100. Free to pray.

Do you zone out as soon as somebody talks about worship? It is just too much. Does God really need hero worship, to hear everyday of my life how great He is? If He is God, why do I have to tell Him and please Him by saying certain words?

Let us consider this woman and her spontaneous mention of worship in the presence of Jesus. Her life is laid bare in the presence of a stranger, a Jew, somebody to be afraid of and yet she recognizes the divine presence of God and she talks about worship.

The Samaritans were so far removed from true worship. They were desperate to be part of something authentic. They knew deep down they weren’t doing well and they did not know how to feed the longing for the real.

Let us look at verses 22-42 of John chapter 4.

The Samaritans rejected the Psalms and the prophets. They accepted only the first five books, which Moses has written. They were accused of superstition, and it was probably true. Over centuries they were so influenced by pagan gods that they added Jehovah to the list of other gods for fear of leaving Him out.

Fear and ignorance is the opposite of love and knowledge.

False worship is to selectively choose what to believe and to omit the rest. A one-sided religion justifies anything from scripture.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

True worship is hope with reason behind it.

They were so superstitious that they worshipped out of fear. Their religion was not based on the desire to serve or to love. For them it was better to play it safe. Worship was based on fear not love.

Jesus says: True worship is spiritual because God is spirit. Things are not important, the heart is.

One of the commentaries says it this way: (my emphasis)

It is the spirit of a man, which is the source of his highest dreams and thoughts and ideals and desires. The true worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. Genuine worship does not consist in coming to a certain place nor in going through a certain ritual or liturgy nor even in bringing certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, himself immortal and invisible.

The woman becomes aware of the wonder of the words spoken to her. She recognizes that it could only come from someone as special as the Messiah, a deep longing and expectation also among the Samaritans. This opens the way for Jesus to reveal Himself to her. Jesus is her dream coming true.

The disciples were probably in state of bewilderment seeing Jesus talking to a woman. The Rabbis despised women and held them incapable of real teaching, saying: Better that the words of the law should be burned than deliver to women. By Rabbinic standards Jesus could hardly have done a more shatteringly unconventional thing than to talk to this woman.

The disciples did not talk to the woman. They did not ask what she wanted or asked Jesus why He was talking to her. They were perhaps getting used to His surprising ways. This is a wonderful step towards true discipleship – not to question why and to bury old prejudices and conventions.

The woman hastened back to the village. She was changed. She left her water jar. It means she planned on coming back.

She faced her own sinful nature (Luke 5:8). In the presence of Jesus we are at once confronted and liberated. She was overawed by Jesus’ ability to see inside her life and liberated by getting rid of her secrets. Bondage is often secret.

Jesus reveals not only sin, but also potential. When bondage flees, our real life can start. He chooses a woman to reveal himself as the Messiah to Samaria.

She wanted to share her discovery. Her shame was dealt with in the presence of Jesus. She could face the world again.

With His disciples he again follows the pattern of conversation, contrasting the physical and spiritual. Jesus’ tiredness disappeared when He sensed the need in the woman.

Real food is to do the will of God. Jesus did it perfectly. He liked what God liked.

He was sent by God. He was under orders. That was His food and it fully satisfied Him. John 5:38 He talks about the works of His father; John 17:4 He says He has finished the work of His father; John 6:38 He states that He was doing the will of Him who sent me; John 10:18 He says He lives the commandment He received from His Father; John 14:23 He finds satisfaction only in doing the commandments of the One he loves.

For us doing the will of God is the only way to peace, happiness and powerful, victorious lives.

True worship is to hear the Word in the presence of our Lord and pray into His words.

 Holy Spirit prayer is to listen and then pray.

  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Worship in Spirit and Truth comes by true revelation – up close and personal. We need to chat to Jesus by the well of living water. It is individual, unique and specific. Just like the Samaritans, we need to get personal and “see” Him in our prayer.

There was no doubt when they saw Him. All ritual and uncertainty were dealt with in His presence.

