FROM HEAVEN...WITH LOVE
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
"I love you! I love you! I love you!” This is the message from heaven God sends to you. Please notice carefully the many ways that God has shown us His love!
God has shown His Love through His Good Provisions
God has said, "I love you," through the beauty of the morning, the lovely hues of evening, the refreshing showers of rain, the world adorned with flowers, the blades of grass, the fluffy clouds, the radiant sun, the mellow eyed moon, the stars of evening, and every beautiful thing that fills your life. The Holy Spirit revealed, “But God did things to prove that He is real: He does good things for you. He gives you rain from the sky and good harvests at the right times. He gives you plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts ).
God has shown His Love through Punishment
"But," you may object, "I have sorrow in my life and do not and cannot see in the things about me the love of God." From heaven God may be saying, "I love you," by withholding things you want and through chastising you, even as a parent says, "I love you," to his child when he refuses to give him a wasp, a snake, or a spider desired by the child, and when he punishes his child for playing in the street, for handling a loaded gun, and for seeking to touch a hot stove. Jesus said, "I correct and punish those whom I love. Be serious. Change your heart!” (Rev. 3:19). "The Lord disciplines the one He loves. He whips every person He accepts as a son” (Heb. 12:6).
Your sadness in life may also come because your lack of love for God causes Him NOT to give you good things you could have if you loved Him. “How do I know if I love God,” you ask? You love God when you keep His commandments (John , 23-24). The apostle Paul wrote, “We know that all things work together for good for people who love God. They are called for God’s purpose” (Rom. ). Friends, in everything God works for good with those who love him.
God may be chastising you because He loves you or
because you do not love Him (you are not keeping His Word). Even though
you reject His love, He still extends His goodness to you, more than
you deserve, in an effort to turn you to Him. Hear the Holy Spirit: “Do
you look down on the
wealth of God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience? Surely you know that
kindness is meant to lead you to a change of heart” (
God has shown His Love through Jesus
Through sending His Son from heaven God has said to you, "I love you." You were found loving sin and hating God, turning from good and seeking wickedness. Your life was filled with some of these sins: "... filled with all kinds of wrong, with evil, greed, and depravity. Full of jealousy, murder, fighting, tricks, malice....(and you were included among these) gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insulters, prideful, boastful, inventors of evil, those who do not obey their parents, promise breakers, the stupid and heartless, those who show no pity to others” (Rom. 1:29‑31). And you could be described by some of the following terms: "sexual sinners, worshippers of false gods, adulterers, perverts, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers" (1 Cor. 6:9‑10).
The Bible says, "No one is good – not even one person!” (Rom. ). "Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s glory” (Rom. ). Like all the rest of us you were found to be a sinner. But, even though you deserved to be punished, our God in heaven in tender concern said, "I love you. I love you so much I'll send my Son, my innocent Son, my only begotten Son, my beloved Son to die in your place - to be spit at, to be mocked, to be abused, to be crucified for your sins - just like you should be treated because of your sins." Men would treat you just like they treated Jesus if they knew of your evil deeds and your evil thoughts. Jesus did not deserve such treatment, but for your sake He was handled like you should have been handled so that you could go free, and this He did because all HEAVEN loves you.
Again, Paul wrote, "It is rare when someone dies
for another person – even for a good person. However, some do dare to
die for a good man. But God reassures us of His love for us in this
way: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (
God has shown His Love to the Obedient
God withholds His love from you if you do not respond to this expression of His love. "The person who commits himself to the Son has eternal life, but the person who does not obey the Son will not see eternal life. Instead, God’s punishment stays on that person” (John ). "God’s punishment is being revealed from heaven against all sin and ungodliness of people who use sin to hide the truth” (Rom. ). “But, punishment and anger will go to those who are following wrong; by being selfish and not obeying the truth” (Rom. 2:8).
If you will let God's love for you move you to do His will, He will love you and continue with you with His tender loving care. Jesus said, "If anyone loves me and obeys my teaching, my Father will love him. We will come and live with him” (John ). God says from heaven, "I love you." Yet if you do not keep the commandments of Jesus, you cannot abide in His love. Whether or not you stay in God's love is up to you. Jesus made this known by saying, "I love you, just as the Father loves me. Stay in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands and I stay in His love. If you obey my commands, you will stay in my love” (John 15:9‑10).
God has said to you, "I love you," through His good provisions, through His chastisement, and through sending His Son, but abiding in His love is up to you. If you would abide in His love you must return His love through humbly doing His will (cf. Matthew ).
God has shown His Love through His Commandments
To those still in sin and not His children, God in love has sent His Son from Heaven to tell you what you are to do to have eternal life. Jesus said, "I have not spoken on my own. The Father Himself sent me. He told me what to say. I know that His command is eternal life. I am saying exactly what the Father said to me” (John 12:49‑50). God requires these below things of you before He will forgive your sins and save you:
1. Hear the word of the Lord. "Every person who listens to my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house upon rock” (Matt. ).
2. Commit to or believe in Jesus Christ. "Every person who commits himself to Jesus will be forgiven through the authority of Jesus. All of the prophets say that this is true” (Acts ). "Commit yourself to the Lord Jesus and you will be saved – you and all the people living in your house” (Acts ).
