How easy it is to let fear dominate our lives…
What am I going to do if I do not find a spouse? What am I going to do if I don’t get into grad school? What am I going to do if they fire me? What am I going to do if the economy goes into a recession and there are no jobs? What will I do if I contract a terminal illness?
Jesus wants to free people like us who are in bondage to fear. Biblically speaking, the opposite of fear is not faith, but love. 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”
Perfect love drives out fear…
First of all : How do you know that God’s loves you? Secondly, in what ways does the love of Christ transform us?
I. THE PROOFS OF GOD’S LOVE – How do we know that God loves us?
A. First, what has God done FOR us in Christ?
- God demonstrates His own love for us by sending Jesus to die in our place (v.15c) “who for their sakes…died. 1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is…Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. When did he do this? Not when we had our act together, but while we were still sinners…ungodly.
- God demonstrates His own love for us by raising Jesus from the dead (v.15c) “who for their sakes…was raised.”
B. Secondly, what has God done IN us through Christ? This love of God in Christ has brought about three miracles in your life…
God demonstrates His own love for us by giving us a new heart. NEW HEART – Regeneration (v.16-17) Do you believe that you are a new creature in Christ, namely that all your sins are forgiven and that you are totally accepted by Your Heavenly Father?
God demonstrates His own love for us by giving us a new peace. NEW PEACE – Reconciliation (vv.18-20) Reconciliation takes place when two parties, estranged from each other, are brought back into a harmonious relationship through the efforts of a mediator. Reconciliation supposes a quarrel, or breach of friendship. Sin made a breach in our broken relationship with God. The heart of the sinner is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with the sinner. Yet, behold, there may be a reconciliation; the offended Majesty of heaven is willing to be reconciled. Relish our friendship with God. Do you believe that you are reconciled to God and you are now at peace with Him because Jesus paid the debt of sin you owed and the debt you were powerless to pay?
God demonstrates His own love for us by giving us a new record. NEW RECORD – Righteousness – 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Do you believe that you possess the righteousness of God in Christ and will you quit trying to establish your own track record of goodness to earn God’s favor?
Luther: “Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression.”
Luther writes to a monk in distress about his sins: “Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and say “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours. You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not” (Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p.110).
II. THE POWER OF GOD’S LOVE – In what ways does the love of God in Christ compel us?
The word synch in verse 14 means to compel, constrain. It implies pressure but not so much the pressure to control but the pressure that causes action. The Greek implies to compress forcibly the energies into one channel.
NEW MOTIVATION FOR LIFE – The love of God liberates us from selfishness and compels us to center our lives on Jesus. There are certain tendencies that cannot and will not persist in the heart of a believer who personally experiences the love of God. The cross of Christ stands as a continual rebuke to our self-centered, pleasure-oriented lifestyle. Christ’s self-sacrifice had a particular goal in mind. He died that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (v. 15). Selfishness cannot persist in the heart of the Christian who understands the love of God.
We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions: and it was one end of Christ’s death to cure us of this self-love, and to excite us always to act under the commanding influence of his love.
LOVE SO AMAZING, SO DIVINE…Isaac Watts…
NEW OBJECTIVE IN LIFE. The love of God liberates us from futility and emptiness and gives us a new purpose. It compels us to give ourselves fully to His cause – communicating the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). Proclaim the good news of reconciliation.
Charles Spurgeon: “Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah’s death be joyful at every remembrance of him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to his cause.”
NEW ASSURANCE. The Love of God Offers a Profound Assurance
Listen to the poetic words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who herself knew what it meant to be forsaken. Her parents disowned her when she married Robert Browning. She wrote her parents beautiful poetry and letters of her love for them. Her parents responded after ten years by sending all of her letters back to her in a box all unopened. She took great comfort from Jesus’ cry of being God-forsaken and wrote about it in her poem
Listen to the poetic words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning…
Yea, once Immanuel’s orphaned cry his universe hath shaken.
It went up single, echoless, “My God, I am forsaken!”
It went up from the Holy’s lips amid his lost creation,
That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, 2 Co 5:12. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.