Everything is hearsay until:

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
(Job 42:5)

 

Sit where you are, close your eyes and use your Spirit-controlled imagination to see Jesus sitting with you. Take His hand, rest you head on His lap. Hold on to your picture, while taking your thoughts captive and bring your life to Him. Tell Him you surrender again.

Sitting quietly in His presence, take note of the thoughts presenting themselves in your mind. Bring them all to Him. Pray about it. If it is something disturbing or sinful, pray into that and confess.

Ask Him to take the burden of sin and “see” in the Spirit how your sin and worries disappear into His body on the cross. Seal your prayer with His blood. Our trademark is the empty cross, but in this prayer you “see” Jesus on the cross bearing your fears and sin. Do not let Him die in vain. Do not take it back on you.

Write your prayer and the things you prayed about. Worship and thank Him for release and liberty. Your worship will come out of your deep sense of His presence.

 

You will show me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:1)

 

 

 

 

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99. A woman for all time.

I am often so in awe of the Bible. It is an ancient document, astonishingly well-preserved, spanning several centuries and then zooming in to a story of an hour one day to bring the God of heaven and earth to an ordinary routine of survival.

Let us look closely at a cameo encounter in John 4: 1-21. [Please read the story first, to know what it is all about before we discuss the details. Jesus departs Jerusalem to avoid a controversy about baptism.]

From north to south Palestine is not even 200 kilometers long. Within those 200 kilometers there were in the time of Jesus three definite divisions of territory. In the extreme north lay Galilee; in the extreme south lay Judaea; and in between lay Samaria.

There was a centuries-old feud between the Jews and the Samaritans, the cause of which we will shortly see. The quickest way from Judaea to Galilee lay through Samaria. Using that route, the journey could be done in three days. The alternative route was to cross the Jordan, go up the eastern side of the river to avoid Samaria, re-cross the Jordan north of Samaria and then enter Galilee. This route took twice as long. Jesus had to pass through Samaria if he wished to take the shortest route to Galilee.

It is obvious that Jesus makes the point of travelling through Samaria. His disciples must have been very trusting to follow Him on this short cut. On the way they came to the town of Sychar. At a fork in the road there was the well known as Jacob’s well.

This was an area which had many Jewish memories attached to it. There was a piece of land, which had been bought by Jacob (Genesis 33:18-19). Jacob, on his deathbed, had bequeathed that land to Joseph (Genesis 48:22). On Joseph’s death in Egypt, his body had been taken back to Palestine and buried there (Joshua 24:32).

There was absolutely no contact between the Jews and Samaritans.

The background to this feud can be found in Nehemiah while he was conducting the project of building the wall. Assyrians captured the northern kingdom (2 Kings 17:6) of Israel with their capital in Samaria. They never returned to their native land. Usually the weaker ones stay behind in such a sweep of taking people captive by a hostile nation. After many years some of the captives trickled back, but the majority disappeared into captivity and the history of other nations.

The people living in the territory of the northern kingdom brought other nations into Israel (2 Kings 17:24). They began to inter-marry and did not stay pure as the Law of Moses prescribed. Orthodox Judaism condemns marriage with a Gentile. The child is dead for the family. Doing this they lost their right to be called Jews. Judah was in exile in Babylon. They did not inter-marry. Under Ezra and Nehemiah the exiles returned to build the wall. Samaritans (scattered Jews from the northern kingdom) wanted to help with the rebuilding process. Nehemiah refused their help because of their impurity. In Nehemiah 13:28 is the example of the Jew who married the daughter of Sanballat (a Horonite). In 129 BC a Jewish general destroyed the Temple at Samaria. They became very bitter and held on to hatred for the next 450 years. The Rabbis fed the embitterment, keeping the stories of transgressing the Law alive.

Let us get back to the story in John 4.

Midday in the Jewish day of 6am to 6pm was 12pm. The disciples went tot buy food. This is in itself a miracle. It was highly unlikely for a Jew to buy food in Samaria. The barriers were going down.

The well itself was more than 30 meters deep. It was not a springing well of water, rather into which the water percolates and gathers. But clearly it was a well so deep that no one could gain water from it unless he had something with which to draw the water.

