I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me. (Proverbs 8:17)
One of my simple pleasures is to sit and look up at the night sky, at the sheer beauty of that vast multitude of stars beyond human ability to count, and to know that what I see is simply only a tiny representation of all that God has created. It’s a wonderful reminder of the magnitude and majesty of God, of the limitless detail and perfection of His creation. It creates perspective in a world that weighs us down with pressures, burdens and demands. Those quiet moments can somehow ground us in the spiritual reality of who and what God is—so much bigger than us and our problems and trials. It is always with joy that I remember that He holds the entire universe—known and still unknown—in the palm of His hand. In a world that often doesn’t make sense, this is comforting because it opens the door to a clear revelation of the love of God.
The greatest tragedy today is the growing misrepresentation of the love of God.
There are two kinds of teachings about the love of God which seem to be prevailing. The first is the ‘rejection teaching,’ for want of a better word, which strives to portray God as the unfeeling, self-centred deity who rules with an iron hand and desires mindless pawns to perform His purposes in absolute obedience. This is the ‘anti-church’ or ‘anti-Jesus’ school of thought, in which even the sacrifice of Christ is interpreted as an imposition of God’s will in our lives. In essence, the principle behind it is that free will doesn’t exist because God manipulates and bullies us into doing what He wants anyway.
The second is a little more sinister and seductive, because it sounds so wonderfully scriptural. While the ‘unconditional love’ gospel contains many truths that are biblical and relevant, it’s a selective teaching. It leaves out the true nature of God and the full character of God. It paints a picture that is lopsided and incomplete, one which tickles our ears and skirts the critical scriptural principles that we need to live and grow in a balanced and real relationship with God. Subscribing to this kind of teaching – one which is focused on self-gratification and feel-good Christianity – eventually leads us to the place of error. If we desire to live in the full revelation of the love of God, we cannot exclude or assume exception from those things we do not like.
God’s people perish for lack of knowledge – the true teaching of full revelation of the love of God.
This is something that has been growing consistently in my heart, as I witness more and more of God’s people drifting off into ‘easy faith’ and beginning the slippery slide towards a form of Christianity that is based more on worldly principles than on the principles and truths of Scripture contained in the Bible. I begin to understand just a tiny bit the pain Jesus felt as He wept on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem. He wept for God’s people – those who should have known Him and turned to Him, who should have lived in full revelation of the love of God but who turned aside after erroneous and seductively deceptive teachings.
We so easily lose sight of the fact that the Bible is essentially God’s Word to His people. Before anything else, it was written to teach, guide, edify, exhort, and encourage God’s people. It is, in simple terms, the comprehensive handbook for every single person who chooses to follow God. That it also provides wisdom and truth for anyone seeking God is a secondary purpose, not a primary one. God uses His Word, through the power of the Spirit in it, to draw non-believers and reveal truth to them, but even this is with the purpose of bringing them into His kingdom. The Bible is, has, and always will be, a book for believers. This means that if we desire to live in the full revelation of the love of God, we cannot exclude anything contained in the Bible.
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
This verse from Matthew 4:4 is a powerful reminder that we should never be selective about what we choose to receive and live by from the Word. It is very clear that every single word in the Bible is to be included when we seek His truth, not just those that ‘work’ for us. Now, this is the point where the Law becomes a favourite argument for those seeking to sidestep this declaration by the Son of God. While it’s true that we are no longer under the Law but under grace in the new covenant, Jesus Himself reminds us that the Law was never erased. He states very clearly that He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. This is a crucial spiritual truth governing the love of God.
While it does not mean that we have to follow and abide by all the few thousand laws contained in Old Testament Law, it does mean that the principles behind them remain relevant. Jesus fulfilled the Law by fulfilling the legal requirements of the Law – judgement and punishment for our sins – by dying on the cross in our place. If we blithely remove the Law from the equation, what is the point of the cross? The cross has relevance only when seen in the full context of the Law and its requirements and consequences. It is only when we examine the love of God in the context of the Law that we can even begin to understand the full measure of it.
Why settle for half or only some when we can live in the full revelation of the love of God?
It seems utterly foolish to live in only a portion of what God has accomplished for us because we aren’t willing to accept the full revelation, yet that is exactly what so many of us are doing. We settle for second best – or even third or fourth best – often without even realising it. The tragic result is that we try to make do with a faith that is shaky because it’s incomplete. We’re constantly disappointed because our expectations are wrong. We don’t experience the joy and peace God promises, because we have to tune out the voice of Spirit in order to sustain our beliefs. Our perception and understanding of the love of God is a critical foundational truth. It is the rock on which we build our lives in Christ.
John 3: 16 is possibly one of the most used Scriptures when discussing the love of God. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is a verse that speaks life. It speaks grace and mercy. It speaks substitution and identification. It speaks the cross. It contains within it the kernels of the truth that fully reveals the magnitude of the love of God, and yet it is all too often quoted as a band aid, a balm to ease the conscience, or a justification to ignore everything else that we find uncomfortable or which doesn’t fit our ‘feel good’ faith.
Are we willing to receive a full revelation of the love of God?
I believe that this is a challenge to every professing believer in these end times. A full revelation of the love of God will be our rock in the hard times ahead. It will be our anchor in the storm that is coming, our lifeline when the flood of wrong teachings swells in our churches. It will be our ark in the great apostasy that has already begun. It will feed us when times of solid teaching are lean and sustain us when facing attacks on our faith. It will ground our faith in the absolute, unshakeable, faithful nature and character of our God. It will make the difference when we need to stand when those around us are falling by the wayside.
The challenge is for everyone who is frustrated in the Christian walk, who senses that there is ‘more’ but somehow has never achieved the long-awaited breakthrough. It is for those who long for the freedom promised in Christ, for the abundant life, for victory over sin and self, and for restoration and transformation. The heart of every single aspect of our faith is the heart of God. Unless we have a full and true revelation of the love of God we cannot live in its abundance. Are we willing to allow God to challenge everything we assume and expect and replace it with absolute truth? Or are we willing to settle for second best, or the meagre portion we currently live in? Do we have the desire and the courage to explore the Word and discover the absolute truth, and to receive in full what God intends?
If we are, today’s verse is a firm assurance that we will find Him as we begin to seek Him.
Lord, help us today to set aside our preconceived notions and expectations. Forgive us for wrong beliefs and assumptions, and for seeking after only those truths that appeal to us or make us feel good. Stir up a desire in our hearts to seek for Your real heart, grant us the courage to listen and to learn, and empower us to change where we need to so that we may learn to walk in the full revelation of Your love and what it really means.