Here’s the notes from last night’s study:
1. How We Talk About God’s Love
John 3:16-21 – The world stands condemned for its love and commitment to darkness. But God loved the world. And how did he express his love? By sending his son, so that no one had to die under the weight of their condemnation. He showed how huge his love was by the length he was willing to go. And he gave definite expression to his love—he took action. He did something, in fact, he did the best thing, the one thing we really needed.
John 10:9 – God’s love is less like a bucket that’s just dumped out over whole the world, and more like the opening of a door. See also John 14:9.
1 John 4:7-16 – How has God shown his love? By sending his son. See Romans 5:8 (“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”)
We need to go out and tell the world about God’s love. But we need to realize they will tend to hear what we’re saying as simply an affirmation that God’s cool with them the way they are, that God wished them well (on their terms) and maybe even that he’s working to arrange things in their favor, so they get the life they want. That’s what love means to the average person who doesn’t follow Christ. So we need to clarify what we mean by saying the Gospel—that God has loved us by sending Jesus as the Savior and King to provide atonement for sins and to fix everything by ruling. When we turn and decide that a planet ruled by Jesus is the world we want, and lives ruled by Jesus are the lives we want, we can turn and receive his love.
So we need to labor to show people the way God has demonstrated his love, and why this is the most loving thing he could do. In other words, we need to focus our expression of God’s love on Jesus, showing who he is, what he did, and why it is such a big deal that God sent him. God loves everyone by providing everyone the savior they need, and then by inviting everyone to believe and be saved. He loves the world by opening a door and inviting everyone to come through.
2. How We Think About God’s Love
What do we expect in life as believers?
Romans 8:28-39 – The love of God does not separate us from hard things. But hard things cannot separate us from God’s love. Which means that those hard things don’t indicate that God doesn’t love us, or has stopped loving us. God’s love may permit hard things to come into our lives. Now see Rom 8:28-30 & 8:18-21. Knowing these truths about God’s love, we see these hard things in a different light—they are not keeping us from God’s love, they are the roads we pass through in order to come to the place where we enjoy the benefits of God’s love for all eternity.
So… God’s love doesn’t change the world first, by eradicating pain. First it changes people, and leaves them in an unchanged world, and then, after they’re changed and they do some work in the world (salt and light), he gathers them all up and changes the world for them, forever, and all the hard things are swept away.
We don’t experience the Love of God in unchanging blessings in our circumstances, but in unchanging blessings in our union with Christ. Only in Christ do we find the love of God. In our union with Christ we have the Holy Spirit within now, and because of our union with Christ, we are inseparably joined to the work God is doing in the world, and the future kingdom he’s bringing in. Nothing can take away our place in the coming kingdom of God.