The well was about a kilometer outside the town. It was not the water source of the town. The woman came alone, which is significant. She was an outcast. Usually the women of the community visited the water source together for a chat. It was the only time for socializing in a long day of many duties. The very fact that she was drawing water from this distant well shows how she avoided her neighbours and how they avoided her.

Jesus asked her for water. He should not even have talked to her. Jewish men did not talk to women in public, not even their own family and certainly not to a Samaritan woman. There was a group that was called the “Bruised Pharisees”. They used to shut their eyes on seeing a woman and walked into walls and street obstacles.

The story in John is a brief report of the conversation. Maybe there was much more to it. Why did this woman trust this man? It could have been the consequence of more words He spoke to her or the kindness in His eyes that she was so unfamiliar with.

Jesus was ministering in the reality of His humanity. He was tired. John stresses His deity, but here also His humanity. For Him life is an effort, as for us.

The warmth of His sympathy was in stark contrast to the ordinary religious leaders. The woman would have fled at the sight of one of them. Jesus did not condemn, although He exposed her life. She trusted Him and found a friend.

Jesus breaks down barriers. She was Samaritan and a woman. On top of everything she was a woman of notorious character. No decent man would even come close.

It is an amazing story of the Son of God who is weary and thirsty. The holiest of men is listening to her sorry story, breaking through the barriers of nationality and custom. The gospel goes global.

God loves in practice, not only in theory.

The conversation is conducted in the same pattern as with Nicodemus. A statement of Jesus is misunderstood. It is repeated somewhat differently to be more vivid. It is misunderstood again. Then He compels the person to come to his own conclusion and face the truth. It is effective Jesus-style teaching, coming to the right conclusion yourself.

He contrasts the literal meaning to spiritual meaning. Water was mostly running water. A living stream was better. The well was far from it. She asked where on earth Jesus was going to get running water to give her. People carried a skin bucket or something to draw water with. Jesus had none. The woman knew He could not draw water and still He talked of giving her water.

Water had a symbolic meaning throughout Scripture. The thirsting of the soul for God and quenching the thirst with living water is a theme in the Old and New Testaments. (Revelation 21:6 and 7:17) The wells of salvation are mentioned in Isaiah 12:3. Psalm 42:1 talks about thirsting for the living God. Isaiah 44:3 promises water on the thirsty land. To drink freely from the water of life is an invitation in Isaiah 55:1. Jeremiah complains about the broken cistern (2:13) because it cannot hold the living waters. Ezekiel had the vision of the river of life (47:1-12). A cleansing fountain is mentioned in Zechariah 13:1 and the waters through Jerusalem in 14:8. Water in all its forms are promised to give life and sustain the spiritual quenching of the soul. It is spiritual essence and the source is God.

Wisdom was seen as the living waters of the law. The Rabbis saw living waters as the Holy Spirit. The soul-thirst could only be quenched with water from God. The woman clung to crude literalism because she did not want to see.

Quenching thirst forever was a Messianic claim according to Isaiah 49:10: They shall not hunger or thirst was prophetic words of Jesus Himself over Himself.

The woman is jesting about eternal things in their physical sense. She knew of her spiritual thirst and could not believe that she found the answer. Every person has that longing and wants to fill it with many things. Only God will satisfy that longing.

My heart breaks for the way in which our enemy can use this longing to terrify people into so many counterfeit solutions.

Suddenly the small talk is over. Jesus takes the sword of His word and pierces her soul. The talk about the husband opens up her wounds. She is shocked that He gets personal. She is seeing herself in the light of His gaze.

She is facing the complete disaster of her own life. She experiences Christian revelation: revealing God and ourselves. All Christian life begins with a sense of sin so that we can awaken to our need for God. We cannot in any way deal with sin ourselves.

Jesus is prophet here. He brings her to God and God to her. He reveals her sin but also the solution to all the longing for true worship.

In Samaria, Mount Gerizim was glorified as the place of important historical events: Abraham sacrificing Isaac, Melchizedek appeared to Abraham, altar of Moses. They tampered with historical texts to swing this mountain in their favour. It is a desperate move to cling to worship. They wanted to share in the holiness of Jerusalem.

