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Jesus The Gift Of Love

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2020 1:00 am

Jesus The Gift Of Love

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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December 20, 2020 1:00 am

How do we reconcile the Bible saying that “God is love” with all the evil in the world? Many have problems seeing the love of God in natural disasters, wars, and human suffering. If these issues trouble you, we find a compelling answer in the story of Christmas.

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

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How do we reconcile the Bible saying that God is love with all the evil in the world? Many have problems seeing the love of God in natural disasters, wars, and human suffering.

If these issues trouble you, stay tuned for a compelling Christmas answer. From Chicago, we welcome you to The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Today we continue a series on gifts Jesus brought to us. After the music of Christmas, stay with us for Erwin Lutzer's message on Jesus, the Gift of Love, taken from 1 John chapter 4.

Today's service begins with singing. Angels from the path of glory, we know by your all to be heard. He who sent creation's glory, the world in the sight of heaven, come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.

Shepherds in your fields are fighting, watching for what lost my mind. God with man his power is fighting, God with strength, the infant life. Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.

Thanks be for thee, God's blending, watching all fear, hope and fear. Silently the Lord will send thee, in his temple shall I be. Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King. Over infant, lovely infant, he who shared his power is coming, gathered from the nations to him, and we each have him come now.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King. Zechariah the priest spoke these words concerning his son John the Baptist, and the coming Messiah when they were still in their mother's womb. He spoke these words concerning his son John the Baptist, and the coming Messiah when they were still in their mother's womb. He spoke these words concerning his son John the Baptist, and the coming Messiah when they were still in their mother's womb. He spoke these words concerning his son John the Baptist, and the coming Messiah when they were still in their womb. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Today we light the third candle in the Advent wreath, the Candle of Love. O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee rise! Above thy deep and dreamless sea, the silent skies provide.

Yet in thy dark streets shine the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of many, and gathered from above. Now, for those with the angels sing, bear watch of one with love. O morning stars, together, proclaim the Holy Word, and praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth. O silently, O silently, the wondrous gift is given, so God imparts to you in Christ the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his calling, but in this world of sin, where these souls will receive his sin, a dear Christ enters in. O holy child of Bethlehem, descend upon us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter, we morning us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, now high with us, our glory anywhere.

I'll just remain standing for a moment. We're so glad that you are with us today here at The Moody Church. One of the things that we emphasize here at the Church is diversity. If you're new here, it would be interesting for you to know that we've identified 72 different countries of origin. A few moments ago, we were highlighting the country of Romania.

We've also highlighted India and Africa. We know that from every tongue and people and nation, there will be those who are redeemed. Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you'll be never will soon deliver you. Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will reach the light through the morning light? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will love us for this life?

Did you know that your baby boy will support the angels' song? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will love us for this life? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will love us for this life?

From traces of the land, praise the land. Mary, did you know that your baby boy is one of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will come to rule the nation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save his perfect land? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will love us for this life? Mary, did you know that your baby boy could one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy could contain our signs and orders? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered has soon delivered you. Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?

Mary, did you know? Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error burning, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morning fire on your knees.

O hear the angel voices o'er night, divine o'er night, when Christ was born o'er night, divine o'er night, o'er night, divine. Truly he taught us to love one another, his law is love, and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy, in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise his holiness. Christ is the Lord, then ever, ever praise we. His power and glory evermore proclaim. His power and glory evermore proclaim. Hail the heaven, on prince of peace, hail the Son of righteousness. Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings, while he lays his glory high, one that men for honor die.

Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give a second birth, but the herald angels sing glory to a newborn king. Fall on your knees, for hear the angel voices, for night, divine o'er night, when Christ was born. Noel, Noel, Noel, o night divine, the holy night, when Christ was born.

The holy night, Noel. Fairly singing to Almighty Infinite Father. Almighty Infinite Father, faithfully loving your heart, within a weakness to hide us, falling before your throne.

Oh, we're falling before your throne. You are the one that we praise, you are the one we adore. You live a healing and grace of love, hearts always hunger for you. As the comforter keeper, spirit we long to embrace. You are fair hope when our hearts tend, hopelessly lost away.

Oh, we hopelessly lost away. You are the one that we praise, you are the one we adore. You live a healing and grace of love, hearts always hunger for you. Oh, our hearts always hunger for you. You are the one that we praise, you are the one we adore. You live a healing and grace of love, hearts always hunger for you.

Oh, our hearts always hunger for you. What is the most difficult attribute of God to believe in? It's not hard for us to believe that God is a God of all power.

