-Motivational Blog Posts To Encourage You To Stay On The Mainstream Path Of Faith-
The word love has been skewed in today's culture. Anytime a word is overused, it is manipulated and taken out of context making the true meaning slowly fade away. The meaning and name of God have also been very skewed. It doesn't take an expert detective to find different beliefs on who or what or when God is. Take a hundred random people to answer some simple questions about God, I am quite positive that they're all going to be a little different, but many come to the same answer in some way. This is what makes the doctrine of the love of God so difficult to describe.
"God loves everyone and everything. He knows everything. He is a great protector for everyone." This is a very basic idea of what many will say about who God is or describe God. It's very simple, and I am not saying all of it is false, but it is not full. There is so much missing. Check out this website if you have the time by clicking here. That website talks about a poll taken in the US about people who say they believe in God. It's funny... mostly sad.... but a little funny... many who say they believe in God have a hard time answering questions about Him.
The point I am getting at is that mixed understandings of love + confusing beliefs in God = A HUGE PROBLEM! How can we truly say we know God loves if:
1) We can't define love.
2) We can't define God.
Do you see the issue? That's why I would urge you to read your Bible! Don't wait for the day to come when your pastor or priest or friend or neighbor decides to teach you this stuff! You need to take action! Be motivated to get edified by the word of God! We need to be willing to learn about God. What I teach you today, I want you to learn from! I do not want you to simply and blindly believe/apply what I say. LEARN from it.
AKA - take the knowledge I have gained and felt the desire to type out and go proof check it. Read your Bible. Buy the book I read. Study it out yourself. Please, don't blindly believe what I say. I did it for years myself, and I never want to do it again. Don't believe what a mere man has to say. Believe what God has to say. I will quote some scripture to back up my points to show that this is from the word of God, but I would encourage you to go and read these things yourself!
From the learning I received in D. A. Carson's book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, here are 5 aspects of God's love found in the Bible
PS: this is going to be long... Instead of quoting each verse, I will be leaving links to scripture at the end of each point for you to look up and study on your own.
1) God's Trinitarian Love
The love of God between the Father and the Son is the most unique love seen in the Bible. This kind of love is something that does not exist anywhere outside of the Triune God. It cannot be replicated, nor can it be fully comprehended. The Love Between God the Father and God the Son is the ultimate picture of God's love we should all long to mimic ourselves.
It is not only a love that is like Father and Son love but a love that was kept perfect through the obedience of Jesus to the Father. For example, a father will always love his son, but the son definitely senses the love differently when he obeys or disobeys. This is because, though punishment may be out of love, the love does not feel rewarding. Since Jesus kept the Father's commands perfectly, their unity of love was always perfect.
2) God's Creation + Provisional Love
God has what some would call "common love" for all things. This love is not one that is intimate and emotional, but a love that is a choice God has made. He chose to make all things and call them good, showing He had a love that was pleased with His creation. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of how God provides for Creation and having full control of providing for the animals. If He can provide for the birds and the lilies, how much more can He provide for humans, the ones made in God's very image?
God did not make the earth and immediately hate it. Yes, He does have sorrow for His creation because of what sin has caused, but that doesn't mean He has stopped loving. He still sends rain; God still provides food. God is still actively working in His creation though it is no longer in perfection. God has a love for His creation that does not rely on the creation's state of perfection. Thankfully, this is good news for us. Though we live in a fallen world, we can have faith God is still actively loving us.
3) God's Salvific Love
This is probably the most commonly understood love, yet it needs to be referred to. The God in His love granting salvation is the best news we as sinful humans can hear. Out of love, God sent His Son for the world. Out of love, God foreshadowed redemption for humankind in history. Out of love, God made a way of salvation through belief.
The hard part for many to understand is that this love, though it is shared will all men and women, is not acknowledged or experienced by all men and women. Sadly, God gives this loving gift and not only offers salvation but demands all to repent, yet some hearts stay in a dark place and never come to salvation. Some never really grasp and partake in the fullness of God's love. God makes it clear that His love is shown and there, but foolish men decline God's beautiful love offering. Do not be one of those men. Christ died for the sinners of this world, to sufficiently pay the price. Come to Christ and let the blood sacrifice sent out of love wash you clean!
1 John 2:2
4) God's Intimate Elective Love
God has a specific love that is shown only to the elect. This love is seen in ways it is not shown to the whole world. This is not to cause jealousy or to say I am better than someone else, but this is to show that God longs for an intimate and affectionate relationship with His children. Like His relationship with the Son, He longs for a close father-son relationship with His children. Christians have been adopted into the family of God; this was because God has set affection on His children.
