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presents "God's Great Salvation"
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Lesson 15: How to Enjoy God (Part 1)
God wants to make Himself so known to us and so real to us that we may find our perfect joy and delight in Him. He wants to so win our confidence and love that we are completely at home in His presence, enjoying Him, and enjoying His love.
It is possible to be a child of God and truly love the Lord; yet not know God's attitude toward you. Many of God's dear children think that God is continually displeased with them, or at least disappointed in them. They think of their many faults and failures, and they cannot see how it could be otherwise.
Regardless of what we may think about ourselves, God takes pleasure in His people. The Bible says,
"The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy." (Psalm 147:11)
All believers fear the Lord and hope in His mercy, so this verse is referring to all of God's people. Again, the Bible says,
"For the Lord takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation." (Psalm 149:4)
How can God take pleasure in me when I have so many faults and failures in my life? The answer is: He sees me in Christ, and He loves me. The way to enjoy a person is to love that person, and God loves us!
When you really love a person, you do not focus on their faults. You simply love them, regardless of their faults. That is why the Lord places such great importance on believers loving one another. The Bible says,
"Above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)
God loves His people—all of His people—and that surely includes you and me! God's love for us "covers" our multitude of sins. The infinite love which God has in His heart for us is the source of all that He does for us. We can never explain or understand the love of God, but from the Bible we can learn many things about God's love.
God's Love is Sovereign
God Himself is sovereign. He does what pleases Him, everywhere and at all times. God is sovereign in His love. If you ask why, out of all the billions of people on the earth, God set His love on you and saved you, it was because it was His delight to do so. You and I were not any better than others, but God chose us and brought us to Himself. This should cause us to worship Him for his sovereign love.
God's Love is Eternal
Just as God Himself had no beginning, His love had no beginning—it is eternal. In the Scripture God says,
"I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you." (Jeremiah 31:3)
This same precious truth is set forth in Ephesians 1:4:
"According as He has chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved us before He ever called heaven and earth into existence. He set His heart upon us long before we were born. The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said, "I know God chose me before I was born because He surely would not have chosen me after I was born!"
God's Love is Personal
God does not just love mankind in general; He knows and loves each of us individually. Jesus said, "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Luke 12:7)
Men think that God hates them because of their sins, therefore they are running from God. But it is sin that God hates, not sinners. God loves every person, regardless of his sins. The man who does not receive Christ as his Saviour will die unsaved, but he will not die unloved.
Parents often make the mistake of telling their children that God does not love them when they do wrong, but this is not true and it gives a child the wrong impression of God. You do not hate your child when he does wrong. He is still your child and you love him.
Every believer is especially precious to God. God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. He will teach us His ways; He will correct us when we are wrong. If necessary, He will chasten us, but all the time He loves us and accepts us in Christ.
God's Love is Unconditional
Human love often puts certain conditions on the other person—"I will love you if you do such-and-such," or "I will love you as long as you please me."
God places no such conditions on us. He loves us, not because of what we are or what we do, but because of who He is. "God is love." His love is absolutely unconditional.
God's Love is Unchanging
God is unchangeable. He said, "I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi 3:6) The Bible says that with God, there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17) Therefore there can be no change in God's love. Human love can grow weak, or cease to exist, but God's love is absolutely unchanging.
Jesus loved His disciples with a love that never changed. At His last supper with His disciples before His death, Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him three times with cursing and that the others would forsake Him. But that did not affect His love for them. The Bible says,
"When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father; having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John 13:1)
We do not know God's love by our circumstances
We do not know God's love nor His favour by our outward circumstances. God may allow us to suffer very severely. Many of God's people do suffer severely. Their outward circumstances do not seem to indicate that God loves them.
