Coaching Session #1. God’s Unconditional Love For Us
Living In God’s Gospel Blessings:
The Gospel Gives Us Total Assurance of
God’s Unconditional Love For Us
Let me repeat this: if you do NOT doubt your salvation, then all other aspects of the gospel we will be discussing will fall more into place. But if you question your salvation, the other aspects of the gospel are harder to believe and live. To be sure of your salvation, you must be totally GOD focused. You must be focused on what he has done for you in the finished work of the cross of his Son.
This is really true of God’s unconditional love. We do not think UN-conditionally. To us, everything has conditions and exceptions — perceptions and expectations. As Paul says, we ‘accuse and excuse’ ourselves and others in our minds. If we live in any level of condemnation we cannot experience God’s UN-conditional love. His love will be conditional to us, just like our human love. This is because it will be partially be based on US: what we do and don’t do, — and even more, what we think GOD thinks about us.
It Is Preached that Love Is A Command
Love was a COMMAND under the Old Covenant. But in the New Covenant it is part of the gospel PROCESS. Like everything else good, the gospel produces good things from us, including the ability to love (Col 1:5-6). The biggest problem most of us have with love is that over 90% of all pastors hammer away at us that love is our JOB: love is the great COMMAND of Jesus: “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37-40). The big problem was Jesus was not preaching gospel truth when he said this.
Here, Jesus answered a TRICK question from a LAWYER about the LAW (Matt 22:35). Jesus was teaching the LAW, yet this passage is taught by pastors as gospel truth. Romans 15:8 says Jesus had two ministries: (1) ministry of the law (to fulfill it), (2) but for the truth of God (the gospel). It says this is how he fulfilled the promises made to the fathers. So we must know Jesus had TWO ministries. If we don’t know this, we can get very confused by some of his teaching. And here he was teaching law, not the gospel. He often taught law to people under the law, and the gospel to those not under it.
But in that we are hit with this teaching about love being a JOB, as what is called ‘a law of first impression,’ it stays with us our whole lives, and we view love legalistically. We think it as a JOB, instead of the greatest JOY God gives us in his package of free gifts. If we view it as a JOB in the law, we’ll never experience God’s love.
The law made things impossible. Everyone failed (Acts 15:10). Remember: “The law demanded from us what it could not produce.” Thus God abolished the law (the next coaching session). God cannot totally bless someone who is still trying to live by law. In fact, Paul says we are FOOLS if we live this way (Gal 3:1). He says we are CURSED if we do (Gal 3:10).
Living by LAW evicts God’s LOVE! We’re God’s house,
and both law and love cannot be joint tenants inside us!
Think of it practically. Do you love God with everything you have in you, with no reservations or other thoughts? NONE of us can. And even if we could, we wouldn’t have any love at all left over to love anyone else with. This is the way it is living under the thought that love is a command. The commands are impossible to fulfill. Everyone who tried to live by them failed (Acts 15:10). If we try to live by them, we fail too. To say we can do it is human pride, which is the first step to failure.
How Can God Love Us Unconditionally?
The only way he can love us unconditionally is by the finished work of his Son’s cross. Isaiah tells us it pleased the Father to have his Son crucified, so that he could love us, and give us his grace and righteousness (Isa 53:10). His love is ALL based on the cross. It’s hard for us to fathom how Father could be pleased by the cross, but he is, for our sakes.
Paul says we must be ‘rooted and grounded’ in the love of God, and must understand its’ breadth, length, depth and height (Eph 3:16-17). Jude 1:21 says we must keep ourselves in the love of God. This means never step away from it.
God gives us everything as a free gift, and he doesn’t withhold anything in his Kingdom (Luke 12:32, 15:31). If he didn’t withhold Jesus from us, he surely gives us all other things freely (Rom 8:32). ALL things are ours (I Cor 3:21-22). Paul repeats this twice so we don’t miss it. We have all God’s blessings (Eph 1:3). We have all God’s promises (II Cor 1:20).
We only believe this knowing God’s unconditional love! If we don’t KNOW his love, we feel like we have to EARN it!
All Things Come By Grace Through Faith
Let me repeat this in a different way. God’s love is not conditioned on anything in our world — you, me, anything else or anyone else. It exists because of the cross, and the cross only. Because of the cross, it even exists for people who are not believers in God or in the words of Jesus in the New Testament. “For God so loved the WORLD.”
If we become believers, and respond to God’s love, this creates the link to experience salvation and love. “It is by grace through faith.” Not living the gospel, we can’t understand God’s unconditional love! Religion, law, and human theology erase it from the blackboard of our mind, and replace it with humanistic works.
