The Sufferings of God’s Love


By John Thiel

The series on God’s love that we have been engaging in has revealed something. Something has become evident that God loves the sinner. He loves him so much and He has demonstrated His love. But His love is the only exercise that God can engage in to bring the sinner away from his sin. God can use no force; it needs to be only the act of God’s own personal love for the sinner. The sinner who loves God in turn, is moved upon because of God’s great love to do His will.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The apostle made that experience of discovering Jesus as the Son of God. As they discovered Him as the Son of God, they found a love there which gave a new birth in their hearts and lives, and they realized that the keeping of the commandments of God as broad and as wide as they are, are all a result of the great love which gave birth to them in their hearts. They found indeed that the commandments are not grievous because the birth of God in their life made it a pleasure. Some aspects of God’s will are a severe test to the human being because God’s ways are not our ways, so naturally what we are used to here on earth and what are God’s ways leave a vast gap, and to come into God’s will is a very severe suffering. We saw that when we came to certain subjects that we have studied. The will of God as revealed to us in the Spirit of Prophecy for these last days, a purification process on different subjects that really expose our habits as being out of character with God. Our own characters don’t meet up as the Lord reveals to us His will.

Our passions, our indulgences, our tastes, our customs, our practices, even our affections, they are all unveiled before us as nothing that does not harmonise with God. God knew all that, He knows us so well, He knows the sinner and his depraved condition. In His love to Him, He has provided for the emergency of saving the sinner out of his entrenched condition. He had to meet the need of the sinner who is used to doing things which are not God’s will, whether it be in what they pursue in their daily life, in their entertainment, in their social activities, whether it be in the music they enjoy, whether it be in the food they eat and the clothing they wear, in every respect there is something that they will meet as they get close to God that they realize, Oh dear, there is something that I need to change. It creates a suffering. Let us examine the details of God’s elements of love that have a very pointed love design. God has a design in manifesting His love to us. It’s a pointed love design. You will see as we proceed in this meditation.

A Pointed Love Design

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

The manifest love of God; what was that? God sent His only begotten Son into the world, for what purpose? That we might live – and here is the salient word – through Him. In others words, God has given a love gift, His own Son; as we focus upon this love gift, we, who do not love God – as it says, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. We do not love God in nature; that is not our nature. We are afraid of Him, that’s what happened with Adam and Eve. They were afraid, and in perfect love there is no fear. In reality, if God came into our presence now, as He is in all His glory, we would fall in fear, we would be in trepidation. But one day we will meet God and we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. In God’s great love, He has given Jesus Christ so that we might live through Him and that we might love through Him. He is the propitiation for our sins.

Christ’s work was to reconcile man to God through His human nature, and God to man through His divine nature. {Con 38.1}

A beautiful account of God reconciling propitiation in Jesus Christ to reconcile man to God. Man who did not love God, who had a terrible rift between him and God. Jesus was given to reconcile us to God, and of course in His divine contact, to reconcile God to us, in our understanding. This is the propitiation for our sins in the love gift of God. He gave Himself in love with a design behind the gift; He had a design.

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

What was the design? That He might redeem us from iniquity and iniquity is lawlessness. Iniquity is something we need to be redeemed from because we are a people who do not love a law-governed life; we want to do as we please. By nature, whenever there is a law, the human nature goes, Oh, I won’t do it. Isn’t that right? When a mother or a father tells a child, do that, the child has a tendency to go, no thank you, that’s uncomfortable for me. This is human nature in its fallen condition, it is lawless, it doesn’t love law-keeping, iniquity. We need to be redeemed from that condition.

Jesus came and gave Himself to achieve that, to purify unto himself a peculiar people who are now zealous of good works; who are now zealous and love to be law-abiding towards God. This is something that Jesus was given for as a love gift, a design. He gave Himself, designed to the end, that we might be redeemed from lawlessness. Is it true? Do you find something inside of you that goes oh, not another law… not another statement of correction! It’s getting a bit too much. Have you ever gone through that experience? Then comes one thing after another, and as we know, God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His commandments start to become a suffering to a sinful human nature. We want to do as we please and if something comes across that path we do not like the restraint that is placed upon us.

