. Those two glorious gifts are worthy of our uttermost dedication and service to God, but that is not the end of the good news. As we continue to search the scriptures we find that through Christ, God has adopted us as His very own children and that we have become joint heirs in Christ Jesus. The bible says in Romans 8:14-17 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Paul called himself many times in scripture a “bond-servant of Christ.”A bond-servant is a willing servant. God has not called us to serve Him as His unwilling slaves. He has called us to serve Him as His child.

As the good news continues to get better and better we understand more of who God is and who we are because of Him. Jesus is not just royalty He is the King of Kings. Because we are adopted sons and daughters of God and joint heirs in Christ Jesus God has allowed us to join in the blessings of being a part of His royal family. In Christ we are royalty. Peter says of those who are a part of the family of God in I Peter 2:9, 10, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” He calls us a “Royal Priesthood.”

In this text of scripture all believers are called priests. This doctrine is called the priesthood of the believer. Some would argue that being a priest is for a select few. However, the Word of God clearly teaches that whoever has accepted Jesus Christ’s work of salvation has then been adopted into the family of God and now is a priest of God.

A priest has many roles and responsibilities. However, they can all be summed up into one main purpose. A priest is to represent mankind to God. One of the greatest ways that believers can represent mankind to God is to pray for them. God expects His people who are called by His name to pray. Jesus is our High Priest. We see Him many times in the gospels praying for His disciples. Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 1:3, that he thanks God for him, as he mentions him in his prayers.

As the priest of God serving mankind on behalf of God we should have a great burden for the lost and hurting. Many times I pray asking God to give me the compassion of Jesus. The compassion that calls out with a broken heart as Jesus did in Matthew 23:37 as He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Despite the wickedness of their ways Jesus still loved them and desperately desired to see them repent and turn to His saving grace. With this same heart of compassion we are called to cry out to the Father with a broken heart on behalf of the lost condition of this world. I dare say that the bulk of our prayer should be directed to praying for the redemption of the wretched.  I also dare to say, if we started praying in this manner we will see revival.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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By the Mercies of God

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1 NASB

One of the difficulties we often have is understanding how totally depraved we are apart from Christ.  We often think that we are deserving of the gifts and the blessings of God. However, the Word of God says in Isaiah 64:6 “Our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Our righteousness is the best we can give and it alone is not enough. The bible also says in Ephesians 2:3 “by nature we are children of wrath.” The word of God gives a very bleak picture of the nature of man. Every man, woman, and child that has ever lived upon this earth has made a conscience choice at some point in their lives to rebel and sin against God. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”

The bible also tells us that God requires death as the payment of our sins. (Romans 6:23). Death had to be paid as a penalty of sin, but praise be to God that I Corinthians 15:3 tells us, “Christ died for our sins.” We should have paid the penalty of our sins but Jesus stood in our place. Although we have turned our back on Him time after time, God loved us enough to send His Son to become sin for us. II Corinthians 5:21 say, “He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Due to this great sacrifice John said in I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” No one is worthy of this great gift of sacrifice. We deserve death and hell, yet God gives us grace by giving us His Son.

With this grace in mind Paul said in Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” He is urging us because of the mercy of God to give ourselves entirely to Himself as a living and holy sacrifice. God doesn’t want dead sacrifices. He desires living sacrifices that are set apart for His own purposes. If we truly understand the mercies of God and the great grace that God has bestowed upon us we would have no problem serving Him. The mercies of God have purchased us from sin, death, and hell, and reconciled us into a right relationship with Him. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” Ephesians 2:4

Because of the mercies of God I will gladly surrender myself to Him in full submission. Because of the mercies of God I will gladly serve Him with full sincerity counting it an honor. Because of the mercies of God I will gladly give my life as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Who’s Responsible?

As I sit down to write this I am mindful of the moral collapse that is plaguing or nation. Inner city crime has spread to small towns and communities all across America, drugs have become an epidemic problem that virtually every family in America is dealing with, and sexual perversions of every kind have become socially acceptable. We pick up video cameras and idly watch while people are murdered, raped, and beaten instead of lending a helping hand and then use the video as a form of entertainment. School shootings, the knockout game, and all sorts of acts of violence are no longer random; they have become all too common.

When the tragedies come we ask, “Who is to blame?”, “Who’s responsible for this great tragedy?” We first start pointing our fingers at the parents saying they are to blame, then to the schools noting that they should have had better security or should have been more aware of their student’s activities. We even want to pass the blame on the guns themselves desiring to sue the gun manufacturers. We say we need better laws or better politicians who will write better laws. Christians love to pass the blame onto the ACLU and those “Liberal” activist judges. “They have kicked prayer out of school” we say. But, are we praying at home with our children? We fuss “They have removed God’s Word from the schools.” But, are we teaching our children God’s Word at home? We want to pass the buck but who has God given the responsibility to?

