God’s Love Can Change Everything

By John Thiel, mp3

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength.

We need to understand the true import of these words for our happiness and joy.

God’s love can change everything. But do we want change? In every person’s life there comes a time when we discover what we have done in our past that has produced certain consequences, and we want them changed. In every human’s life there comes a point in time that they want to change the circumstances of their life. It has been unpleasant to them to arrive at such circumstances.

For instance, a person starts smoking and he think he is having a great time, but then there comes a point in time where he wants to quit. Is it easy? An alcoholic discovers that his life is in shambles. People on drugs come to a point where they want to change. A messed-up life wants to be brought back into order and harmony and peace. A life out of control wants to find self-control again. To those who have defects of character there comes a point in time where you hate yourself because of your character defects. To be kind instead of unkind, to be gentle instead of violent, to be calm and controlled instead of being erratic We want to change, we have had enough of our past life.

God is a wonderful father. He is the Father of humanity. As we seek the answer on how to change, God has given us the answers. It is Jesus. He has brought Him onto this planet so that we can have a change of heart, a change of life. The scenario that I have just brought to our attention is mentioned here:

Many are utterly discouraged…. They are looked upon as unable to comprehend or to receive the gospel of Christ. Yet by the miracle of divine grace they may be changed. Under the ministration of the Holy Spirit the stupidity that makes their uplifting appear so hopeless will pass away…. Vice will disappear, and ignorance will be overcome. {AG 221.3}

These are some practical expressions. We feel so stupid we can’t change. But “under the ministration of the Holy Spirit the stupidity that makes their uplifting appear so hopeless will pass away.” The beclouded mind that can’t see its way out of its morass, it will pass away under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Vice will disappear, ignorance will be overcome.

Many are utterly discouraged – The Bible makes some powerful announcements in regards to this problem. For instance, when Jesus was conceived, there was an announcement made. Here the angel is speaking to Joseph, because his fiancée, Mary, was pregnant, and he thought he was going to have to put her away because somebody had been unfair, but God said to him, Don’t put her away, because that little infant that is being conceived in her is Jesus.

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS:

For what will He do?

Matthew 1:21 …for he shall save his people from their sins.

Sins is another word for “the mess we have made of our life”. We have practiced things that are not God’s will; they are sins, and we can’t change.  The smoker can’t change, he needs help. The alcoholic needs help; that is why they have Alcoholics Anonymous, because they can’t change themselves. And even then, even with the Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other quick programs, people are still not completely changed; they still have their desires. The messed-up life, these are sins, and Jesus was born so He could save them, change them from their sins. Not save them in their sins, but save them from their sins. That is the language. “For he shall save His people from their sins.”

Here is another announcement of what is possible:

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

This is speaking of Jesus. “He,” Jesus, “is able also to save them.” What was He born for? To save them from their sins. Many are utterly discouraged. But the scripture says that “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” He is able to save them from their gutter experience. They are utterly discouraged, in the gutter, and He is able to save them to the uttermost. That is what God can do through Jesus. And what is this uttermost that we are to be saved to? Here is what God can do to change us:

Jude 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

What is God able to do? He is able to stop us from falling back into the things that we are used to, the things we want to change from. He is able to keep us from falling, and to finally present us faultless. These are the announcements, and there are many more. So if it is the agenda of our heavenly Father to do this, to save us to the uttermost, to present us faultless one day, to change us so completely that we can have this control over ourselves and stop doing the wrong, and be perfect one day; if this is God’s agenda, if this is our heavenly Father’s agenda, then let us explore the procedure that the Bible reveals to us by which He will finally bring us there. What we have read are the announcements that He is able to do that. Now let us explore His activity to bring that about.

God’s Method of Change

God’s method of changing us is different to what we imagine:

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}

For God to make a change in my life, He wants me to appreciate Him, and appreciate Him so much that my heart is filled with so much love that I want to serve Him and do the things that He wants me to do, because He wants me to be happy and for me to be in control of my life. Force is not part of God’s agenda.

