Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, April 10th. God wants us to receive His love and to respond to Him freely in return. Today, you'll hear more about the character of God and His immeasurable, unconditional love. Of all the attributes of God we've discussed and we've discussed many of them, the one that people talk about the most and know the least about is this one right here. And that is God as a God of love. They talk about it the most, sing about it the most, discuss it the most, but the truth of it is most people don't love Him. And there are many, many Christians who need to examine their hearts to see if they love God or if they're only afraid of God and reverence God or is it genuine love.
Now, I'm not talking primarily the night of our love toward God, but His love toward us. But I'm simply saying that most people don't understand what the love of God is, how God expresses His love and the idea that God just loves everybody is that big bowl of soup we throw everything into and we say, well, after all, God loves everybody. We've discussed many of His attributes, but when it comes to this particular one, most people probably feel like, well, you know, everybody knows that God loves them. And you see that love and that attribute is one of those characteristics of God that we take for granted. Oh, I know that God loves me.
But did you know something? A great many of you sitting here tonight don't really and truly believe that God loves you from an emotional point of view. You see, we take so much for granted.
Now listen, let me state three things here before we get into it, because here's where people get off base. It's easy to draw this picture in our mind that God is this tremendous God of love who has just enveloped everybody in His arms. For example, there are particular sects that their whole concept of God that He's a God of love.
That's the only attribute they talk about. But if you recall, the Bible says in John chapter four, when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, He said, God is not a spirit. God is spirit. In first John chapter one, verse five, he says God is light. In first john chapter four, God is love.
I say this again and again and again, because this is where we get off base. And if you get off base on God, you're going to get off base everywhere. You cannot have God merely as a God of love. And when the description here, God is spirit, that means He's unlimited, we could take some of the attributes that we've discussed already, and put them under that one, that God is spirit.
That means He's unlimited by time and space and all the rest. Secondly, that God is light. He the scripture says in that same verse, that in Him is no darkness at all. That indicates His holiness, His righteousness, then God is love. You cannot have a God by saying that God's just spirit, God's just light, God is just love.
But the total being of God is the confirmation of all the attributes that the scripture teaches. So when we say that God is love, won't go back to rehash everything we've said about his other attributes except to use those three words, spirit, light, love, that when we describe him as a God of love, you must see God as a God of love in the light and with relationships to all these other attributes that are true of God. Oh, this is where this is the one funnel that the liberal theologian gets off base and he wants to get everybody in heaven because God is a God of love forgetting that He's light, spirit, holiness, justice, and all the other attributes that you must put together. Now, with that in mind, does God love everybody? Does He love everybody the same?
Is there anyone He doesn't love? How can we explain the fact that God doesn't seem to treat everybody the same? And the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. Well, how do you justify and how do you put it all together if God is a God of love? And most of us think you can just throw everybody into John 3 16 that ties it all up in a beautiful knot and that's the end of it.
But that's not true. So first thing I want us to consider here is this. And that is the nature of God's love. He wraps up in one word here, agape love, that's sacrificial, unlimited love of God. When we describe the love of God for us, how do you describe that love? The first thing I want you to notice here is this. It is a love that is uninfluenced. And I want to say simply this, that God loves you and me uninfluenced by anything within us or about us.
Now get a hold of that. The fellow has a terrible poor self image and nobody cares and you can never seem to make things work out right. Listen, just stand straight and tall for a moment and remember this, that God loves you. It doesn't make any difference how tall you are, how short you are, how fat you are, how skinny you are, how beautiful you are, how educated you are, how poverty stricken you are, how rich you are. None of those things influence God. When it comes to God pouring out his love like a flood upon you and me, it isn't influenced by anything he sees anything he hears anything he knows about us. God is a God of love who has directed his love that cannot be categorized in any human term because we cannot fathom the love of God. Look, if you will, in Ephesians chapter three. And I think Paul understood that when he said, verse 18, verse 17, that Christ may dwell in your hearts, this is his prayer, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you 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, there is no way for man to understand the depth, the intensity of the love of Christ, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. There's no way for us to comprehend the true meaning and the full meaning of God's love, it is to be experienced, not to be fully understood. But you see, it is absolutely uninfluenced by anything within us.
