||2018-08-23 21:12:27, 조회 : 30, 추천 : 8
| Rediscovering God's Love|
Part 1 - Chapter 3 - The Chicken and the Egg
A beautiful day, yet again, that has been given through the mercy and blessings from our heavenly Father! We continue our book, Rediscovering God’s Love, by the author Frank Allred. And we continue with chapter 3, The Chicken and the Egg.
And the author begins our chapter with a verse coming from 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”
, Do not worry – this chapter is in no way connected to the famous debate on whether the chicken came first or whether the egg came first. But rather the expression that came out of the debate: when it is not known which of two things came first, which is expressed as an “chicken and egg situation.” In Christianity, the biggest debate – which essentially split Christianity in half – is concerning whether it was God who loved us first or whether it was we who loved Him first and so He was willing to love us back. And knowing the priority of God’s love DOES make a huge difference to the way we live. Unfortunately, there are still some believers who enjoy to entertain the idea that God’s love for them is merely a response to their prior love for him. For others it is no more than a “chicken and egg situation.”
In Ephesians 1:3-5, Apostle Paul gives thanks to God for our salvation by saying, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his son through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Every blessing therefore that we receive as the children of God, both now and in the glory to come, is due to his electing love. He blessed us because he chose us; he chose us because he loved us, and he loved us before the world was even made.
Today, when asked about their faith, the majority of believers instinctively think first of themselves and what they did, rather than of God and what he did. Apostle Paul, however, never spoke of his conversion in this way. God was always first in his thoughts. In the following passage he uses the personal pronoun “I” when talking about his unregenerate days, but this changes abruptly when he speaks of his conversion. In Galatians 1: 14-16:
“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age, and was extremely jealous for my tradition of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.”
Apostle Paul was clearly aware in the fact that when God set his love on the children of Israel, it was not in response to their love for him. Nor was it because they were a great nation. Any reading of the Old Testament will prove that they had done absolutely NOTHING to deserve the love of God. We read Deuteronomy 7: 7-8, “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a might hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep is commands.”
Now, after reading that verse you might say, “ah-ha! God only loved Israel because God ‘swore to’ their ‘forefathers!’” But, if we backtrack a little, in Deuteronomy 4: 37-38, “Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.” No matter how far back we go there is no other explanation. God loved Israel because he promised to love them, and he promised to love them because it was according to his perfect will.
If there are still any believers in their own natural ability to love God – we can look at one of Jesus’ disciples – Peter. When Jesus first warned Peter that he would deny Christ three times – Peter, at first, strongly denied that it would ever occur. In his ignorance and immaturity and in spite of the warning Jesus gave him, Peter made the foolish assumption that he had the ability to remain faithful to Christ with his own strength. But within a very short time he was denying Christ with curses! The disciple did not have the slightest intention of denying Christ, but like so many of the Lord’s disciples today, he was ignorant of his own weakness. If the Lord had not loved Peter, he would have been lost beyond recall. So it is also with us.
Set Apart from Birth
We just now saw that Apostle Paul stated that he was “set apart from birth,” when we looked at Galatians 1: 15-16. This seems to mean that both his salvation and his vocation as an apostle were in God’s loving purpose for him. He was set apart in time because he had been set apart in eternity. God did not love the apostle because he became a Christian and a faithful servant. In actuality, he became a Christian and a faithful servant because God loved him. Paul was always very careful to acknowledge this. In Ephesians 2: 8-10, he insists that our calling as sinners and as servants belong together, and for both we are indebted to God’s grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”
So just as the apostle’s conversion was due to God’s prior love, so was his life of service. And exactly the same is true of us. When his work of remaking us in the image of his Son is completed, he will look at us – just as he did with his completed creation – and pronounce it good. At any given moment in our journey – if we have embraced this glorious truth – we shall be more than ready to say with the apostle himself, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
The apostle John is also explicit, in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” John is not saying, as some have suggested, that we love God simply as a matter of natural gratitude for what he has done for us, just as we may respond to an act of love from another human being. On the contrary, our ability to love God and neighbor in a manner that is pleasing to him, is born in us because God first loved us. This is much more than mere gratitude. To put it negatively, if God had not loved us, it would have been impossible for us to love.
Furthermore, God loved us before the world was made and because of that he chose us. Having chosen us he also called us, and having called us he has promised to shield us so that we cannot fail to inherit what he has prepared for us. Those who are not persuaded of this will forfeit many blessings in the present – the blessing of assurance, the ability to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and the happy conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Now, imagine this scenario: it’s your next payday, and the boss calls you into the office and says, “Well done! I would like to commend you on another job well done but I have decided not to give you any wages!” I believe the response would be something like, “excuse me, sir, but you have no option in the matter. My wages are not a gift but something I have earned. If you don’t pay me, I will report you to the authorities.”
However, on the day of Judgment, when our life’s work comes under scrutiny, none of us will be able to take this line. It will be glaringly obvious that God owes us nothing. If we had kept all God’s commandments at all times the argument would be valid, but not otherwise. Indeed, this principle is shown in divine law: “You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.” Alas, not one of us has achieved this standard, however. For, as it is read in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And so, Romans 5:12 reads, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned…”
Now, apostle Paul states, in Romans 4:4-5, “Now when a man works his wages are not credited to him as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” The apostle is not encouraging us to be lazy but is telling us that God will accept us only on the basis of our trust in Christ and his righteousness and never on the basis of our own works. We all fall far short of what God requires and so serious is the shortfall that, “all who rely on observing the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’”
So Why did God choose to have mercy on us? Because God will have mercy on those whom he chooses to have mercy! That is as far as the Scriptures will tell us. As the LORD said to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. We are saved by grace alone. And that concludes chapter 3, The Chicken and the Egg, in which I hope this chapter has been eye-opening and that we realize that there is no "chicken and egg situation" when it comes to God and His Mercy.
1. Is it that we chose to love God first or is it that God chose to love us first? Explain.
2. What are Apostle Paul and John talking about when they are telling us they were "set apart from birth?"
3. Why did God choose to have mercy on us?