Satan has got the world under control; people want to have different circumstances, but Satan has them under control. But to break Satan’s deceptive power, this could not be done by force:

The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; {DA 22.1}

To be under God’s government there is no force. You are free, but you are governed. That is interesting. No force.

He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; {DA 22.1}

You can’t say, Love me! It can’t be commanded, can it? God will not command us to love Him.

…it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; 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}

God has an agenda. He wants to help us change. He wants to save us from our misery of sin. What is the process? Love. We have three steps that we want to consider. The first one is that in His love He draws us, woos us, just like a future husband woos his wife by attracting her. God wants to attract us by love. Then, secondly, He wants to justify us. Thirdly, He wants to change our practices, sanctify us. These are the three steps.

God Draws Us

What does God draw us with, for us to actually want to be changed? By love He is drawing us, wooing us.

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

I have loved you from eternity. God knows ahead of time what people will do, and He loves everyone. He didn’t want anyone to be destroyed. He loved Lucifer; He made him such a beautiful angel because He wanted him to be happy. That is the way God is motivated. But when Lucifer went astray, and when the human race went astray, He still loved them; He wanted to win them back. With lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Even Lucifer was being drawn by the love of God, and he nearly changed his mind, but he then refused again.

God can’t force you to change your mind; He can only draw you to change your mind. We read these words: “With lovingkindness have I drawn thee;” but what does that loving-kindness actually mean? What is this loving-kindness? What is that loving-kindness with which He drew us, and with which He will draw every man if they will but pay attention to Him? Jesus is here speaking, and He says:

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

What is the loving-kindness with which He draws the sinner, the rebellious sinner who now realises what a mess he has made? The condition is still the same: He has to change him. Therefore He draws him by loving-kindness. What sort of loving-kindness? He opens up before us the very gift of Jesus coming down to this planet, living a life among humanity, and then, because of His kind behaviour and courtesy upon everybody, they hate Him for it and they crucify Him. That is the loving-kindness. He died for them. That is the loving-kindness by which He draws. In the manner that He was going to die, it was going to be the loving-kindness that would draw people by the love of God.

The loving-kindness was there towards the people while they were yet in the morass of their problems and sinfulness. In Romans 5 we see this amazing love which draws us, in the death of His Son:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength,

I can’t change, even if I wanted to. I am too weak.

Romans 5:6 …in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Because the only way that He can draw a sinner is to place Himself in front of him while he was still in that morass. While we were yet sinners He loved us. And that loving-kindness He demonstrated to the sinner who was still sinning, who was still enjoying his sinful life, but discovering that it’s not so hot after all. I have laboured for people who had been smoking, and they know it’s killing them, but the puffing is such a good experience, it is such a good feeling. When I was doing my nurse’s training, the teachers there were showing us what smoking is a continuation of: It is like a baby continuing to suck the milk, it is the same feeling. People want to have the sucking experience, and it’s still a good experience, but I know it’s killing me.

God has to do something to draw these people who are enjoying their sins, to make them realise, “I died for that.” He has to draw them in loving-kindness. He commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, He did that. This is something to marvel. This is something to exercise the mind. It is something to exercise the mind of the sinner to discover the love of God. God says, Look, I can’t use force, look at what My love is. I have brought Jesus into your vicinity.

The story of Bethlehem is an exhaustless theme. In it is hidden “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” Romans 11:33. We marvel at the Saviour’s sacrifice in exchanging the throne of heaven for the manger, and the companionship of adoring angels for the beasts of the stall. {DA 48.5}

Jesus was born here on the planet as an unwanted person. We marvel. There He was in heaven with the angels, He exchanged the throne of heaven for the manger? and the companionship of adoring angels for the beasts of the stall?

Human pride and self-sufficiency stand rebuked in His presence. Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. {DA 48.5}

And after He gave us the example, He died. This marvel is just beyond human comprehension. It amazes me that people spend so little time to marvel over this exhaustless theme. There is so much to think about that would draw us with loving-kindness to our God.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” So much. You ask a little child, How much do you love me? He says, So much! How much did God love us? Look at Him on the cross with His arms stretched out. But more than that, study what was behind it, and there you will behold the drawing loving-kindness that changes everything.