The apostle Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived. Was his life a life of ease? No, it was not. At the time of Paul's conversion, the Lord said, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:16)
The apostle Paul did suffer greatly for Jesus' sake. He lost everything that the world counts important. But he lived in the conscious enjoyment of God's love. Paul wrote,
"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39 NET Bible)
We know God's Love by Christ's death on the cross
One of Satan's main works has been to produce distrust and rebellion in the hearts of men. God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ that He might be known and trusted and loved by men.
The death of God's Son on the cross for us is the supreme, eternal proof of the love of God. The Bible says,
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends [shows] His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)
If we should ever doubt God's love for us, we should gaze once again at the cross where Jesus Christ died for us.
Not only are we loved by the Father, but we are loved by the Son. Jesus chose to go to the cross for us. He did this because He loved us. Jesus said,
"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
If you are ever tempted to say, "Doesn't anyone love me?", remember that Jesus says, "I do!" And He proved His love beyond the slightest doubt.
We know God's Love by the indwelling Holy Spirit
God so wants us to experience His love that He has given us His Holy Spirit. One of the ministries of the blessed Holy Spirit is to make us conscious of God's love, to make us aware of how much God loves us. The Holy Spirit "pours" the love of God into our hearts. The Bible says, "The love of God is shed abroad [poured] in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Romans 5:5)
We have two great proofs of how much God loves us. The death of Christ on the cross is the great external proof of the love of God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is the great internal proof of God's love for us.
As believers we cherish this wonderful truth—that we know the love of God. We know it in two ways: by the expression of it in the death of God's Son, and by the Spirit pouring out God's love in our heart.
God wants to deliver us from the bondage of fear
God loves all people, saved or unsaved, but He takes special pleasure in His saints. In Christ Jesus all believers are special objects of God's love and favour. But many of God's children are in bondage. They think that they must "perform" or live up to a certain standard to merit God's love. They think, "I am such a failure. How could God possibly love someone like me?"
Thoughts such as these come from our enemy, Satan. God wants us to be occupied with Christ, but Satan wants to keep us occupied with ourselves. He will say to us, "Look at yourself! You just don't measure up! You are supposed to be a child of God, but you are such a failure. If you would live right and do right, God would love you, but He couldn't love someone like you—someone who is such a disappointment to Him."
If we accept Satan's lies, we shall live in bondage. What sets us free? God's truth sets us free. Jesus said,
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
What is the truth about God's love? The truth is that God loves me because of what He is, not because of what I am or what I do.
The love of God cannot be explained. In His sovereignty, God was pleased to set His love upon us. We cannot explain it or understand it, but we can believe it and enjoy it.
If I think that what I am, or what I do, will in some way affect God's love toward me, I will be filled with "the spirit of bondage." The truth is that God loved me when I was in the very worst state possible. I was "without strength," ungodly, a sinner, and an enemy of God; yet God loved me with His boundless love, and He proved His love for me in the most wonderful way possible. Now that I am His child, will He stop loving me because I am a "failure"? Impossible! God's Word says,
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His live [Christ's life in us]." (Romans 5:10)
We are loved as Christ is loved. God's love rested on Christ when He was here on earth, it rests on Him in heaven now, and it rests on us because we are in Christ. The Bible says,
"Herein is our love made perfect…because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
When Satan comes with his lies and accusations, we should not try to argue with him, but simply say, "I know that I fail often, but God accepts me and loves me because I am in Christ."
How to Enjoy God
To enjoy God two things are essential: (1) We must know and believe God's love for us, and (2) We must love God. Let us consider these two things:
We must know and believe God's love for us.
This world is not our home; we do not belong to the world; we do not "fit" in it. We are not yet in heaven, so where are we to live in the meantime? We are to live in the enjoyment of God's love. The Bible says,
"We have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)
God has made His love known to us in Christ that we might have a "home" for our poor, aching hearts. That "home" is the love of God, known and believed.
God's love is centred on His beloved Son. God puts us in Christ that we might know and enjoy His love. Christ ever lives in the love of His Father. Since we are in Christ and one with Him, we are entitled to live in the love of God. The Bible says,
"But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 20-21)
What does this phrase, "Keep yourselves in the love of God," mean? It means to keep ourselves in the enjoyment of the love of God.
