God's Unchanging Love

The major fault-line in United Pentecostal Church doctrine has to do with their message of salvation. In the UPC system of theology there is little to no security in their salvation message. This is why you find so many UPC people who live in fear of losing their salvation. Rather than living in blessed assurance, UPC people are constantly bombarded with the uncertainties of salvation.

It is so important to get the message right. Salvation is not something we earn. Nor is salvation something that we can retain by our own goodness or even by our performance. Salvation is based on one thing alone. It is based on God's love.

The apostle said it well enough; "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit." (Tit 3:5)

Let's take a look at this awesome subject of how we are saved by the love of God.

This is Bible Study DU003 - God's Unchanging Love.

It is important to understand that God's love is eternal and that our salvation is based on His love alone. Next we need to understand the love of God serves as the basis for all His actions towards us. This is why the apostle John said, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1Jn 4:10)

But how are we to understand God's love. There is a Hebrew word that expresses the full idea of God's love. The word 'hesed' is the foundational word for the covenant love of God. Hesed speaks of lovingkindness, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, steadfastness, and much more. It speaks of a love that never changes because God never changes.

How does this apply to salvation? In John chapters 13 through 17, Jesus is pouring His heart into His disciples. In these chapters we begin to hear the message of how our salvation is wrapped up in the love of God. For example John 16:27 says, "The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father."

But notice how John chapter 13 begins. It says, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Did you catch it? It says that Jesus loved His own to the end.

This is the one statement that opens up what is happening in the upper room. What was to begin as a fledgling movement in the eastern world would mushroom to be the greatest religious movement that the earth has ever known. There is one thing that makes the Christian faith unique to all other religions. The love of God is the true secret to the phenomena of Christianity.

Many believers quote John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” But John 3:17 is also important; “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

The point is that the apostles were given a love message to carry into the entire world. This is why the subject of 'love' is found so much in their writings. Paul said it best; “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38,39)

But what kind of love is this? Perhaps we catch a tiny reflection of God's love when we think of our own children. Did you love your baby the first time you saw him or her? Did you love your baby before it was born? Sure you did. You loved the very thought of having a baby. Now transpose this to God. The Bible says that God is love. We were not saved because we loved God, but because He loved us.

The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God. The Lord said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will never forget you.” (Isa 49:15) Notice the Lord said His love far exceeds the love a mother has for her nursing child.

Let's go a step further. How about if you could be in your child's future, always in the background, yet never diminishing your child's freedom of choice? Would you be willing to be there? Well, you can’t do that, but God can.

This brings me back to the Hebrew word 'hesed.' There is a special Psalm that encompasses the expressions of this term. In Psalms 136, the word hesed is used twenty-six times, one time in each verse. (I would encourage our members to read this Psalm as part of the study.) In this Psalm hesed is always translated as lovingkindness. But the word lovingkindness is always linked to another word, that is, everlasting. (Without end.)

The Lord gave David insight into this awesome area. David said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar … Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all … Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psa 139)

But what is it about God's love that is so incomprehensible? We know that only too well. We have all found that God's love surrounds us. God's love reaches into our pits and draws us out. How often have we been ashamed of a misdeed, wondering how God could ever love us still, and yet, in our turning to Him, we found He was ever there. In fact He had never left us.

A good example is with the prophet Micah. After dealing with issues of judgments, the prophet writes, “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love ... You will give truth to Jacob and unchanging love to Abraham...” (Micah 7:18-20)

Unchanging love is the catch phrase. Then we have this from Jeremiah; “The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.’” (Jer 31:3)

Jesus expresses God’s eternal love in saying, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)

And so the gospel is actually the greatest love story ever told. This is why we Christians sing love songs to Jesus. We sing love songs to the Father. We sing of His love to us. We sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” We sing, “Love lifted me. Love lifted me.” We sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Why do we Christians have such passion over the love of God? After all you don't hear Muslims singing, ‘Mohammed, lover of my soul.’ It can be summed up in the cry of the human heart. Paul describes it as the 'Abba! Father!' cry. We have found our Father.

Abba, Father, is an expression of the love of a son for his true Father. It is a cry of recognition. It is a cry that goes far beyond religion. It is the cry of a child whose heart has been filled with 'Father consciousness.' But it is a cry that goes both ways. Where we say, “My Father”, God says, “My beloved child.”

So we ask, ‘How much do you love us, Jesus?’ He stretches out His arms on the cross, and says, ‘This much.’ So, does He love us to the end? What say you?

The point of this study is simple --- The gospel is the message of God's love. We are saved by God's love. Any time we preach a message that does not include God's love, we have lost the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God wants us to believe in Him and in His love for us.

The very moment we take to ourselves Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, there is a special act of love that takes place. This act gives us the ability to love the way that God loves. Paul said, "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within out hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Rom 5:5)

What does God's love do in us? It becomes a seal on our heart. The seal says, 'This one belongs to Me.' In the seal is the witness of ownership. Paul said, "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:16)

Is God's love a passionate love? It is filled with passion beyond measure. The Bible says that God actually rejoices over us in His love. The Bible says that God's love is jealous over us. God's love is filled with the fires of passion. Here is one Scripture that perhaps lets us see the feelings in God's love: "Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord." (SS 8:6)

I must leave the study with two short stories of the mission field. (Perhaps I have shared them in a earlier study.) One happened in Honduras. The other in Belize. I was walking a mountain trail in Belize when an old Indian was about to cross over in front of me. He stopped to let me pass. When he stopped, I also stopped. I then spoke to him in Spanish, "Do you know that Jesus Christ loves you?"

What happened next startled me. The old Indian began to cry. It startled me because the Indians are normally very stoic in showing emotions. But the message of God's love changed that. It reached into the deep of his heart. My point in this story is that we only have one message to share. It is the message of our salvation based on the love of God and not on our goodness.

Again our mission group was traveling up and over a mountain to reach a village in Honduras. During our climb I began to ask the Lord what He wanted me to say to the people. He said in my heart, "Just tell them that you come as an ambassador from the kingdom of God, and that you have a message from the King." (God was going to fill in the rest.)

The village church packed to overflowing. Men crowded in the windows and around the doors. Little children pressed against the altar area. The church was filled with mothers and their little ones. Then it happened....

The moment I said, "I come as an ambassor of the kingdom of God, and I have a message from the King," it got so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Then I began to share the gospel of God's love. That night people were born into God's kingdom and all because the King was present. He gave them a personal invitation to receive His love for them.

Again I was startled --- Again it was an old Indian. Just as I was about to begin the altar ministry, an old Indian man stood up to make his way to the front. He was a lone figure. My eyes were transfixed. There was something that the Lord wanted me to see. What was it?

What I saw was that in the message of God's love is the power of life. This old Indian was coming to life. And the life was in Jesus Himself. Not one time did I preach anything that resembled performance on their part. The message was simple. But it was powerful.

Don't you think it would help if all we ministers would learn to get the message right?

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known {me.} 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 {Such} knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is {too} high, I cannot attain to it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike {to You.} 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, {And} skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained {for me,} When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. 19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. 20 For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take {Your name} in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

This study was originally shared on October 12, 2005. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded and pastors Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.

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Page added September 16, 2005


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