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The Love of God - Holy One of Israel Part 10

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
October 6, 2022 7:00 am

The Love of God - Holy One of Israel Part 10

So What? / Lon Solomon

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You know, we are in the middle of a series entitled The Holy One of Israel. It's a study of the attributes of God, the basic characteristics of God.

And so far we've covered nine of them. We've talked about the fact that God is eternal and that God is holy. We've talked about the faithfulness of God and the omnipotence of God and the justice of God and the mercy of God and the sovereignty of God and a few more. You know, the Bible talks about the love of God more than 100 times, but I think the single most compelling verse of all is found in 1 John 4.16 where the Bible says God is love. It is love. In other words, the Bible wants us to understand that love is not something God does. Love is not something God shows. Love is an intrinsic part of who and what God is. And before we go any farther, we should stop for a moment and we should define love. You say, Lon, give me a break here. We think we're stupid. We all know what love is.

Well, maybe and maybe not. I think some of you know that the New Testament was not written in English. It was written in Greek, Koine Greek exactly, everyday Greek, Laman's Greek of the time. And in Koine Greek, there are four words, all of which are translated into English by our one word love. First of all, there's the word storge, which refers to family love, the kind of love that parents would have for a child. Interestingly, this word is never used in the New Testament. And then there's the word, second of all, eros, from which we get our word erotic.

This is romantic love. Again, interestingly, this word is never used in the New Testament. Third, there's the word philos.

We get the name of our city, Philadelphia. Philos means warm, brotherly love and affection between human beings. Now this word is used in the New Testament, but it is never used in the New Testament of God's love.

There's a fourth word in Koine Greek, the word agape. And this is the word that is used consistently throughout the New Testament to refer to the love of God. It is a love that is above every other kind of human love. It's not romantic love, and it's not family love, and it's not warm, brotherly love. This is divine love, my friends, the kind of love that loves others without personal motive.

This is a love whose only motive is the welfare of its object. And you remember what Jesus said. He said, John 3 16, for God so loved, God so agape'd the world that he gave. And what did God give? Well, friends, he gave the best he had, his son. He gave all he had, his life, to people who hated him and rejected him and wanted nothing to do with him and despised him, but people who desperately needed his son anyway.

And why did God do this? Very simply, friends, because this is what agape does. Agape sees someone with a need, and it gives all that it's got.

It gives its best to meet that person's need, even if that person is not in the slightest bit appreciative. And agape does all of this without asking for anything in return. So when the Bible talks about the love of God, my friends, this is what it's talking about. This is what it means, a divine love, a savior love. So let's go back to 1 John 4 and remind ourselves that it says God is agape. The Bible says God is the living embodiment of what agape means and of agape in action. I mean, think about it now. God could be just and holy and omnipotent and omniscient and eternal and righteous and all those things that make him God.

And you know what? God at the very same time could be cruel and mean and merciless and selfish and capricious, a God who enjoyed tormenting his creatures and exploiting his creatures, like the gods that you saw in Mel Gibson's movie, Apocalypto. And who's to say God couldn't be that way? And if God were that way, what could you and I as his creatures do to stop him from being that way? My Christian friends, we need to be very careful that we never, ever take for granted the wonderful, simple, but powerful truth that God is not like this. God is agape. God is love.

Amen and amen. Now you say, well, Lon, that's great. So it's great the Bible says that. But I mean, what proof does the Bible give or what proof can you give that God is really and truly like this? Well, friends, the greatest proof that the Bible is telling us the truth about God, namely that he is agape love, that this is his basic character.

Well, that greatest proof is found in the Lord Jesus himself. Remember, Jesus said, John Chapter 14, He who has seen me has seen the Father. Colossians Chapter 1 says Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.