3. Repent of sin. "Change your hearts! Come back to God, so that He may wipe out your sins. Then the Lord will give you times of spiritual rest” (Acts -20). "The Lord is not slow to keep his promise (as some people think of “slow”). No, He is patient with you. He wants everyone to find room for a change in their hearts. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost” (2 Pet. 3:9).
4. Confess faith in Jesus. “If you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from death, you will be saved. To become right with God a person believes with his heart. Declaring it openly, that person comes unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9‑10).
5. Buried and risen in baptism. "The person who believes it (the Gospel) and is immersed will be saved, but the person who doesn’t believe it will be condemned” (Mark ). "Change your hearts and each one of you must be immersed by the authority of Jesus the Messiah, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts ). "Now, don’t wait any longer. Rise up, get yourself immersed and get your sins washed away, trusting in his name (Acts ). "You were buried with Christ by immersion. You were also raised with Christ through believing in the power of God who raised Christ from death” (Col. 2:12).
If you will do these above five things, God will remove your sins and receive you as one of His own (cf. 2 Tim. ).
God has shown His Love by giving Us Newness of Life
After your response to God's love has led you to obey Him that your sins may be forgiven, you are to continue to keep His commandments that you may remain in His love. Your life is to be new and different, patterned after the life of Jesus. “Through immersion, we were buried with him into death. Christ was raised from death through the glory of the Father. In the same way, we will live a new life” (Rom. 6:4). "Since you were raised with Christ, search for things that are above, where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. Think about things that are above, not things on the earth. Since you have died, your life has been hidden away with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1‑3). "If a person claims that God lives in him, then he ought to live as Jesus lived” (1 John 2:6).
God has shown His Love through the avenue of Worship
Because of your love for God you will want to continue in faithful service to Him until death shall take you from this life to bring you to a higher service of God. Jesus said, "Be faithful, even if you must die. I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). A part of your faithful service to God is regular assembly with fellow Christians to worship God. “Do not quit meeting together, as some people are in the habit of doing. Instead, encourage one another even more, since you see the day coming closer” (Heb. ).
Those walking in newness of life will seek to worship the Father as He desires to be worshiped. If you love God, you will not want to worship in any other way than according to His will. Worship that is pleasing to God must be in spirit and in truth: “But the time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the true, spiritual way. The Father is searching for this kind of people to worship Him. God is spirit. The people who worship God must worship Him in the true way and with the right spirit” (John 4:23‑24; cf. John ).
Your approach to God in worship is to be through praying (Phil. 4:6), singing (Eph. ; Col. 3:16), remembering Jesus by taking the Lord's Supper each Sunday (Matt. 26:26‑28; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23‑26), giving to the Lord as He has prospered you (Luke 6:38; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:6‑7), and reading and learning the word of God (1 Tim. 4:13; John 6:44-45). You should not turn away from God's love, but you should rather obey Him in these things that He through His love can forgive you of your sins and receive you as one of His own.
God has shown His Love for His People
Those who obey God are His people, the ones He saves from their sins. God from heaven says concerning them, "I love you. I appreciate you. I saved you from your sins because you are mine." The angel of the Lord told Joseph, “…You will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matt. ). His people are called His body (body of people, such as a body of soldiers, the student body), which body is the church (cf. Matt. ). “...for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col. 1:24). "... and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body...." (Eph. 1:22‑23).
This is the body of people, the church, heaven loves and for which Jesus died. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved those called out by God (the church). He gave his life for them. He used a washing of water through the message to make God’s people holy. He wanted to give to himself a glorious group of people called out by God – a community that does not have stain or wrinkle or any such thing. Instead, he wanted them to be holy and spotless" (Eph. 5:25‑27).
This community of believers is to love one another and work together in harmony. "Since God loved us that much, dear friends, we ought to love each other, too” (1 John ). Paul said, "Brothers and sisters, I beg you, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ: All of you must agree. Get together. Have the same attitude and the same purpose. There should be no divisions among you” (1 Cor. ). "Live as though you were worthy of the Good News. I might come and visit you, but if I don’t get there, I want to hear good things about you – that you stand firm with one spirit, with one heart, fighting for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
You are God's acceptable children when you love one another and work in harmony for the good of all God's children. Then you are God's and He loves you.
Do You Abide in This Love?
What about your life? Are you one who has turned away from God's love or are you living in His love? Do you let your selfish motives keep you from doing those things pleasing to God or does your unselfish love for Him cause you to fulfill His every desire? The Holy Spirit wrote, “When a person is in Christ Jesus, it doesn’t matter whether he is circumcised or not. The only thing which is important is faith – the kind of faith which works through love” (Gal. 5:6).
You alone can determine your standing with God. Either you are in His love or you are NOT in His love. If you turn in disobedience from God's love, His wrath is on you. If you through love do His will, He loves you. You should not turn away from this love, but rather you should obey God and abide in His love. If you are not abiding in His love, right now is the time to enter into His love by loving Him and obeying His commandments. How can you turn away from one who has so earnestly cried from heaven? "I love you! I love you! I love you!”