They may sound unfair to the ones who are not the elect, but you must remember that God is not the author of sin. Man is! God is not responsible for man neglecting to belief. Man is responsible for their own actions. For God to set special affection on whom He pleases is something to rejoice over. As a Christian, I can say, "What!? Me? You have an intimate love for me?" How marvelous this truth is, and it makes me want to love and worship God all the more!
God chose to change my will, to draw me close, to save me! It was nothing I did or said; it was all God. I have all the reason to rejoice and serve Him with my life! I love Him because He decided to first love me! This is the greatest aspect of God's love that could happen to anyone, and if it has not happened to you, cry out for mercy that God would bestow such love on your life!
5) God's Directed Love In Obedience
Lastly, God's love is seen through the elect's obedience. We are to mimic Christ the way He kept God's commandment to stay in His love, so shall we. This love is specifically only for Believers to partake in, as Believers are the only ones that can do the will of God. As I mentioned above, when a child obeys his father, he feels that love because of his obedience. Similarly, when a child disobeys his father, he will not feel the father's love but the father's wrath. Though this wrath is out of love, it is felt in a much different way.
The Bible describes the relationship of a Christian and the heavenly Father in the same way. When we obey God, we stay under His will and under His love. When we disobey God, we come out from underneath the will and love of God and fall under His wrath. This is not an easy truth to accept, but it must be something we believe; otherwise, we would not keep the father's commandments. This gives us the initiative to keep His commands and obey Him as we should.
This does not mean we will lose salvation in disobedience. Once we are saved, we are secure in the Father's love. Like any good father, no matter how the child disobeys, the father will always love His child, and discipline him to come back onto the path they are to be on. This good news should motivate and encourage us to do as we are told in God's word.
With the five aspects of the love of God in mind, there are a few more things to keep in mind that I would like to go over.
The Love Of God Is Unified
Never should we ever look at the five aspects of God's love divided. God's love is not to be divided, for God's love is unified as one attribute. God does not have five different loves. God only has one love. This is so important to keep in mind because if we try to divide His love, we can fall into the danger of elevating the importance of one aspect of God's love. They are all equally important and must all be seen this way.
For example, I should not say God's elective love is more important than God's common creation + provisional love. Without God's creation + provisional love in place, God's elective love would not even exist. I cannot put too much weight on the other side either, for then we are making His intimacy less important than it truly is.
We also cannot say His Trinitarian love is most important because if God's love for His Son was more important than the love for creation and life on earth, He would not have made the sacrifice He did. Do you see why all of the aspects of God's love are completely unified? They all exist as one love. Without one aspect of these five loves, the others would cease to exist. They are all so important together.
This also brings up another important point I would like to make: we must understand each aspect of love individually to understand the love of God in its context. This is where Calvinists and Arminianists find many of their debates. Calvinist put more weight on God's intimate, elective love, forgetting that God's salvific love was for all. Arminianists put more weight on God's salvific love, forgetting the importance and beauty that is found in the affectionate love of God that is set upon the elect. Without having an understanding of the importance of both, we will start to pick sides and argue why one is right and one is wrong.
Many try to do the work backward by saying, "well, the Greek word used for love in this context is agape, so it must mean this." The problem with this is that instead of allowing the context to define the meaning of specific words, we allow the word to define the specific meaning of the context. Have you ever heard the term "Context is King"? This is a true statement we must take into account when understanding passages. The book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God speaks much more on the Greek words of love and solid reasons why it can be dangerous to allow one word to define a whole context, but I am not going to go into it now. You will have to get the book yourself to find out.
Here is one quick example to hopefully drive home my point. Some will say John 3:16 is not speaking of the world or loving the world; it is speaking of love that is meant for the elect. That would be using words to describe the context. Allowing the context to describe the words gives us the better understanding of the passages meaning. We also have to remember that trying to go back to the Greek and not speaking the Greek ourselves can be dangerous. We may not understand the reading like they would, and therefore draw conclusions that are not there.
With a holistic understanding of the word love, we can then know which aspect of the word love is being used in the context. This is why it is important to know what it means when the Bible says "God loves". Without understanding who God is or what love is, we cannot truly understand this statement.
God Is Transcendent, Omniscient, And Sovereign
When studying the doctrine of the love of God (or any doctrine for that matter), we must remember who we are studying. We are not studying a human! Do not make the same mistake I made for years, compare God's attributes to human attributes! This is so dangerous, and I would advise you to break that habit if you started it. When we view God and study Him, we must remember the context of who we are studying.
We must remember specifically these three attributes of God: He is transcendent, omniscient, and sovereign.
