Series Gowing in your love walk 6 Knowing God loves you
Series: Growing In Your Love Walk—6
“Knowing that God Loves You”
Good Will Hunting is the story of a troubled young man—Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon). He’s got a genius IQ, and yet he works as a janitor at MIT. He comes to meet a girl, Skylar—who loves him; but Will can neither receive nor return Skylar’s love. Why? That becomes the riddle of the movie. After assaulting a child-hood bully, Will turns and assaults the police officer trying to break up the fight. He’s arrested and ultimately given a choice: go to prison, or see a therapist on a regular basis. Needless to say, he chooses to see a therapist—actually 5 therapist—none of whom can crack the hard shell Will has weaved around calloused heart. Finally, in a last ditch effort, a specially gifted therapist by the name of Sean McQuire [played by Robin Williams] is called in. In the course of therapy, Will reluctantly confesses that he was physically abused by his alcoholic foster Dad—(beaten many times within an inch of his life). But in sharing his heart-breaking and horrendous story—Will is somehow strangely detached. He shows no emotion…for he has learned to not feel his emotions—any emotions…especially emotions of love. Having a history of being abandoned and abused, Will’s heart is a locked vault. Hence, he is unable to maintain either a steady job or a steady romantic relationship. Will can neither receive love nor give love—neither to his girl-friend nor to the therapist (who against all professional protocol) has come to love this troubled young man. Will subconsciously blames himself for his unhappy upbringing and thus turns his self-loathing into a form of self-sabotage—in both his professional and his emotional life. In one dramatic scene, Sean, his therapist, very tenderly says to a still emotionally aloof, detached and withdrawn Will—
“It’s not your fault.”
Will [staring blankly into space, softly replies]—“I know...”
Sean [presses the point again]—“No you don’t. . . It’s not your fault.”
Will: [with a more serious tone in his voice says]—“I know.”
Sean [pressing the point even further says]—“No. Listen to me son . . . It’s not your fault.”
Will [trying to again evade the ever-pressing and probing therapist replies]—“I know that.”
Sean [keeps up the anthm]: “It’s not your fault.”
[Will responds with silence…his eyes closed]
Sean [again tenderly says]—“It’s not your fault.”
Will [his eyes now open and beginning to tear up, clearly agitated now says] “Don’t [screw] with me Sean. Not you.”
Sean [says it again]—“It’s not your fault.”
[Will then violently shoves Sean back, buries his face in his trembling hands, and begins to sob uncontrollably. Sean then, very tenderly and compassionately puts his hands on Will’s shoulders. Will grabs him and holds him close, crying out . . .
“Oh my God! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry Sean!”
[Finally realizing, in his heart, that all his life he has pushed people away so that he can avoid the risk of emotional pain, and realizing that the abandonment and abuse he experienced was truly not his fault…Well, Will is set free! And being ‘set free’ from his self-imposed emotional exile—Will can now not only ‘receive’ love…Will can now also ‘give’ love.
I am under the conviction of the Spirit that God wants to set some of us free today. For I think that there are some in this room who can very much relate to Will. We’ve been talking about “growing in our love walk.” That’s the “main thing.” But you know what? We can not truly love God or others, until we know that we are loved. Or to put it another way:
You can’t give…what you don’t have. That is, if your love-tank is empty…you will never be able to give love away. The Bible puts it like this in 1 John 4:19
- 1 John 4:19 We love because He [God] first loved us. [ESV]
- 1 John 4:16a So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us…” [ESV]
· [NLT] We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.
Question: Do you truly know…know in your heart-of-hearts . . . that God loves you? That’s a most important question. For unless the love of God is abiding in your heart…unless you know in your heart-of-hearts that God truly loves you…
Your heart will forever remain . . . “a locked vault.”
I am persuaded by the H. S. that God wants all of you here today to know that He loves You! And as I studied, prayed and meditated upon all of this…the Spirit directed me to the first chapter of the book of Ephesians. Time constraints will not allow me to go as in-depth as I would love to go…but God wants me to speak today more to your heart than your head. The fact is…you can know in your head that God loves you. But unless you know deep in your heart that God loves you…you will never really be ‘set free’ to love either God or others. God wants to do some heart surgery today.
