An Expose of God’s Love

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The big problem in modern Christianity today is that people do not believe that the Ten Commandments can be perfectly kept. They do not believe that Jesus can save us from sin so that we can have sinless perfection. Here the love of God has been given us so that we can believe that because the love of God is something that motivates to sinlessness and to perfect obedience.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

The love of Christ constraineth, that means impels us. It motivates us and drives us into action. As we contemplate the story of the one who died for all because we were all dead, He died with us that we which live under that knowledge, may live unto Him and not unto ourselves any more. The love of Christ is a compelling force and the power of God that transforms the sinner to a practicing saint.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

This is a big problem. We are called upon to act and to do what God wants us to do and there are disputings and doctrinal arguments and those that don’t argue doctrinally murmur and complain. Do we really have to do all this? Do all things because:

Philippians 2:13 it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The miracle-working power of Christ’s grace is revealed in the creation in man of a new heart, a higher life, a holier enthusiasm. God says: “A new heart also will I give you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Is not this, the renewal of man, the greatest miracle that can be performed? What cannot the human agent do who by faith takes hold of the divine power? {AG 253.5}

Here is what God’s divine power can do. He can do miracles. He can indeed change a hopeless sinner into a practising saint.

Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. {AG 253.6}

We are exploring the action of the power of God that is needed to change a sinner like me but I personally must endeavour. This is not possible of itself as we must cultivate it by daily receiving of the grace of Christ.

To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. {AG 253.6}

We must cultivate. It’s so obvious in nature. If a man doesn’t make the effort to put the grain in the soil, will it produce? He must make an effort, but then what can he do to produce the wheat? He has to stand by and watch and wait. So it is with us. We must cultivate the soil. We must do something so that the work of God can take place. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part.

His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort…. Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty. {AG 253.6}

During these series I am sharing which are endless, I am going to show you precisely the many temptations and many worldly things that bind us and how we must apply the love of God to those specific things. This general statement will become more practical to us but in your own knowledge already you can appreciate what you have already wanted to do, to obey God and how hard it is. We are observing that as we want to walk in obedience to God, we will encounter these hindrances; strong, subtle influences may bind us to the world but the Lord is able to render these futile. In His strength we may conquer them.

Here is the action that is required in reference to the power of God that transforms a sinner to a saint. The question is, what is this power in practical reality that I must take hold of that is going to compel and drive me? I need to understand that power so that I can clasp it so that I can in my efforts find a connecting link with that power. I need to know how to engage myself with that power and experience its impact that will lead me to obedience in the most uncomfortable things that are making it impossible for me because I am bound by these subtle forces.

Love is Power

Remember God is love. God is power, love is power.

Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. {2T 135.1}

Intellectual and moral strength is involved in love, not just a woozy feeling. Love is embodied in intellectual, moral strength.

The power of wealth has a tendency to corrupt and destroy; {2T 135.1}

Isn’t wealth power? Money has all the power in the world today. If you have money you can do whatever you like. Or can you?

the power of force is strong to do hurt; but the excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else than good.

That’s the power we want.

Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh than the amount he doeth. Love is of God. The unconverted heart cannot originate nor produce this plant of heavenly growth, which lives and flourishes only where Christ reigns. {2T 135.1}

Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. It is diffusive in its nature and quiet in its operation, {2T 135.2}

This is the power of God.

yet strong and mighty in its purpose to overcome great evils. It is melting and transforming in its influence, and will take hold of the lives of the sinful and affect their hearts when every other means has proved unsuccessful. {2T 135.2}

Have you tried to bring people into what you want them to do? This has been frustrating me for many years. The very thing that you want people to do, they don’t do. When you start driving the people they will do a certain thing but it is still unsuccessful, but love has a melting transforming influence. It is the only thing that works when every other means has been unsuccessful.

Wherever the power of intellect, of authority, or of force is employed, and love is not manifestly present, the affections and will of those whom we seek to reach assume a defensive, repelling position, and their strength of resistance is increased. {2T 135.2}

The moment you try to use techniques to try to get people to do what is right, what does the intelligent human mind do? I’m getting caught here, they say, and they resist. A repelling position is taken. I’m not going to be controlled here.