I mean, after all, if you see the stars, you know that God must be all powerful most assuredly. It's not hard to believe that God is a God of justice. There's something within us that cries up for justice. And we want justice, and that desire is a good biblical desire because we are created after the image of God, and we desire justice, and we can somehow grasp God's holiness. But the attribute of God which is the most difficult to believe is the attribute of love. And the reason that it is so difficult is because we look at the world, and the love of God seems to be so contrary to everything that we know on earth and everything that we experience. For example, the love of God is contrary to natural disasters. We know that natural disasters take place in the world, and the horrendous hurricanes such as Sandy, the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, we could go on and on and on and indicate the tremendous suffering of the human race. And that seems to be so contrary to love because those are the kinds of things that God could very easily prevent.

And then we have crimes, horrendous crimes, the shooting of children. And even though we say, well, God didn't do that, human beings did, and yes, it is true that humans did it, God didn't, the fact is it happened on God's watch. So the question is, how do we know that God loves the world? What can we point to that says this is love without ambiguity and without question? One of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible on the love of God is found actually in the book of 1 John. If you have your Bibles, you turn to 1 John 4, and we can see there the love of God.

And what we're going to do is we're going to find that love where it is best seen. Even in the midst of devastation, in the midst of unanswered questions, God's love will be there. 1 John 4, verse 7, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. Whoever loves has been born and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

And he repeats those words a few verses later. Now, of course, that doesn't say that all that God is. God is love.

Yes, God is justice. God is all-powerful, but God is love. And we say to ourselves, where then do we see it with clarity? And John goes on to answer our question. What I'd like to do for the next few moments, and my remarks will be few, is to look at the love of God from three perspectives. First of all, God's love has acted toward us. It has acted for us.

Let's continue reading the text. It says in verse 9, In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. God sent his Son. We're talking Christmas. We're talking Bethlehem. Do you realize that Jesus is the only one who was ever born, who, because he was God, the Son of God, he's the only one who was ever born who chose where he would be born, what time he would be born, and who his mother would be. Jesus made all those choices along with God the Father, because other children are born, but Jesus was sent into the world.

What a difference. And the reason that he was sent into the world is very clear. It says, verse 10, In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. So there you have Christmas, Jesus sent into the world. There you have Easter, Jesus Christ coming to be the propitiation for our sins. Now that word propitiation means that he is the sacrifice. He is the atoning sacrifice. Old Testament times, the high priest offered sacrifices and especially on the Day of Atonement, there was a sacrifice that was offered and then he went into the Holy of Holies. And you know that whole story. And it is there that the Ark of the Covenant was and blood was put on that ark.

Why? As an atoning sacrifice, but it only pictured the coming of Jesus. It couldn't be the real thing. And so Jesus comes and by one offering, he perfects all those who are sanctified, the Bible says, and his one offering takes care of it all. What a marvelous Savior we have.

And therein is love. You know, sometimes the impression is given wrongly that God is a very vengeful, angry God. And then Jesus comes along and Jesus is the benevolent one. He makes a sacrifice for God the Father. But God doesn't really love us.

But thank God for Jesus who does. That's a wrong way to look at the Trinity. You remember the Bible says, for God so loved the world, the remarkable thing about the Christianity, which is opposite to other religions.

You can go on the internet and you can find out, oh, Christianity is like other religions because there are other religions that have sacrificed, et cetera, et cetera. But only in Christianity is it true that God becomes the sacrifice. God loves the world.

The decision that Jesus Christ should die was a voluntary decision, but it was made by God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And in fact, God created in order that he might redeem because redemption is the sparkling jewel of his glory and of all that he is. And that's why we love him because he first loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The big issue between us and God is sin. And if you don't acknowledge that in your life, you cannot be redeemed because Jesus came to save his people, the Bible says, from their sins.

That's why he came. And of course, the Bible says that he did this even before we loved him. Even when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, the Apostle Paul says, I think of little Martha coming into a room and saying to her, Mommy, as she had one doll under one arm and another doll under the other arm, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I love them, but they never love me back. God loves us back, but God loves us even when we didn't love him back. Here in his love, God's love acted for us. Could I say also that God's love, from another perspective, acts in us? God's love acts in us. You'll notice that in this text, we should read verses 12 and following.

It says, No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us. His love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his spirit and we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him. Verse 17, By this is love perfected in us, that we might have confidence for the day of judgment. Over and over again, John uses the word abide, the love of God abides in all those who know God. And of course, that is proof that you are born again. Let me say here today that if you don't love God at all, if you are indifferent to him or don't care about him, or you are tempted to say that you don't owe God anything, that would be proof that you have never been born again. That's what John says here in the text. You see, when we are truly born again of the Holy Spirit, God creates within us a love that we do not have naturally. And this love is created within us. You know, it says in 1 Peter regarding Jesus, whom having not seen ye love. Now let me ask you a question. Is there someone whom you have never seen or connected with that you love?

