An Exposé of God’s Love

By John Thiel, 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 around us 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. But 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 perfect obedience.

As the hymns goes, the depths of love divine we can never know, how that sin as dark as mine can be made as white as snow. But it can be known by experience. And here is how the experience comes about:

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.

What does the love of Christ do? The word constraineth means impels. It motivates us; it drives us into action as we contemplate the story of the One who died for all because we were all dead; and He died with us that we which live under that knowledge may live unto Him, and not unto ourselves any more. There is so much compacted in this scripture. The love of Christ is a compelling force; it is 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, isn’t it? We are called upon to act and to do what God wants us to do, and there are disputings – doctrinal arguments – and those who do not argue doctrinally murmur and complain, because, “Do we really have to do all this?” Do all things because it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. What is the meaning of God working in us?

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 here exploring into 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 the Spirit of Prophecy says, we must cultivate it by daily receiving of the grace of Christ. We must cultivate it. The human endeavour is needed. Without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail.

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

We must cultivate. This is 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. {Ibid.}

Do you want to walk in the path of obedience?

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. {Ibid.}

During these series that I am sharing, which are endless, I am going to show you precisely the many temptations and the many worldly things that bind us, and how we must apply the love of God to those specific things so this general statement becomes more practical to us. But in your own knowledge you can already appreciate what you have 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 worldbut 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? What is the power that I must take hold of and that is going to compel and drive me? I need to understand that power so that I can actually 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

What is this power of God?

Love is power. {2T 135.1}

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. {Ibid.}

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

The power of wealth has a tendency to corrupt and destroy; {Ibid.}

Isn’t wealth power? You know, money has got all the power in the world today. If you have money you can do whatever you like. Or can you? Wealth has a power, yes, but it has a tendency to corrupt and destroy.

…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. {Ibid.}

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. {Ibid.}

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 – diffusive in its nature and quiet in its operation,

…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. {Ibid.}

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, yes, they’ll do a certain thing; but it still is unsuccessful. But love has a melting, transforming influence. It is the only thing that works when every other means has proved 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. {Ibid.}

The moment you try to use techniques to try and get people to do what is right, what does the intelligent human mind do? ‘Oh oh, I’m getting caught here”, and they resist. They repel. 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. {Ibid.}

Here is the practical understanding that it is love in contrast to authority of coercion and 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}

Think about it. How powerful is it? Can anything outstrip it? So 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. It is 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 us to do; so that I will be obedient to Him even if it costs my life, let alone my attachments to this world.

It is my purpose in this message 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, and as we are the objects of his love and pardoning mercy, we should seek most earnestly to come into harmony with his will. {ST, January 27, 1890 par. 2}

Who are the objects of God’s love? We are. And in our study of the objects of God’s love we are going to look at certain individuals.

An Exposé of God’s Love

Our purpose is to behold the exposé of God’s love. We want to see that exposé in human lives who have sinned. Jesus never sinned; He took our sins. That was the exposé of God’s love in Jesus. But now we want to study an exposé 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}

You want to learn of God’s love? It is in the Bible. 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.

Here is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets, and other holy men of old. {Ibid.}

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 exposé; a revelation of God’s love.

They were men “subject to like passions as we are.” {Ibid.}

Just like us.

We see how they struggled through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done, {Ibid.}

Did Jesus fall under temptation? No. But here we see people who fall under temptation as we have done.

…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. {Ibid.}

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. {Ibid.}

We want a love that will kindle a flame in our heart? 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 me.

So 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. But 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. God is speaking:

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.

“I have played out in front of you, says God, 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.” And if you want to read David’s experience, you can find it in 1 Samuel chapters 17 and 18 onwards. In your own time, please do it, with much prayer. David was a humble little shepherd boy, so innocent, so trusting, totally trusting in his Father in heaven. He played the harp as he was watching the sheep. And as he was learning from God, he sung beautiful psalms; and in 1 Samuel 17 and 18 he tells his story to King Saul, and says, I’m going to deal with this Goliath; God will make it happen; and he tells the story of how he killed a lion and a bear, how these animals were going to come and take these sheep of his 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. And he said, Now this Goliath is no obstacle. And then you read of his experience with Saul, how Saul loved him to begin with but then turned against him, how he was anointed to become king, and how he walked with God, asking Him for guidance every step of the way.

Let us look at a few examples. Identify how this wonderful young boy in his love for God walked with Him right through to the position of king.

1 Samuel 23:2 Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines?

What a walk he had with God. “God, what do I do? Do I go and deal with these Philistines?”

1 Samuel 23:2 And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

God spoke to him; he spoke to God. A very touching experience. Then we see how He walked with Him and asked for His guidance as he was being harassed by King Saul and then as he became the king.

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, Now King Saul is being dealt with, what do I do, God? And he didn’t just say, Shall I go to the cities of Judah? God said, Yes, go to Judah. And then David said, But where? God said, Hebron. So 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 pictures. And now he is king, and the Philistines are still giving him trouble:

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. “Don’t be afraid.” And so he responded to what God said. Now comes another occasion with an interesting difference:

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 it touch your heart? Isn’t this a beautiful walk with God that we see here? And as you see this, those early years of David, God led him safely. But 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. And then there was this grave sin that he committed of looking down and seeing Bathsheba bathing; and he did as so many men do; they look upon a beautiful woman in poorly clad clothing and they fall for the temptation. Now this man of God falls into a 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 right contrary to what they know to be right and have done it any way, is there any hope? Have you ever been in that position? And then, when you’ve done it, you thought, Wow, now I’m finished; I have no hope any more. Can God’s love still redeem? Watch it. 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. And 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 had exposed his sin to him. What does he do?

