The Love of God (part 2)
Greetings precious people. In last weekís article we began to look at the vast subject of the Love of God. We saw how the human mind is incapable of comprehending the greatness of Godís Love for us; it takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in order to enlighten our minds. Godís Love is always active rather than passive. Godís Love is seen in the Father giving His Son, His only Son to suffer and die for our sins. Godís Love is experienced through His Word, the Bible, and our hearts as we receive Him into our lives as Lord and Savior.
Though there are many components that make up the Love of God, there are two that are the most prominent, Mercy and Grace. Mercy and Grace are the Siamese twins of the Love of God. Mercy is God not giving to you and I that which we deserve for our sins, namely death, judgement, and Hell.
The Grace of God is God giving to man what he doesnít deserve, namely forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The Grace of God is His unmerited, unearned favor toward mankind. It is the Grace of God that man is saved by. In Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
The old hymn ĎAmazing Graceí which most everyone is familiar with was written by a man by the name of John Newton in the mid 1700ís. What few people are not familiar with is the story behind John Newton writing it. John worked for his father who owned a ship that was used for the transporting and trading of slaves between Africa and England. He lived a life of rebellion and debauchery, which went along with this type of profession. He eventually became captain of his own slave trading ship and became involved in the capturing of black slaves from Africa and transporting them to the plantations of the West Indies and America.
On March 10, 1748, while returning to England from Africa during a terrible stormy voyage, Newton began to think all would be lost, including his own life. He began to read a book entitled ĎImitation of Christí by Thomas a Kempis. God used this book and the terrifying experience of this stormy trip to bring John to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John continued to work in his slave trading business for a few years trying to justify his business by improving conditions on the ship and the treatment of his captives. Eventually, however, he began to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit about his work and gave it up all together.
Newton became a staunch opponent of slavery and worked for years trying to abolish its practice. He also went on to study for the ministry and became one of the best known preachers of his day. John Newton wrote ĎAmazing Graceí in an attempt to express his awe of Godís wonderful grace that would save a wretch like himself. It is interesting how some denominational hymnbooks have changed the wording of this hymn from Ďsaved a wretch like meí to Ďsaved a soul like meí. Apparently they donít want to offend anyone and want to think happy thoughts of themselves. How tragic.
It is only when a man or woman comes face to face with the reality of oneís own sinfulness that he or she begins to understand and appreciate the greatness of the Grace of God. The account given in the Book of Luke of a time when Jesus visited the house of Simon the Pharisee best depicts this truth. Luke 7:36-50, "Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he said, "Teacher, say it." There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." And He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
This woman realized her sinfulness and humbled herself before the Lord Jesus Christ. Her love and appreciation for the Lord and what He had done for her was far greater than that of Simonís. Simon being a Pharisee, didnít even consider himself a sinner, thus he had no appreciation for the Grace of God. In fact, he was indignant toward the Lord for His Grace toward this woman.
In a small cemetery in Olney, England, stands a grant tombstone with the following inscription: "John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy." John Newton wrote himself this short testimonial himself prior to his death.
Do you know the wonderful, marvelous Grace of God? If you donít, you could and should. The only way to experience it is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Lord. Turn to Him today in faith, ask Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your life to be your Lord and Savior.
Next week we will continue to look at the Love and Grace of God. Until then may the Lord richly bless you my beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine