God's Passion for You and Me.
Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (NIV).
There's a lot of bad "stuff" going on in this world. It's easy to ask the question, "If God really is a God of love, where is He?" Well, I have really great news. He's right where He's always been, in heaven as a sovereign God, but more importantly, right here in the world making sure that mankind gets this message that He, remembers us. That's what the original means - He remembers us and He cares for us - cares for means that He came to visit us in order to help us in our need. What mankind hasn't learned by-in-large is that along with the bad is the good that God showers on us all for the express purpose that we might turn to Him in our need and appreciation.
The title of this message would probably upset my theology prof. God is not a Person of passions. Nor is He subject to sentimentality. But my finite mind fails me in describing His "thoughtfulness" towards us. I can only think of "passion" when it comes to God's mindfulness of man. Let me show you what I mean.
Think of it - the entire universe including the solar system - the vastness of it - now bring it down to this world with all its problems, yet He is mindful - He has you and me on His mind. This is probably not easy for us to grasp, especially when we are buried in the circumstances of life whatever they might be.
God's Love for Us Is Behind His Thoughtfulness.
It makes a difference who is thinking of us. That fact that God is the person who is doing the thinking and caring makes all the difference. Look at that phrase in John 3:16. A good way to translate the first part of this verse would be: "For God loved the world in this manner..." I like stopping right here because it begs an answer. Our popular translation uses the word "so." It is not just as a matter of degree but also as a matter that begs action. God's love is always that way - God's love is an attribute of action not merely attitude. We are different. The words "I love you" can roll off our lips very easily. Is it true - what are the conditions? The difference with God is that His Love is unconditional and is backed by His Person. Back to this phrase - If we left it right here this could be the "cliffhangers" to end all cliffhangers. I can remember the cliffhangers at the movies (back in the 50's) - back in the days when the Saturday afternoon matinee was 50 cents. The hero was always left in a predicament that seemed impossible to get out of - yet next week (that was the whole purpose of the cliffhanger) he would extricate himself out of that one only to be caught in another one. We'll see the resolution of this cliffhanger in a bit. What did God do about His love for the world?
The Delight of God's Love.
(God's Love for Us Has Always Existed).
Proverbs 8:27-31 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:  When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:  When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:  Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Let's talk about the Heavenly Father's love for Jesus Christ for a moment. This portion of scripture refers to non other than the Lord Jesus Christ before he became incarnate. It's a wonderful account of the love between the Trinity especially the love the Father has for the Son [verse 31] - it brings to my mind John's comment: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18). Begotten here means one and only - it does not imply that Jesus had a beginning - it describes the wonderful relationship of love between the Father and the Son. The same term was used regarding the loving relationship between Abraham and his son Isaac. Isaac was his only son that born from the promise of God (He had another son Ishmael born of Hagar his mistress). This love between the Father and the Son is indescribable in human terms. We have no language that could begin describe it - yet if we could draw from the relationship between Abraham and Isaac we might get a hint of the love between the Father and the Son.
Verse 30 is a picture of the Father and Son working together as craftsmen during the creation. Moms and Dads we can grasp this delight when we are working with our children. There is an unspoken delight between us and our children while we are showing them how to make something together. This in a small way is a picture of the delight - make that love between the Father and Son during the creation of the world.
The Delight of God with Mankind.
 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
Oh! This is thrilling! Set aside the cares of this world. The sorrow, the loneliness, the sickness and imagine the delight between the Father and the Son - our Lord had during the creation of mankind. Verse 31 is especially thrilling because the same delight that God had with His Son is shared with all of us! And that delight is not to be diminished a bit.
Let's take a little bunny trail. Turn to Genesis 1:4 - this is the account of creation - let's look at the word good. While God was creating the universe particularly the future dwelling place of man He would evaluate the results. Those results were good. Other referenced are - verses 10 12, 18, 21, 25, 31. "Good" really doesn't do justice to what's going on here in the text: it means that God took great pleasure in the results of His handiwork - He was absolutely delighted.
If we dig a little deeper into the meaning of the original, the word good means that God was really enthused with the results - He took great delight in the results of His handiwork. Now - let's review the relationship between the Father and the Son. While they were creating the universe - particularly man's future dwelling place. That takes us back to Proverbs 8:31 - look at it! The same delight that the Father and Son took with each other during the creation of the universe is shared with the Son and mankind! God loves us all - in fact, He takes great delight in all of us.
The Dilemma of God's Love.
We are a paradox. Here's the plus side - The Bible clearly states that we are in the image of God. To be created in the image of God means that we are to be morally like Him - we have personality, intellect, and moral capacity.
Man was not created originally and then left to pure biological procreation. Psalm 139 clearly states that we are the direct result of His creative work. Not only do the father and mother have a very important role but God does also. Listen to this:
Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV).