Realization of sin brings a deep need to reconcile with God. Where could this take place? She was confused. Her real question: where can I find God?

Jesus’ answer: God is everywhere. Man-made rivalry for the physical places of worship is about to disappear.

The Lord will be awesome to them,
For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth;
People shall worship Him,
Each one from his place,
Indeed all the shores of the nations.
(Zephaniah 2:11)

In Malachi (1:11) it was like a dream to offer incense in every place in honour of God.

Next time we talk about the wondrous implications of this conversation to the act of worship.

 

98. Face to face with greatness.

Have you ever experienced the greatness of man’s creative forces? You might have sat nailed to the chair in a show or concert while the beauty and excellence of the performance permeates your soul. The brilliance of a concert pianist, a singer or another performing artist that touches you in music brings the same awe as staring at art, architecture and cinematography.

I am easily overwhelmed by beauty. I often long to see something magnificent. The past week the sunsets were spectacular. I feel I must watch them so intensely as not to miss a minute of the changing sky.

Earlier this year I was attending a women’s retreat north of where I live. We had a bonfire on the Friday night, something I love dearly. Late night around a fire has long been one of my favourite evenings. This particular night was cold, but very clear. Inside somebody talked to me and it was around 11pm that I had a chance to make my way out of the building to the fire. It was only the last few women sitting around and talking for a few minutes more. We stood up to leave and as I turned towards the building, the sky was dancing!

I could not believe my eyes. I cried spontaneously at the absolute magnificence and slendour of the green lights jumping and swirling around me. I honestly felt God put up a show for me. I don’t know how long I stood there until it stopped. My girlfriends, who are so used to it, enjoyed my reaction so much, they stayed with me. Some of them live up north and watch the aurora from their patio every winter.

I will never forget it. It is forever engraved in my mind.

How would somebody ever forget a meeting with the Light of the world? I can just imagine how it must have felt to come face to face with the man Jesus. Actually, it is guaranteed to stay with you, but you are still in control, still able to bring judgment as you reject Him.

Here in John 3:17-21 we see the paradox of love and judgment. The mere fact of His love has judgment built in. Any person rejecting love brings judgment on himself.

It is possible to offer an experience in love and it turns out to be a judgment. An experience of joy, could turn into a judgment. We might think an evening of beautiful music with an orchestra is a joyful experience, while the friend that we take with to share our joy with, starts fidgeting and yawning in extreme boredom.

When men are confronted with greatness the reaction is judgment. Art, music, preachers, books or nature all demand judgment. If somebody is not thrilled with what he sees, he is blind for that particular beauty in front of him. The beauty itself is not on trial – the one who look is. His indifference shows his own pitiable blindness.

Men are confronted with Jesus. He is salvation and redemption. When man sees nothing in Jesus, they are condemned by their own reaction. God loves while mankind condemns itself.

When men see Jesus, they are confronted with their own shortcomings and it is not pleasant. Love of darkness and secrets is to conceal and hide. Jesus is the light that reveals and liberate when truth is introduced.

In John 3:22-30 we read the words of John the Baptist and the eternal wisdom in it.

In John’s words the loveliness of humility shines brightly.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.”

Humility is defined as: Modesty, a sense of moral insignificance, an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. It is the total absence of arrogance, conceit and haughtiness.

 The word was unknown in classical non-Biblical Greek. The strength of a humble person was unrecognized by the ancient world. The Greeks were not schooled in the ancient Hebrew principles found in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.

A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

To be humble is to willingly submit to the will of God. Humility clears the way for God’s work in your life.  Such a person will inherit the Kingdom, the miracle of the invisible Kingdom of God on earth to live under heaven’s authority while her on earth in the body. (Matthew 18:4)

There is no self-pity from John the Baptist. He never expected anything else. He was the herald, the forerunner.

It would ease life a great deal if more people were prepared to play the subordinate role. So many people look for great things to do. Any task done for God has greatness built into it.

No man can receive more than God gave him.

In the words of John the Baptist:

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. (John 3:27)

He called Jesus the bridegroom and himself the friend of the bridegroom. 

