Audio Video Library
General Beliefs Site Search Time Line
E-Mail Us Web Links Home
 

Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley


John 17:23-24, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

This morning, truly the richness of God's love, grace, and mercy never diminishes, and our minds should desire to delve more deeply into these subjects to discover more of that richness that we were previously not privy to. One of the main objections in religious circles to these concepts (as the Bible teaches them - not as they believe them to be) is that they are all free. Most confess to a belief in the love of God, His grace, and mercy, but they cringe at the word free placed in front of them. To their minds, God's love, grace, and mercy is full and wondrous "if" and do not believe that it is full, wondrous, and free "period." Many of the texts put forth to show conditionality are texts that apply to the here and now, and show forth blessings for faithfulness and cursings for wickedness. However, when looking at the eternal plane of God's grace and love, there is abundant evidence that it is both free and unmerited. To say that such a position is unfair or unjust, we must understand that they way God sees it is just and righteous every time. He never gets something wrong, and His justice is upheld in every decision, including His lovingkindness to His children.

In John 17, Christ offers some of the most eloquent, graceful language to show forth His position as our High Priest. The statements made throughout the passage show forth love, beauty, unity, and security. We can rest assured that what our High Priest has uttered will be honoured and upheld by our Father in heaven. (Hebrews 5:7) As Christ is closing His prayer to the Father, we read in the verses above about the declarative love that Christ says the Father has for us (His children). While both verses above have vast multitudes of rich substance, we will try to regulate our thoughts to the last phrase of each verse. These last phrases of verses 23 and 24 bring out a worthy parallel comparison that the Bible commonly employs to teach us things. For example, there is a parallel between the ascension of Christ and the return of Christ. The way He left is the way He is returning, according to the angel's declaration. (Acts 1:11) This comparison is not unlike ours from the verses above, for the parallel is between the Father's love to us and the Father's love to the Son.

In verse 23, we read in unmistakable language that the love of God upon us is the same as the love of the Father upon the Son. Wrestling with language cannot undo that clear, concise principle uttered from the lips of the Saviour. Therefore, should someone declare God's love to His people unfair or unjust, they are - probably unknowingly - declaring His love for His Son unjust as well. What are some characteristics of the love of the Father for the Son? What does Holy Writ tell us about it? One of the pivotal things we must understand from Scripture is what the next verse says in parallel.

In verse 24, we read that the love of the Father for and to the Son is from before the foundation of the world. The love of God for His Son transcends time and space to the hidden portals of eternity. There has never been a moment, period, age, or any other time-bound description when the Father did not love the Son. From before the world began, their unity in love was intact, harmonious, and secure. Rather than being at odds with each other, they have always been one. (John 10:30) With a desire to write more on such a topic, I fear that the mind and imagination could not conjure up even the smallest portion of the wonder and beauty of that subject (eternity with love forevermore abounding). The lips and mind simply have not the language or capacity to describe it or think of it as we should. However, just the knowledge of that (that God loved Christ before the foundation of the world), gives us much to say about the parallel thought.

Since God loves us as He loves Christ, how long has God loved us? The answer is before the world began. While not in existence as of that moment, we had our beginning in Him when the love of God placed us within the bosom of our Dear Redeemer. (Ephesians 1:3-6) This generally leads to much heated discussion, as there is nothing in that scenario for the lowly person to perform. We were passive in the love, the choosing (electing), the giving, and the keeping. We can no more keep ourselves in His love by our own power and accord now than we could have gotten ourselves into His love then. Our hope and consolation is that we are kept by His power and love that will not now or ever let us go. For again, drawing upon the parallel, to let us go, He must let Christ go. To eternally deny us, He must deny Christ, which He cannot do. (II Timothy 2:13) As Christ is God, one with the Father, in harmony with the eternal purpose, God denying us eternally is akin to denying Himself in the Person of His Son. Such a thing cannot be, for that would negate God from being God.

Now, since God has loved us as He loved Christ before the foundation of the world, we also understand that this is unconditional on His part. For Him to require a condition of us (when we as yet had no physical or spiritual existence), is the epitome of foolishness. Further still, it is folly of thought to say that His condition was met in harmony with His omniscience that saw the condition being met. Some people explain election in such a way, "Well, God saw down through time who would perform the ______ (insert act of obedience) and elected those." We are agreed on the fact that God did some looking. However, He found none that doeth righteous, no not one. (Psalm 14, Psalm 53) Yet, consider also that if God's love had been upon us conditionally, it would have had to be upon His Son conditionally as well. Surely we should understand that God's love for His Son is a just one based on the relationship. Why does He love His Son? He is His Son!
Simply put, the relationship draws the love and kinship together with no condition whatsoever, and by direct correlation, we are drawn to Him without conditionality based on the love and kinship of His sons and Christ's brethren.

One final point about God's love in this fashion before moving on to the perfection we should be striving for in our lives is this: God's love of Christ is fully just as Christ is fully lovable. Many times, people ask me, "How could God love us as we were so fully unlovable?" The short answer is that He can love us as He loves Christ, for we have been redeemed by Christ. The long answer is beyond my mind to fathom, simply this: whatever I deserved, He bore. Whatever would justly keep me from God forever, He purged. (Hebrews 1:3) Now, consider for a moment that one sin is all that is necessary for us to be spurned from God eternally, and compound that by the multitude of sins that we commit based on the sinfulness of our fallen nature. Now, compound that by the innumerable host that is God's chosen, predestinated, redeemed, and kept family. Finally, take that innumerable number and multiply it by the never-ending woe and misery of eternal
punishment. What is the result? Exceeding abundantly more than I can imagine, but yet, that is what it took for us dear friends (by His justice), and that is what Christ bore (according to His grace and mercy). He can now legally look at us as He looks at Christ (by that perfect offering), and there is no injustice for loving us as He loves Christ. Why? The offering legally secures us, wholly, to be like Him in eternity.

Therefore, the question always becomes, "Well then, what are we to do?" Well, if God loves us as He loves Christ, what did Christ do? He declared that He always did what pleased the Father. (John 8:29) Christ did not do these things to make the Father love Him - the Father already loved Him. He did these things out of love to His Father, and showed forth a perfect example of obedience for us to pattern. One of my biggest questions to either front-end or back-end loaded works religion is this: For what purpose is the work and labour? A front-end loaded works religion that declares - do A for God and get B - is that the end result still boils down to bribery. A back-end loaded works religion that declares - for you to really be a child of God, you must be doing A and not doing B to end up seeing heaven - is that the end result still boils down to extortion. Christ never bribed His Father nor pleaded due to extortion from on high. Rather, He showed forth the most perfect love in action the world has ever seen based on the relationship that He already had. May we show forth better love in action in the future than we have in the past based on the relationship we already have with our God out of thanks to our Elder Brother for His great love and sacrifice.



 



In Hope,

Bro Philip