1 John 4:7-11 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” NASB
The Gospel or the Good News, what is that? In many ways, the word “gospel” is a useless word in our modern language. I say that because, by and large, most do not know what it really means. Many think of it as being the first four books of the New Testament or The Gospels. The word gospel in the 15th century meant, “the good, glad, merry, news that makes a man fairly leap for joy.”
When we realize that God loves bad, messed up, rotten, selfish people and would include them in His family and make them His friends – That is GOOD, GLAD, MERRY NEWS that will make a heart leap for joy! That’s the Gospel.
If the God of the Bible is the kind of God who will come to me and love me and I do not have to earn or deserve His Love that is incredible news and the best word to describe it is GRACE! Grace means that God gives us that which we do not and cannot earn. It is the opposite of what we deserved. That’s our God. Because He “is” Love, He must deal with us in Grace. Everything He is to us, people who do not deserve His Love or Mercy is Free and can never be earned. It is GRACE and that’s the GOSPEL!
God gives, not based on what we have done. It is not through something in us. It is because He IS who the Bible says He IS. The only thing that we can do is respond to His love and say, “thank you.” When we do that, we discover that He means it and we can relax and rest in that reality and know “I’ve Got It!” That is the Good, Glad, Merry News – THE GOSPEL!
God is Love and acts in Grace and my response must be in Faith. It is not us trying to be better, we would never be good enough. It is not our trying to do good. It is Faith! It is simply saying, “Thank You!” When we do that a miracle takes place and we are ‘born again’.
But what happens in this ‘rebirth?’ We are birthed into the Family of God. What is the character of God’s Family? It is LOVE! Therefore, the Love that God is comes into us and we are new people – That’s the Gospel. That’s the Good News!
To demonstrate just how much man needs this, God threw in an extra ingredient that has confused many people. God put in the Law at Mt. Sinai and took it out at the Resurrection of Jesus. He gave the Ten Commandments. Well, it looks like ten, but I suggest it is truly only one. Later in the Book of Leviticus, He boils it down to two, “Love the LORD with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s the nuts and bolts of it. If we love our neighbor we won’t murder, steal, slander, etc. Love handles all that. The commandments are simply manifestations of God’s Love.
You may manage the first nine without love but not the last one. “Thou shalt not covet…” Covet gets to the motive and it means that you do not even want to. To fulfill that commandment, we have to find something that will make us ‘not want to.’ That’s Love! When you love you will not want to hurt your neighbor. You will want to do the opposite and bless them. That’s where man has totally failed.
Consider Israel at Mt. Sinai and hopefully, this will become even more clear. God sent Moses down the mountain to see if the people really understood what they were getting into in His covenant. They insisted that they did and would do everything God directed. Moses went back up the mountain and told God, “They understand.” God sent him back three times, and in thirty days, they’d blown the whole thing. They did not understand.
God gave the Law to show them and us just how much we need for Him to take over and produce Love in us. He gave the commandments to illustrate the futility of trying to keep them. Have you ever noticed that the more you try to keep them the worse you fare in that effort? The Law stirs up sin. The Law was never given as a way to salvation. It was given to drive us into a state of despair and a sense of helplessness.
We find ourselves steeped in sin and we see that the Law is pointing to Love. We think in our hearts, “What a marvelous idea. I wish I could do that.” Man is forced to admit that a Society of Love is what we need, but he does not have it in his heart. He wants the entire world to love but selfishly wants to continue in his selfishness. Thus, man is plunged into despair.
There is a solution and we will address it in the next devotional but until then, walk in the Love of God and let His love be shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Have a Great Day!