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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about love and eternity?

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If we are going to understand God and the Bible, we need first to understand what He has told us about love and eternity. Is He saying we can only know God when we know how to love? 1 Jn 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Can we believe in an eternal God, if we don't believe in eternity? Jn 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." and Jn 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." If we don't believe in eternity, will we be able to make the sacrifices required in this life? Like turning our backs on this world's temptations, when they would lead us away from God? Do we put a priority on knowing God? Do we plan our lives around His offer of eternal life, or do we plan our lives around the next pleasure or excitement offered to us? Or, are we just trying to get through the day?

Understanding all that He tells us in the Bible is impossible when we are looking for mistakes. However, when we love Him, we are finally able to see how all the pieces fit together, Eph 4:15-16, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Could He be lying to us? Numb 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Why would an all-powerful, eternal God need to lie to us? Some among us want us to believe small white lies, intended to spare someone's feelings, are acceptable. Once we buy into this lie, lying becomes easier and more comfortable, until we no longer know the truth from the lies. God tells us that lying misleads people and He only speaks the truth, He tells us this so we can know the difference between the truth and a lie. He believes we are strong enough to hear the truth and respond to it positively, even if it condemns our behavior. Of course, when we have to tell someone a truth that might cause discomfort, God always wants us to do it lovingly, Gal 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Are love and eternity two of the cords that hold the Bible together?

When we love, as Jesus does, that love dictates all of our thoughts and actions, so if we know love and we love, it shows in how we treat other people and here is what God says about our behavior towards other people:

Rom 13:10, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." He wants us to be kind to our neighbors.

1 Cor 13:4-7, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." God is telling us that love conquers all, and in these verses, the word charity is being used to express the very nature of love.

Eph 4:2, "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;" He does not want pride to rule in our hearts. Puffing ourselves up, so that we can elevate ourselves above our neighbor, is not God's way. Are we imitating the people we see demonstrating a prideful nature, or do we imitate the humble nature Jesus exhibited when He walked the earth? If we need to see a modern day example of a humble person reaching great heights, we need only look to the greatest coach of all time, John Wooden. His team won 10 national titles in the last 12 years of his coaching career. He never bragged and only asked his players to be the best they could be. Winning was not the goal, being better than the opponent was not the goal, just being the best version of themselves was the goal. He not only taught this philosophy, but he also lived it. Does our behavior lead people to God, or away from Him? Are we humble? Are we meek? Are we patient when someone cuts us off in traffic? How do we respond to criticism about our Christianity?

Jn 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Do we respect those neighbors of ours who are willing to lay down their lives to protect us and our freedoms; like our soldiers and police officers?

God tells us about love because He loves us and wants us to understand what love looks like. He wants us to experience His love for us, Rom 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He wants us to desire His love and to exhibit it here on earth, so others will witness His love and have the same desire, Matt 5:16, 4:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven…The people which sat in darkness saw great light..." Are we spreading His love?

The prospect of eternal life ought to be a part of all of our thoughts and actions; fully demonstrating we plan on living for all eternity: Gal 6:8, "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Are we allowing corruption into our lives? Do we choose to do things, which demonstrate our desire to spend eternity with God? Or, do we put a priority on acquiring things, instead of living God's Word and being content with what comes from that behavior? Lk 12:15, "And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." We needn't worry we will be without, for God knows what we need and He will provide it, Phil 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Ps 90:2, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." Has anyone other than God told us He has always been and will always be? Does history support this claim? Could this world come into existence without a first mover, a creator? This is part of the truth He keeps trying to tell us. Can we really believe a computer can come into existence without someone planning and building it? Are we not much more complicated than a computer?

God tells us about eternal life to help us reason with our own thoughts and actions, Prov 4:26-27, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil." Are we seeking the path that leads to Him by changing our daily behavior? Or, are we following this world's obsessions that lead us away from God and His truth?

The hope of eternal life is part of the truth that draws people to God, and the life He calls us to live, Jer 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Are we working to have the expected end He offers? Can people see God's love in our actions?

Jn 5:6, "When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" God is asking each of us this same question, "do we want to be made whole?" What does being "whole" mean? Rom 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." It means we are being transformed by studying His Word, the Bible, and thinking about what it means when He tells us what His will is for us. He wants us to use His Word to learn how we are to treat each other, which will lead to, 1 Thes 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." His Word leads to His peace, which means we no longer let the troubles of this world, determine whether we are at peace. Instead, we rest in Him, Matt 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

He asks whether we want to be made whole because He will not force us into eternity with Him. He is a gentle soul who wants only those who willingly choose to be part of His family to experience the eternity He has planned. He has sent each of us an invitation; however, it is up to us to respond. We cannot ignore His invitation and expect Him to take us to heaven. The fact is, His love is so strong, He is willing to tearfully watch us give up eternity if that is what we decide. When we accept His love, we are made whole, and eternal life with Him is our future.

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