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Scandalous Love, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2021 9:00 am

Scandalous Love, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 21, 2021 9:00 am

Sometimes, when we’re struggling with sin, we might start to worry that God is going to run out of patience. But Pastor J.D. reminds us that God’s grace is never-ending, and his love is scandalous!

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Today on Summit Life, an encouraging message from J.D.

Greer. When you're feeling the pain and the heartache that comes from stupid, sinful choices that you have made, the Father says to the Son, go again, go again, go again. Do not give up. I will never give up because I will not be happy again until I have restored you to salvation. Sometimes when we're struggling with sin, it's tempting to just pull away from God for a little bit. We figure he's not really hearing us anyway, right?

We're worried he's going to run out of patience and we feel like we need to clean ourselves up before we go back to him. So rather than moving towards him, we stop going to church for a while and put a hold on our prayers while we try to pull ourselves together. But that's not how a relationship with God should look. Even if we pull away from God, he never stops pursuing us.

So why not simply return to him? Pastor J.D. titled this message Scandalous Love.

Okay, the only other Gomer I know is a dude and it was a goofy private on the Gomer pile. But God had a purpose for this. Verse two, this will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and by worshiping other gods. Spiritual adultery might be the primary biblical illustration of sin. Adultery is a betrayal of love.

Adultery is when you give to somebody else what you really ought to be finding in your spouse. You know, it's interesting if you read the book of Hosea, you might have noticed this, that one of the primary sins that God identifies in Israel is that she looks to other nations for help instead of looking to God for help. When Israel was afraid, when she faced financial worry, when she was worried about her harvest coming in that fall or that spring, rather than turning to God, they ran down to Egypt or Assyria and they said, you got to help us. Now that may not on the surface sound that immoral, but you see what had happened is something had replaced God in their heart as their trust and their love and their treasure.

So let me just ask you to consider, where is it that you turn first when you are worried? Hosea, by the way, didn't just go through the formalities. You look there in verse three, after it talks about taking Gomer, says she conceived and bore him a son. He genuinely tried to love her. He tried to start a family with her.

They, they began to have children. And so after they begin to build this family and after they get it established, chapter two, Gomer returns to her old ways. Look at verse five in chapter two, she said, I will again go after my lovers. And she does it in broad daylight so that everybody's like, hey, isn't that Hosea's wife? She shames him publicly. Eventually she leaves him for some man who just pays her for sex. To make matters worse, this new guy, this new lover begins to abuse her. And so Hosea in chapter two, he pleads with her to come back. He says, just come back and be the wife and the mother.

I've created this home for you. But insanely, she won't. You look in chapter two, verse eight, it says he even gives the man that she is now shacking up with. He gives her money so that this man who is abusing her can take care of her. Well, eventually this new lover gets so tired of her that he tries to sell her back into the sex slave trade. And then God appears to Hosea with a second assignment. Chapter three, verse one, go again.

Love this woman again, who is an adulteress. Now, would you keep in mind that Hosea is a real person, just like you or me? What had to be going through his mind? By her back? God, after giving her everything, you want me to go and put myself through that again?

Why would I do that? God says, because I'm trying to make a point. Look at the rest of verse one, go again, love this woman, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, even though they continue to turn to other gods. And so Hosea would have gone to the auction and there stands Hosea in line with a bunch of men who just want to buy her as a prostitute and not only use her body for their needs, but also sell her out to others. And there stands Hosea who just wants to love her and protect her and provide for her, which leads me to the first reflection that I want to give you on the love of God. Number one, God's love, when we properly see it, scandalizes us.

There's not a one of us in Hosea's situation that would not have felt perfectly justified in just walking away. Sometimes we wonder things like how God could have the audacity to judge us, as if God's anger toward our sin is just too harsh. But any time you and I get put in a situation similar to what God is in, we rage with righteous anger. And yet God kept coming for us. Here's the second thing we learn about the love of God from this story. Number two, God's love eviscerated him.

The word eviscerated means it literally cut his heart out. Purchasing Gomer this second time evidently broke Hosea financially. Here's how we know, look at verse two there in chapter three. So I bought her for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a lethic of barley. You said, well, how does that show us it eviscerated him financially? Scholars say in those days, the going price for a slave was 30 shekels of silver, which means the fact that he bought 15 shekels for 15 shekels of silver and paid the rest in kind.

The only reason you could get away with that is if you didn't have the full price. So the fact that he had to pay half the price and buy the rest in kind or on credit, that shows that he, in order to purchase her, he had to empty his savings account. It eviscerated him financially in order to purchase or he didn't have the rest. You see that pointed forward to Jesus who was not just financially eviscerated, but literally eviscerated to save us. He poured out his own blood so that we could be restored. In order for him to save us, he had to give something that he didn't have an abundance of and that was his own life. That was his own life.