Do you catch the word-picture of God weaving - knitting us in vitro - forming us according to His design? We shouldn't overlook the meaning of the phrase I am fearfully and wonderfully made; fearful means that if we were to examine in detail every baby we would be filled with amazement - not just the body but the very soul of the baby is the creation of God. Wonderfully in the original means that we are unique and set apart as something of great value. Finally, note that verse 14 says clearly that every baby is made by - they are God's works and are wonderful - that too great in detail and complexity for man to figure out!
That is the plus side -now for the negative side of this paradox. When Adam sinned, he plunged all of the human race into the horrible state of sin. Listen to apostle Paul's commentary on the human race:
Romans 3:9-18 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:  Their feet are swift to shed blood:  Destruction and misery are in their ways:  And the way of peace have they not known:  There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Even though we have been the direct result of God's creative work, along with this wonderful creation that with the womb of the mother is the inheritance of Adam, separation from God because of a sinful, depraved nature. Our situation is so desperate that without God's direct intervention there is not a living person who would seek God, nor would he be able to discover Him. Note the damming statement of verse 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Interesting statement - saving knowledge of the Lord is never found with empirical exercise. Science was never intended to bring a man or woman to God. Science can only prove the general existence of a creator - it is up to man to accept this "proof" and then accept the evangelistic work of the saved and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes this process as groping about for God as a blind man in Acts 17:27.
That's the paradox of man. Now just what could God do for man? Why couldn't God just forgive every one with one sweeping judicial pardon? He is God, isn't He? Remember "For God so loved the world,..." ? Ok, if God loved the world that much - easy - right? Just forgive everyone and let them live forever - get rid of sickness, war famine - all the bad stuff that happens to us all. No, the love of God seems to have a dilemma. On the one hand the Bible states that God is not willing for any one to perish. He is love - right. But there's the other problem - the fact that God is just. The justice of God is directly tied in with His moral character. God's justice demands that sin be punished. Sin is a direct affront to God's moral character - all the moral laws that reflect the very person of God depend on the enforcement and maintenance of His moral laws, for they are the very reflection of His person. The very existence of a world that co-exists with God depends on His enforcement of His law. So on one hand we have the love of God that desires the restoration of every sinful man into fellowship with Him, but on the other hand this very same man has violated every moral law of God that reflects His person: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23. What a dilemma! It's as though the love of God and the justice of God are speeding locomotives traveling at 100 miles an hour on the same track on a collision course that cannot be altered.
There's a film master piece by Alan Jay Lernet that illustrates this dilemma. It a part from Camelot. The principle players are King Arthur the noble king, his beloved wife Guenevre, Arthur's most trusted knight Sir Lancelot and Mordred and evil ambitious man. As the script goes the queen Guenever and Sir Lancelot are caught in an adulterous act . Lancelot escapes but Guenevre is brought to trial - found guilty and faces execution. King Arthur loves his "Jenny" dearly in spite of her adultery but it is the king's law that all adulterers face execution. What a dilemma. The evil Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthur's predicament:
"Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma! Let her die, your life is over; let her live, your life's a fraud. Which will it be Arthur? Do you kill the queen or kill the law?"
The king is the maker of the law - he is also the loving heartbroken husband. If he upholds the law as king he loses his beloved. Yet his heart says to set her free but then there is the law of the king - who would respect the king and his law if he were to pardon her?
When the moment of execution comes - the executioner is calling for the king to give the permission to execute but the king breaks down "I can't, I can't, I can't let her die!" Seeing Arthur crumble under the weigh of the dilemma, Mordred says "Well, well, you're human after all, aren't you, Arthur. Human and helpless."
Can I turn this scene to another? The king is God - Mordred is Satan - the queen is humanity. Can we imagine in this story that Satan says with delight:
"God! What a magnificent dilemma! Let humanity die and your fellowship with them is gone forever. Let them live and your life's a fraud. Which will it be, God. Do you kill your world or do you kill the law?" Without even waiting for humanity to look up in repentance God, the Son steps down from his throne, takes off his royal robes - lays them aside and steps into the world to die, himself, in the place of humanity.
Philip. 2:6-8 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
This is God's answer to Satan - this is how God solves His dilemma - He, Himself pays the penalty for man's sin! Hallelujah what a savior.
Did the love of God collide with Justice - you bet it did! Right at the cross where Jesus died! Listen! "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). What a dilemma! What a resolution! There is no other kind of Love "John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." There's the answer to our cliffhanger - Jesus Christ came to the rescue. He and He alone is the solution to the dilemma of God's Love. He became sin for us that we might live.
The Dynamic Power of God's Love.