Constraint, restraint and chastening at correction. If somebody says something to you that’s not quite right, don’t you go, will they be quiet? Have you ever done that inside of yourself? Somebody’s always there picking you up, you’re not quite dressed right yet; you’re not quite eating right. Yes, this is our iniquitous condition; and Jesus, in His love towards us, has come to redeem us from that condition by a pointed love design. He gave Himself. As He gave Himself to redeem us from that condition, what was included in Him giving Himself? If He was going to redeem me from a mindedness that did not like to be corrected, that did not like restraint, that did not like to be told that I must do this, and I must do that; if He was going to reach me to redeem me from that, what did He, in His love revelation, have to display before me?

The Gift of Himself

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; …

What did the giving of Himself include here?

Hebrews 2:16 For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Can you already see what our meditation is about? When He gave Himself to us, He gave Himself to such a degree that He received our nature, our human flesh; and that flesh rendered Him into a position which is identified here:

Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted

In James it says:

James 1:13 … God cannot be tempted with evil,

God cannot be tempted with evil, so He would never have to suffer. But because we are tempted with evil – and temptation is an urge to do what you want to do in lawlessness, it’s the urge that is inside of us that we do not want to be restrained, I want to do as I like, thank you very much. That is the flesh; that is our human fleshly minded nature.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Jesus gave Himself for a pointed object and design, that He would actually redeem us from our feelings of insubordination, our feelings of going the way I want to go instead of the way God wants to go. Let your imagination grasp the ordeal to which Jesus subjected Himself in partaking with us of this infirmity of the flesh, of sinful human nature. What was the ordeal that He suffered, as we read before, He suffered being tempted? It is very important again to identify the flesh here:

The Sufferings of His Flesh

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh,

This was the days of His flesh, before that time He didn’t have any human flesh. This was the days of His flesh when He partook of that same nature as you and I have, a nature of iniquity

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Notice the word: He learnt obedience. The word obedience. Oh how human nature hates that word. Do as you’re told, be obedient. Do as your parents are saying to you. Sister White says that if children have no learned obedience in their childhood and youth they will not be obedient to God when they are older. How many of us can look back at the occasions of our life when we just set our minds, I will not do what I have been told by my parents as we are tainted with this kind of brush the human nature that needs to be redeemed. Jesus was made in the days of His flesh exactly like us in the flesh. It caused Him excruciating suffering so that He cried with strong crying and tears, so that he learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and he was being made perfect. As you look at this experience, ponder its enormity:

Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body, {COL 346.2}

That is where our impulses and passions are seated, and if they are seated in our body, did Jesus have a body like ours? Self-evident. In the days of His flesh, He suffered our temptations because inside of His body there were passions and impulses that were fallen human nature. They were our sufferings and our temptations. If we want to change, it is hard for us.

… as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil; He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. {SC 93.4}

What was His suffering? Torture. When you have a perfect pure believing mind, a sinless mind, trapped in a contraction of sin, just imagine yourself. I think you can appreciate this when once you understand and you’ve been born of God and your heart wants the other thing and the body wants this; it’s like a tearing experience inside of yourself. Jesus suffered that much more excruciatingly than any of us because He was untainted. He never knew sin! Now comes this contact with evil in the human body:

… as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil; He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. {SC 93.4}

Our meditation is entitled The sufferings of God’s love. God loved us so much that He was prepared to come down and suffer our insubordination inside of Himself, as a human being. Meditate further in this reality what are the excruciating experiences of the Son of God. Jesus was pure, He was undefiled and He was God Himself incarnate in human sinful flesh. What He would have liked to have done every time the sinful flesh wanted to have its way is to just wipe it off the board through His divine nature, He didn’t want it, He could have done that.

It was a difficult task for the Prince of life to carry out the plan which He had undertaken for the salvation of man, {7BC 930.1}

It was a difficult task.

