“Does God Still Love Me?”
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church
Christmas is approaching and many people are anticipating time to get together with family and friends, exchange gifts, eat good food and get off from work. It is a sad reality that Christmas has become a cultural holiday that is “celebrated” by people who, by and large, are unaware of and uninterested in the Biblical significance of baby Jesus’ birth. While “Peace on Earth and goodwill towards men” is proclaimed, the Prince of Peace is ignored and men still stand condemned before God.
It is disturbing to note that at this time of year, there is also an increased rise in suicides as all the hype of the cultural Christianity fails to meet the real need of the people. All the celebrations and truly enjoyable times spent with family and friends cannot erase the fact that man, at his core, is still separated from God (Is. 59:2) and without hope (Eph. 2:12).
For Christians, Christmas is yet another opportunity to reflect upon God and His gracious dealings with sinful men. In Christ’s birth we see God’s faithfulness through the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Is. 7:14; Is. 9:6,7; Mic. 5:2). In Christ’s birth, we clearly see God’s love through His provision of a perfect redeemer (Jn. 3:16). And in Christ’s birth, we are also given another foretaste of God’s righteousness in that Christ came to this earth to die a death He did not deserve to save men from God’s sure and eternal wrath; men who were His enemies (2 Cor. 5:21).
But like those who “celebrate” a cultural Christmas, it seems as if the great truths about God that are clearly evident in the birth of Jesus are soon forgotten by those who truly know Him. As Christmas fades and we are again faced with the various trials and tribulations of life, we are easily coaxed into habits of doubt and fear that often lead to complaining and even the questioning of God’s love for us. Be honest. Has there been a time in your life as a believer where you have wondered if God still loves you? Perhaps you question His love in that He has allowed you to face times of intense personal difficulties. Perhaps, as you have grown in your knowledge of God, you have become even more aware of your weaknesses and failures and have secretly wondered how God could still love you. It is interesting to note that at times such as these, we do not question God’s love for others nor do we question His goodness towards us, but we become so focused on our failings that we forget the truth of God’s faithfulness.
If you are here … may I encourage you to not be swayed from the confidence you should have in being loved and forgiven by God, through faith in Jesus Christ. A truth that we readily acknowledge and quickly forget is that God’s love for us is founded upon His mercy and grace and manifested in the provision of His Son. The apostle Paul stated, “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.” (Eph. 2:8-9) This truth is something that must undergird our entire Christian life. “Grace” can be defined as God sovereignly bestowing upon undeserving mankind His love and redemption (and all the associated blessings) apart from any merit on their part or work they have done. The simple truth is that none of us deserved, in any way, God’s love or forgiveness. God’s word is clear; all of us are sinners (Rom. 3:23); none of us were seeking for God (Rom. 3:11); none of us had a fear of God (Rom. 3:18). We were spiritually blind, morally corrupt and fully deserving God’s righteous judgment. Yet, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. 5:6) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
Concerning that grace, Paul bears the following testimony, “and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 1:14) That abundant grace that was at work in Paul’s salvation is available to all who call upon the name of Christ. Writing to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul glories in God’s work in saving us from our sin and its consequences. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight” (Eph. 1:7-8).
This grace of God that made our salvation possible is not some temporal gift that we open and exhaust over time. Later, in the book of Ephesians, Paul reminds the saints that they were saved by grace “so that in the ages to come He might show thesurpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7). God’s grace is an ever present reality in the life of a believer. Paul wrote; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1,2). Here, he reminds Christians that we are not only saved by grace, but that our new lives in Christ are lived by grace as well, each and every moment. Paul reminded the church at Corinth ” Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The word for “stand” here speaks of something that is immovable; permanent. Our lives are to be firmly planted upon the reality that our existence, fruitfulness and confidence are based upon the grace of God as detailed in the promises of His word. Peter wrote; “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” (1 Pet. 5:12).
As Christians, we are in the process of growing and maturing in our walk with the Lord. It is to be expected that there will be times of great victories, but there will also be times of defeat that threaten to rob us of our confidence in God’s continuing love for us. Over time, we will come to know God more fully as He has explained Himself in His word. We will also come to more fully appreciate how sinful we were and how unfaithful we can be. At times like this, we must be reminded that just as we were saved by grace, we are to stand in light of God’s grace each and every moment of our lives.
This truth will help maintain a healthy biblical perspective on our life. On the one hand, the truth of our ongoing dependence upon God’s grace will keep us from exulting in ourselves as we see growth in our lives or fruit in ministry. On the other hand, the reminder that we stand in grace will also encourage those who feel as if their failures have somehow removed them from God’s love. “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). Earlier in the book of Romans, Paul offers this assurance to Christians concerning their ongoing relationship with God,“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:9,10). God’s grace shown towards His enemies is not greater than the grace He shows towards those who have been fully reconciled to Him through faith in His Son!! If God loved His enemies, how much more so does He love those who have been united by God’s grace, through faith, with His Son!!
As Christmas approaches, let us think long and hard through our own study of God’s word about the grace of God shown to rebellious and hopeless mankind. As the rush of this holiday subsides and we begin to focus on the challenges of the next year, may we never forget about the grace of God in our lives, and as we stand in that abundant grace, may we be ever confident of God’s unceasing love for His children.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call.
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church