- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What can we know about God?
God demonstrates His nature when He tells us what He thinks, says, feels, and does.
God is love, and that influences everything, 1 Jn 4:8, 16, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” God is telling us He dwells in love, which means He thinks it, He says it, He feels it, and He lives it.
Since true love is selfless, God is selfless, and He is always working for the good of others, 1 Cor 13:4-5, “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;” Everything God is doing is for the benefit of the eternal family He is creating. Some complain that God allows evil things to occur in this world. God doesn't stop us from doing evil, however, make no mistake, it is not God doing the evil, we are. That is part of the free will He had to give us if He was going to allow us to either accept His love or deny it. When we reject His love, it is because we see ourselves as His enemy. The truth is Jesus died on that cross for His enemies, those who have not yet learned how much God loves them, 1 Jn 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us." God wants everyone to have the opportunity of finding their way to Him, His salvation, and an eternity with God. This life is short, and the bad things that have happened will soon be forgotten when we are in heaven, Jn 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
He loves each of us, Jn 11:35-36, “Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” Jesus cares about everyone who is suffering and all of those who have died, He cares to the point of tears. He weeps for all, especially for those who will choose to reject Him, Eze 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” He wants all of us to turn and choose to follow Him in love. However, He knows many of us will not. So, He has to watch us lie to, cheat, steal from, harm, and kill each other during this life He has given us, the life in which we will choose to either accept or reject His offer of eternity.
God is merciful, gracious, and patient, Ex 34:6, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” His patience means He has to watch us fall and suffer the pain that will inevitably result, without restricting our freedom. Now that takes patience. What God experiences in this process is a little like watching our own child learning to walk, and there will be falls.
God does not lie and always keeps His promises, 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?” God shares His Truth with us, in the form of promises that He guarantees will come to pass. We can depend on everything He tells us. This includes the best way to live our lives.
God believes in fairness, and this requires the rule of law firmly rooted in love, Matt 22:35-40, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” and Rom 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” When we are living the fruit of His Spirit, we will not need laws, Gal 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
God will always love us, no matter what, Rom 8:35, 38-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Study the way He describes a father’s love in the prodigal son, Lk 15:11-32. This father’s nature is to love and always accept his son, as God does us. He knew the son who wanted his inheritance early was going to waste it, but the father still allowed his son to do just that, knowing he would lovingly accept his son when he returned. All we have to do is return to God, and we will feel the love He has always had for us, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” He is always ready to sup with those who open the door. When we refuse to open the door, our guilt keeps us from feeling His love for us and activates the defense mechanism of thinking He does not exist. For, if He did exist, all we do in defiance of His Word would become painfully obvious. Therefore, we have to try to hide from His existence, which is impossible, Gen 3:9, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” He asked Adam where he was, but we all know God already knew where Adam was.
God is benevolent. He has the ultimate power and uses it to give us every chance to learn the Truth and accept His offer of grace, Jer 32:17, “Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:” and Ps 145:8, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” He could squash us, but instead, He continually offers us His love.
God’s love extends to everyone, Matt 5:44-45, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” The nature of God demonstrated in these verses is why we sinners can to come to Him, knowing that He is always willing to accept us. These verses also explain why He does not harm those He knows will not accept His offer. Some of us need to understand God is going to allow our open defiance in this life. Some of us who choose Jesus as our savior might need these verses when we see the unjust receiving the sun and the rain so that we are not drawn away from God’s love. This is part of the reason He gave us His tenth Commandment to help us avoid the evil of envy, Ex 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” He still wants those of us who live in defiance of His love to have every opportunity to change our minds, and that means we will be without excuse for the choices we have made, Rom 1:20, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" For a better understanding of the principle in play here, see the parable of the wheat and the tares, Matt 13:18-30.
God is reasonable because He reasons before He acts. He tries to teach us to do the same, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He is teaching us in Isaiah that when we reason before we act, more and more of our actions will be good, and we will continue to remove sin from our lives. He asks us to spend some time evaluating what we do, which helps us stay on the path to Him, 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.”
Some might twinge when they read, we can remove sin from our lives. However, they do not understand, 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Perfect is possible, but I am not sure how much time we have to spend reading and reasoning with God to get there. Or, maybe some of us are not meant to achieve it in this life. But, rather to understand what it looks like and work toward it, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
We could go on for pages talking about God’s nature and love for us. However, the most compelling proof of His love is the way His love changes people’s lives. I have seen drug dealers became elders in churches, drug addicts in recovery, and ordinary people like me busily removing sin and selfishness from our lives. We do not have to look far to find these examples; God has placed witnesses in every community, even prisons. To personally experience His love, we only have to open the door, feel His love, and watch His freely offered salvation transform our lives.
Those who still doubt can listen to someone who has become one of those witnesses. I would recommend searching for Reverend Sean Smith's testimony, on YouTube "A Christian Perspective on Racial Justice," of his father's murder and Sean's forgiveness for the police officers who killed him.
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