Hebrews 1 verse 3 says Jesus is the exact representation of God's nature. In other words, as Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh, every act that Jesus did, every deed that Jesus performed, his sympathy for the poor, his pity for the sick, his compassion on the downcast, his help for the hurting, his clemency towards the guilty, his patience with his friends, and his mercy on his enemies, every bit of this was meant to display to you, to me, and to the entire human race where the heart of God really is that the heart of God is agape. But nowhere do we see the agape love of God displayed more clearly and more powerfully and more compellingly than we see it conveyed at the cross. You know, Jesus said, John 15, greater love, greater agape has no one than this, that someone, a man would lay down his life for his friend. And I love 1 John 3.16 says by this, we know what love, what agape really looks like, namely that Christ laid down his life for us. Now, why does the Bible say this? Why does the Bible present to you and me the cross as the most and ultimate convincing proof that God loves you and me with agape love?

Well, friends, two reasons. Number one, because of the spiritual condition that every member of the human race was in when Jesus went to the cross for us. The Bible says that before we come to faith in Jesus, every one of us, Ephesians 2, 1, is spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins. Every one of us, Ephesians 4.18, is darkened in our understanding and separated from the life of God. Before we come to Christ, every one of us, Colossians Chapter 1, is hostile to God in our minds. And John 3.19, every one of us loves darkness rather than light because our deeds were evil. Before we come to Christ, Romans Chapter 5 says that every one of us is an enemy of God. And John 3.36 says we have the wrath of God sitting on, hovering over us.

Now, this is not a real pretty picture. And yet, the Bible is clear, this is precisely how God sees every single person on this earth outside of Jesus Christ. And that leads me to reason number two, why what Jesus did on the cross proves his agape love. And reason number two is because only somebody with agape love for you and me would be willing to go to the cross and pay the price that Jesus paid to redeem us from the miserable condition that we were in. Matthew Chapter 20, Verse 28, Jesus said, I did not come to be served, but to serve, you hear that?

That's agape talking. And he goes on to say to give my life as a ransom for many, Jesus said, I'm just not going to walk around on the earth and talk to you about agape love. I'm going to go to the cross, and I'm going to display it for every person on this earth to see. Now, let's stop for a moment and ask the question, just what kind of experience was the cross for the Lord Jesus, huh? Well, we know that just the expectation of the cross was so bad in the Garden of Gethsemane that an angel had to come and strengthen the Lord Jesus just so he'd be willing and able to go through it. And what was so bad?

What was the expectation so horrible that he was worried about? Well, first of all, there was the physical suffering that the Lord Jesus knew he was going to go through on the cross. Friends, crucifixion is probably the cruelest method of execution ever created on earth. The Romans did not invent it, but the Romans did perfect it. Crucifixion was designed to kill a person slowly and excruciatingly and to kill them in the most painful way it was possible to die. They would strip a person down, the Romans would.

They would beat them and whip them and taunt them until almost total exhaustion. I mean, you saw the Passion movie. You understand what that looked like. You say, well, wouldn't it be hard to stitch up all those wounds at the end? Friends, nobody was stitching up anything. This person wasn't coming back.

You understand? They weren't coming back. And then they would march them off to the cross. And when they got there, they'd nail their hands and feet to the cross and hoist the cross up into place. But you know what? All that beating and all that whipping and even having their hands nailed to the cross, that wasn't enough to kill the person.

No, no. People would often live for two, three, four, five days hanging on the cross while the heat of the sun and the cold of the night and going for days without food and water would eventually turn these people into raving lunatics by the time they died. Death on the cross eventually for most people came by suffocation. Hanging there on the cross, a person would become exhausted to the point that they weren't able to expand their diaphragm and breathe. And for a while they could get a little bit of relief by pressing up with their legs, although I can't imagine the excruciating pain because of that nail through their ankles that that would cause. But even then, after a certain amount of time, exhaustion would set in, bodily fluid would begin to collect in the lungs, and slowly a person would drown to death in their own bodily fluids with the last little bit of life gurgling out of them at the end.

This was a gruesome way to die. But let's not think that that's the only thing the Lord Jesus was concerned about on the cross because not only was there the physical suffering on the cross, folks, second of all, there was the spiritual suffering that the Lord Jesus knew he was going to go through on the cross. I mean, 1 Peter chapter 2 says that the Lord Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the cross.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 says that God made Jesus who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf as he hung there on that cross. And the fact that God took Jesus, the sinless, perfect Lamb of God, and on the cross God laid on him all the filth and all the putrefaction of this world, folks, that produced a spiritual suffering in the life of the Lord Jesus that you and I and no creature in this universe will ever fully understand. And yet, in spite of that, what did Jesus do on the cross?