Jesus was the Prince of Peace. He came into the world to bring resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. Wisdom and strength He could command, but the means He employed with which to overcome evil were the wisdom and strength of love.  {2T 135.2}

Here is the practical understanding that it is love in contrast to authority, of coercion, of force, that will bring about the desired result of perfect obedience to the authority of God. The power of God that is going to produce a sinless person is the power of love. Nothing else can do it.

Can there be any power so great as the power of love? {RY 76.1}

Can anything outstrip it? We see as we meditate on these statements, why it is that God gave me this dream in which He made me feel very clearly that I must uphold His love more than I have ever upheld it before, because this is the only power that is going to break the hardness of an unrelenting human heart. We must fall in love with God so that we can do the things that God wants me to do; that I will be obedient to Him even if it costs my life let alone my attachments to this world.

It is my purpose to observe God’s love exercised upon certain objects of His love. The Spirit of Prophecy tells us the Lord does not delight in the deficiencies of his people. As we are the objects of His love and pardoning mercy, we should seek most earnestly to come into harmony with His will. In our study of the objects of God’s love we will look at certain individuals. We want to see the expose of God’s love in human lives who have sinned. Jesus never sinned, He took our sin. That was the expose of His love in Jesus. Now we want to study an expose of God’s love, to research some specific objects of His love and by so doing become encouraged and impelled, constrained by that love to love Him and do His will.

In the Bible we have in clear lines the revelation of God’s character, {ST March 28, 1906, par. 11}

If you want to learn of God’s love, it is in the Bible. Do you want to understand the power of God’s love? It is written in clear revelation of His dealings with men and the great work of redemption.

of His dealings with men, and the great work of redemption. Here is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets, and other holy men of old. {ST March 28, 1906, par. 11}

Children, do you like Bible stories? What are they there for? They are not just nice stories, they are there to show you God’s character of love; how He deals with people. It is an expose, a revelation of God’s love. They were men subject to like passions as we are, just like us.

They were men “subject to like passions as we are.” We see how they struggled through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God; and, beholding, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. {ST March 28, 1906, par. 11}

Here is the love of God that will impel and constrain us as we look at it.

As we read of the precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work they wrought through the grace given them, the Spirit that inspired them kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts, and a desire to be like them in character,—like them, to walk with God. {ST March 28, 1906, par. 11}

That is where we are to look for it. You can’t enjoy the flame of God’s love unless you study the lives of the people whom God is touching, the objects of His love. That is what Bible stories are there for, to learn how God’s love has helped them in the same way as He wants to help you and I.

In this study I want to take you through the lives of four individuals. Three kings of the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the apostle John. These are the objects of God’s love.

King David

We have already in our past researches reflected on King David, how his heaven fell when all his family and all those who were with him lost their homes in the city of Ziglag and it was all apparently lost, but the love of God helped him through. There is so much more in this story of King David. There is a profound promise here given to us if we will study and believe in God’s work for King David.

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

God says, I have played out in front of you the story of King David so that by watching what I have done with him, you may understand the everlasting covenant I want to make with you. I have used him as a witness to describe the enormity of my love. If you want to read David’s experience you read it from 1 Samuel chapters 17 and 18 onwards. In your own time, please do it with much prayer. David was a humble little shepherd’s boy, so innocent, so trusting, totally trusting in his Father in heaven. He played the harp as he was watching the sheep. As he was learning from God, he sung beautiful psalms which you can read, and in 1 Samuel 17 and 18 how he tells his story to King Saul when he said, I’m going to deal with this Goliath; God will make it happen. He tells the story of how he killed a lion and a bear, how these animals were going to come and take his sheep and he grabbed the lion by the beard and slew him. He was just a strapping young boy. God was by his side; he walked with God very closely and God gave him the victory over the lion and the bear. He said this Goliath is no obstacle, as you read it there. You also read of his experience with Saul, how Saul loved him to begin with and then turned against him. How he was anointed to become king, how he walked with God, asking Him for guidance every step of the way.

