The Glory of God’s Love

The “John 3:16” of the Old Testament comes in a repeated credo that the LORD gives concerning His character and it first shows up in Exodus 34:6-7. This wonderful passage states this:The Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

This powerful assertion by God about His character is repeated in Nehemiah 9:17-19, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 111:4, Joel 2:12-13, and Jonah 4:2.  As we think about our sovereign God, let us explore what these descriptions mean.

The LORD is “merciful”—this really means a mother’s love toward her nursing baby. It conveys this idea of mercy for the helpless. It can also mean the love of a father. So in essence, this means that God is a loving, gracious parent who looks with mercy upon us as helpless and hopeless sinners. God is tenderhearted toward us. He relates to us as a Father, not a judge if we are in Christ.

The LORD is “gracious”—the imagery of this word means, “to bend or incline or come down”. It carries that idea that a superior or sovereign is bending down to a helpless rebel who in no way deserves love or mercy. We are in debt to God because of our sin and are hopeless without His intervention in our lives. As a holy God, He doesn’t owe us anything except for punishment due our sin, but He acts liberally and graciously toward us knowing all along we can never pay Him back. He simply rescues and saves us through Jesus because He loves us.

The LORD is “slow to anger”—literally it means that God is longsuffering or patient in snorting his nose in anger. God does not execute immediate justice or discipline at times, but is patient with our disobedience. He has a high threshold of tolerance for our stubbornness. Praise the Lord that He is patient with us through Christ!

The LORD is abounding in “steadfast love”—this is probably the most important word in this passage. The word is “hesed” in Hebrews and it is God’s tenacious fidelity and resolve to maintain a relationship with sinful people. It means that God obligates and swears upon Himself that He will be true to His covenant and promise to love His people whom He has chosen. He doesn’t break His promises toward us in Christ, but maintains this loyal, powerful, gripping love upon us in where He will never leave nor forsake us.

The LORD abounds in “faithfulness”—this means that God is trustworthy. He is firm. He can be counted upon. The imagery here shows us that God holds us in His strong arms the way a parent would hold a helpless infant. He takes care of our needs through Christ.

The LORD is a “forgiving” God—Through Christ’s death on the cross, He cancels the debt of sin against us. He wipes the slate clean. He tosses our sins and rebellious actions to the bottom of the sea. Our sins are forgiven as far as the east meets the west.

After God appears to Moses with this powerful statement about Himself, in Exodus 34:8, he “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.” The ultimate response to the character and Person of our great God is immediate worship. The more we know about God, the more we worship Him. I pray that you spend time this week meditating upon the glorious love of our gracious God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Awe of the Gospel

The glorious gospel of grace should evoke within us awe, passion, and thanksgiving. As those who have been saved by God’s amazing grace, we should be the most thankful people on the planet.  I want to share with you seven awe-inspiring reasons why I am thankful.

First of all, I am thankful that God sovereignly overcame my spiritual inability and depravity.  Romans 3:10-12 says, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” I was enslaved to sin and Jesus rescued me out of this pit of destruction and granted me saving grace.

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The Hope of Psalm 43

Forest Fires.Tornadoes. School Shootings. Conflict in the Middle East. Astronomical gas prices. Bitter presidential primary races. Unemployment. Everywhere we look, there is pain, suffering, confusion, and anxiety. In this midst of all of these overwhelming issues, how can a person truly have joy? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Biblically, there is a link to God’s glory and our joy.Psalm 43 is a heart-wrenching cry from a man who longed to experience the joy of the Lord.

Psalm 43 reads: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!  Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

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The Father’s Bargain

I love to read the Puritans. Here is a tremendous quotation from John Flavel on the amazing transaction that took place before the foundation of the world between the Father and the Son.

Here it is:

Here you may suppose the Father to say, when driving his bargain with Christ for you:

Father. My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls And thus Christ returns.

Son. O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

Father. But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare thee.

Son. Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, (for so indeed it did, 2 Cor. 8: 9. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor”) yet I am content to undertake it.

Blush, ungrateful believers, O let shame cover your faces; judge in yourselves now, has Christ deserved that you should stand with him for trifles, that you should shrink at a few petty difficulties, and complain, this is hard, and that is harsh? O if you knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this his wonderful condescension for you, you could not do it.

~ John Flavel