What did he say? Well, he said, Luke 23 verse 34, Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they're doing. In his moment of deepest suffering here on earth, Jesus displays the heart of God for every one of us to see. And as we look at the heart of God displayed on the cross, what do we find there? Well, we don't find anger, and we don't find bitterness, and we don't find hatred, and we don't find revenge, and we don't find retaliation.

What we find is God's agape love for every single one of us. Jesus could have prayed on the cross for justice. He could have said, Father, condemn them. He could have prayed on the cross for revenge.

Father, consume them. He could have prayed on the cross for deliverance. He could have said, Father, get me off of this cross. I'm not going through with this, and I don't care if they all go to hell.

I don't care. But instead, what did Jesus pray for? He prayed for our pardon. Father, forgive them. And I'll stay here on the cross, Jesus said, and I'll take all of this pain so that you will have the righteous basis on which to do that very thing to forgive them. Friends, this is agape love at its highest. This is divine love at its highest, returning mercy to the very people who are crucifying you and staying on the cross in spite of their insults and in spite of their taunts, because as condemned sinners, they need you to stay on that cross. Hey, you want proof God really loves you, friend? You want proof that God really loves me and the rest of the human race? Then you look at the cross and you will have that proof in spades. This is why the Bible says Romans 5-8, God demonstrated his love.

God demonstrated his agape for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Now, that's as far as we want to go in the theological treatment of the love of God right now, because we want to stop and we want to ask our most important question. And we all know what that is, right?

Right? You guys up there, you know what that is, right? Yes, okay, so here we go, nice and loud, one, two, three.

Yeah, you say, Lon, so what? Say, God bless you up there, man, you're working hard, you're preaching, God bless you. But what difference does any of this make to me, huh, in my life? I mean, put some handles on this for me, will you? Well, I'd love to.

And let's start by asking an interesting question. Here's my question. How do you think God the Father felt, how do you think he felt about the suffering that the Lord Jesus went through on the cross, huh? I mean, the Bible says John chapter 1 verse 18 that Jesus was in the bosom of the Father.

That's an expression to explain to us the intimacy and the love and the depth of relationship that they had. In fact, Jesus said, John 17, that God loved me, Jesus said, before the foundation of the world. In John chapter 3, Jesus puts it simply, he says, God the Father loves the Son. You know, the Bible is clear that God the Father loved the Lord Jesus with a love more intimate and more deep than he has ever loved or will ever love any creature to ever live.

So I'm back to my question. How do you think God the Father felt about watching the Lord Jesus suffer on the cross? Well, how do you feel about watching your children suffer? I mean, there's not a parent here who hasn't stood next to a sickbed with a child with a fever and pain and tried to comfort that child when there was really nothing we could do, standing there helplessly watching them suffer. And many of us here have had the experience of watching the scared look in a child's eye as the nurse wheels them down the hall and around the corner and into the operating room and away from us. Many of us here, we have held our children in our arms through their tears as they told us about how the cruel world had hurt them that day. And we've hurt what many of us have with our children through divorce. And many of us have hurt with our children through a miscarriage. Many of us have hurt with our children through a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy or through the loss of their spouse. So, okay, as a parent now, you take how you felt as you watched your child suffer and you multiply that by 10 million times and you'll have a beginning of understanding how the Lord Jesus on the cross, how God the Father felt about his suffering. Now, you got that?

Let me show you something. Isaiah chapter 53 verse 7. He, the Lord Jesus, was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. He was like a lamb led to slaughter. Verse 8, he was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was really due. Verse 9, he was assigned to death with wicked men even though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in him. All of this recounts the agony and the suffering of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Now, look at verse 10. And yet, the Bible says, the Lord was pleased to crush him and the Lord was pleased to see him suffer grief. You say, Lon, that makes no sense.