1 Samuel 23:2 Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

What a walk he had with God, God, what do I do? Do I go and deal with these Philistines? God spoke to him, he spoke to God. It is a very touching experience.

2 Samuel 2:1 And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.

This was at the time when he was asking what do I do God? He didn’t just say, shall I go to the cities of Judah? God said, yes, go to Judah. Then he said, but where? God said Hebron. God was guiding him as he was asking the Lord. This is a wonderful example of how a human being can walk with God. I am always fascinated with these word pictures.

2 Samuel 5:19 And David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

Just like He delivered the bear and the lion and Goliath into his hand. He responded to what God said.

2 Samuel 5:23 And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. 24 And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. 25 And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.

Doesn’t that touch your heart? Isn’t that a beautiful walk with God that we see here? As you see this, those early years of David and how God lead him safely, then as he became king he began to pick up on the habits of the world around him. He gained multiple wives, he became obsessed with the position of his majestic control over people and he was tempted into areas that God had forbidden him to go into.  Then there was this grave sin that he committed of looking down and see Bathsheba bathing and as so many men do, they look upon a beautiful woman in poorly clad clothing and they fall for the temptation as he did. Now this man of God falls into grievous sin, causes Bathsheba to become with child and to protect himself from being caught out, manipulates the armies of war to cause the death of Uriah. What is God’s love now? Behold God’s love. He has been a person who walked with God very closely. Do you think God’s love can deal with what he did now?

For those people who have known better and who have walked contrary to what they know to be right and have done it any way; have you ever been in that position? When you have done it, you thought, now I’m finished, I have no hope any more. Can God’s love still redeem? When the prophet Nathan was sent by God to David, he described the situation to David and used David’s own conscience to deal with the question. When Nathan said, you are the man that has taken one little lamb from one poor man, you who had many. What was the reaction of this man David? Here is how David responded to the unveiling of his, the king’s, sin. This is the psalm he composed after Nathan exposed his sin to him.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Then he says something very important. Instead of claiming that it was the influence of others and so on that he fell into his sin he says:

Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:

He might haves said, why was she out there on the top of the roof exposing herself to my eyes? No. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”

Then he goes into a description of his disastrous condition and he pleads with God.

Pslam 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

He knew that sin had affected his spirit, he had become numb to sin.

Psalm 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Lord, I am here in this predicament and I know that others are in the same, let me be restored that I can help them.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

He threw himself at the love and mercy of God. How did God respond? He says, this is a man after my own heart. Speaking to Saul Samuel says,

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

When does that apply? When he was obedient to God and when he repented.

But the history of David furnishes no countenance to sin. It was when he was walking in the counsel of God that he was called a man after God’s own heart. When he sinned, this ceased to be true of him until by repentance he had returned to the Lord. The word of God plainly declares, “The thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:27, margin. And the Lord said to David by the prophet, “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? … Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised Me.” Though David repented of his sin and was forgiven and accepted by the Lord, he reaped the baleful harvest of the seed he himself had sown. The judgments upon him and upon his house testify to God’s abhorrence of the sin. {PP 723.1}

When we look at the experience of David, God’s love went and sought him, tried to bring him back.

David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. He does not seek to excuse his course, or palliate his sin, as did Saul; but with remorse and sincere grief, he bows his head before the prophet of God, and acknowledges his guilt….

David does not manifest the spirit of an unconverted man. {2BC 1023:4-5}

What is the spirit of an unconverted man? When you point out the sin of an unconverted man, he will look for excuses and he will even tear you to pieces. But here is a man after God’s own heart that when he was convicted of his sin and he saw that he was not longer a man after God’s own heart he softened.

If he had possessed the spirit of the rulers of the nations around him, he would not have borne, from Nathan, the picture of his crime before him in its truly abominable colors, but would have taken the life of the faithful reprover. But notwithstanding the loftiness of his throne, and his unlimited power, his humble acknowledgement of all with which he was charged, is evidence that he still feared and trembled at the word of the Lord (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:378, 381). {2BC 1023:4-5}

This is the man after God’s own heart. As he came to his senses and had to suffer the horrible consequences of his sin, yet he continued to place himself under the love of God, he is identified as a man upon whom God’s love had succeeded to save him eternally. There was the very son to the very woman with whom he had done this. The first child died but now to Bathsheba was born Solomon.

