Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am excited today to have a guest blogger and I am very excited to share what he has written for you all!  The following was written by my brother, Vic Reimer, who blogs over at What Path?.  He and his wife adopted their daughter (my precious niece!) from China just over 8 years ago, when she was almost 2.


The Love of God

What is the greatest love story ever told? No doubt you will tell of some love-stricken young couple who fell in love with each other! Yet, is that really all that great, considering that their love was reciprocal? Let me tell you of someone who loved their enemies with a self-sacrificial love...

Oh, some folks want to write off the account of Adam and Eve as a mere fairytale, but let me assure you, it's no fairytale – it is historical fact verified by science. So then, let us find out where the HEART OF GOD IS REALLY AT.

So going back to the beginning, let us explore those first critical puzzle pieces. Those that explain why things are the way they are in the world.

Now, the Word of God says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:1, 31) Further to this we read, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) Later God would also bring Eve into this paradise we still mention today when referring to something exceptionally beautiful.

So we see that God is very interested in giving people all that they need and then so much more! God even took care of their emotional needs by creating companionship! God surrounded Adam and Eve with a PERFECT creation. There was no death, sorrow, crime, heartache, or anything bad – it was perfect. So what happened? What happened that things are the way they are today? Is there any remedy for this “run amuck” world?

The sad truth of the matter is that Eve believed the serpent – Satan, and Adam went along with the whole thing. This couple turned their back on their God who had done nothing but good for them. God had warned them, “You may surely eat of EVERY tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely DIE.” (Genesis 2:17) Quite plainly, Adam and Eve CHOSE to break off the relationship with God, though it was without cause.

God didn't want anyone to love Him with a robotic kind of love. He wanted a genuine love from the heart. Being an all-knowing God, this act of treason didn't take Him off guard, but it will have hurt God very deeply nonetheless. Now if this were a strictly human relationship, I think we know what would happen – God would come and “rip a strip off" of Adam and Eve! He would call them a bunch of nasty names, tell them how incredibly much He had done for them, and why would they go and believe some complete strangers ridiculous story anyway! Then He would storm out of the relationship! In fact, considering God's warning, they deserved so much more; they DESERVED DEATH! So how would God actually react to their defiant act?

This is the amazing part! God said, “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he [the promised deliverer] shall bruise your head, and you [Satan] shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) In plain language, God was saying that someone would be born from Eve's lineage that would take the penalty of DEATH for THEIR sin, in order that the relationship could be RESTORED! How often, I ask, do you hear of the offended party initiating the reconciliation process? Much less, at strictly their own cost? Yet, that is just what God was doing! That, I have to say, is love like only the one true God could ever express!

Now, before we carry on and go into detail about this deliverer God promised, let us consider what is quite possibly the most striking picture given in our Bibles as to what this would look like. We will examine the account of Abraham, and His only son Isaac – God's promised child.

So just in case you're not familiar with Abraham and Sarah, let me give you a very brief overview. Abram (as he was called at the first) left his homeland to go to a place God had called him to along with his wife Sarai (as she was called at the first). As time progressed, it became very clear this couple could not have children. Now Abram was not exactly young by the time God promised him a child; he was 75 years old! Yet, Abram took God at His word and began to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait! Yes, 25 long years went by! Finally, at the age of 100 years, his promised son arrived! Oh what joy there was in this tent! Against all human possibility, God had granted them a son in their old age! God had kept His word – He always does.

However, God would put a seeming wrinkle in this, His promised child. (For God had promised that it would be through this child that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed.) God said, “Take your son, your ONLY SON Isaac, whom you LOVE, and go to the land of Moriah, and OFFER HIM THERE AS A BURNT OFFERING.” (Genesis 22:2) How could God ask such an awful thing! Why would He say such a cruel thing to an elderly gentleman? Why would He demand that Abraham give up his ONLY SON?

So just how would Abraham react to this request from God? Would he question God? Would he say, “Why would you be so merciless to me? Don't you know what this will do to my wife and I?” No, there would be no such murmurings from Abraham, but why not? Abraham had seen through some 100 years of his life that God was a God of infinite love. God had always been faithful. God had even proven Himself able to give them a child in their old age. The truth of the matter is, we don't even have to guess what he was thinking. For it is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19) Wow! Never had such ever occurred! Yet, such was Abraham's faith in God!

So up went Abraham with Isaac his son to the mountain God had instructed them to go to. By now Isaac was no small boy. Yet there is no account of a struggle as he was bound, knowing full well what would happen to him. For he was all too familiar with animal sacrifices. He knew that he would DIE at his father's own hands. Yet, he had also heard his father say to the young men who had made the journey to the foot of the mountain, “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” As well, his dad reassured him, “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:5, 8) So surely, Isaac placed his trust in his dad, whom he knew to be a God-fearing man and trustworthy. No doubt, Isaac also believed, like his dad, that God could raise him back to life.