That makes no sense. I mean, if God feels about the Lord Jesus the way I feel about the suffering of my child except 10 million times more, why in the world, why in the world would he be pleased to see him go through that? Look here, friends, I'll tell you why. Because God loves sinners.

That's why. Because God knew that only by the Lord Jesus being on that cross and being crushed on that cross, only by doing that could it mean the deliverance and the salvation of sinners. God knew that only crushing the Lord Jesus would enable him to redeem you and me from eternal death. Only crushing the Lord Jesus on the cross would mean that he would be able to remain righteous and forgive our sins and wipe away our guilt.

Only by crushing the Lord Jesus could he make us his adopted children in Christ and give us eternal life and take us to heaven. Folks, God loves sinners. And he loves them so much that he was thrilled, he was thrilled to see the Lord Jesus crushed on the cross. God loves sinners so much, friends, that there was no price he was not willing to pay to redeem you and me.

God loves sinners. You know, the greatest evangelist of the 19th century was a fellow named Dwight L. Moody. When Moody was a young man, he went to Chicago and he began pastoring a church there. And one week he was out of town and so he asked a visitor to come in and preach for him, a fellow named Henry Morehouse.

Well, he got back to town and he went and he asked his wife, but how did Morehouse do? And she said, well, she said, I liked him very much, Dwight. She said, but he preaches very differently than you do. And Moody said, how so?

And she said, well, he tells the worst sinners that God loves them. And Moody said, well, then he's wrong. The very next Sunday, Morehouse preached again in Moody's church. Moody went to hear him and here's what he said, and I quote. Moody said, Morehouse turned to John 3.16 and preached the most extraordinary sermon from that verse.

He went through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, proving that in all ages, God loved the world. Moody said, up until that time, I never knew that God loved us that much. He said, this old heart of mine began to thaw out.

I could not keep back the tears. He said, Morehead beat that truth down into my heart, and I have never doubted it since. Moody said, I used to preach that God was behind the sinner with a double-edged sword, ready to hack him down. But now I realize that God is behind the sinner with his eternal love, and that what that man is running away from is the love of God, end of quote. You know, folks, thanks be to God, many of us here have stopped running away from the love of God. Thanks be to God, many of us here have fallen on our knees at the foot of the cross. Thanks be to God, many of us here have cried out, Lord Jesus, save me from my sins and save me from myself. And thanks be to God that many of us here have fully surrendered our lives to Christ, and we know the joy, and we know the beauty, and we know the healing that the agape love of God brings into a life. Thank God for that. I did that same thing 38 years ago.

It was the single greatest decision I ever made in my life. But you know, some of us here are still running, friends. Some of us here are still fighting.

Some of us here are still resisting. And my friend, I'm here to tell you on behalf of Almighty God that you are running away from the most amazing love ever offered you in this universe. No one ever has and no one ever will love you the way the Lord Jesus loves you. For God so loved the world, Jesus said, He so agapeed the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.

And friends, whoever means whoever. I don't care what you've done. I don't care how you've lived. I don't care what you've said.

I don't care how rotten you've been. You know, I hold up myself as an example, and I say to you, 38 years ago in college, I had smoked dope. I had sold dope. I had smuggled dope.

I had dropped LSD. I had lied. I had cheated in school. I cheated my friends at cards. I had shoplifted. I had stolen money. And I had drunken myself into a stupor more times than I care to remember. I had a profane mouth and I had a profane mind.

I had slept with scores of women and I got my girlfriend pregnant and I forced her against her wishes to have an abortion. Listen, compared to me, Howard Stern is a saint. You understand what I'm saying to you? And yet 38 years ago, John 3.16, the offer there was open to me. And you know why?

Real simple. I'm whoever. I'm whoever. And friends, the offer in John 3.16 is open to you because you're whoever and you can't possibly be a worse whoever than I was. Listen, I didn't have to clean up and I didn't have to dress up and I didn't have to wash up and I didn't have to straighten up and I didn't have to fix myself up. All I had to do is turn 180 degrees to Jesus Christ. That's all I had to do. And repent of my sins and tell God I was sorry I'd been living the way I was and I wanted to live different. And all I needed to do was embrace the blood of Christ shed on the cross for me as my only payment for all of those sins and finally all I had to do was surrender my life to the lordship of Christ.