Solomon

The love of God is very interesting. What an amazing thing God’s love reveals that the very person with whom he had sinned would be the next king. Here is Solomon, another object of God’s love, this king who was brought up in the realm of David’s household. Here is another very pliable and submissive young man, like David in the beginning, very submissive to God.

1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

Can you imagine how Solomon grew up and realised he was the son of the very woman with whom he had committed sin, and this is the mercy of God.

1 Kings 3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

Isn’t that the love of God? Isn’t this person a man after God’s own heart once again? Totally childlike and dependent. Alas, here was this great man that had built the temple of the Lord; Solomon’s temple that David could not build because he was a man whose hands were affected by blood. Solomon was so honoured that he built the temple of God and what a story that was how God blessed that work. Solomon was praying to God and the Lord sent fire there and the whole temple was filled with the smoke of God. Glorious power and wisdom and indescribable support was given to Solomon, but what happened?

Solomon, under all his honors, walked wisely and firmly in the counsels of God for a considerable time; but he was overcome at length by temptations that came through his prosperity. He had lived luxuriously from his youth. His appetite had been gratified with the most delicate and expensive dainties. The effects of this luxurious living, and the free use of wine, finally clouded his intellect, and caused him to depart from God. He entered into rash and sinful marriage relations with idolatrous women (The Health Reformer, April, 1878). {2BC 1033.1}

The long story is all written in Kings how he deteriorated and deteriorated until the point came that he had lost his spiritual wisdom. He had lots of knowledge but the wisdom of God was not there.

1 Kings 11:9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.

As God spoke to him now, how did he react?

It was this prophecy of impending ruin that had awakened the apostate king as from a dream, {2BC 1033.2-3}

He knew God already, he had lost sight of God and he was in this terrible sinful dream, and he woke up out of it with the horror of discovery of his sin.

and had led him to repent, and to seek to stay, so far as possible, the terrible tide of evil that during the later years of his reign had been rising high and still higher. But at the time of his repentance, only a few years of life remained to him, and he could not hope to avert the consequences of long years of wrong-doing. His course of evil had set in operation influences that afterward he could never fully control. Especially was this the case in the training of the children born to him through marriage with idolatrous women. Rehoboam, the son whom Solomon chose to be his successor, had received from his mother, an Ammonitess, a stamp of character that led him to look upon sin as desirable.  {2BC 1033.2-3}

Although Rehoboam had wanted to serve God he failed because of the influence of his upbringing. Here you have another description of God’ love that when people fall so badly after they have been so highly honoured, is there still hope? God’s love demonstrates that.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes was written over the last years of Solomon’s old age when he woke up to his sin. He is now writing as a man who experienced the love of God from his corrupt life of the past. He shows the young people, follow my instructions, like King David who taught the people now I am teaching too, he says. After my messed up life, look at God’s love. Learn God’s love.

King Nebuchadnezzar

This was the side of the spectrum of people who did walk with God and sinned miserably and then found their way back. What about somebody on the other side of the pendulum? King Nebuchadnezzar, a total heathen, pagan king, a destroyer of God’s people, relying upon clairvoyance, upon spiritualism. You know the story well how as he took captive the young people of Israel, of the Hebrews, he had Daniel there in his realm and Daniel was faithful, living obediently. He was probably the one person that God didn’t show any miserable sins of, like Joseph. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a vision of prophecy. God loved Nebuchadnezzar. Although God loved him and gave him this vision, Nebuchadnezzar twisted the meaning of it and built that beautiful image that caused everybody to bow to.