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.

And then he says something very important. Instead of claiming that maybe it was the influences of others and so on that he fell into, he says:

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

He might have said, Why was she out there on the top of the roof unveiling herself to my eyes? He might have said all that. But no. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:

Psalm 51:4 …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:

Psalm 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.

Because he knew the 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.

See what he was doing? He threw himself at the love and mercy of God. And how did God respond? He says, This is a man after My own heart. Speaking to Saul Samuel said:

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart,

When does that apply? When was he a man after God’s own heart? Many people point to David and say, If he was a man after God’s own heart and he could get away with that… They justify themselves to getting away with it. But Sister White says, I was shown that when he sinned like that, he was not a man after God’s own heart (TSB 94.3). So when was he a man after God’s own heart?

…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. {PP 723.1}

When was it? When he was obedient to God and when he repented.

When we look at the experience of David, God’s love went and sought him, and tried to bring him back. And what attitude did David manifest in his response to God, when God said through Nathan, You are the man?

David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. {2BC 1023.5}

Nathan told him this, and now he wakes up. 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. {Ibid.}

David does not manifest the spirit of an unconverted man. {2BC 1023.6}

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 – when he was convicted of his sin and he saw that he was no 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. {Ibid.}

This is the man after God’s own heart. When 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, and he is identified as a man whom God’s love had succeeded to save eternally. Then 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

The love of God is very interesting. Think about it. What an amazing thing God’s love reveals, that the very person with whom he had sinned would give birth to 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 David 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? And isn’t this person a man after God’s own heart once again? Totally childlike and dependent. But alas… Here was this great man that built the temple of the Lord, a beautiful temple, 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, if you reflect back how God blessed that work.  And there was Solomon praying to God, and the Lord sent fire down 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? Here is the story of the sad demise of this wise king:

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. {2BC 1033.1}

The long story is all written in 1 Kings. He just deteriorated and deteriorated until the point came that he had lost his spiritual wisdom. He still had lots of knowledge and a lot of wisdom, but the wisdom of God was not there anymore. Then when the prophet came to Solomon, God spoke to Solomon:

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}

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. This prophecy had awakened him,

…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. {Ibid.}

So although Rehoboam wanted to serve God, he failed because of the influence of his upbringing. Here you have another description of God’s love. When people fall so badly after they have been so highly honoured, is there still hope? God’s love demonstrates that. You see it in the very words of Ecclesiastes, because Ecclesiastes was written over those last years of Solomon’s old age when he woke up to his sin. Here he is speaking, and you want to read Ecclesiastes with this knowledge, that he is now writing as a man who has experienced the love of God from his corrupt life of the past.

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.

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 this side of the spectrum of people who did walk with God, who sinned miserably, and then found their way back. But what about someone on the other side of the pendulum? King Nebuchadnezzar – a total heathen, pagan king, a destroyer of God’s people, relying upon clairvoyance and spiritualism. 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. And there God gave Nebuchadnezzar a vision of prophecy. God loved Nebuchadnezzar. But although God loved him and gave him this vision, Nebuchadnezzar twisted the meaning of it and built that beautiful image that he caused everybody to bow to.

He said, No, no, God; I’m the head of gold and the whole body of gold, and everybody has to worship me. He twisted God and yet God loved him. And as he did this on the plain of Dura, they all bowed down before Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and those three worthies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, stood upright. And although Nebuchadnezzar knew that these were men of God (he had already put them in a high position), he hardened himself against these men and said, You’re going in, I’m going to heat up the furnace seven times hotter; and in they went. But then he looks and what does he see? 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 for 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. And what he said to all the nations, languages, and tongues after his experience, he now also says to us today, Look at the way of God; look at His wonders; look at His love; look what He did for me.

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 show 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.

Daniel 4 is the letter that was written by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was someone who wrote a portion of the Bible. God loved him. And after He had brought him through his insanity, notice what Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days [those seven years of madness and insanity], 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. And there, after seven years, he had had enough. So he looked up to heaven, and what did God do for him? His understanding returned unto him.

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.

Through 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 exposé of God’s love.

Apostle John

What were James and John called? The sons of thunder. Jesus comes to them and says, Sons of thunder, 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.

[Jesus] passed by no human being as worthless, but sought to apply the saving remedy to every soul. In whatever company He found Himself, He presented a lesson that was appropriate to the time and the circumstances. He sought to inspire with hope the most rough and unpromising, setting before them the assurance that they might become blameless and harmless, attaining such a character as would make them manifest as the children of God. {DA 91.1}

In an unobtrusive love He changed the hearts of people around Him, and John savoured what he was seeing. He said, Wow, 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 us read of some important aspects as to what happened to John because of the great love of Jesus. Here is this profound description of God’s love towards this young man. What was John 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. {Ibid.}

And what did Jesus do? In His great love He rebuked his self-seeking, disappointed his ambitions, and 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.” {Ibid.}

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. {Ibid.}

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 as we see these people subject to like passions as we are, struggling through discouragements like our own, who fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, we may be encouraged in our striving after righteousness.

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}

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. And 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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