I don't think so. You might be kindly disposed to other people. You empathize with their problems, with their sins, with their sorrows. But the fact is that we do not love unless we know people. And when we love someone whom we have never seen, whom having not seen ye love, that is really proof of the work of God in the human heart creating within us a love that we do not naturally have. And that is proof that we know God. Do you love God? I'm not saying that we love him perfectly, but we do love him because he first loved us, the text of scripture says.

So let's keep that in mind. God's love works in us, but God's love also acts through us. And for this, I'm going to go all the way to verse 19.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. Thirty years ago, when all of you were a little bit younger, I preached a message here from this pulpit entitled, Three Big Lies. And they're all really from the gospel of John here. In chapter one, he says, if you say that you walk in the light and yet there's darkness in your life, you lie. Chapter two, he says, if you say that you know God and don't accept the divinity of Jesus, you lie.

John is very, very upfront, isn't he? And he's saying, if anyone says, well, I love God, but I hate so-and-so, your brother in the church, you're a liar. He says, because he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, once again arguing it's easier for us to love people whom we know and see, how can he love God whom he has not seen? When you get married, and some of you have learned this possibly too late, you not only get your mate, but you get the family, too. I don't know of any instance, though perhaps it has happened, where someone says, I want to marry you, but I don't want your family. I don't want your relatives.

I just want you alone. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, the truth is, like it or not, you get all of us. You get all of his brothers, you get his sisters, you get everybody who's related to Jesus, and here we are in all of our perfections and imperfections, which should really be highlighted, and here we are in all of these shortcomings, and the Bible says, I'm putting you together that you might love one another. That's why, you know, there's emphasis today on the computer and how you can go to church on the computer, and I suppose that all throughout the world there are people listening to this message today because we stream live all over the world and have heard from at least 80 different countries, so we're glad for that, and sometimes if the time zone is right, I listen to church services on the Internet, too, but there's nothing that can really take the place of individually getting to know other believers and showing them love, despite the fact that perhaps they hurt us or they perhaps are so imperfect that we find it very difficult to be around them, and of course they feel the very same way about us.

The Bible says, don't tell me that you love God and you hate your brother, because if you love God and you've received his divine forgiveness and you've received his grace, you will be kindly disposed even to those who have done evil against you because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given unto us. I've often said it, and I'm saying it again, the world can out-entertain us, the world can out-give us, the world can outnumber us, but let it never be said that the world can out-love us because we have within us the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts. And so what John is really saying is, is that the love of God is lived out in our hearts.

Let me nail this down for all of us by making two concluding statements to help us to understand the implications. First of all, love is very costly. Love is very costly. The Bible says that God gave, and I read it too quickly, didn't I? God gave his one and only Son.

This is verse 9. God sent his one and only Son into the world. Cost God. In Italy, there is a church with a painting that I think represents very good theology.

The painting is of the crucifixion of Jesus with the nails through his hands and his feet, but there's also a shadow behind Jesus and that shadow is God the Father and it is as if the nails have gone through him as well. He also suffered. You know, in theology, there is a disagreement. There are those who say that God cannot have emotions because the argument is that if you say God has emotions, then you're saying that God is changeable and I am the Lord and I change not. I disagree with that theology. I read the Bible and I find that God is a God of deep emotion.

That's why in the Old Testament it talks about God loving and God being angry and God responding. Let us say it categorically that when Jesus died on the cross, considering the love between the Father and the Son and the relationship of the Trinity, considering all that, it is God who suffered. It is God who suffered. Now, he suffered voluntarily.

That's the thing. Some of us suffer and it isn't voluntary at all. It's imposed upon us. But God chose to suffer to redeem us and to show us love and love is always costly. Jesus said in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, he said, Love your enemies, be kind to them, do good to them because then you are like the Heavenly Father, our Heavenly Father, for he also is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

You want to be God-like? Love your enemies. Do good to them. Pray for them.

Bless those who curse you, said Jesus. And you see, that love costs us something. It costs us something when we exercise it.

It also costs us something when it is withheld from us. You know the price of love, to be in love with someone because they reject you and it hurts a lot more. Love has within it a cost. And when we ask ourselves the question, Where is God? When we look at natural disasters and when we see evil on the world, what we do is we hurry to the cross, we hurry to Jesus Christ, and there we see love very clearly manifest. Wasn't it a man by the name of Frederick Lehman who wrote the words, Could we with ink the ocean fill, and where the sky of parchment made, where every stock on earth a quill, and every man ascribed by trade to write the love of God above would drain the oceans dry, he wrote.

And even though the scroll went from sky to sky, I didn't practice that particular quoting it before I came here, so it ended a little roughly, but you do get the point, don't you? God loves you and it's costly to him, but he loves you anyway and we should love in return. There's a second lesson and that is that love actually heals. Love actually heals.

