The Love that Motivates Obedience


By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

“Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.”

Is that your theme? It is mine and this is the theme that I will continue to make prominent in all the messages in the future. I want to ask you a question. If God came to you and asked you to do something that made not a skerrick of sense to you, would you do it? If He lay a requirement upon you that you cannot feel comfortable with because it goes right against your grain, what would you answer? Would you answer like some people have in my experience, please God, I’m not convinced on that point yet. When I’m convicted I can do it. I want to get some explanations to see whether it really is right or not.

I want you to exercise your mind on that question. Anything at all that God lays upon you and you cannot see within yourself that it is a good idea, it has some ramifications, it has some problems if I do it, what would you do? Would you say, alright God, you know everything and I don’t know anything, I will do just what you say because I love you. Is that what you would say?

Sacrifices must be made that will seem like taking the very life-blood from the heart. GW92 470.2 (Gospel Workers 1892)

God will require things of us here on this planet that I will be very reluctant to act on because it will seem like taking the very life-blood from my heart. I can’t do that. It’s too hard Lord, you are asking an impossible thing of me.

Here is an illustration. God came to Abraham and said to him, Abraham take your son, your only begotten son, and go and take him to a place I will show you and sacrifice him there. Does that sound reasonable? That sounds a little bit like the devil speaking because the devil gave to people the requirement of sacrificing their children. This doesn’t sound right, God. Are you serious? Is that how Abraham talked to Him? He was so responsive to God that he didn’t even tell his wife. If had told his wife, do you think his wife would have let him do it? I guarantee not. He had to be secretive, to take the child very early in the morning before the mother was even stirring. He did what God told him; that was our friend Abraham. Observe his submissive reasoning. He knew something about God that was the reason he would not argue with Him.

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Abraham thought in his mind if God wanted him to slay his son, He is able to raise him up. What a beautiful mind of total submission, unquestioning obedience. What an object lesson. As we ponder upon obedience, we must realise obedience is not something that comes because you agree with it. Obedience comes from a heart that is willing to be commanded by the one who is my commander. The only thing I have to sort out is who is speaking.

Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, did as He was told even if the task was not agreeable to His feelings. Obedience is an element of true greatness. No one can be truly good and great who has not learned to obey with alacrity. OHC 264.3

Dispatch with exact obedience quickly without any dilly dallying, just to do as what I am told. Jesus was such an example, that He said He has done this as our example that you may do it as I have done. He obeyed even if it was not agreeable to His feelings. Sr White writes this about herself:

During my life I have tried to do that which was opposed to my inclination because Christ our Pattern lived not to please Himself. TDG 61.4

God will say things to you and me on this planet that my inclination does not agree with. How strong a person are you and I in reference to our inclination? Examine ourselves. Have I got a strong will? Do I have a strong impulsive nature? Are my feelings that which counts? How easy is it then for you and me to obey? What motivates a person to obey someone even if his own conviction is not in harmony with that requirement? What will bring such a person to obey with alacrity even though his own personal conviction and feeling is not in harmony with it?

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

I never forget the day that I began to reason with God about that statement. I said, Lord, that doesn’t mean me anymore, I love to obey you. I understand now. The Lord said, what I have said I have said. It is true, you don’t understand. There is none that understandeth including you. We better come to terms with that. This is the only way by which we can come to understand the true source of obedience. To accept the fact that I am like every other sinner, out of the way and I do not do good. With all my efforts to try to do good, it is all marred with sin and I do not understand, even though I think I do. Those who have never fallen, the angels of heaven, they are not in this situation. They are not in our fallen condition. They are up there in the heavenly ranks; what are they doing?

The will of God is expressed in the precepts of His holy law, and the principles of this law are the principles of heaven. The angels of heaven attain unto no higher knowledge than to know the will of God, and to do His will is the highest service that can engage their powers. {MB 109.1}

What is their only knowledge? They attain unto no higher knowledge than to know the will of God. Satan would say they are a lot of zombies. They are not intelligent, they had better have a feed of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Scientific mindedness tells you that you want to know the ins and outs of everything. These angels don’t want to get to any higher knowledge but just to simply do the will of God.