1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
The energy of God's love. There is power in the love of God. God's love is not a quiescent quality. God's Love is energetic in nature. Not all of His attributes are. His Eternality, His self-existence is quiescent - that is, His Eternality is a fact of God's existence but does not imply any need for action on His part. God is, He always will be. However, His Love is energetic. God's Love is always giving, reaching out - always showing action on the part of God. God so loved the world that He gave.... He demonstrated His Love to the world while the world was His enemy by sending His Son to the Cross. He manifested His Love by the Incarnation of His Son knowing that in the end most would reject His son.
The magnitude of His love. Listen to Paul's comment on the love of God:
Ephes. 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
now couple this with John's commentary in 4:9 - Superlatives of any language fail to define the Love of God in It's magnitude and intensity. "God so loved..." "...His great Love..." All these fail miserably to communicate the Love that God has for mankind. It is this intense, energetic and enormous Love of God that could not be confined nor be contained within the boundary of the Trinity. No! It overflowed with great torrents to all of us when our Lord became incarnate and dwelt among us. The choice of the Greek en to relate His Love with mankind is no accident. Some theologians want to translate it "...in us..." while others wish to translate "...among us..." - the KJV uses "...toward us..." The fact is that language fails to communicate the manifestation of God's Love. Remember our passage in Proverbs 8:31? It was with unimaginable delight that Jesus Christ "tabernacled" with us.
This amazing energy - this power - this great magnitude of God's love overcame death itself! Listen to Paul:
Ephes. 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
The love of God has opened up the floodgates of His mercy! A tremendous storehouse of mercy was built up against the dam of His justice - this is the power of God to save! Remember our cliffhanger in John 3:16? Because God loved the world in this manner - (a manner of great intensity, of great energy of great magnitude) - that He gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ should not perish but have everlasting life!!!!
The Deliverance of God's love:
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Quite simply, God, in His Love, has provided for the salvation of the world. By the world John means every man. I wonder if we grasp the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4 - It is God's desire that every man come to Christ and be saved. Saved from what? From a troubled, sinful life of lonely grasping for that which man knows not what - from terrible bondage to sin that inevitably leads to death - from the fear of death itself. Man was designed to have fellowship with God. When he sinned that "connection" was broken and man has been in misery since. Then there is the eventual destiny of the Lake of Fire. Man was never meant to for the Lake of Fire - that destiny was meant for Satan and his cohorts. It is man's destiny to spend an eternity with God in Loving fellowship with Him and with millions of other saints.
The natural outgrowth of God's Love for man was that He was going to provide a rescue for the sinner from hell. A rescue from loneliness. A rescue from a life of constant slavery to sin. This is salvation - deliverance. John put it this way: "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." (1 John 2:8 - KJV). Jesus said this: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Paul said this: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Col 1:13 - KJV). The point? Salvation is the rescue of each man from certain calamity of body and soul and deliverance to eternal life where he can enjoy the wonderful Love of the most Gracious God and to share this Love with others who have also been rescued from sin's death.
I recently read of a heart-rending story of contributing writer Tricia Rhodes of Discipleship Journal who while visiting Mother Teresa's headquarters in Calcutta, visited The Home for Abandoned and Crippled Children. It was an oppressingly hot day and as she went into the orphanage she was overwhelmed by the stench of disease. They came that day upon one particular room where lay dozens of blind, deformed, palsied and diseased babies. Their heads had been shaved to discourage lice, beds were stained with urine with bodies barely clad. Love drew her to them and as she went from crib to crib she rubbed their backs - held some - praying for all of them and loving them as best she could. She was drawn to a certain child and picked her up and held her. The child bathed her cheek with slobber as she kissed Tricia over and over again. The child wrapped her arms around her with a hug and remained there in an embrace of desperate need. Our visitor weeping with great compassion had to literally force the child to let go as the time came for her to leave and lowered her to the bed. Our visitor left that orphanage weeping, and powerless to rescue these pathetic children from their circumstances - never before did she have such a helpless, powerless feeling for anyone who was in such a horrible condition.
This is the story of God's Love for sinful man with a wonderful difference. God was not powerless to rescue man from his desperate, sinful condition. Our Heavenly Father saw our sinful condition and in His great Love with the infinite wealth of His Mercy "drew up" a plan - a plan to save us from sin and its horrible consequences. God, the Son agreed with the plan and gave up His place of Glory to come into this wretched, stinking world as the God-Man to be our Savior
My friend - if you are without Christ this morning you are like those helpless babies - at the orphanage covered with the stinking open sores of sin - lying alone, waiting to die - but unlike Tricia in our story, because of God's great love for you, Jesus has the power to lift you up and heal you - to save you - to give you new life. Won't you come to Him today and receive Him as your own personal Savior?
1. He Left His Place in Paradise, Discipleship Journal issue 102, Pg 42 by Tricia McCary Rhodes. [Back]
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