You'll notice it says this in the text. Verse 17, By this is love perfected within us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also we are in the world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. What John is saying is this, that if you are not sure of God's love toward you, you're going to live in fear of judgment. And of course only those who are born again have that great sense of confidence, another word that John likes to use throughout his book.

But what John is saying is that God loves you so much that if you knew as a believer that his love toward you was totally unconditional and that he loves you and loves you and loves you anyway, imagine the confidence that you would have in God's presence. Imagine how that would free you in your life. No need to magnify what you're able to do. No need to try to build up your image.

No need to try to be the richest person on the block. No need for that because you're loved by God. Yesterday, those of us who were here at the women's luncheon, we heard a marvelous testimony of a young woman who grew up and knew something was wrong in her family, something about her, she was treated differently. The age of 18, before she goes to college, she is told that she is adopted, and her aunt actually turned out to be her biological mother.

You can imagine, and her biological father was in prison for selling drugs. You can imagine this great sense of identity, this identity crisis. And over and over again, this young woman used the word love, how love healed her, God's love, the love of other people. Look at what the Bible says in 1 John.

We're still there. Chapter 3, verse 1. See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God, and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we shall be has not yet appeared, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

And I want to say, wow. I don't know all the answers to tragedy. I don't know why God doesn't prevent tornadoes and earthquakes and hurricanes. I don't know all of God's purposes in allowing an evil man to do so much damage to precious children.

It's beyond my imagination. But I do know this, that those who express their faith and trust in Jesus are special objects of His love. God loves the world, but He loves those who belong to Him in a special sense, and we could show this from John 17. And His eye is upon you as a believer, and He loves you and He loves you, and someday you will be like Him and reign with Him in heaven forever.

And I suppose that at that time, many of the issues that we struggle about will be clear. Love heals. There was a man by the name of George Matheson. He was born in 1842, and he was blind.

Actually, he got two degrees from the University of Glasgow because his sisters helped him. They read to him. He memorized all of the material. He became a preacher. He memorized the scriptures. He memorized his sermons.

It was the only way in which he could do that. But he also went through a time of great doubt, a time of questioning. And the doubts were so persistent, and the depression was so heavy that he actually left the ministry for a while and said, I can't pastor with authenticity because my own inside, my heart, just doesn't have what it takes in the midst of it.

But he bounced back. He began to understand that God loved him despite his limitations. Despite his own doubts, God loved him. Have you ever realized that John the Baptist, Jesus said, no man born of woman is as great as John the Baptist. Do you know when Jesus said that? It's when John was in prison full of doubts as to whether Jesus was the Messiah.

Nothing wrong with honest doubts, dishonest doubts. Now that's a different story. But George Matheson bounced back and wrote these lovely words. O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul on thee. I give thee back the life I owe that in their ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.

Love that will not let me go. When you're looking for reasons to believe that God loves the world, hurry to the cross. And if you're here today and you don't believe that God loves you or you feel distant from God because of your sin, you also hurry to the cross. It is there where we are forgiven, we're received, we're welcomed, we're made children of God.

We join the family of God's people and we are guaranteed a place in heaven forever. Perfect love casts out fear. There's no longer fear of judgment because we know that we've been accepted in the Beloved One. It's a word of hope in a world that desperately needs some. Would you join me as we pray? Father, I ask in Jesus' name that you'll take these words and bless them.

Encourage your people. For those, Father, who have lost hope, I pray that they might come to where God's love is manifested, where it is revealed. Father, help us to see that Jesus died to be a propitiation for our sins, to wipe this slate clean so that we could belong to God forever. Grant that, O Lord, we pray. And for those of you who perhaps are listening to this prayer and I'm talking to you now and you've never received Christ, even where you are seated or where you are listening to this, by whatever means, why don't you say, Lord Jesus, I receive you as my Savior, as my atonement, as the one who came to rescue me from myself, from my sin. Lord, do your work in our hearts, in Jesus' name, amen. I see thy throne and thy kingdom, I see thy throne and thy kingdom, I see thy throne and thy kingdom, I see thy throne and thy kingdom, I see thy throne and thy kingdom, Love, the third of four messages on gifts Jesus brought to us. Next week, we'll learn about Jesus, the gift of liberty, and celebrate the coming of the Son of God to this earth so long ago.

Be sure to tune in. This month, we have a special gift for all who share their gifts with The Moody Church Hour. Richard and Tina Kleiss have written a daily devotional book called A Closer Look at the Evidence, Perspectives on Creation, and Why the Bible and Science are in Harmony. This book will be sent when you call 1-800-215-5001 with your gift. Call us at 1-800-215-5001 or write to us at The Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Mention A Closer Look at the Evidence when you write or call. Online go to moodyoffer.com, that's moodyoffer.com. Join us next week at this same time for another Moody Church Hour with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 14:06:17 / 2024-01-13 14:21:08 / 15

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