And Jesus Christ came into my life and transformed me into a human being that today I don't even hardly recognize that person I just told you about. My friend, this is all you need to do as well. You don't need to clean up. You don't need to straighten up.

You don't need to dress up or wash up or fix yourself up, my friend. All you need to do is turn to Christ and do exactly what I did 38 years ago. And so I'm here today to say if you've been running from God, I'm here to beg you on behalf of Almighty God to let the running end right here today. I'm here to beg you right here today to make a 180-degree turn and say, all right, Lord, I've run long enough.

It's time to come home. And we're going to give you the chance to do that right now. Let's bow our heads together. And with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, if you're here today and you're tired of running and you're willing to make a turn in your life and come to Christ and repent of your sins, honestly tell the Lord you're sick of living the way you've been living and with His help you want to live differently. If you're willing to embrace the blood of Christ as the only payment for your sin and to abdicate the throne of your life and hand it to the Lord Jesus, then you can do that right where you're sitting.

You don't need to walk an aisle or come down front or do anything. You can do it right there. And I'm going to lead us in a short prayer and we're going to give you the chance to do that. With our heads bowed, I'm going to pray one phrase at a time out loud. You pray silently right behind me. And let's stop running today.

Here we go. Lord Jesus, I'm tired of running. And so today, of my own free will, I turn to Christ. I repent of my sins. Lord, I'm really sorry I lived the way I've been living.

And I want to live differently, sincerely. And also, I trade in today everything else I've ever trusted to earn me eternal life. And I embrace the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for me as my one and only payment for sin. Finally, I abdicate the throne of my life.

And Lord Jesus, I hand it to you. Come into my heart today. Forgive my sins. Cleanse me from the guilt. Adopt me into your family. And give me eternal life. And begin transforming my life here on earth into something worth getting up for in the morning. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Amen. And Father, I want to pray for the folks who prayed that prayer, that right now you would confirm in their hearts that a great transaction has taken place in the heavens, that they have passed, John 5-24, from death into eternal life, never to go back. And Father, I pray you would come into their lives and that you would begin to transform those lives into something truly worth living. Father, thank you for the many of us here who've already prayed that prayer. Thank you when we got to the end of the road, Lord, that because of your agape love, there was a place to actually turn. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that we can love you because you first loved us. And my prayer, Father, is that you would help us who are already followers of Christ to really love you like we should. Forgive us, Lord, that so often we don't. Challenge us today that with the kind of love you showed us, Lord Jesus, we should love you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, everything we got, because you are worthy of it. Change our lives because we were here today, Father, and we pray this in Jesus' name.

Amen. Let me say in closing, the great theologian, Karl Barth, now I don't agree with everything the guy said, he was an amazing theologian, appeared on the cover of Time magazine in April of 1962, just unbelievable mind. He was once asked by an interviewer, what is the greatest theological truth that you have ever discovered? And he thought for a moment and he said, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. You know, folks, I don't care how much you study God's Word, I don't care how many commentaries or theology books you read, you will never discover a more compelling or important theological truth than that. Jesus loves us in spite of what we are. Jesus loves us as wretched as he found us. And if you'd have been the only person on the face of this earth, my friend, Jesus would have gone to the cross for you. There's no greater truth in the world than that.

And so when you go to the mall this week, you go to work this week, or you drive on the beltway this week, or wherever you go this week, and you got to do all that stuff, I understand. But friends, let's rise above that and have joy in our life because Jesus loves us, this we know. We don't deserve it, we can't merit it. If I was God, I wouldn't love us and you wouldn't either. But I'm so glad you're not God and you ought to be glad I'm not God. Jesus loves us in spite of what we are, warts and all. And if that doesn't bring joy to your life, well, friends, I don't know what in the world will.

Jesus loves us, the greatest theological truth in history. God bless you. Have a good week. We'll see you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-25 21:06:41 / 2022-12-25 21:18:26 / 12

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