We can never take ourselves out of God's love, but we can take ourselves out of the enjoyment of God's love.
When the prodigal son left his father's home, did he take himself out of the love of his father? No, he did not. The father continued to love him, regardless of his actions. But he did take himself out of the enjoyment of his father's love.
God wants us to be in the conscious enjoyment of His love and Christ's love for us. Jesus said,
"As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you: continue [abide] in My love." (John 15:9)
How can we continue or abide in the enjoyment of Christ's love? He tells us in the next verse. It is by keeping His commandments. When we are obedient to His Word, we will enjoy His love for us. Jesus said,
"If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:10)
When we keep Christ's commandments and abide in His love, we have His joy, and our joy is full! Jesus said,
"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:11)
We must love God.
The way to enjoy a person is to love that person! That is true with people, and it is certainly true with God. The way to enjoy God is to love Him!
God has loved us from eternity, and he has drawn us to Himself that we might love Him and trust Him. Our love for Him is simply our response to His first loving us. The Bible says, "We love Him, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
When we consider how much God loves us and the price He paid to redeem us, it is only right that He should have our full and undivided love. God has wonderful things for those who love Him. God says,
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer Him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16)
If we love God and spend time with Him, He will reveal to us all the wonderful things of Christ and His wonderful purposes for us.
God fills and satisfies us with His love, His goodness, and His grace, in order that we might love Him. A great saint of God said, "If we loved God with all our heart, all our soul, and our mind, and all our strength, we would be as happy now as we will be in heaven." This is what God has for those who love Him supremely.
It is only by loving God that we can enjoy our spiritual blessings. We must guard against any influence that dulls the sense in our souls of the love of God or dulls our love for God. Remember God's word,
"Keep yourselves in the love of God…" (Jude 21)
Beloved, have you known and believed the love that God has for you? Are you living in the conscious enjoyment of God's love? Have you made God's love your "home"? Is God the supreme love of your heart?
* God has given His heart to us that He might have our heart for Himself.
The Secret of Our Joy
God wants us to enjoy Him and enjoy His great salvation. It is His will that we be filled with joy and peace and that we abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says,
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
If we are occupied with what we are saved from, that is relief. But, if we are occupied with what we are saved to, we are filled "with all joy and peace in believing." We believe that Jesus Christ has been exalted to the right hand of God and that He is coming soon to take us to be with Him forever.
We do not look for things to improve here; we look up to heaven for all the blessed things which will soon be coming from there. The Old Testament saints lived on the promises of God, but now we can look up to Christ on the throne and rejoice that all the promises of God are established in Him. The Bible says,
"All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen [so be it], unto the glory of God…" (2 Corinthians 1:20)
It is a great thing to know where to turn for joy. We are new persons in God's new creation. Our life, our future, and our inheritance are all in Christ Jesus, glorified and exalted. Christ is our "everything"; He satisfies our heart completely. This is the secret of our joy. We rejoice in the Lord Himself! The Bible says,
"Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
As to our circumstances, we are in this world with its problems and temptations. But in our mind and heart and spirit, we have travelled to another scene where there is nothing but joy. We rejoice in Christ. Our portion is there and we know it. The Bible says,
"Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8)
We have to seek the things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, in order to be filled with "joy unspeakable and full of glory." If we seek our joy in the world and the things of this world, we are sure to be disappointed. But if we set our affections on things above, our hearts are lifted into the blessed scene of joy where Christ is.
God would give us now, by faith and by the Spirit's power, such heavenly joy and peace in our hearts, that we would look beyond our circumstances and the things of this world. God wants our hearts and minds to be filled with bright anticipation of the glory that will soon be ours, with Christ forever. The Bible says,
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:4)
Beloved, settle it in your heart that it is God's will that you be filled with all joy and peace in believing, and that you abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.