A passage of scripture I have often found intriguing is in Mark 14:17-21. Jesus was having the last supper with His disciples when He said to them, “One of you will betray Me.” What I find so intriguing about this text of scripture is the fact that Peter didn’t say “I know it’s John I never really trusted him all that much anyway.” Nor did John say no “it has to be Matthew, you know he use to be a tax collector.” Instead each one turned to Jesus asking “Surly not I.” They weren’t passing the blame; they just wanted to make sure they were staying in right relationship. One of the major downfalls of modern society is that we are unwilling to accept responsibility for our own actions. Instead we want to find someone else to pin it on. It seems as though taking responsibility for your own actions has gone the way of the ancient word.

However, when it comes to the spiritual condition of this world there is only one institution that God has granted power and authority to; the power and authority to overcome the spiritual forces of wickedness and tear down the gates of Hell. It is the church. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” He then said in the next verse of the same chapter, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Out of the same breath that He said I have all authority, He said Go. In other words we, the church, should go out into the world with the authority and the power of Jesus making disciples, which are followers of Jesus.

Jesus also told the church in Matthew 16:19, 20 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” If the power of God is not falling down upon this earth to change the heart of man and transform him into whom God so desires him to be there is none other to blame than the church. The church is the only institution that God has chosen to work through. There is no other. Therefore if the church is not fulfilling the callings that God has placed upon them heaven will be bound. God did not say if the government, or if the school systems, or if the laws, or even if society gets right that He would heal the land. He said, “if my people who are called by My name.” God has given the call, He has given the authority, and He has given the power. We simply have to accept it and walk in it.  (An excerpt from Reclaiming the Land: God’s Formula for Revival).

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fully Trusting in His Power

“And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” Ephesians 1:19 NASB

The clear teaching of the Word of God is that we are saved by grace and not of works. We simply make a choice to repent of our sins and believe on Jesus for His redemptive power. At that moment the power of God unto salvation is worked out by God within our lives. We are fully dependent upon the power of God to convert us and then regenerate us. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The fact of God’s power at work in our lives for salvation is undisputed among bible believing Christians. However, we often fail to realize the continual need of the power of God in our lives after salvation. The redeemed child of God cannot obtain the holiness of God within his life apart from the power of God initiated it. Are we saved by grace apart from the law and works only to be saved and left to our own devices to live out our salvation in accordance to the law and works? Of course not. Ephesians 4:24 says, “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” To put on the new self is to put on Christ. (Romans 13:14). Apart from the power of God at work in our lives we cannot be saved. Likewise, apart from the power of God in our lives we cannot obtain the righteousness and holiness God requires as Christians. We start of fully dependent upon God’s power and remain fully dependent.

James 2:18 says, “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James is clearly not arguing that one needs works to have faith. Rather, he is arguing one needs faith to have works. Even in our works we are fully dependent upon God’s power. We often quote Ephesians 2:8, 9 declaring that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works. This is a vital truth for true salvation. However, we often forget about the next verse, Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We are clearly not saved by works but are clearly expected to work. We are not to work in our own power, for that is boastful and arrogant before God. Act’s 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” You will receive power to do the work in which God requires.

Jesus said apart from Me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5). Just as we are full dependent upon God for salvation, we are fully dependent upon God for righteousness, for holiness, and for our good works. Praise God just as He saves those who believe in His name, He will empower those who continue to do so.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Greatest of Treasures

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” II Corinthians 4:7 NASB

Every man woman and child stands in need of the grace of God. God has given to us His law as a standard by which we are to live. However, the Word of God clearly teaches that all in one form or another have broken the law. Because we are lawbreakers we await judgment, a judgment that will lead to eternal damnation. However, God is not willing for any to parish but for all to enter into repentance. For this reason God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty on the cross of our judgment. Apart from the grace of God we are utterly hopeless.

Jesus said in Mathew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees, although lawbreakers themselves, prided themselves in keeping the law through their ritualistic routines within their daily lives. How then is our righteousness going to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? It cannot. Thus, we need another means to enter the kingdom of heaven. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

So often we overlook and therefore take for granted how great the gift of grace truly is. The greater we understand grace, the more we will come to realize what a treasure Jesus truly is. The grace we have received is through God giving His Son as a gift. Although we are sinfully blemished and undignified God gave us His Son who is sinlessly perfect, unblemished, excellent, and dignified in every way. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). God gave to us, whose righteousness is as filthy rags, His Son, the King of Glory, the Ancient of Day’s, the one in whom the angels in heaven worship, the one in whom all things was created for. God gave to us, mere men, His Son, His only begotten Son, His Son of whom he loves, His Son who is near and dear to His heart.

What a wonderful treasure we have received in these earthen vessels; a treasure that outshines all others; a treasure worthy of giving all to receive, yet a treasure freely given. A treasure we are unworthy of receiving, yet our God, a God of grace, gladly, and lovingly gives. A treasure we should share with those whose treasures have tarnished. Truly Jesus, given by grace and received by faith, is the greatest treasure.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Boast In the Lord

“No man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:29-31

The city of Corinth was about fifty miles from Athens, the center of all Greek learning and the heart of all human wisdom.  The people of this part of the world prided themselves in their intellectual human wisdom and boasted in their great learning. They viewed the word of the cross as foolishness, and those who rejected their man made wisdom as ignorant and unlearned. (I Corinthians 1:18).