We work, but it’s not to GET from God. We work because we have been GIVEN love, grace, peace, etc. The gospel causes us to work, give, and do good (Col 1:5-6). The gospel fulfills God’s entire word in us (Col 1:23-25). Read and think about this passage. God’s entire word is fulfilled in us by the gospel.
This is why God is so insistent that we understand, and live the gospel. Remember God told Moses, “I will REQUIRE them to believe my Prophet’s message” (Deut 18:15-19).
Love Causes All Good Things In Us
We must live rooted and grounded in God’s love (Eph 3:17-18). Then Paul goes on to say this is how we experience the fullness of God (Eph 3:19). We can’t know God’s FULLNESS unless we also experience his UN-conditional love, but his UN-conditional love is only known by his gospel. Our faith only works through God’s love (Gal 5:6).
Jesus even tells us that Abba Father God loves US as much as he does HIM (John 17:23). This really s t r e t c h e s
our minds if we truly believe it. We are called ‘believers,’ not ‘reasoners.’ Jesus asks, “WHY do you reason in your heart?” Jesus is God, so this says God loves us as much as he does himself! Wow! That’s a real mouthful!
We stand before God saturated in his love!
Ephesians 1:4 says, “God has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him IN LOVE.” The fact is God is in love with us, as hard as this is for us to truly accept this.
Psychology says that knowing and receiving love, approval and significance from others is perhaps the most powerful force in the world. How about from God? Believing gospel truth, and living in the reality of it, you constantly know the showering of God’s love because of the finished work of the cross of Jesus.
God’s love is commendation and praise and honor to us. And it is by receiving God’s honor and other glories he gives us that Jesus says our belief and faith are increased (John 5:44). In another sense, this verse says that when we receive honor and praise from others, it can harm our belief. We must love God’s honor in Christ, but reject it from others.
“The profession of our faith becomes effective when we acknowledge every good thing that is in us because of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:6). When we allow the love of God and other gifts to saturate us, and outwardly confess them, we live in the power of the gospel. We are told to hold fast to our profession of faith of God’s truth (Heb 10:23, 4:14).
Gospel Faith Destroys All Fear
So many live in a type of fear — even that God won’t answer their prayers the way they want. And others live in fear of eternal judgment at the judgment seat of Christ.
Gospel belief and faith destroys this fear. I John 4:18 says there is no fear in love, and God’s perfect love casts out all fear. God’s love and faith in us also gives us boldness in the day of judgment (I John 4:17). If we live in God’s love, fear does not exist, not even fear of judgment.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1). ‘Sons’ is a word of identity, and of equal identity with God. It’s a family term. We are joint, equal heirs with Jesus (Rom 8:17)
Seeing God’s Love At Work
Peter and John were two disciples of Jesus. Peter was the one who declared, “I’ll never leave you, Lord,” but then ran and hid when the going got rough. He professed HIS love for Jesus, but this gave him no power in living life. But John is the one called, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ He knew Jesus’ love deeply, and he was the only one to stay with him and witness the crucifixion. All the others fled and hid.
Knowing God’s love in us empowers us, not us loving him. “Herein is love: NOT that we love God, but that he loves us” (I John 4:10). In knowing God’s love everything good begins to happens, even in BAD times!
The fact is that ‘God IS love.’ (I John 4:8, 16). God does not just have love — he IS love. There is a difference. We may have love, but we cannot say we ARE love. Because God is love, he just can’t turn it on and turn it off at will. Love is who he IS, so love IS what he imparts.
A client of mine showed me this early in my law career, but I didn’t really learn it until later. This guy had so many problems. His dad had just died, and he’d been a partner with him in his business, that was now failing and we were filing bankruptcy. His wife was divorcing him, and not letting him see his kids, and he had a serious health problem.
Yet, all he could do was sit there and tell me how much God LOVED him. I looked at him in total doubt. My thoughts were, “Yea right! If God loved you so much, why are you having all these problems? What is God doing for you in the here and now? If God loved you so much, he’d be helping you out of all this stuff you’re experiencing.”
I have since learned that our circumstances don’t give evidence of God’s love for us. God loves us — period. He doesn’t cause all the bad stuff that happens, and sometimes he doesn’t make it all go away either. He just loves us.
If we truly come to know WHOM we believe (the God of love), not just WHAT we believe, then we truly come to know the love of God as limitless and unconditional (II Tim 1:12).