The second characteristic of it I want us to see is this. And that is that it is eternal. Now, when you think about the fact that God's love is eternal, you say, Well, you know, what's that have to do with me?
Well, I want you to think about this for just a moment. If God's love is eternal, that means you can't ever do anything to stop him from loving you. And sometimes the way people act, they make it very difficult for us to love them.
And sometimes our love is conditional. But look, if you will, in in Jeremiah chapter 31. He says in verse three, now mark this down verse three, the Lord hath appeared of all unto me saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.
Therefore, with loving kindness, have I drawn thee? Is there ever a time when God ever ceases to express his love at no time? He doesn't love you according to the weather. He doesn't love you according to how you feel. He doesn't love you whether you prayed yesterday or not. He does love you love you whether you sinned or not.
I say that in repetition to get you to understand this. It is the nature of God. It is his very nature to love. And once he starts loving, he never ceases. And the question comes, Well, when did he start? Well, we said his love is uninfluenced, that his love is everlasting, it is eternal.
And there's a third thing I want us to see here. That is his love is infinite, it is immeasurable. There is no way to measure or to weigh the love of God. You see, the love of God is something we experience and we don't fully understand. Now, when did God start loving us? Look in Ephesians chapter one, chapter one, the great love, his infinite love, it is unlimited.
Listen, verse four, chapter one of Ephesians, according as he had chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, what? In love. When did he start loving you?
When you were born? No, he loved us before the foundation of the world. When did God start loving us? He never did start.
It's always been there because you see, watch this. It is his nature to love. God has always loved because what does the Bible say?
We in the fourth chapter of First Peter, what did he say? God is love twice. He said it, God is love.
So it is the natural attribute of God to be loving and to be expressing that love, not influenced by anything on earth. It's not limited by anything on earth. It is infinite. It has no way to be measured.
It cannot be weighed nor measured in any manner. It is God loving us and pouring out his love. And our problem is we do not know how to accept and receive and enjoy the love of God or nor do we know how to pass it on to someone else. Many, many people who are saved by the grace of God know nothing of the love of God, saved by grace, knowing that it took the death of Jesus Christ on the cross to save them, know that they're unworthy of being saved, accept salvation but never enjoy the love of God. Never able to rejoice in their heart, but always looking over their shoulder to see that if God is tracking them down, want to be sure they've confessed every little thing, want to clean up every little thing behind them. When do you enjoy the love of God if you're always looking behind to see if God's tracking you? But most people, most people fear him. Few people understand how to love God because we do not understand that it is his nature to love us and what? He wants his very nature to hit a heart and respond back in love toward him. But most people in their Christian life will have to admit they are in drudgery and they're trudging along in their Christian life.
They don't have any victory. And one of the reasons they don't have any victories because they don't understand what he meant when he said, God is love and that he who knows God knows the love of God. Now, I want to go back to one other thing here to be sure we understand. We said that his love is uninfluenced, that it's infinite, no way to measure it, that his love is eternally moving in our direction all the time. But now listen, God's love is not only those things, but his love is also holy.
Now watch this. Look if you will in Hebrews chapter 12 for a moment. You see, we want to make God loving and kind and generous to us and he is. And what oftentimes we want to avoid or to explain away Hebrews chapter 12 verse six, if you want to wrap it up in one verse, but let's start with verse five. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children. My son despises not the chastening of the Lord nor faint when there are rebuked of him for whom the Lord loveth, he does what? He chastens or disciplines and scourges every son whom he receives. Now you see, God's love is holy. That means the love of God sees my wickedness and my violence and my disobedience.
But now what do we say? We said it matters not what was in us that had no influence on God's love. Now the fact that we get that twisted just goofs up everything else in our relationship to him that has nothing to do with his love toward us. When he chastens us, it does not mean he ceases to love us.