One of the great pictures of the Old Testament is of Israel as the bride of God and God as the bridegroom of Israel. The union between God and Israel was so close that it could be likened only to a wedding. When Israel went after strange gods it was as if she were guilty of infidelity to the marriage bond (Exodus 34:15Deuteronomy 31:16Psalms 73:27Isaiah 54:5). The New Testament took this picture further and spoke of the church as the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2Ephesians 5:22-32).

The friend of the bridegroom, the shoshben, had a unique place at a Jewish wedding. He acted as the liaison between the bride and the bridegroom; he arranged the wedding; he took out the invitations; he presided at the wedding feast (MC). He brought the bride and the bridegroom together. He had one special duty. It was his duty to guard the bridal chamber and to let no false lover in. He would open the door only when in the dark he heard the bridegroom’s voice and recognized it. When he heard the bridegroom’s voice he let him in and went away rejoicing, for his task was completed and the lovers were together.

In the last verses of the chapter (3:31-36) we do not know if it is the words of John the Baptist or comments from John.

The words declare the supremacy of Jesus. He has firsthand information on God. We live in the Spirit-dispensation. We have firsthand knowledge through the Holy Spirit.

All ancient documents were approved and confirmed by a seal at the bottom. Jesus is the seal on God’s message to us.

God did not hold anything back from Jesus. He poured out His spirit in full measure. The Spirit had two functions: To reveal God’s truth to men and to enable them to recognize and understand.

To listen to Jesus is to hear the voice of God. Therefore there is a choice between life and death. The choice is emphasized throughout the Bible. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:15)

At the crossroads of your life, there is always a choice. What will you do with Jesus? Every day, every hour brings a choice. The wrath of God is brought about by men on men, not by God. God loves. That is His core characteristic.

He said so Himself. (Exodus 34:6, The Message)

God passed in front of him and called out, “God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. 

 

97. Look up and live.

We do not want to hear about judgment. We know about Jesus don’t we? He came to bear our sin, demonstrate the love of God and take the punishment and judgment of our sin upon Him on the cross and now all is good. Yet, we see so much sin, hell and disaster around us every day. What is going on?

Sin has consequences. We all know the story of the Garden of Eden. How the serpent, which we all know is the satan, God’s adversary, reasoned with Eve and convinced her to eat of the fruit she was not supposed to and on top of it all, gave Adam to eat as well, so that both of them hid from the face of God. Sin exposed them as naked, where they felt so safe in the sinless presence of God, they were not even aware of their nakedness. Very famously satan came as a serpent, a cunning snake. The use of the word serpent indicates a snake in mythological or religious context. We would write serpent and talk about snake – it is the same creature.

Here in John 3:14-15 he mentions a strange story in the Old Testament recorded in Numbers 21:4-9.

The chapter in Numbers begins with a great victory over the Canaanites, when Israel vowed to God to fully destroy all their cities if God will give the Canaanite army into their hands. The battle was won and the captured Israelites saved. Just into the next verses the complaining begins:

“Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

God sent venomous snakes among them and many died. They came running to Moses to pray to God to deliver them in their fight against the snakes. So Moses prayed and God said:

“Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

We think it is terrible that so many people died. Our knowledge of God has grown in Jesus. We know God is good and intend good for us. What about sending snakes? The interpretation of life coming from the old prophets was that everything came from God – good and bad. Today we know, that the bad is the consequences of sin that keeps this world in brokenness and hostility to God. Today still people die because of sin. In all their brokenness they still reject God, while He is waiting for their cry for help to bring deliverance.

The serpents were the symbol of the killing power of rebellion against God.

The story illustrates the destructive power of complaining in your personal wilderness way. If you say your soul loathes this “worthless bread”, it is a complaint against the provision of the Lord in your life.

John Bevere shocked me into right thinking when he made the statement: Complaining is like saying to God: I don’t like what You are doing in my life and if I were You I would have done it differently.