Paul said among the church of Corinth, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” (I Corinthians 1:26). However, they possessed something far greater than any works, or wisdom man could provide. They possessed the wisdom of God which was Christ Himself; a wisdom of God that produced in them righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

We should never come before God thinking we are wise and learned. For this is boasting before God. Does this mean we should remain uneducated so we will not be guilty of boasting before the Lord? Of course not. Paul himself was a great educated man. II Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, work hard at studying and knowing the word of truth so when you proclaim it you will not be ashamed before the Lord and you will handle it accurately.

What then shall we do? We understand that our wisdom and education is not sufficient in progressing the Kingdom of God and bringing God glory. Therefore, we surrender whatever wisdom we have, great or small, to God in service unto Him, knowing He is the all knowing God who has made foolish the wisdom of the world. We submit ourselves to God and present ourselves to the world as knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Of course, this is foolishness to the world, but it is “God who has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (I Corinthians 1:28, 29). Since it is God at work in us, we understand whether we are greatly educated or completely illiterate we can be powerful servants of the Lord. God’s only requirement is total surrender.

Though we may be fools for Christ to the world, we obtain a wisdom that is far greater than any wisdom the world can offer, we obtain the wisdom of God, Christ Jesus His Son. Therefore, we don’t boast in our works, or our wisdom, we boast in Christ alone. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Turning Condemnation into Compassion

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39 NASB

In the 23rd chapter of Mathew Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and wickedness. He boldly proclaimed truth to them by exposing their wicked ways. While exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus pronounced eight wows warning them of their impending doom for their wicked ways.

Jesus told them of their wicked intentions to kill the prophets that He would send. Jesus was also fully aware of the fact that they wanted to kill Him, and eventually would. Jesus knew that Israel would soon turn on Him and be hostile to Him and His followers.  However, Jesus compassion for them is clearly seen in His statement, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” He loved them even though they were unwilling to love Him back.

I have no doubt that Jesus was not proclaiming the wows to the Pharisees with a smile on His face and joy in His heart. I would imagine He spoke these words with a grief stricken soul and tears on His cheek. He knew if they did not hear and therefore respond to the truth they would stand eternally condemned.

Jesus was not preaching condemnation to them. He was preaching with compassion. Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17). Clearly the unrepentant will be judged. However, Jesus compels the lost with compassion to repent and be saved from eternal judgment. The heart full of condemnation has no desire to see the sinner repent, thinking they deserve what they have coming to them for their wickedness. However, the bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, apart from grace, we all stand condemned. How then am I any better than they? I have repented and therefore received grace. They stand in need of repentance, and therefore need to receive grace.

Clearly the world is becoming more and more wicked. Clearly, the world will remain in their wickedness until the Children of God evangelize them with a heart of compassion rather than one of condemnation. I have no doubt that the church will never reap a mighty harvest until it repents of its hardened heart. Just as Jesus did, when we evangelize we need to speak the truth. We need to call sin what it is and warn of the impending judgment for those who refuse to repent. However, Just as Jesus did we need to do it with a heart filled with compassion desiring the sinner to come to repentance before it is eternally too late.

The church today needs to be broken with compassion; a compassion that will bring the saint to his knees pouring his heart out to God in prayer on behalf of the sinner; a compassion that will move the congregation out of their comfortable pews and out into the community to proclaim truth and love to the sinner; and a compassion that overcomes selfishness, overlooking suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the sinner. In truth, we need a compassion that looks, acts, lives, and exists, just like Jesus. Until that time, the church will remain in its pews, the sinner will remain in their sin, revival will tarry, and judgment will come.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Greater Love

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB

The English language is a generic language. For instance, if I say I love my wife and then say I love my car, are the two words for love one in the same? Of course not. However, the Greek language is a very specific language that uses very specific words. The Greek word used for love in John 3:16 is agape. It literally means a sacrificial or giving love. A type of love where you put the needs of the one of whom your love is directed above your own, even if it means you will have to sacrifice or suffer. This is God’s agape love towards us that He gave His only begotten Son.

Although we are greatly undeserving of God’s love He has chosen to give it to us anyway. Why? Because He loves us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were living in hostility towards Him in the rebellion of our sin God loved us. How much does He love us? Enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die a cruel torturous death on a cross to pay the price of sin for the whole world, so those who will repent of their sin and believe in Jesus as their Savior shall not perish but have eternal life. God’s heart is to spend eternity with us, because He loves us.

John 15:3 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for His friends, us, because He knew we would be eternally condemned for our sins. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23.) With Jesus sacrifice in mind II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Whether you have been loved little or loved much within your life you will never find a greater love than the love from which God loves us.  To receive this love you only need to repent from your sins and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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