[Let’s begin by looking at Eph. 1:3-6 where we see…]
I. God’s ‘Selecting-Electing-Adopting’ Love [Eph. 1:3-6]
- Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [ESV]
How many of you can unashamedly confess that you have put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and love God?
Again, drawing from 1 John 4:19 I can most assuredly tell you this—You love God…only because He first loved you!
And God loved you . . . before you were even born—“even as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world…” Try to wrap your mind around that one! It’s what theologians call “the doctrine of Election”—the fact that God selected, elected and loved you not only before you were born…but loved you from all eternity past. Question is—Why?
***In his book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, D. A. Carson gives a helpful picture in story form:
“Picture Charles and Susan walking down a beach hand in hand at the end of the academic year. The pressure of the semester has dissipated in the warm evening breeze. They have kicked off their sandals, and the wet sand squishes between their toes. Charles turns to Susan, gazes deeply into her large, hazel eyes, and says, “Susan, I love you. I really do.” What does he mean? Well, in this day and age he may mean nothing more than that he feels like testosterone on legs and wants to go to bed with her [right now]. But if we assume he has even [an ounce] of decency…the least he means is something like this: “Susan, you mean everything to me. I can’t live without you. Your smile [captivates] me…Your sparkling good humor, your beautiful eyes, the scent of your hair—everything about you transfixes me. I love you!”
What he most certainly does not mean is something like this: “Susan, quite frankly you have such a bad case of halitosis it would embarrass a herd of unwashed, garlic-eating elephants. Your nose is so bulbous you belong in the cartoons. Your hair is so greasy it could lubricate an eighteen-wheeler. Your knees are so disjointed you make a camel look elegant. Your personality makes Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan look like wimps. But I love you!”
[So now God comes to us and says, “I love you.” What does he mean? Does he mean something like this?]
“You mean everything to me. I can’t live without you. Your personality, your witty conversation, your beauty, your smile—everything about you transfixes me. Heaven would be boring without you. I love you!” That …is pretty close to what some therapeutic approaches to the love of God spell out. We must be pretty wonderful because God loves us. And dear old God is pretty vulnerable, finding himself in a dreadful state unless we say yes… [Carson continues…] “When he says he loves us, does not God rather mean something like the following? “Morally speaking, you are the people of the halitosis, the bulbous nose, the greasy hair, the disjointed knees, the abominable personality. Your sins have made you disgustingly ugly. But I love you anyway, not because you are attractive . . .
but because it is my nature to love!”
We live in a world in which love is ‘conditional’ and based on performance… And that’s why it is so difficult to get our arms, our brains, our hearts around GRACE. For God loves you not because you are so good and lovely, but because…
HE is so Good and Lovely!
Why does God love YOU? The only answer the Bible gives is—For reasons unknown to us . . . He simply decided to.
Paul makes this clear by using the metaphor of “adoption” in describing God’s love for us. I like the way NLT puts v. 5
· Eph. 1:5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. [NLT]
Pastor Lee Strobel tells this story:
Shortly after the Korean War, a Korean woman had an affair with an American soldier, and got pregnant. The soldier went back to the United States, and she never saw him again. She gave birth to a little girl. But this little girl looked different than the other Korean children. She had light-colored, curly hair. In that culture, children of mixed race were ostracized by the community. In fact, many women would kill their children because they didn’t want them to face such rejection. But this woman didn’t do that. She tried to raise her little girl as best she could. For seven years she tried to do that, until the rejection was too much. She did something that probably nobody in this room could imagine ever doing. She abandoned her little girl to the streets. This little girl was ruthlessly taunted by people. They called her the ugliest word in the Korean language, tooki, (alien devil). It didn’t take long for this little girl to draw conclusions about herself based on the way people treated her. For two years she lived in the streets, until finally she made her way to an orphanage.