There on the mount, father and son were all alone. The dreaded moment had come. Abraham raised the instrument of DEATH into the air and tried to prepare his mind for the DEATH-dealing plunge. As he was just on the verge of sinking that knife into the very heart of his ONLY SON, a voice from heaven commanded him to stop. Father and son's hearts must have been beating hard, sweat of anxiety pouring down their faces. What now? God spoke, “Because you have done this and have not withheld your ONLY SON, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore...and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:16-18) “So Abraham returned to his young men.” (Genesis 22:19)

So, yes, God was true to His word. Abraham knew that God was trustworthy! Indeed, it is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:19)

Yet, there was a sacrifice on that altar. God had given a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. Therefore it was a perfect, unblemished sacrifice as spelled out in the law of God. However, it was not the “lamb” Abraham had mentioned.

So what do these things remind us of? They remind us of the Lord Jesus Christ who DIED upon the “altar” of the cross. So what does this all have to do about God's love, you ask? Ah, you see, just as Adam and Eve didn't deserve God's love, because they had offended God by their sin, so we have offended God by our sin. Because we belong to Adam's lineage, we are ALL born SINNERS. We are unable to save ourselves. For can a criminal pardon a criminal? Not a chance! Never mind a criminal attempting to pardon themselves! How utterly ridiculous a notion that is! So neither can a SINNER pardon another, much less themselves. Besides, God said, “The wages of sin is DEATH.” That means I would have to DIE for my own sins. Interesting, that is just what God says, “The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) Then too, “Without shedding of blood [death] there is no forgiveness [pardon] of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) Indeed, the SINNER is left HELPLESS to save themselves – they are LOST. God says the SINNER will be PERMANENTLY separated from Him in the Lake of Fire – a place of unending torment.

You see, God spared both Abraham and Isaac the grief and horror of that sacrifice. Yet God the Father did not spare Himself the grief – neither His Son. For they too, and very likely on the same mount, had a sacrifice to offer. “For God so LOVED THE WORLD, that HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON...” (John 3:16) Yes, God the Father did not spare Himself the grief, but He gave up His ONLY SON to the altar of the cross – to DIE. Neither did God the Son resist, but willingly went, knowing all things that would occur to Him. He willingly laid down His life. Yet, He too, had full confidence in His Father that He would be raised back to life, and He was!

Yet, a very glaring question remains, WHY DID JESUS have to DIE??? Did He die for His own sins? No, Jesus was the spotless Son of God from eternity past. Why then did He DIE? He DIED to pay the wage for YOUR sin! Why would He do such a thing? God desired that you would be able to be RECONCILED to Him – to have the relationship RESTORED! Now, that is SACRIFICIAL LOVE!!!

So, even though the law revealed, like a mirror, that we were SINNERS. That it was an utter IMPOSSIBLITY for us to live up to the 100% perfection that God demanded from us. Yet, “God shows his LOVE to us in that WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ DIED for US.” (Romans 5:8) And further, “While we were enemies we were RECONCILED to God by the DEATH of his Son.” (Romans 5:10)

You see, God the Father did not spare His ONLY SON, but dropped “the knife” of wrath upon Him, punishing Him for YOUR sin – all your sin – past, present, and future, in order that you wouldn't have to DIE and be eternally separated from God in the Lake of Fire for an eternity of torment! As it was said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Now, this is the “Lamb” Abraham was talking about! No, all those Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin, but this LAST LAMB would do just that!

So, I ask, would you do that for your “enemies”? God did. He did it for you! You didn't deserve it. Yet God LOVES YOU and extended His mercy to YOU! If that isn't love, than there isn't even such a thing as love!

So what's left for you to do? Nothing, except receive the free gift of salvation! The work's been done. Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished.” The sin-debts have been paid in full. Do you believe and acknowledge that you are a sinner? Do you believe Jesus paid YOUR sin-debt, taking all the wrath of God for all your sin – past, present, and future? Do you believe Jesus, being fully God and man, DIED INSTEAD OF YOU, so that you wouldn't have to DIE for your sins? Do you TRUST Him as YOUR own personal SAVIOR?

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever BELIEVES in him may have ETERNAL LIFE. For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him should not perish but HAVE eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever BELIEVES in him is not condemned, but whoever does not BELIEVE is condemned already, because he has not BELIEVED in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:14-18)

“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Now that is the promise of God! We can count Him faithful, just like Abraham had faith in God!

The choice is yours.

Victor James Reimer

All Scripture taken from the ESV.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are like little gifts! :)