God Justifies Us

Having been drawn by this amazing love, it doesn’t stop there. That is only the first step. There is a second step – the word justify.

Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Being justified – This is the next step. For those people who are all riddled with their grotty past, feeling guilty because they have mopped up their life, with feelings of guilt upon their mind, if they will permit themselves to be drawn by this amazing love of God, by this loving-kindness, if they will stop there long enough and let it draw them, there comes now this other dimension of God’s love. You know what it’s like when you have lived a pretty ridiculous life and you come into the company of people who have got their life together; they seem to be perfectly orderly and everything, and you come there, and you cower and think, Oh, will they accept me as I am? I feel guilty. All sorts of guilt make you feel like doing all sorts of things, like even justifying yourself, Well, it’s only because of my bad background, my parents haven’t been very good to me, etc., etc. It’s heredity, and cultivation. We haven’t had a good inheritance, have we? Our parents weren’t very perfect. We suffer under all that, and we justify ourselves, It’s because of my heredity. Well, it still doesn’t change the problem, does it? You can justify yourself as much as you like, you still feel bad. You still feel guilty. But now God, through Jesus Christ, wants to take away the guilt. He wants to justify us. This is an amazing aspect of God’s agenda.

Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Not only did Jesus die to draw us because we see His loving-kindness and we come and we look at Him and ponder upon this and marvel over this miracle of God’s love, and our heart is being drawn to Him, but now He says, You can get rid of your guilt; you don’t have to let the guilt prevail against you.

We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned. {SC 62.2}

Justified. Just as if you had never sinned. The drawing love of God gets bigger and says, All the mess you have made of your life, and that you feel guilty for, I will take it.

I want to ask you a question, Can you get rid of your guilty feelings? King David said, My sin is ever before me. When any of us have memory playbacks of how we have sinned there, and how we have sinned there, we suffer under the horrible guilty sensations, and what does it do to you if you try to change? Doesn’t this cloud your mind? Have you ever been in those situations? I am often in those kinds of situations when I have to think straight, I have to keep my mind clear; and trying to keep my mind clear I get befuddled with interferences in my mind, and I can’t think straight, I can’t think clearly.

God Releases Us

If my sins have been removed from me so that God looks upon me as though I had never sinned, am I still to have these confusing thoughts?

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow,

He knew what you would do if you were looking to Jesus. God has a foreknowledge. He knows who will respond to His call of love, and who will not. Those people whom He knew ahead of time would make those decisions,

Romans 8:29 …he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified:

Do you remember what justified means? As though you had never sinned. Your mind is set free; I am no longer under these terrible guilt feelings. He has justified me, I don’t have to justify myself.

Romans 8:30 …and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth. 34 Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

As I said before, you come into a company who you think are holy people and you look at yourself and think, Ugh. Can they accept me? But the fact is that if you believe in Jesus, if you trust in His wonderful love, then you are before God and them as though you never sinned. Who is he that condemns now? It is God who justified us. So why should we walk around with our head hanging down? Why not be free? I am no longer to feel guilty. God has justified me, because Jesus has taken my guilt and died with it, and it’s gone.

Who is he that condemneth? – God is for us. I can walk with my head erect. I can be happy because God is not condemning me anymore. I love Him so much because He has died for me; and now my sins are no longer to befuddle my mind. I am free from guilt. Who can condemn me now? God doesn’t.

We who understand this sense of guilt, of doing everything wrong, just imagine, this is all removed now. I am free. No more bewildering, incapacitating thoughts stopping me from thinking straight. When you feel oppressed in your mind, can you think straight? You have a clouded brain. But you don’t have to have a clouded brain anymore. Jesus has drawn you by His love, and God has proven His love to you in that He is now justifying you, because Jesus has died with all your sins. If you will believe that truth which we have just explored in His drawing and in His justifying through the cross of Jesus Christ, and if we release ourselves from these guilty sensations and those thoughts of guilt, then every time your past comes up before you, there is relief, Jesus has taken that from me, I am as though I had never sinned. What then begins to happen in your mind?