One day, word came that a couple from America was going to adopt a little boy. All the children in the orphanage got excited, because at least one little boy was going to have hope. He was going to have a family. So this little girl spent the day cleaning up the little boys, giving them baths and combing their hair, wondering which one would be adopted by the American couple. The next day the couple came, and this is what the girl recalled: “It was like Goliath had come back to life. I saw the man with his huge hands lift up each and every baby. I knew he loved every one of them as if they were his own. I saw tears running down his face, and I knew if they could, they would have taken the whole lot home with them. “He saw me out of the corner of his eye. Now let me tell you. I was nine years old, but I didn’t even weigh 30 pounds. I was a scrawny thing. I had worms in my body. I had lice in my hair. I had boils all over me. I was full of scars. I was not a pretty sight. But the man came over to me, and began rattling away something in English, and I looked up at him. Then he cupped my little face in his huge hands…and began to say something. What was he saying? He was saying,
“I want this child! This is the child for me!”
[This is just a ‘picture’ to help you get at least somewhat of a grasp of God’s “Selecting, Electing, Adopting love for you!]
2. God’s ‘Redeeming-Forgiving-Lavishing’ Love [Eph. 1:7-8]
- Ephesians 1:7-8 In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight [ESV]
Let’s personalize this verse. Repeat after me: In Christ ‘I’ have redemption…through His blood…the forgiveness of ‘MY’ trespasses… according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished…which he lavished…upon ‘ME’…upon ‘ME’…”
Listen, like Will Hunting…some of you are bound up. For whatever reason, you feel worthless, unlovely and even unloveable. There are people in your life who hurt and wounded you…hurt and wounded you deeply. And like Will Hunting you also feel that it’s YOUR fault. I don’t know. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But regardless of who’s fault… What God wants YOU to know…What God is saying to you right now is—
I Love You! I love you…I love you…I love you…
“Ok”, (you say to yourself), “I think I get it—God actually loves me…But what if I screw up tomorrow? What if I blow it tomorrow? What if I stumble and fall tomorrow? What if I make a mess out of my life tomorrow? Well,
I’ve got some good news and some bad news:
The bad news? In all likelihood, You will screw up tomorrow! You will blow it tomorrow! You will stumble and fall tomorrow! And the grim reality is…that some of us will make a real mess out of our lives tomorrow, next month, etc.
But the good news is—No matter how badly you screw up, blow it, stumble/fall tomorrow… No matter the mess you make tomorrow, next week, next month, next year…
God will still…Love You Tomorrow (and for all your tomorrows)!
[I know this flies in the face of perhaps all you have been taught…How can I say that no matter what…God will love you tomorrow?]
3. God’s ‘Sealing-Securing-Everlasting’ Love [Eph. 1:13-14]
- Eph. 1:11-14 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. [ESV]
Point: When you heard the gospel, believed and received Christ…God ‘sealed’ you with His Holy Spirit…‘sealing’ in this context means that God has identified you as belonging to Himself. You are both ‘safe’ and ‘secure.’
- Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you…“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!!! [ESV]
Not only does God seal you with His Spirit thus identifying you as belonging to Him…The Holy Spirit is also ‘the guarantee’ of our inheritance.” In other words, God’s Holy Spirit is the ‘guarantee’ . . .that God will love us . . .
that God will love YOU . . . all the time . . . and all the way . . . to heaven!
[And know that when God gave you His H. S.…well, God is not an Indian-Giver—When it comes to the gift of the H. S.,
God does not “give and take away.”
Yes, you can ‘grieve’ the Spirit…Yes, you can ‘quench’ the Spirit…But you cannot stop nor snuff out…
the “selecting-electing-adopting…the redeeming-forgiving-lavishing…the sealing-securing-everlasting . . . love of God.
- Phil. 1:6 “…He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. [ESV]
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is Faithful; He Will Surely . . . Do It!” [ESV]
I always love the story about a man who, one night, had a dream or perhaps a vision—a dream or vision in which he asked Jesus this question— “Jesus, how much do you love me?” The man said that in his dream, vision or whatever it was… [he wasn’t quite sure] that when he asked Jesus—“How much do you love me?” That Jesus looked deep into his eyes, lifted up His arms…and then…spreading them wide said— “This much.” [And then He died].
This message may be for all of us…or it may be just for one of us. All I know is that God wants me to tell you . . .
That He Loves You.
[Walk the room and Go with the Spirit . . .]