The fact that he chastens us and disciplines us and puts us in the valley, all of that is love. You see, any mother who loves her child is going to discipline that child not to do certain things, not to play in the street, not to play with knives, not to play with matches. There are many things a mother or father is going to teach their children not to do. Why? Because they want to deprive their kid of matches? No. Is it because they don't like for them to play?
No, they don't want them to play where they'll be hurt. God does them on us messing around with sin because he knows we're going to get hurt. And sometimes we as God's children, we want to look up at God and say, Lord, why do you treat me that way? And what he's saying is because I'm trying to love you and you won't listen to me. And sometimes he has to put it to us to get our attention and all the time what is God doing? He's reaching out to put his arm around us.
We're saying, look, would you just leave me alone for the moment? You think back at the times when you really would like for God to stay out of your business. He put a block in something you were doing. Why was God doing that? He was loving you because he knew that you were heading right toward the cliff. And what seemed to be that God didn't care, wouldn't answer your prayer, wasn't listening to you. What was God doing? He was just loving you. But the fact that he chastises his children says that one of the qualities that describes the love of God is that God's love is holy, just like God is holy.
Right now. How does the Lord express his love toward us? Let me just mention several things. The fact that you and I are alive is expression of the love of God. We live in a world that has sunshine and moon and sand and soil and trees and flowers and mountains and beach. We live in a world that is absolutely indescribable. And if you've ever traveled anywhere at all, you see snowcapped mountains, you see great valleys like the Grand Canyon, you see deserts, you see blue sky and cloudy weather. You look at the world that God's created for us and we're the ones who've messed it up.
God didn't create it this way. That in itself ought to say to us, God loves us. Listen, think about your health. Is that expression of God's love? He said, I knew I'd get you. I'm sick.
I'm not health at all. Does that mean God doesn't love me? No, it doesn't mean that. It means simply this that God may be using something in your life to do what he you see, sometimes the thing that gives us the most difficult problem sometimes in our life is God's choice to love.
Listen, watch this. Everything God does and ever will do in your life is an expression of love. It may sting like fire or it may lift you to glory, but he never acts toward us apart from love.
You said, but now wait a minute. God's a God of justice and wrath and condemnation. That's true. But listen, if you've got wrath and justice and condemnation, you've got to have love and mercy and goodness or you don't have God. So you see everything he does in our life is the result of his loving us. Now, granted, sometimes what do we do? We jump out of the traces. We get out here living like we want to get out of God's will and everything begins to fall apart.
What is and what happens? He lets the bottom drop out to do what to get us back up in the center of his will. Even that is an expression of God's love. You see, here's the reason we don't understand his love. We don't take time to let him love us like he wants to.
That's the reason we don't understand it. Many expressions of God's love, but one of them is this. When you get by yourself on your knees and stretched out before God and you're just quiet, the Bible says, be still and listen, watch this, be still and know that I am God. Isn't it amazing how we read that verse? We all know it by heart. If you never heard it before, you can quote it already. Be still and know that I am God, the God of love, the God of mercy, the God of justice, a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. Be still and know that I am the God that I am. It's amazing how many times we read a word in the Bible.
Listen, watch this. We miss the whole point. When he says be still, you know why he says that? Because we will never begin to enjoy the attributes of God, which is the nature of God until we get still and think about him. Listen, you and I know that the greatest demonstration of God's love was wrapped up in one thing and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. That is the most beautiful demonstration, the most comprehensive demonstration, the most intense demonstration of perfect love that the world will ever know. Listen, that was unconditional love. He came and he died and he didn't die on the condition that you and I would receive him. He just died because he loved us and he wanted to express perfect total love to mankind. And listen, on the cross enough love was expressed to save the whole world if it lasts a billion years. And you and I wonder, why doesn't God do something to show us he loves us? Man, there isn't anything else that God, as omnipotent as he is, nothing else he can do to show you how much he loves you that would equal what he's already done at the cross. Thank you for listening to The Love of God. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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