But in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of. In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator. Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy. {MB 109.2}

God just has to say jump and they say, how high? That is the mentality of heaven, of unfallen beings. Their love for God makes their service a joy. What is it that motivates their obedience? Love for God. Not, an explanation please, Lord, why do you want me to do that? Simply, I love you and I will do anything you say. That is the condition of unfallen beings. When Adam and Eve were warned of the possibility of sinning note how they responded:

Adam and Eve assured the angels that they should never transgress the express command of God, for it was their highest pleasure to do His will. {SR 31.2}

That is the unfallen. Do we want to join the unfallen one day? Who is God to these unfallen beings?

1 Timothy 6:15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

What does potentate mean? It means ruler, it means commander. He is the only commander. Anyone else below Him will do what He commands. There were commanding angels but you can only rule if you are prepared to be ruled. You can only rule justly if you are prepared to be ruled by someone else. You can only teach if you have a teachable spirit. So it was with these commanding angels, these rulers of the various dominions scattered throughout the universe. As when God created Adam, he was to have dominion over the earth, but he needed to be in perfect submission to the Father so that it was his pleasure to do His will, then he could have dominion. To the unfallen, Jesus, God, is Potentate. They will do as He commanded. His wish is their command.

He was clothed with light and glory, and was surrounded with hosts of heavenly angels waiting to execute His commands. {2T 215.2}

What was the purpose of their existence? They were standing there waiting to be told what to do. I ask the question: what motivates a person to obey someone like that?

The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; {SC 94.1}

The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all intelligent beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love—service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. {PP 34.3}

What is your freedom of will in God’s plan? Whether you want to obey Him or not, that is all. Not, I want to be able to choose myself what I want to do in terms of whether I am going to obey Him on a certain matter or maybe not, or some other matter or not. That is not the freedom of choice. The freedom of choice is whether I will submit myself to His command. He will not force obedience; He wants all His creatures to do as we are told because we have an appreciation of His character. That is what the unfallen world and the unfallen Adam and Eve had. They loved Him; they saw He was a wonderful being. He was their creator. Obviously, God knew what He was saying when He said, I want you to do something. Children, have you ever had trouble obeying Mum and Dad because you didn’t quite understand why they asked you to do it? If you don’t learn to obey Mum and Dad because they know a bit better than you, then you will never obey God either. There are many disobedient people to their parents on this planet and therefore disobedient to God. It is simply to obey because we love.

So long as all created beings acknowledged the allegiance of love, there was perfect harmony throughout the universe of God. It was the joy of the heavenly host to fulfil the purpose of their Creator. They delighted in reflecting His glory and showing forth His praise. And while love to God was supreme, love for one another was confiding and unselfish. There was no note of discord to mar the celestial harmonies. {PP 35.1}

It’s a very simple answer, isn’t it? If you want to have peace then you just do as you are told. If you don’t do as you are told you will create a disharmony. If I want peace, I will just obey. But we say I can’t agree with a certain point. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t agree with it, you will raise a furore and you will create a rift between us and God. Here is a simple, simple, simple answer. We often say there are simple things; there are easy things in the Bible. Yes, there are, but are they easy really? They are only easy if you are not in a fallen condition. That’s the reality. But we are in a fallen condition and therefore we have to understand the love of God in our fallen condition so that we can have an easier road.

We live in the dregs of human depravity. For us to love perfectly is not in our DNA. What was the DNA that Jesus was in? He had the same flesh, the same law of heredity which is called DNA. It is not in our flesh, in our emotions, in our feelings to be obedient; it’s not there. Therefore, knowing this condition that we are in, for this time in which we are living right now, as it is written in Isaiah, gross darkness covers the world. What is the gross darkness that covers the world today? It’s the darkness that Jesus spoke of when the Pharisees claimed that they could see. That is what makes the darkness even darker because you think you can see when in all reality you don’t.