He said, No God, I’m the head of gold and the whole body of gold and everybody has to worship me. He twisted God and God loved him. As he caused this on the plain of Dura where they all had to bow down before the image, and the three worthies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood upright. Although Nebuchadnezzar knew that these were men of God, he already had put them in a high position, he hardened himself against these men and said, I’m going to heat up the furnace seven times hotter; and in they went. He looks and sees the Son of God walking with them, he knew something and he submitted himself. This happened in God’s love to him, this amazing love of God in this object of his love, to the point where Nebuchadnezzar again lost himself. This time in full pride of his glorious kingdom and he lost his sanity for seven whole years.

Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. 3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

This is what he said to all the nations and languages and tongues after this experience. Look at the way of God, look at His love, look what He did for me. Daniel 4 is the letter that was written by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was someone who wrote a portion of the Bible. God loved him. After He had brought him through his insanity, notice what He said in verse 34 – 37.

Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me,

When a person is insane there is still a certain element of knowing what is happening to me. After seven years he had enough. He looked up to heaven and God gave him his understanding again.

Daniel 4:34 and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

His own experience of God’s love as it is laid out before us if you study it carefully, you will understand God’s love because when Nebuchadnezzar had enough of his experience and he looked up to heaven, just like those demoniacs ran to Jesus because they wanted Jesus to help them, so did Nebuchadnezzar and did God help him? Praise the Lord, and there we have another expose of God’s love.

Apostle John

James and John were called the sons of thunder. Jesus comes to them and says, follow me. Are you a son of thunder, do you have passions that you can’t control very well? Son of thunder, follow me. For three years this energetic, full on, passionate, young zealot was placed under the power of God’s love. My time does not suffice me to read Desire of Ages page 91. Jesus passed by no human being in an unobtrusive love.  He changed the hearts of people around Him and John savoured what he was seeing. He said, I want to be like that.

John desired to become like Jesus, and under the transforming influence of the love of Christ, he became meek and lowly of heart. Self was hid in Jesus.  {SL 54.2}

Let’s read of some important aspects of what happened to John because of the great love of Jesus. John was called John the beloved. He loved what he learned of the life of Jesus.

The confiding love and unselfish devotion manifested in the life and character of John present lessons of untold value to the Christian church. John did not naturally possess the loveliness of character that his later experience revealed. By nature he had serious defects. He was not only proud, self-assertive, and ambitious for honor, but impetuous, and resentful under injury. {AA 539.3}

Is that how you find yourself?

He and his brother were called “sons of thunder.” Evil temper, the desire for revenge, the spirit of criticism, were all in the beloved disciple. But beneath all this the divine Teacher discerned the ardent, sincere, loving heart. Jesus rebuked his self-seeking, disappointed his ambitions, tested his faith. But He revealed to him that for which his soul longed—the beauty of holiness, the transforming power of love. The defects in John’s character came strongly to the front on several occasions during his personal association with the Saviour.  {AA 539.3}

Jesus rebuked his self-seeking, disappointed his ambitions, tested his faith but He kept on drawing in his love, that beautiful response, that John was happy to submit to rather than repulse and oppose.

John is distinguished above the other apostles as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” {AA 539.1}

He was a man after God’s own heart like David, like Solomon, like Nebuchadnezzar. God loved them.

 He seems to have enjoyed to a pre-eminent degree the friendship of Christ, and he received many tokens of the Saviour’s confidence and love. He was one of the three permitted to witness Christ’s glory upon the mount of transfiguration and His agony in Gethsemane, and it was to his care that our Lord confided His mother in those last hours of anguish upon the cross. {AA 539.1}

John was not always like that but the love of God made him like that.

Brethren and sisters, have we looked long enough upon the objects of God’s love? No, we haven’t. We need to keep on looking and to see the details of God’s love so that we, as we read in the very beginning, as we see these people subject to like passions as we are, struggling through discouragements like our own, they fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, and beholding we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness.

As we read of those precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy and of the work they wrought through grace given them and the Spirit that inspired them, it kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts. If you want to fall in love with God, you and I need to study this love as revealed in the Bible. Our hope of salvation can only be realised when we who believe have done what David, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, and John have done, opened our heart and responded to God’s love. Remember, this love that we are to have does not grow of itself, we must cultivate it by daily receiving of the grace of God. Let us do that is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on September 12, 2012, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel, The Love of God and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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