Reconciliation always comes at a great cost. One of our pastors told me this week that he was born to a single mom. So I was born to a single mom who was a drug addict. And he said, when my mom had me, he said, my grandmother came to my mom and said, you've got to stop.

You've got to stop. You were messing up just your life before with the drugs, but now you're messing up, not just your life, but his life. And he said, she pleaded with my mom to change her ways. She said, but my mom was just too into that lifestyle and too addicted. He said, so my grandmother faced a choice. He said, my grandmother knew that she could have turned my mom in.

She's going to put me up for fostering or adoption. She could have cut my mom off and she would have been fully justified in any of those things. He said, but she knew that if she did that, she would cut off any future possibility of reconciliation and restoration. He said, so my grandmother, who was in her late sixties, did what I look back now and see was almost impossible. She took me into her house and as a woman approaching the age of 70, she begins to raise an infant, but she didn't want to remove the possibility of reconciliation from my mom, whom she loved. And so she took me in and she raised me and she prayed for my mom and she kept the lines of communication open. She said, eventually love broke through to my mom. My mom got off drugs.

She made better decisions. He said, in fact, she's become a Christian and our family has been restored, but it all goes back to a grandmother who wouldn't let go and was willing to absorb the consequences of my mother's sin and literally be a bridge that held open the possibility of future reconciliation in the family. That is what Jesus did on the cross. He took the consequences of our sin into his body, holding the gates of heaven open for as long as it took for us to receive his love and just enter in. And what a price that he paid. The cat of nine tails that ripped the flesh from his body and the nine inch nails that went into his hands and his feet.

The crown of thorns that ripped his face from off of his skull. These are the things he went through because he didn't want heaven without us. Again, the only way to respond to that love is total. You can reject him as a phony and fraud and walk away or you can fall down on your knees in adoration and surrender, but please, please do not patronize God with half-hearted commitment or lethargic worship.

He is worthy of more than that. Number three, here's what we learned. God's love persists until the end. Chapter three, verse one is the recurring theme throughout the book of Hosea. Go again, go again and love this woman who is an adulterous. Go again, Hosea and again and again, don't give up on her.

Don't give up on her because I'm not going to give up on you either, Hosea. Throughout this book, Hosea points to two events. One in the past and one in the future is examples of God's salvation. The one in the past that he points to is the Exodus. The Exodus where God redeemed Israel out of slavery in Egypt to other gods by the blood of the Passover land. That, Hosea says, is going to serve as the pattern for how he will deliver Israel, his people, again in the future. So in chapter 11, verse one, here's what he says.

Out of Egypt, I called my son. Now what that is, Matthew chapter two in the New Testament says that that is one of the most important prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. Matthew says this was fulfilled when Joseph and Mary, you know, Joseph, Jesus adopted dad and Mary, his mother, took Jesus and fled down to Egypt because Herod had agreed that he was going to kill all the little boys two years old and younger.

And so they took Jesus to Egypt where Jesus stayed for, we're not quite sure how long, a few months, a few years, whatever. And then after things died down, they brought Jesus back up out of Egypt and Hosea said that's going to be the sign that God's redeeming again. He's going, just like he brought you out of Egypt the first time, he's going to bring his son out of Egypt and he is going to redeem you. This time it's not going to be through the blood of a Passover lamb. It's going to be through his own blood.

It's an amazing prophecy. But the takeaway for you is this. God did not give up on Israel when Israel failed him. In Hosea he says, I redeemed you the first time and you forgot about me. So I'm coming back to the auction block a second time and this time I'm not going to pay with the blood of a sacrificial lamb.

I'm going to pay with my blood. That is how God continues to feel about you. When you fall back into sin, like Israel did, God says to his son, go again. When you forget about him, he says, go again. When you fall back into those same sins that God delivered you from the first time, God says, go again. I'm not giving up on him. When you're feeling the pain and the heartache that comes from stupid, sinful choices that you have made, the father says to the son, go again, go again, go again.

Do not give up. I will never give up because I will not be happy again until I have restored you to salvation. You may be, you ask, well, what if we keep rejecting him for a whole life? Yes, the Bible is clear that he will not force himself on you. And scripture says that we can harden our heart to him and we can reject him. But my friend, listen, the last voice you will hear as you step off into the abyss is God saying, you don't have to do that.

You don't have to do that. Just turn back to me. All you have to do is look up and he stands ready to receive you.

Even right now, right now he does. Make sure you understand this, your sin, your past, your struggles, your habits, your simple habits, none of those things separate you from God anymore because Jesus took care of all of them on the cross. The only thing that separates you from God and from his eternity for you is an unwillingness to receive the grace that he holds out to you. He doesn't come to you just like he did to them. He says, I removed your sin, I paid your price, I have set you free.