Matthew 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

When you go through medical training as I have done you understand the mental state of disease. Many of the nurses that I started with fell out because it is overwhelming to see the dilemma of the human mentality and the diseased condition that is surrounding us. So perilous is it that Jesus had to make it clear.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

All the other detail in verses 3-5 is the iniquity that abounds that makes it perilous for us today so that our love is in danger of getting cold. What is the love? To have such a love to God that we will do whatever He says without reasoning our way around it. That kind of love has grown cold. Have you felt it? A simple little intonation of God’s will is all that the angels needed. As soon as they could see that was His will, they would do it. Today any intonation, any suggestion, that we may be required to do something, we begin to rationalise and reason into disagreement. God says something and if He has made it clear in His word then that is it. Some of it is very difficult. I wish I could go into every detail. One example is wives obey your husbands. Obey my Husband!!?? Hmm, in the Lord. You can obey your husband in the Lord if you are in the Lord and if he is in the Lord.

There are many other things I could recite that would make your skin creep if I went over it all, but I am afraid to touch the things that God says because I know the difficulties I have met in the ranks of Christendom on any particular subject. I have decided to obey God in every respect, whatever He shows me, I have decided because of His great love that has caused my heart to vibrate and I want to obey Him. I know what is struggling inside of me, and when other people argue I can identify because my flesh argues the same way, but I have decided like Sr White has decided, like Jesus has decided to obey irrespective of how I feel. In doing that, things will become open to our understanding.

To bring about an obedient church to all God’s directions, what only can avail?

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

What avails for the obedience of faith, to be perfectly obedient?

Galatians 5:6 ….but faith which worketh by love.

This is what the scripture says that this mystery is made known to all nations for that objective of obedience. The obedience that works by love. This is the only measure by which we can begin to obey with alacrity.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. {DA 22.1}

Is that not the darkness that surrounds us today?

That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. {DA 22.1}

What was the deceptive power? Was it not his suggestion that God ruled arbitrarily?

This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; {DA 22.1}

If we say we love Him and do not do His commandments, we are liars.

His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2. {DA 22.1}

The love that calls the unfallen intelligences to render entire obedience must be infused into our hard fallen hearts so we can do the impossible. To obey without a long explanation. It is one of the biggest burdens of a servant of God to have to go through statement after statement after statement to convince the people. God in His mercy and loving longsuffering did exactly that. He gave us so many wonderful counsels and guidance right through to these dark days in which He has given us the Spirit of Prophecy in which He has given us clear identification of what His will was. It is the work of a servant of God to swallow hard and keep going over the ground again and again and again, because God’s mercy is loving and wonderful and kind. He is longsuffering with us, but this does not excuse any one of us to be tardy in our responses. It means that He is merciful with those who are slow of heart. Do you want to be slow of heart? Do you want to have everything explained to you down to the last detail before you obey, or can God not show you enough evidence to know that you can trust Him?

To obey without long explanations was what was lying behind the statement of Sr White – I want you to fall in love with the man of the Calvary. This has been our contemplation during the last messages.

I want us to take another deep draught of this love that will render us like the unfallen, to struggle with my own human impulses as Jesus did, and do as I am told even if the requirement was not agreeable with His feelings.

He, the only Potentate adored by angels, as He was surrounded by these beautiful angels and He looked down upon you and me who wanted everything explained and what did He do?

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

You and I need a remedy for our disobedience, so what did He do? He who was the commander, who was equal to God, in the form of God, became a humble servant to you and me to show you and me my dilemma in my sinful condition by He Himself becoming obedient to that which is contrary to all His feelings.

I never forget the words of a lady that you all know, the late Sr Vera. She still loved that cup of tea every morning. By this time she was already baptised, after we had read all that was written about these things but she still loved that cup of tea. When she told me I thought, O Lord, what do I say here? You are a church member, and you are still drinking tea, don’t you remember what we read? Should I have answered like that? I just said, Jesus gave up all of heaven for me. She shook her head and said, what? He did all that and I can’t even give up a cup of tea? Out the door it goes, no more. That applies to everything else that you are still attached to in some way or another. If Jesus has said it, if God has said it, that’s it. Why? Because I love Him. What was it that He did for me? He, the commander, became sin for us who knew no sin.