There is so much gospel in this. Jesus declared in these verses, that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so the Son of man must be lifted up, that those who believe in him, should not perish. We could compare our modern diseases with the sting of our broken world. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Then compare the application of their remedy to ours. They looked up and lived, and if we believe, we shall not perish. It is by faith that we look unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

 The snakes are called fiery because of their effects. Their poison caused an intolerable heat and burning and thirst in the bodies of the Israelites, which was aggravated with the circumstances of the place: that here was no water. The method of cure was prescribed, so that it would be clear to be God’s own work, and not the effect of nature. The serpent signified Christ, who on the cross, looked like sinful man, but was not, just like the bronze snake looked like a snake but was not poisonous.

 Do we trust God fully with our lives? Are we willing to submit to His healing and cleansing power when things get rough? What is your reaction to adverse circumstances? So many of us would slam the door and shout our frustration onto the bewildered loved ones around us, in stead of fleeing into our prayer-closet and submit our thinking and insight to see in the Spirit the cross as the symbol of our healing.

The story of the serpent in the desert is continued:

The verb to lift up is hupsoun. It is the same word that is used to describe Jesus being lifted up upon the Cross (John 8:28,12:32) and it is used to tell of Jesus being lifted up into glory at the time of His ascension into heaven (Acts 2:33, 5:31 and Philippians 2:9).

Jesus was lifted on the Cross, and then into glory. The one could not happen without the other.

A life unaltered is a glory-less life. First we accept the cross, then the crown. How would we as arrogant and selfish sinful man even think of the cross if we do not have to battle the snakes in our desert? Our circumstances draw us to the miracle-working God for outcome and relief. If our circumstances distance us away from God, it is the most profound tragedy of life there could be. Our circumstances are prompting us to cry out to our loving Father that will change us into His glory.

This changed life is the life of excellence we seek. A life well lived is for sure not the wealthy, super glamorous party life of excess and indulgence that the world promises.

To believe that God is what Jesus declared Him to be was difficult for the Jews, just as it is difficult today for the unbeliever to believe that God is good and wants the best for every person. For the Jews, God was a law-giver and punisher, demanding sacrifices and a price paid for sin. A loving God was almost impossible to grasp.

To believe that Jesus would know God because He is the Son of God, was even more incomprehensible. To accept Jesus, was to accept His message, to acknowledge that He knew the Father and brought absolute truth. Their rigid thinking and preconceived ideas about God made this recognition of Jesus almost impossible. Only allowing the Holy Spirit to convict of the Truth, as Jesus said He would, could bring us new insight and fuller understanding of God.

To believe is to risk everything on this truth. To cast our life and all we hold dear onto God and throw ourselves at His mercy in unquestioning obedience.

Eternal life promises we are at peace with God, at home with our Father and at peace with men to live as forgiven and forgiving those around us. We are at peace with life, believing all things would work together for good, not so much to understand everything better, but to feel safe in our evil and destructive world. Eternal life gives us peace with ourselves when we depend on Jesus for everything and are not terrified of our own weaknesses. Eternal life gives us a glimpse of the greater peace to come, a life where the best is yet to be, higher and better than we could ever imagine.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. (John 3:16-17, The Message)

This verse is everybody’s favourite. It is the essence of the Gospel.

The initiative of all salvation is in God. God sent His son. He loved us to send the sinless One to reconcile us to God. It gets rid of all the misconceptions of an angry, punishing God.

Why? Because of love. Mankind is drawn and disciplined by love. God is acting for our sake, not His own to satisfy love, not to bring things to order. He is a father and he cannot rest before his wandering children are home.

The full extent of His love is the world – not a nation or a person. He loves the whole, wide, unlovable, unlovely and lonely world. Those who reject His love and never thinks of God are ALL included.

As Augustine said it: “God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love.”

Here it is again. The full definition of the word lying dormant in the Greek language until one man gave content to a love so great that the full extent had to be expressed in the cruel death on a cross, yet so powerful and unconquerable that it saves, redeems and renew into eternity.

Love = Agapao (verb)

Unconditional love, love by choice and by an act of the will. The word denotes unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill. Agapao will never seek anything but the highest good for fellow mankind. Agape (noun) is the word for God’s unconditional love. It does not need an affinity, chemistry or feeling. It is a word that exclusively belongs to the Christian community. It is virtually unknown to writers outside the New Testament.