All you got to do is say yes and you can do it right now. You can look upwards in faith and receive it. Number four, God's love is power, not reward. Don't miss that Hosea's love is offered to this woman while she is a prostitute. You see, that teaches us the way that we escape the bondage of sin.

Most people think that they have to clean themselves up and make a bunch of changes and then God will receive them and God will approve of them. In Christianity, however, we have the great reversal because in Christianity, like stories like you see with Hosea, you see that love and acceptance and unconditional love comes first and then change follows in response. Maybe one of the most riveting examples of this is Jesus' own encounter with a woman caught in the act of adultery recorded in John 8. In John 8, Jesus encounters his own Gomer. It's like Gomer's story gets retold in the New Testament where she meets Jesus. And Gomer, it says John 8, she's caught in the very act of adultery. And so the Jewish leaders, because if you're caught in this kind of flagrant act of adultery, you could be stoned. So they bring this woman to Jesus and they have the stones in their hands and they're going to kill her and they say to Jesus, what should we do with this woman to test him? And he looks at them and it's kind of a famous story.

You probably heard it. Jesus looked at them and says, well, let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone. And they all kind of fall under conviction. They realize that none of them are sinless.

So they all drop their rocks and they go home. And now it's just Jesus and the woman. Which, by the way, if you're paying attention is the really dangerous part of this story because Jesus is without sin.

So he's got every right to do whatever he wants to with her in that situation. But Jesus looks at her and he says, woman, where are your accusers? And she says, Lord, there are none left. And Jesus says to her, probably the most cogent gospel statement in all the gospels. Neither do I condemn you go and sin no more. What makes that such a cogent gospel statement is simply the order he puts the two phrases in. Neither do I condemn you go and sin no more.

The reason it's so kind of revolutionary is because you and I would almost always instinctively reverse the phrases, right? If I were talking to her, I would have been like, hey, if you go and sin no more, then we won't condemn you. So go and change your life and then we'll give you acceptance. But God, Jesus put acceptance before change because he knew she would never have the power to change until she had felt the warmth of acceptance. You see, God's acceptance is the power that liberates us from sin.

It's not the reward for us having liberated ourselves. That's the difference in gospel and law is the law says change and you will be accepted. The gospel says you are accepted, therefore go and change. Jesus understood, Jesus understood that this woman like all of us had a gigantic vacuum in her heart and she was searching for something. I don't know, maybe as a kid, she searched for it in the love of her father.

Maybe she searched for it in the approval of maybe she'd been married before and she'd always kind of come up empty and so now she was just turning to adultery and Jesus knew she would never have the power to break the cycle of adultery until she had felt the love of the heavenly father which was better than the thrills of adultery. Acceptance comes first in the gospel and change comes second because it is only through the warmth of acceptance that you and I experience the power to change. The Bible teaches what theologians call gift righteousness. Righteousness given to you as a gift freely that you just receive and it's the most powerful thing on the planet because it changes you. Martin Luther who was one of my, I'll just say theological heroes 500 years ago, he said for years I hated the phrase the righteousness of God because the righteousness of God, what it meant to me was that something was coming when I died where I would be judged and where I did not live up to the righteousness of God, there I would be condemned and I hated it and I hated God. I hated God to judge.

I hated the one who was gonna judge me. He said but then I discovered as I read the Bible that the phrase righteousness of God primarily refers to the gift righteousness that God gives to those who trust Jesus as their savior. That his righteousness was given to me as a gift that when I trusted Jesus as a savior, he took away my sin, he died for it and he gave me his position of righteousness. He said and then that phrase righteousness of God became the sweetest thing in all the world to me and it changed the heart of hatred toward God into a heart of love and I began to desire to please God and I was free of all these idolatries and the adultery of sin because God had put in my heart a heart of love. And then he went on to say this and I love the statement. He said the only ones who actually get better in Christianity are the ones who understand that their acceptance before God is not dependent on them getting better.

The only ones who ever get better are those who are understanding the fact that God gave it as a gift. It is gift righteousness. It's the gospel. God's power, God's love is power. It is not reward.

Number five, last one. What we see in the story is that God's love turns Gomers into Hosea's. God not only wanted Hosea to learn about his love for his people, God wanted Hosea to become a giver of that kind of love. And so he says to Hosea, go again.

Go again Hosea and again, go again, go again, because that's what I do with you every single time. He wants those of us who have experienced his outstretched arms to become the outstretched arms of Hosea. For we often say around here that those who believe the gospel become like the gospel. It's impossible to experience the grace of the gospel and not become like it. We become the outstretched arms of Hosea. So to the parent that has been forsaken by their child, to the husband who feels neglected, to the minority who has been sidelined, to the boss who feels misunderstood, to the friend who has been forsaken, to the wife who has been taken for granted, go again, go again, go again Hosea. I am not saying that your outstretched arms will always change the Gomers in your life. Sometimes Gomers, like the one in this story, sometimes they don't change.