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Do I need to be reconciled to Him in order to love Him so much that I will obey Him no matter what? Do I have a problem inside of me that estranges me from a willing and submissive obedience? All things are of God and in Jesus Christ, He reconciles. As we look at Jesus, who Himself came down and took the position with us and fought in the battle of our sinful nature, what is God doing with this? He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Desiring them to look upon Jesus and let the love rekindle. How does He do it?

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

In the very beginning of my theme that the Lord has impressed me with, what was the burden that was pressing upon Paul to communicate with us?

Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

Jesus came to show us that because He is the only one who knows the breadth and length and depth and height of that. I am praying to God that you will discover that love that you will fall in love with that.

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

We are to have the divine nature in us. What is the divine nature? God is love. The apostle was praying that we would discover this love. As we gaze upon it, we might be filled with a knowledge that is going to fill me with all the fullness of God, which is love. As we fall in love with such a being, this amazing mysterious love creates in me what is in the heart of all the unfallen beings. All right Lord I give up, I love you so much my greatest pleasure and my only knowledge that I want to attain to is just to let you tell me what you want, and I will do it. Why? Not because I want to gain salvation, but because I love you so much in consequence of your amazing character of love of love to me.

He was eternally rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. He was clothed with light and glory, and was surrounded with hosts of heavenly angels waiting to execute His commands. Yet He put on our nature and came to sojourn among sinful mortals. {2T 215.2}

We are here to meditate, to take every thought and make it our own. What did He do? He was surrounded by the angels and commanded them and they did what He said and now He says, I will give this up and be in a position where I am going to take on the sinful human nature and I am going to learn obedience by the things which I suffer.

Here is love that no language can express. It passes knowledge. Great is the mystery of godliness. Our souls should be enlivened, elevated, and enraptured with the theme of the love of the Father and the Son to man. The followers of Christ should here learn to reflect in some degree that mysterious love preparatory to joining all the redeemed in ascribing “blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, … unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” {2T 215.2}

We want to be there, don’t we? Nobody can be there who doesn’t join the angels in this unfallen mentality. To love God so much that He just has to look and ten thousands are ready to respond. What was God’s design in revealing His love to us in the beautiful incarnation of Christ? For the obedience of faith. That is what the whole objective was. For the obedience of faith that works by love. This is what the beloved apostle understood.

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.

There is a summary of what we have just studied.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Do I want to know whether I really love my brothers and sisters? We know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments. You cannot love your brothers and sisters according to that statement if you haven’t learned to obey God because you love Him, that you may still be reasoning here or there about this or that when it is plainly in front of your eyes. You begin to reason and think, wait a minute, when God’s word plainly says, this is my will. If you will do that you will love your brethren, because there will be no disharmony. Do you still find disharmony among the brethren? If there is, don’t look at them, look at yourself. As you look to yourself, look to Jesus and see what a wretch I am and what a love He is to me. Things will change for God’s church in this dark time in which we are living.

“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” Again Christ repeated the condition of union with Him. This promise is made to every sincere Christian. Our Saviour speaks so plainly that no one need fail to understand that true love will always produce obedience. The religion of Jesus Christ is love. Obedience is the sign of true love. Christ and the Father are one, and those who in truth receive Christ, will love God as the great centre of their adoration, and will also love one another. {BEcho June 17, 1901, par. 9}

What an event was this when Christ placed Himself in the position of Adam, and endured the test where Adam had failed, and by this act placed man on a vantage ground, in favor with God, where he might overcome on his own account through the merits of Jesus. {SD 24.4}

What is temptation? It is the impulse within that doesn’t want to obey. I am tempted to find my own way through this, thank you very much. Jesus says, I learned obedience by the things which I suffered, won’t you come with me? Let us all obey the command of God together as human beings, he says. I have given you an example.

It’s as simple as that. God has granted us that love, He has. We don’t have to solicit Him. I don’t have to say, God grant us this love; I will say, thank you God you have granted us this love. It is ours to make the choice of whether I am going to embrace it or not, that is all. May God grant this to us as we have opened our heart to worship Him here is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on September 21, 2012, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel, The Love of God. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

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