The feelings, whether encouraging or discouraging, should not be made the test of the spiritual condition. {HP 131.3}

These feelings overwhelm us sometimes, don’t they? A thought comes to me and I crumble. You wake up some mornings, and you just don’t feel like getting up because your feelings drag you down, because some thought, some dream, some negative experience is befogging your mind. But does that make any difference to your position with God, as you trust in Him, and as you love Him? Whether you feel good or whether you feel bad, it makes no difference. I am free!

By God’s Word we are to determine our true standing before Him. {HP 131.3}

God’s word tells me that if I am drawn by His loving-kindness, as I believe that Jesus has died for me, then God’s word is to determine my standing before Him.

Many are bewildered on this point. When they are happy and joyous, they think that they are accepted of God. When a change comes, and they feel depressed, they think that God has forsaken them. . . . God does not desire us to go through life with a distrust of Him…. While we were yet sinners, God gave His Son to die for us. Can we doubt His goodness? . . . {HP 131.3}

As you are meditating on these words, can you begin to discover what our worst enemy is? Satan, and my own thoughts, my own feelings. When God’s word declares that, I have given My Son for you, and you are in My eyes as though you had never sinned, then every time a negative feeling comes over you, you are to rely, not on the feeling, but on the word of God.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,

Am I a person who believes on Him?

John 8:31 …If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. … 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Free from all this mind-bending oppression, those feelings that would take me down and cause me to give up. O to trust our wonderful God.

Walk continually in the light of God. Meditate day and night upon His character. Then you will see His beauty and rejoice in His goodness. Your heart will glow with a sense of His love. You will be uplifted as if borne by everlasting arms. With the power and light that God imparts, you can comprehend more and accomplish more than you ever before deemed possible. {MH 514.3}

I have found that to be true. I was a pretty dull sort of a student. I found my brain fogged with fear, fear of man, and for me to even preach before you as I do here is the miracle of God. For me to be able to think clearly without a befogged mind is a miracle of God. And it can be for each one of us that we can be borne by everlasting arms to a level of comprehension that is more than you ever deemed possible. It can only be found in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

Indeed, as I meditate on this agenda of the Father in heaven, of His amazing love and goodness, love burns in my heart; and as love burns in my heart and I see more and more of God’s love, what will change? what will happen by beholding?

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

By beholding you become changed. We have just seen the agenda of the Father in heaven. We see His love. We see what He has done with Jesus for me. And as I behold the love and am drawn by it, I go into a deeper and deeper appreciation of His wonderful justifying procedure; I behold a love that changes me – the love of God that changes everything. I need to be changed, and it can only be by beholding; because it is a law of the mind that we are affected by the things that we behold.

Now, because we are beholding this, we can go forward with an unclouded mind to perform the loving instructions that God gives us. Say, if you get instructions and your mind is beclouded, can you fulfil those instructions perfectly? All sorts of things short-circuit in the brain, and our response is likely to be, What did you say? What do I have to do? This is what humanity does with God all the time, because they are always under the pall of some kind of mind obstruction. Some sense of guilt is putting a block across the vision, and man says, What is it that we are supposed to be doing? People don’t do what God says because they can’t think straight. They are guilty; they won’t give over to God and trust Him implicitly. But I must trust God so completely and do what He says because my mind is clear, because I can hear Him clearly saying what I am to do and because I have nothing to interfere with the instruction.

