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By Edward O’Hara
Not in our place. No one can die for someone who is already dead in trespasses and sin.
In John’s message in 1 John 4 he is showing us that God IS love. And that because God IS love we can trust Him no matter what this life may bring. He shows us that we will recognize the Spirit of God from the spirit of Antichrist because God’s love for us caused Him to take on the same flesh all men have. Doing this so that Jesus could join with us in death. That by the resurrection He could conquer death for us. And we have also learned in Pt.2 that real love is a choice and can not be forced. Which makes free will absolutely imperative for those who love God and each other. We learned the importance of free will to salvation. Because it is only when a person’s own free will choices are involved that real love can be present.
Now in the 3rd part of this message we will learn from John that anger, wrath, and vengeance have no place in describing who God is. The Bible is clear that God will at times express anger, wrath, and vengeance. But, only against idols and those who serve them. And because we are in the dispensation of grace Rom.1 shows us that it is only when one has so completely joined themselves to an idol that God expresses wrath by giving them over to a reprobate mind. And that on the day of judgment, and not before, God will show these to those who are joined to idols.
For example, in Rom.1 Paul shows us that the wrath of God is when a person is given over to the idol he has chosen. Showing us that anger, wrath, and vengeance are reserved for the time when a man ultimately goes with the god/God he has chosen. When a man will spend eternity in the lake of fire to be eternally separated from the love of God.
But, we must always be careful not to confuse these things that happen because of idolatry with who God is. Because He is not these things. These are things God has done in a different dispensation, and will do at the great white throne judgment, because of love for His people and those who will be saved, by restraining evil in the earth. This is how God makes the way for free will to determine where one spends eternity. Which is why it’s God’s love for man shown in His goodness that leads men to repentance. Not anger, wrath, and vengeance.
This is why as we pick up where we left off in 1John4:11 and following John says,
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Because “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Did you see that? His love is perfected in us. Not anger, vengeance, and wrath. So these should never be the expression of God that we present to the world to help them know Jesus. Because faith works by love, not these things.
So if you are feeling anger, wrath, and vengeance toward those who are now dead and in sins, instead of the same love and compassion the Bible says God has for them, then you are not relating to these people as God does. Because if God gave Himself for man while he was dead in sins as Eph.2:1 says He did. And greater love has no man than to give his life for his friend as John15:13 says. Then God loved us before Jesus came. And His death and resurrection was an expression of His love for us. Not the means by which He would be enabled to love us as many falsely claim.
We see from this that deserve has nothing to do with this love. And that Jesus’ death was not so He could deserve God’s love in our place. Imputing that deservedness on us so that God could love us as so many who falsely teach the doctrine of original sin and sin nature proclaim. But, so that we will know that God already loves us. And has loved us from before the world began. So that when Jesus joined with us in our death we know it was because He already loved us. And not so that He could deserve His love for us in our place.
So any teaching of a vicarious substitutionary death is false teaching. He could not die in our place since we were already dead. And He has always loved mankind. Not just since Jesus came.
This is why Rom.2:4 says that God leads the lost to repentance, which is turning to Him from idols, by His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering. And 2Cor.5:19 says He is not imputing their trespasses to them. But, has forgiven them 2,000 years ago by Jesus’ sacrifice. Just as Israel was forgiven when they performed the sacrifices under the law.
But, Jesus’ sacrifice is once for all. It affects all men for all time. Not just sins of the past year as the sacrifices under the law did. Requiring that they come back over and over again for forgiveness. But, once 2,000 years ago forgiveness for all men was done. So that now Paul says in Rom.10:9,10 that all that is necessary for salvation is to confess Jesus as Lord. And believe that He has raised from the dead.
This is the ministry of reconciliation God has given the church to preach. Not condemnation for bad behavior. Not telling them that it is because they have been bad that they need Jesus because God can not look at them on account of their bad behavior. On account of their sins.
This is as true for those who are in gross sin as it is for those who commit what we may think are lesser sins. Because when they turn from their idols to trust in the living God the love of God will be shed abroad in their hearts. And it will then be as John said in 1John3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
Paul confirms this in Gal.2:20,21 saying that “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” So to live by the faith of the Son of God is to know His love. Not anger, wrath, or vengeance. When we describe God or what He does as being anything but love we show that we have not known Him.
John says, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” And “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” And that “We love him, because he first loved us.” What? Since this is true it should never become our default position to emphasize God’s anger, wrath, and vengeance as the means by which He relates to those who are now rejecting Him. Because if it is then the person who is doing this will also relate to the lost this way.
Instead we must make it abundantly clear as we minister reconciliation to the world that God is not imputing their trespasses to them. Which means that any behavioral sins they may have committed are not being held against them by God. But, only the sin of unbelief. Which is idolatry. Jesus attests to this in John16:9 when He says the sin of the world the Holy Spirit is here reproving it of is “They believe not on me”. Why is this sin the only sin the Holy Spirit reproves the world of? Because when this sin is repented of a person has believed in Jesus as He trusted in the Father and is saved.
Again, all that God is and does He does because of love. He is not holding any bad things you may have done against you. All that is needed for you to have eternal life is for you to trust in Him. To know Him and Jesus Christ that He sent. Are you sensing God’s love for you now? And His goodness leading you to turn from idols to trust in Him? Would you like to know God’s love and have it forever in your heart? If you would then pray with me now.
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing me your unconditional love by joining with me in death. Making the way so that I can now join with you in eternal life. I confess you as my Lord. And I believe that you have raised from the dead. Thank you for making me a child of the living God. And heir to His kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed with me then welcome to God’s family and eternal life that Jesus died to give you. Read the Bible as often as possible now. And when you do believe what is plainly written. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in the truth.
See you there or in the air!This message can also be heard at: Rumble
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