As a pastor, I am often made aware of the struggles believers encounter. Though these trials take many different forms, it is often the case that our mental anguish in the midst of these trials stems from a failure to fully grasp the love of God.
As we have seen in our trek through the book of Ephesians, Paul was very concerned for the spiritual welfare of God’s children and prayed that each one might be “rooted and grounded in love, having strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19)
I think many Christians feel that AT BEST, God has a grudging acceptance of us. It is as if God is saying, “I accept you but I don’t like you that much. However, seeing you accepted Christ, I guess I have to accept you too.”
That kind of idea stands in total contrast from the biblical revelation. Nothing could be further from the truth! God, for no reason known to us (and certainly not because of anything He saw in us), decided to personally elect each and every one of His saints so that they would be saved, and sent His Son to the world to accomplish their redemption. We read, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Thess. 2:13, 14. Ephesians also drives this exact same point home to us in the clearest of terms. God has gone to enormous lengths to save each of His precious sheep and He did so, because He wanted to. He actually wanted us. He actually loves us. As believers we must renew our minds to this fact.
When our emotions and even our circumstances seem to suggest something other than this, we must take such thoughts captive and believe (and rest in) the Father’s love for us. 1 John 3: 1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” We are told to “see” something. May I ask, “do you see this?” Has your heart been awakened and enflamed because you know of God’s love for you personally?
John Owen once stated, “Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God? Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.”
Think about that. Then think on it again. Oh, that God’s people were saturated in this truth of the love of God! I’m convinced it would change so much about us.
Ray Ortlund writes, “We might think it would be more honoring to God to hold back from bold thoughts of his love in Christ. We might think, He is so holy. I am so opposite. God must despise me. And if he does, well, it’s only right. But Owen calls that thinking “soul-deceit from Satan.” He asserts that “there is nothing more acceptable to the Father” than our seeing God above as flowing out to us in gracious love, that we believe it and receive it in Christ… If Owen is right, then we are sinfully cautious. ‘But when he came to his senses . . .’ (Luke 15:17).”
Again, precious child of God, think about that!
In all He calls us to walk through, yes, even the trials you are going through just now, there is not a single detail of it that has not come to you except through the providential rule of One who loves you with an eternal, unbreakable, immutable (never changing) love.
As we approach the Lord’s day, may I encourage you to take a little time to meditate deeply on God’s personal love for you, His child. And as you do, I pray that God would do much in your life, drawing you ever closer to Him.
You are loved and cherished. Remember that!