… in clothing His divinity with humanity. He had received honor in the heavenly courts, and was familiar with absolute power. It was as difficult for Him to keep the level of humanity as for men to rise above the low level of their depraved natures, and be partakers of the divine nature. {7BC 930.1}

Can you appreciate what this is saying? We have a difficulty to rise above our depraved nature into the divine nature. He had a difficulty to let the divine nature remain where it was and actually engage with us in our depraved nature. It was as difficult for Him as for us.

Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all His faculties to resist the inclination when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril, {7BC 930.2}

There is the peril, He cried with strong crying unto Him that could save Him from death. He didn’t rely on His divine nature to save Him; He relied upon God who could save Him as a human being. But He had the temptation inside of Himself to conquer this problem by exercising His power and wiping it off the board, no, He didn’t do that; just like we have the power to pursue our own indulgences.

Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the weakness of the humanity which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man’s account (RH April 1, 1875). {7BC 930.2}

Satan knew the exact weaknesses that each one of you has and I have, and he made sure that Christ would experience that; and Jesus did not refer to His divine power to conquer it and to get rid of it.

We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself, as something for which He was particularly adapted, by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man’s representative and was tempted as man’s substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. The work of Christ was to take from the claims of Satan his control of man, and He could do this only in the way that He came–a man, tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man (MS 1, 1892). {7BC 930.3}

Isn’t that profound? We often bandy about the doctrine but we don’t spend long enough meditating on the impact of that doctrine, and that is what I am trying to do here. I know we studied the doctrine of the nature of Christ before but this is a time for meditation and for appreciation of the love of God’s sufferings. Notice that when Jesus suffered like that, the Father suffered exactly the same.

God was in Christ in human form, and endured all the temptations wherewith man was beset; in our behalf He participated in the suffering and trials of sorrowful human nature (SW Dec. 10, 1907). {7BC 930.4}

God the Father, of course, because Jesus as the Word was one with the Father and one with the Holy Spirit, so they all experienced it together as Jesus experienced it. Can you see the suffering of God’s love? It just leaves me spellbound that God loved me so much that He would suffer that. As we embrace this, as we look at this amazing love, that He gave His only begotten Son so that He could redeem me from lawlessness, which is my nature, as I look at Him suffering under my lawlessness and God’s will, as I study it in all the different facets that we have been looking at so far, as that appears so crucifying to my natural feeling, to my flesh, to my passions, to my habits, to my practices that I am comfortable with, as this all comes up before me and it shows me how wrong I am when I feel I am so right, and there is something inside me that says, too bad, I’m still going to do that!

How many times people have said this to me nearly convinced but not quite even though it’s written, even though it’s plainly stated before our eyes but no, I can’t do it, I still love God even though I’m still doing this. How much do I really love Him? Do I love Him enough that I’m prepared to crucify as Jesus did? I have this wonderful picture in front of my eyes, I look at His suffering and consider that suffering because He loves me and wants me, and designs for me to give up my own will, to give up my own habits, my own feelings, my own thoughts, and surrender them as Jesus did so that whatever God’s will is I’m going to do no matter how much it kills me. As I see what Jesus did, it gives me determination, I’m going to conquer this, so that I will display my response to His wonderful love; and I will love Him in reality! Not just in words, lip service. There are a people on earth who God talks about, You draw near to me with your lips and you speak wonderful love words to me but your heart is far from me, you will not do what I will, you will do what you will.

Matthew 15:8    This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.

But here He is. He loves us while we do this and He says, Look at me. I’m here to redeem you from that. We see the great love of God and we see that because He so loved us we love Him in return.

Living to the Will of God

Only by the inexpressible anguish which Christ endured can we estimate the evil of unrestrained indulgence. {DA 122.2}

Unrestrained indulgence, you know where those words are used, to indulge in the way you eat, drink, live, enjoy your life Unrestrained! Only by the inexpressible anguish which Christ endured can we estimate the evil of unrestrained indulgence. We don’t see it as evil. We think it’s quite comfortable; but when we see Jesus suffering under it then we can see it’s evil.

