Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's All About Love (4): Where love begins...Wrath

Need to catch up? Read my last three posts here, and then here, and lastly, here.

This is where I may lose some of you. Tired of these "All about love" posts? Ready to move on? Hmmm...sorry to disappoint, but I'm camping here just a little big longer...and really, what better place to camp? I mean after all, we're talking about the most critical question that every single person will have to one day answer to God; "Do you love me?" Ultimately, it's not our mouths that will answer this question, but our lives. God will either say "welcome, enter your rest" or "I don't know you." To those He welcomes, eternal love forever; to those He rejects, it's God's wrath...forever. Those last two sentences I just typed should stop you...they stop me. They scare me. But do we live with this truth?

That's all an opening. The question I'm focusing on answering today is this; "where does love begin?" Or, put it a slightly different way, "how do I 'love' God more passionately?" I think this is especially a struggle for those two types of people; 1) for those who came to faith very early in their lives as children, and 2) for those who were "loved" into the kingdom without ever knowing what they were being saved from.

"So how about it, Mike" you ask? "Where does love begin? I want more of Him, I want this reckless love, I want Christ, but I fight myself so much...how do I get it?" Welcome...now you're starting to feel my angst.

I believe that the pathway to recklessly loving God, holding nothing back, begins by allowing God to take you to the depths of your sin, and His wrath.

18
 "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness..." (Romans 1:18)

I heard one pastor say "ultimately, God saved us from Himself." God is Holy...He is set apart, and there is NO-ONE like Him. He is eternal; He has no beginning, no end. He is all pure, light, and love. Our sin is something that He cannot live with. Sin cannot remain in the presence of God. Sinners cannot inherit His kingdom. Without Christ, we are condemned to an eternity with that wrath of God sitting squarely on us. The law? No chance. We cannot possibly justify ourselves through the law...we cannot get to God by ANYTHING we do. No amount of good works, no amount of religion, spiritualness, nothing can get you to God...or to put it more aptly, nothing you do can remove your sin from God's sight.

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Romans 3:20)

Want to love God more? Want to have a passionate relationship with him, sold out and completely abandoned? It must start here! You are toast. Fried. Done. End of story. You and I, left to ourselves, would spend eternity separated from the one thing that can bring us what we most desire. God's wrath, the punishment of our own sin, squarely laid on our shoulders. Stop for a moment, and let that sink in. Eternity is a very long time to live in a lake of fire.

We are not alone in this struggle. Read...(Romans 7)

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

In short, we are toast. We, a sinful people have absolutely no right, no ability, no chance to ever see God. We are in desperate need of a Savior. And this is exactly where Jesus steps out of heaven and into history. He comes...a baby. Fully God, fully man. And really, it had to be Him. Nobody else could fulfill the law...Christ is the only one who "justified Himself" through the law, and then, after living the perfect, sinless life, dies.

25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness...(Romans 3:25)


25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25)

My dear friends, do we ever stop to ponder what we are saved from? Have we been sold a "cheap gospel?" The more I read the New Testament, the more I see how shallow my own faith is. If we want the life that Christ has promised, we must choose that path that confronts us with our own sin and the dangerous path it put us on. Only then can we see Jesus, and respond to Him by laying down our lives as a living sacrifice.

Thanks be to Jesus Christ, my Savior.

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