Forgiveness – Radio Program – 25 May

God’s Love for Us

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1

You might wonder what love has to do with forgiveness, if so don’t feel bad, it’s a common question.  What you will discover as this study moves forward however is that love has everything to do with forgiveness, and forgiveness has everything to do with love.  The truth is that we really can’t separate one from the other!

In the Bible, the story of forgiveness and the story of love go hand-in-hand.  Why did God send Jesus to die for forgiveness of sins? Because He so loved the world! (John 3:16) Think about your own life, don’t you find it easier to forgive your loved ones than you do a complete stranger… or someone you really don’t like very much? I think you would agree that this is the case. Yes, maybe love has quite a lot to do with forgiveness after all!

In the verse above, John is telling us that God has so much love for all of us that He considers us His own children; that’s a lot of love! Look at the next sentence. It isn’t just that God “considers” us to be like His own children, in Christ we really are His own children because we have been born again of His Spirit; yes, His love for us is very great indeed.

Having been reborn of God, those of this world can’t always figure us out.  Some might think we are just crazy people always talking about loving others, following Jesus and forgiving people who have hurt us, and by the standards of this world we probably really are crazy.  But for us, having been reborn into God’s household, these kinds of things become second nature as we grow in our faith.

The whole reason I am doing this study of forgiveness is to foster growth in each of us. It is a journey of sorts, more than just the accumulation of knowledge. It is a journey of discovery and understanding, a journey of insight, faith and freedom. When we reach the end of this journey, we might even discover that forgiveness is not merely a teaching, a doctrine or a moral value, for it is a release of things that bind us, hold us back and weigh us down.  In fact, I think we will discover that forgiving others will release us from bondage to our pasts that has held us back far more than we ever suspected.

I spend a great deal of time – trying to understand people and why they do what they do.  Why is it that one person can turn out so well while someone else is the victim and remains the victim.  I not saying I am a psychologist, but I can safely say that people who move on from their trespassers – not forgetting but moving forward – not using such acts of unkindness/situations against them to hold them back. 

But we have a choice and God wants us to be free of the pain.  We may never forget the acts of abuse, pain or bad words brought against us, but we can be free.  Let me say one more thing… you may have trouble forgiving yourself for your mistakes as well. 

You see God loves us first.  So you should find redemption in God’s love and even forgive yourself. 

I have also heard people say – I have made so many mistakes, God can never love me –but he does.  It may be difficult because that person is having a hard time forgiving themselves or others for things that happened to them.  God is waiting with open arms for all of us.  Why not reach your hand out and grab on.

God loved us first

From the very beginning, God loved Mankind. He created a beautiful environment for us, He breathed His own life into us and He gave us dominion over the earth.  Yet as we know, something happened; Adam and Eve rebelled against God and from that point forward they were at odds with Him.  In the fullness of time, God sent His Son Jesus to repair that relationship that had been so badly damaged by rebellion in the Garden.  God’s love was so great; He was willing for His only Son to die for the redemption of humanity.

 

 

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 

  

With this sampling of verses it becomes clear that God loved us first, before humanity had any cause to love God. 

 

God loves us in spite of everything

In spite of everything that had happened between humanity and God, God continues to love us.  He loves us in good times and in bad, even when we are having all kinds of problems, God still loves us, for His love cannot be shaken.

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;    

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love.

God showed us His love

God didn’t just sit back and pine for us, he didn’t just mourn the fact that we rebelled, and He did something about it: He sent His Son to redeem Mankind, in spite of everything that had happened.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 

 

 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10

Isn’t this interesting? God loved us, and then He made a loving response to the situation the separated Him from us, He took extreme to forgive us.  Yes indeed, there is a strong relationship between love and forgiveness!

The Greatest Commandment and Our Response to it

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:9-12

What an amazing story this is on so many levels; that God loved us so much He sent His Son to die for us. I wonder how often any of us slow down enough to just let that sink in. We weren’t deserving, we hadn’t earned His favor; far from it! We were living in open rebellion against God, and yet He loved us that much.

That wasn’t the end of the story, not by a long shot. Through his great love for us, He forgave our sins, setting them aside entirely and entered into an intimate relationship with us. The real question here is how we should respond to his love.  For those of us who really grasp the significance of what He has done for us, it is only natural that we would develop and deep love for God, yet even that isn’t the end of the story!  We “ought to love one another” is John’s conclusion. Still, there is more at work than we might think at first: when we love one another, God is living in us, and in our love for one another, God’s love is made complete.

How is this so? It really isn’t very complicate, for God loves us and in response we love Him back. God also loves our brother and sister, and when we do the same for His sake, His love dwells within each of us and throughout the entire Body of believers, completing to cycle of His great love.

We love God because He first loved us

Let’s begin our lesson with a little review. ..

John states this about as clearly as it can be stated in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” Paul puts it slightly differently: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

That our love for God comes from His love for us would seem to be an established fact in Scripture. Thus, it is the greatest of all the commandments: Love God.

The second greatest commandment

The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-30

   Luke 10:27

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

We all know these verses, most of us know them by heart, but why are they so important? The answer to this question really isn’t so difficult if we remember that God first loved all of us and sent His Son to die for all of us and not just for you or me. That God would want us to share His love with our neighbor makes all kinds of sense, just as a parent would want their child to share the parent’s love for his or her siblings. In the New Testament, this love for our neighbor is carried forward as our love for one another within the church in a special way.

 

God loved us – We love God – God loves others – So do we

This is the cycle that makes God’s love complete in us. My brother or sister may not always be lovable, but because God loves them and I love God, I decide to love them too, in spite of their faults, for are their faults really that much greater than my own? John makes this entire cycle clear in an amazing passage, 1 John 4:7-21 and which we have read over the last few weeks, but here it is again:

God’s Love and Ours

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

 This is a theme that carries throughout the entire New Testament, and it is also the very core of all Christian Theology. If you want to really take a wide view of the subject, it is also the primary purpose of Church and can be summed up in the words of Jesus: “Make disciples.”


 

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