But what I can guarantee you is stretching out your arms will change you. It'll make you more like Jesus. And that's been God's objective for you the whole time. God wanted to take a former Gomer and turn them into a Hosea from someone who was desperately dependent on the grace of the Heavenly Father to someone who dispensed the grace of the Heavenly Father. This is what God told us his plan was for us in Romans 8 29, a verse that you should definitely understand and know. For whom he foreknew, you. He predestined to be conformed, what? To the image of his son for you to be like Jesus.

And now he says, verse 28, all things are working together for that good. All things means all the different Gomers in your life. The Gomers that you complain about. I know you probably don't have this dramatic of a story where you were told to marry a prostitute. But you have Gomers in your life. You have people that treat you unfairly. You have people that take you for granted.

You have people that mistreat you. And he says, I appointed all those things for you because I wanted to teach you to be like Jesus. And that is my good purpose. That is the purpose that I have set out for you. It's what I created you for.

The greatest thing that I'm doing in your life is making you like me. You see the Bible has what we call a self authenticating nature to it. When you read these stories, you see that the love that we see in here that could only belong to the Heavenly Father. And you begin to crave that love and you begin to desire to be close to it. And then you wanna become like it. That's gospel secret. Is you crave it, you see it, you believe it, and then you wanna become like it. Love of Donald Gray Barnhouse kind of summarized the whole book of Hosea. The pursuing love of God is the greatest wonder in the spiritual universe. When we see this love at work to the heart of Hosea, we may wonder if God is really like that. But he is.

He is. Think about it. Many years later he would give man the ability to form the iron in the ground that he'd given him into nails. I mean, God created the ground, he created the world, and he gave us the ability to take the iron and form it into nails and to fashion the trees and the field that he'd created into a cross. Then he stretched out his hands upon that tree and he allowed us to nail him there, and in so doing he took our sins upon himself. This is our God. Maybe the hymn writer says it best, And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior's blood, died he for me who caused his pain, for me who him to death pursued? Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, would die for me? I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. He took my sin and my sorrow, he made them his very own. He bore my burden to Calvary and he suffered and died alone.

So what else can I say? What else can I say but how marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be? How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me? You see, the love of God, I want you to see this, it's why it opens the Minor Prophets, is the fountain from which everything else flows in the Christian life.

And so Martin Luther, to quote him one last time, Martin Luther said, to progress in the Christian life is always to begin again. You come back to the love of God because you never go beyond it. It's just this fountain that keeps bubbling up and makes you love God and makes you love others. So Hosea starts the Minor Prophets saying, let me teach you about his love and everything else you'll hear from now on you interpret through the lens of his love. That's the love he feels for you.

Release yourself to this love, believing it's enough, and respond to God like you really believe it. You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer with a message titled Scandalous Love on Summit Life. If you'd like to listen again, you can find this message free of charge at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D., in our new resource, the 20-day What is the Gospel devotional book, what are your hopes for the readers?

Yeah, here's what I'm hoping will happen. I'd like for this to be a dedicated one month period where Christian living really simplifies for you, where we remove a whole bunch of the add-ons that have really made it labored and complicated. Religion keeps telling us that we need extra things to do, extra layers, extra busyness. Right. But what I want you to see is that the Christian life begins as rest.

Yeah, yeah. It begins as rest in the knowledge of who Jesus is, what He's promised to you, and how He feels about you. Come to me, He says, all you who labor and are heavy-laid and I will give you rest. Yes, there are things that we begin to do out of love for Jesus and out of love for others in obedience to His command. But it begins with, and it's founded in, it's sustained by, the rest that we have in Him so we've produced this resource, a devotional, that will just for about the space of a month take you more deeply into the beauty of that rest, the beauty of the gospel.

We want to give you one. If you'll go to jdgrier.com, you can get a copy and for a small additional gift, you can get the Book of John scripture notebook that we want to provide that will be a tool for you as you work through reading the gospel along with this series that we're going through. I think it'll help you get more out of your study of the Book of John. So you can get both of those at jdgrier.com. We would love to have you as a gospel partner with us in the ministry of seeing the gospel that a lot of people have heard but have never really experienced and tasted, to see it made accessible to people everywhere.

Well, like J.D. mentioned, we'd love to get you both the 20-day devotional for a donation of $25 and the Book of John scripture notebook for an additional $10 so you can get the full experience and really get deep into this content. Join our team of gospel partners today and remember to ask for your copy of the What is the Gospel?

devotional book. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or go online to jdgrier.com. Or you can mail your gift to J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O. Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09.

I'm Molly Bidevich. Thursday, Pastor J.D. turns his attention to the book of Joel.

We're discovering how God works all things, even suffering, to draw people to himself. Listen Thursday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 05:31:26 / 2023-08-17 05:42:49 / 11

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