His example declares that our only hope of eternal life {DA 122.2}

What sort of hope have we got?

… our only hope of eternal life is through bringing the appetites and passions into subjection to the will of God. {DA 122.2}

Have we covered lots of subject under the subject of God’s love as God’s will delineated before our minds’ eye? Indeed. We must look at Christ’s example because our only hope is to bring our appetites and passions into subjection to the will of God, this is our only hope of salvation, of eternal life.

In our own strength it is impossible for us to deny the clamors of our fallen nature. {DA 122.3}

They are so clamoring, they’re too strong, I can’t succeed. I only them and now I’m being told it’s evil; and I look at Jesus and I see Him suffering under that evil, and now I’m really crushed. You know I suffer with my fellow brethren and sisters, especially if they’re still on the way bridge, because if they listen to these messages, and as they see what is expected, it drives them nearly insane, and that is only when we don’t look at Jesus long enough. When we look at the pressure of having to change my life – and it’s so natural for me to pursue the old ways of my pleasure – This is just too hard! It’s a clamoring of our fallen nature.

Through this channel Satan will bring temptation upon us. Christ knew that the enemy would come to every human being, to take advantage of hereditary weakness, and by his false insinuations to ensnare all whose trust is not in God. {DA 122.3}

This drives the Christian just about insane because, I’m never going to make it! How many times I hear this, This is too far, I’m never going to make it. Of course, that’s the way he will speak because it is too severe. But:

… by passing over the ground which man must travel, our Lord has prepared the way for us to overcome. {DA 122.3}

That fills my being with a deep emotional comfort, that no matter how hard it is for me to conquer the clamors of my flesh I can look to Jesus, and I see Him passing over that same ground right down to the nth degree, and our Lord has thus prepared the way for us to overcome our iniquity, to redeem us from our lawlessness. This is profound. This is where our scripture reading begins to shine. As we gaze upon the self-sacrificing suffering of Jesus, we are touched with a challenge:

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

Isn’t that a beautiful statement? You want to have victory over sin? Arm yourself with the mind of Christ, be prepared to suffer with Jesus the excruciating conflict inside, the mind that wants to do what God’s will is because God’s love has demonstrated to me that the will of my own lawlessness is so evil, because I’ve seen Jesus, and I as see Jesus’ sufferings I don’t want to sin anymore. How am I going to succeed? I arm myself with the same mind. I’m prepared to suffer the excruciating torture that Jesus felt so that:

1 Peter 4:2 [I] no longer should live the rest of [my] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

Are you prepared to do that? That is what Jesus has come to this earth to create in us to make us prepared to do that. This is the experience that we may join Jesus in:

The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words flesh or fleshly or carnal lusts embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, {AH 127.2}

What did Jesus do? Crucify the flesh, didn’t He?

… crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. {AH 127.2}

The lusts, the desires of the flesh, that which makes me feel comfortable in my flesh, I am called upon to crucify it.

How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin. {AH 127.2}

Now she explains. What does it mean to put to death the temptation? A corrupt thought will come to you from your body that is in disharmony with God’s will:

The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; {AH 127.2}

The love of God must reign supreme! In my effort to communicate this over the series, I have identified what the love of God is in contrast to our natural human ways. Here is the important ingredient that we actually see that as I am struggling with certain aspects that have been laid out in front of me I understand, yes. It looks so harmless, it looks so sweet. The next study will be on music, and there are lovely strains of music that the devil has put out; and those lovely strains of music he has mingled together with religious words, and we can’t see anything wrong with that, as it is with everything else. The flesh feels good …The love of God must reign supreme, not the love of those sound decibels or those tastes, or those feelings of sensual well-being with the clothing we do or do not wear. Whatever it is, the love of God must reign, not the flesh.

Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness. {AH 127.2}

We may follow in the steps of the apostles if we choose. Apostle Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles; that’s who we are. We’ve come from Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven, and apostle Paul puts it so beautifully; he met Christ on the road to Damascus and there he was blinded by this brilliant light, and then everything that he regarded as pleasant to him – he was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was full of the glory of the thought that he was a commandment-keeper, that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, all that he was appreciating in the sense of his flesh, and then he says:

Following in the Footsteps of Jesus

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

What did he yearn for from that time onwards? To know what it means to be in fellowship with Christ’s sufferings, that’s what he wanted to know; and you and I may be privileged to walk with Jesus as apostle Paul did.

The life of the apostle Paul was a constant conflict with self. He said, I die daily. 1 Corinthians 15:31. His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God’s will, however crucifying to his nature. {MH 452.4}

Are you a follower of Apostle Paul as he is of Christ? Remember what he said:

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.

Here is what we are to do, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and those who have gone before us. We are to experience the footsteps of Jesus.

If we move forward where Jesus leads the way we shall see His triumph, we shall share His joy. We must share the conflicts if we wear the crown of victory. Like Jesus, we must be made perfect through suffering. {5T 71.2}

Looking to His Sufferings

While we look constantly to Him whom our sins have pierced and our sorrows have burdened, {LHU 233.4}

Is that what you have done to Him? You’ve burdened Him.

… we shall acquire strength to be like Him. … [she shall] bind ourselves in willing, happy captivity to Jesus (Signs of the Times, Mar 17, 1887). {LHU 233.4}

That’s what it means, that as we look constantly to Him we realize that He is struggling against the temptations that we, in our iniquitous, lawless attitude and experiences, have suffered the consequences of; and we are called upon to turn away from these things. Don’t do it anymore! You want to be suffering some more? He says, Turn away from your iniquity, for why will you permit sin to destroy you?

Ezekiel 33:11 … turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

We know that the people who continue to go along in the path of their lawless procedure, they’re going to die at the end but not because God is standing there with a sword chopping their heads off, but because their own practices will destroy their lives. You know the experience when we’ve done certain things wrong and we suffer the consequences, but that will get worse as we go to the end. We have this wonderful example of Jesus, that as we gaze upon Him whom our sins have pierced and our sorrows have burdened, there we will acquire strength to be like Him. If you don’t look at Jesus when you are tempted you will have no strength. If you cannot see that Jesus was suffering with you just like you are suffering, you will just go down under the pressure; but as you see that the very thing that you are suffering is what He was burdened with, that will give you strength to be like Him. We shall bind ourselves in willing, happy captivity to Jesus Christ. Every time we read the Spirit of Prophecy, instead of saying, Oh, that’s not good, I don’t like that. There won’t be any unhappy responses, there will be, Oh, that’s what He’s given Himself for, that He might create in me a zeal to do His will.

The only place where you can find this zeal is to see His suffering, so that you can be redeemed from your iniquity and I can be redeemed from mine. It is a beautiful cause to effect gospel. It is a gospel that has illuminated my mind with joy and gladness, instead of, Oh, do I have to change? When I see these things and I share them with my brethren and sisters, those that put this in practice were all joy and gladness, no argument, it is a wonderful sense of belonging together; because this is what I like to belong together with Jesus in. We might be one body, we might see eye to eye, we might follow Jesus together with every respect of His will, under any circumstances, no matter how crucifying to our nature. May God grant us a deep appreciation of the evil of our natural human practices, whether it be any subject that we have covered in the past, or the subjects we cover in the future, it is our privilege to take the counsels of the testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy, and experience the sufferings of Christ; and if we do that we will experience His joy, we will experience His love, but if we refuse we will have no joy, there will constant constraint, constant chasing, constant unhappiness, constant stress in God’s church. God’s church can become a very stressful congregation, and the only reason is that they’re not looking at the sufferings of Jesus. May God grant us a willing submission, by the beauty of the exhibition of the great love wherewith He has loved us in putting Jesus through such excruciating experiences, that we might be willing to go through them to, this is my prayer in Jesus’ name.

Amen

Posted on March 31, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons, God's Love Series. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Enrapturing & refreshing….!!

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