I am reading the book “Loving Your Wife As Christ Loves the Church”. There is a section in it that talks about the deliberate choice that the Lord made to love us. His love is a predetermined love. It is unconditional. No ifs. Read what McCall writes in this section.
When did the Lord decide to love us? Did He choose to love us after some probationary period in our Christian experience–after seeing that maybe we would make an okay bride for Him after all? No. His love preceded that. Otherwise, He might never have loved us! Did He decide to love us on the day of our salvation? No. His decision to love us predated that day. Did he decide to love us on the day He watched us being born? No. He decided long before that. The Bible says, “He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Think of it! Even before uttering those words recorded in Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light!” God had already decided to love us. Christ’s love for us, His bride, is a decided-ahead-of-time love. His love is a predetermined love. No conditions. No ifs. Bob Lepine says it this way:
His love for us is not based in any way on how we will perform. He does not find us attractive because, as some have suggested, he looks down the corridors of time and is drawn to those who would one day choose to follow him. No, according to the Scripture, there is only one reason why God chose us to be his adopted sons. It is because it was ‘the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace’ (Ephesians 1:5-6). To put it another way, God chose us as his adopted sons because he wanted to . Pure and simple.
We could go even further than saying the Lord’s love for us, His bride, doesn’t depend on our worthiness. Way back before the creation of the world, when our omniscient God decided to love us, He was very aware that we would, in fact, be unworthy of His love. Paul put it this way: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Speaking to the congregation at Westminster Chapel, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones clarified this truth. “He loved us, not because of anything in us; he loved us in spite of what was in us, ‘while we were yet sinners’. He loved the ungodly, ‘while we were yet enemies’. In all our unworthiness and vileness He loved us. He loved the church, not because she was glorious and beautiful–no, but that He might make her such.” The Bible is clear. His was a predetermined love–an unconditional love–a no-matter-what kind of love. No ifs. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Lepine reminds us, “A husband who would love his wife as Christ also loved the church will begin by understanding love is a choice, made in spite of (not because of) his wife’s actions, attitudes or appearance. Once he has called her to be his wife, a husband makes a pledge of unconditional love for his wife, for better or worse.”
What a great examination of how Christ models a predetermined love toward His bride, the church. Men, husbands, love your wife in the same manner. When you spoke those vows to her on that day you predetermined that you would love her no matter what. No ifs.
How often do you think about eternity? It is easy for us to be so consumed with the little mundane things of life that we lose sight of what this life is for. We lose our eternal perspective. It doesn’t seem that the kids are learning what we are trying to teach them, the house needs repairs done that we don’t have time to do, it seems that the wicked are successful and being blessed, there is pain because of sickness and disease. Why is the Christian life so hard at times? Does God not see? Does He not understand? It is easy to feel these things, isn’t it?
Let me encourage you today with Revelation 7:9-17.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Can you see yourself there? If you are in Christ you will be one of those gathered around the throne of the Lamb one day. And what will matter then? That you had a nice house? That you had good friends to hang out with? That you made enough money to live a comfortable life? The only thing that will matter on that day will be that the Lamb did it! He paid your sin debt. He set you free from the bondage of sin. He was victorious. Nothing else will matter when you stand before the throne of Lamb.
So Christian friend, no matter what you are facing in your life today, view it from an eternal perspective. Know that God has an eternal plan and purpose for you. It is not in vain. He who began a good work in you will complete it. There is meaning. There is purpose. There is hope. There will be a day when you stand before God’s throne. You won’t be anxious with shame or guilt. But you will be like Him because of His grace. He has made you a participant in His divine nature. In that moment that you cast your gaze on Him it will not matter that you were successful in this life. You will not be celebrating the physical gifts of your time on earth. On that day your heart will overflow with the realization that He has been victorious. The battles of this life are forever past. And together, dressed in white robes and crowned with glory, we will celebrate the one thing worth living for: the Lamb and His salvation.
“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Over the past year it seems that this decaying of the outer man has been a lot closer to me. It has caused me to think a lot more on this. And even though I feel the weight of the reality of sin and the effects that it has in this life I am at the same time encouraged. That even though the outer man sees decay those who are in Christ have an inner man that is being renewed day by day. Sanctified. Paul describes the suffering in this life as light. But then goes on to say that it, this light affliction, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory. Our light afflictions in this life hold no comparison to the eternal weight of glory that we will one day experience.
So may we keep our eyes focused not on the things which are seen but on the things which are unseen. For these are the things which are eternal!
One of my very favorite passages of Scripture is Ephesians 2:1-10. I think because it is such a clear and real reminder of where I was apart from Christ, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…sons of disobedience…indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath…” I was dead in my sin, without hope, with no desire to turn from my sin, living in the lusts of my flesh and indulging its desires. Then there are those two words, “But God”. Such sweet words. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” While I was in my state of being dead God took the initiative in my salvation; He drew me to Himself. And then He seated me with Christ “in the heavenly places so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” But, just in case I might think that after all that I still had something to do in my salvation, Paul goes on to say, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So thankful that God is the one who gave me life. God is the one who gave me the faith to believe in Christ’s atoning work. And that God is the one who keeps me in my salvation.
Just thinking through the exhortation in scripture to be holy and what that looks like in my life. Am I striving for personal holiness? Am I killing sin in my own life? Putting it to death and replacing it with Christ? We have the command in 1 Peter 1:15-16 “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” Do I pursue this holiness daily? From this passage it is clear that personal holiness is not an option for those who are in Christ, we are commanded to be holy. How are you doing? Think this through and examine your own heart. Let us not be a people who are content with where we are but may we ever be pursuing personal holiness in our own lives.
This is my first time at trying this blogging thing so be patient with me as I learn. I wanted a way to be able to share my thoughts throughout the week about what God is teaching me and try to make it easy for you to keep up with me and what I am doing. So I hope as you follow me here that it will be a place to be encouraged, edified, and that it will be refreshing.