…a faithful performance of duty goes hand in hand with a right estimate of the character of God. {HP 131.4}

To fulfil the duties that God has placed upon us, it depends upon our estimate of the character of God. Then we have a clear mind, then we can understand what the duty is, and we do it cheerfully and without a sense of guilt from the failures of the past, or without the sense that, Is that right? Is that what God meant to say? My mind is clear. That is where God wants me in the rest of my walk with Him. His agenda is to put me in a position where no more guilt interferes with my thoughts, where no more oppression of feeling that comes upon me is going to interfere anymore, because the Holy Spirit is working on my mind, leading me to behold the glory, and I am just transported, I just live in a different world. Like the people in the world say, You’re on cloud nine. You are! You are on top of the world, nothing offends you anymore. You are rejoicing in the Lord. And you are rejoicing because you know that He is trustworthy and that He will tell you what to do; and you love Him more and more and you now go forward in obedience to all of His will.

As we try to reach excellence of character, as we try to reach for perfection, we do feel so not cramped by rigidity of extremism. When a person is trying so hard because he is trying to conquer his own feelings, they try so hard, they are so rigid! Like in a strait jacket, you are trying so hard! No. This kind of obedience is calm, unimpaired, listening to God’s voice, and God says something beautiful.

Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

My mind is clear, I love my God, and I love hearing His voice; and He says, This way. No, no, not that way; this way. And I will follow the voice of God through His word, through the Holy Spirit, and through meditation upon His word. In fact, this is what it means to walk with God. You love Him so much, you are so overwhelmed with His drawing love and all that He has revealed to you, and now you will walk with God.

You may speak with him as with a friend. {RH, June 12, 1888 par. 9}

Imagine that. The God of the universe, a Father, I can talk with Him as with a friend.

You may know that he is at your side as an ever-present helper. {RH, June 12, 1888 par. 9}

He is going to help you now.

You may ask him to give you strength to resist every temptation of the evil one. You may have confidence that he hears your prayers, understands your perplexities, weighs your burdens, and pities your weakness. {RH, June 12, 1888 par. 9}

Walking with God is like that, and it will produce an ever-increasing love in your heart for Him. You know what it’s like, you are walking with somebody who has already shown you his loving-kindness to such dimensions, and then, as you walk with him, he keeps on getting better and better. Your heart keeps on burning, Wow, this is wonderful, I love him; what else do you want me to do? That is the way the walk with God is. It is an ever-increasing desire to obey Him because you love Him.

Because you are walking with this person who has drawn you with His loving-kindness, freed you from the condemnation of your past, and enabled you to think clearly by removing your befogged mind, now as you walk with Him:

2 Corinthians 5:14 …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.

You want to live for Him. That love constraineth us. That word constraineth conveys the meaning that it compels and motivates me; it thrills me through and through to do what God wants me to do. And every time you come across some big hurdle, some difficulties that bog you down, and make you feel like you can’t get over this hurdle, love will impel me. I will walk with God and He will give me the strength. He will thrill me through and through, and He will give me such a strength that I can jump over any hurdles, any problems, any temptations. Nothing is impossible for God. He is able to save me to the uttermost. This is our privilege.

There was a man, aside from Jesus Christ, who lived on this earth and who can give us an example of this. He walked with God. And where did he ultimately end up?

Genesis 5:22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

He was a man who walked with God when he was about sixty five years of age, and from that time onwards for three hundred years. He walked with God. And what happened as he walked with God? His love got stronger and stronger.

Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.

What happened to him? This is what we all have a privilege to enjoy: to walk with God, and to be translated ultimately.

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

The important message that needs to actuate us every moment of every day is the loving-kindness of God that has drawn me to look upon Him, so that as I look upon Him, I will continue to look and I will see that He justifies me. As I continue to look, I see that He doesn’t hold anything against me, and any people that condemn me I am no longer going to listen to; I will concentrate on God, and I will walk with Him. As I walk with Him I will hear a voice behind me saying, This way. And as I am sometimes in trouble and I need help, He is there to help me and strengthen me. In thus walking with God He will finally bring us to the point, and He is able, to make us faultless, and to make us become members of the 144,000, so that He can translate us as He translated Enoch.

Courage, brethren and sisters. There is hope for the most degraded. God loves the sinner so much that He gave His only begotten Son. Believe it, and walk in freedom with Him.

Amen.

Posted on February 16, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel, The Love of God and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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