As we celebrate communion we truly celebrate the fact that God the Father sent His son to take our place of death and die upon the cross. In brief we celebrate the Love of the Father.
“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” So goes the saying. But tell people that God loves them and it may not strike relief at the core of a hardened heart. “After all,” they may answer, “what benefit is that to me that God should love me? I still have my bills, trouble with my kids, issues with my spouse, problems at work. What benefit to me is the Love of God?” More than that, they might look at all of their trouble and just say, “prove it.”
I say that God loves you” is an undeniable fact but it’s not always evidenced the way people want to see it. Let’s look at three ways God shows His love. He proved it at the cross, he proves it with discipline and he proves it in his constant care.
God Proved His Love at Cross
Well proving it really is the first step to answering that question. Before we can explain the benefit’s of God’s love we have to start with the proof of God’s love; and fortunately that is a remarkably easy thing to do.
Romans 5:8 declares “ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ” ( Romans 5:8 , NASB95)
And again in 1 John we read, “ By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ” ( 1 John 4:9–10 , NASB95)
That word “Propitiation” isn’t one we’re used to hearing. It means “to satisfy by sacrifice”. So here’s the meaning of the text and the answer to the demand to prove that God loves you: The proof of God’s love is our sin and Christ on the cross.
The enormity of this proof is seen in what is probably the world’s favorite scripture verse and it’s context. So Open your Bible with me to John 3:16-21.
It begins with the proof of being loved by the Father, “For God so loved the world, that He gave…” Again the main lesson of the Love of God here is that it is proven at the cross. And that done while we were yet sinners.
The Enormity of that sacrifice goes beyond comprehension to me. I cannot fathom the cost. I know it theologically, I know it experientially because I have believed and continue to believe that Jesus Christ the son of God died for me, not merely despite my sin, but BECAUSE of my sin.
How great a reminder of love in the midst of misery! I encourage you to remember this truth, God loves you, and he proved it at the cross.
God Proves his love with Discipline
But it does not end there at the cross. The gospel does not end at the cross, the gospel continues for them that have received Christ now must live in Him.
As Christ died to make us Holy, we also must Live Holy because He is Holy. But the truth is that we fail, we stumble, we fall. And when we do, the Lord graciously gives us opportunity to repent. But if we refuse, he will bring suffering of one form or another to discipline us.
Hebrews 12 teaches the doctrine that God will indeed discipline those whom He loves. (Read Hebrews 12:4-17).
I grew up with a kid down the street from me whose parents never disciplined Him (or his siblings by the appearance of it.) I’ll call him Charlie because I don’t think I ever knew a Charlie growing up. Charlie got away with everything. He had no curfews, no requirements. He wasn’t held accountable for specific grades, or even to wash his hair. Man I got to tell you that I really thought Charlie had it made. My parents were mean! They made me take showers, they made me eat dinner with them, they made me do my homework (sometimes). They helped me learn how to sit gently when I did something wrong. Believe me as a real young guy of about 8-12 if I messed up, I knew about it for awhile.
Charlie didn’t have any of that. Charlie got bad grades in school, drifted from trouble to trouble, became a bully on the playground. Got held back in school, I’m not even sure today if he graduated. Last I heard he was still the same undisciplined kid he’d always been, and as a result not doing all that well in the world.
I guess discipline isn’t so bad after all. I guess my parents loved me after all.
God disciplines every child he receives, as he disciplined King David after his affair with Bathsheba until he would finally repent. And if you are without discipline you’re an illegitimate child.
Friends listen. This morning if you’re dealing with discipline, if you’re struggling and you know it’s because you’ve been sinning against the Lord, you really need to give up and give in. Humble yourself under God’s discipline and let yourself be trained by it.
And be encouraged by this: God loves you, and he proves it by disciplining you when you sin.
God Proves his love by His Constant Care
Finally, We talked about providence last week, God is always in every way working in his creation and in our lives to orchestrate His plan. And that providence is certainly an aspect of his Constant Care, but this week I have more in mind how God picks us up right where we are at and takes care of us.
“ In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. ” ( Isaiah 63:9 , NASB95)
Everywhere in the Bible the Father is active is caring for us. He commanded the ravens to feed Elijah as he commands us to care for those in need.
“ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. ” ( 1 Peter 5:6–7 , NASB95)
““ Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. ” ( Matthew 10:29–31 , NASB95)
In the center of necessity remember that it is God who cares for you, and your Father will respond to the chilike faith you bring as you seek Him.
Be encouraged dear brothers and sisters, because God loves you and he proves it by taking care of you.
And so at the end of all these things, we finally understand the enormity of God’s great gift born out of Love the Father God sends God the Son to die and this great proof of God’s love is made known to us in the gospel so that we can have our sins eliminated, and by believing in Jesus Christ we can have eternal life and not perish. We will not be condemned with the world, we will not be judged with the world – but saved through Him.
What then of the questions we began with? “what benefit is that to me that God should love me? I still have my bills, trouble with my kids, issues with my spouse, problems at work. What benefit to me is the Love of God?”
But do you not see that every answer to those questions must necessarily begin with the answer to sin? For all of these things, the financial idolatry and greed that creates so many of our bills, the problems with children both from the children as well as from mistakes made in parenting; the strained relationships of husband and wife; the issues we most generally face at work all of these are the results of sin. It is first of all precisely because of the great love of the Father manifest in the sending of his son to be a propitiation for our sins that our own sins can be cleansed but it is through Christ alone that the answers to these other problems will come.
The Love of God manifest in Christ, demonstrated in Christ’s death, resulting in our atonement and salvation opens the pathway for us to live in obedience to God’s word, empowered by the filling of the Holy Spirit. We will therefore no longer be a greedy idolater but will serve God instead and find Joy. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their parents and as we live according to His word those problems also find an answer in Christ. Husbands will sacrificially love their wives as Christ loved the Church, wives will respectfully submit to their husbands and each will build up the other in Christ. At work we will be trained by God first to work hard; and if need be to suffer persecution with Joy for His name’s sake.
That we are Loved by God the Father is a great benefit to us in our lives.
Take heart! God loves you. Out of this supreme doctrine will come our own love for God. For we love because He first Loved us.