Transcendent - God is above and not bound by space or time
Omniscient - God is all-knowing
Sovereign - God is in full control of all things
Without remembering these three attributes of God, we will fall into the mindset of putting God in a box and making Him seem like a mere human.
With these three attributes of God in mind, we can then have a better understanding and perspective of who God is. When we look at God's love with this perspective, it makes it all the more glorious. Think about it: God, knowing all things, outside space and time, and in full control, decided to intimately interact with the world He created and LOVE! He showed love in the midst of all the sin. How amazing truly is our God? I can't even fathom how great He is! Though how imperfect and sinful I have been, God set affection on me!
The great news of this truth is that if God has chosen to love, He must have a reason. He did not choose to love without a plan, for He knows all things. If He knows all things, then God gives His love with a purpose! This is good news for all; God has a purpose for the loved creation He has. How amazing is that? Just think about how beautiful that truth truly is? Are you in awe of the doctrine of the love of God yet?
God's Love Is In Full Agreement With God's Wrath
Lastly, I want to mention the term compatibilism. Compatibilism refers to the truth that all attributes of God are in full agreement with one another. If they were not, then obviously we are misunderstanding something. God does not overstep or make mistakes; His very nature is immutable (unchangeable). Keeping this in mind, we must then realize that God's love and God's wrath are compatible with one another.
This is a sticky subject for many, and it does not agree with what the world believes about the love of God. The truth is, God's love is not greater than any one of His other attributes. He is perfectly loving, but God is also perfectly holy. And to protect God's holiness, He must be full of wrath and justice. Without God's punishing justice, His love would not align with His holiness. God must stay holy and hate sin.
Multiple times in the Psalms the hard words that God hates sinners are repeated. While many would say, "No, God doesn't hate; He only loves," they're wrong. God must stand firm on His justice. The good news is that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to make a way to be justified in the presence of God. While this is true, the bad news is that apart from Christ, you are under the wrath of God. Though God still shows love to the sinner that is at enmity with God, He cannot save one that is not justified.
God's love may be deep and wide, but it will not overstep the bounds of God's holiness.
A great example of how we see the compatibility of God's wrath and God's love is the cross. God poured out His wrath in order to bring redemption to pass. God's love was given through His Son when God's wrath was taken in our place. This is the picture of God's love and wrath colliding in complete unity. Through God's wrath, we see His loving hand working and vice versa.
If you've made it this far, thank you for actually taking the time to learn more about the love of God from what I have been taught through God's word and D. A. Carson's book. I hope and pray that I have been an encouragement to you, and that these words motivate you to learn more about the love of God. Whether that is through reading The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, studying the Word, or maybe somewhere else, I hope that you will go somewhere to deepen your faith through the studying of God and His attributes.
Thanks again for reading what God has laid upon my heart. I would appreciate it if you comment below on what you thought of this post, subscribe to my blog to get updated on new posts in the future, or hit one of the social media icons below. All the support helps my audience grow and the furthering of the teachings of the Bible.
If you haven't read the two post before this, I'd recommend reading them. It will give you understanding of where I am coming from and why I am writing this. Are You A Pharisee? & Are You A Pharisee Part I - What Did The Pharisees Believe -
WARNING: This is a 15-20 minute read, but it is 100% worth your time. I did not include any scripture in the blog post, but I will link from where in the Bible I am teaching. You can easily find all these passages from Biblegateway.com, which is a great source for Bible studying and reading the Bible online!
If you read The ending of Matthew 22 and the whole chapter of Matthew 23, that is where I will take most of my information. This is the last time the Pharisees try to test/tempt Jesus, and He silences them once and for all. He does not only answer their trick question, but he then preaches against them to the point that they council together and plot to kill him just a few chapters later! (Matthew 26:3-5)
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He did not sugarcoat anything, and He didn’t show too much grace. It’s actually tough to think this is how Jesus would speak to the false believers/false church even today. You know, the people that make a bad name for Christians by calling themselves Christians but live the opposite way or change the whole meaning of Christian in general? Yeah, that's kind of what the Pharisees did. They called themselves men of God, and most people thought they were great for their good works, but Jesus condemned them for how they lived!
If it made Christ upset, and He refuted them like this, does that mean we should do the same against today’s Pharisees? Jesus never went out of His way to pick a fight with the Pharisees, but in conversation with them He made it very clear that He disagreed and shared the gospel. I’m going to leave that question open to the reader’s discretion, because that’s not what this blog post is all about, but if you have thoughts on the topic, I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!
Anyways, back to what I am suppose to be writing about, from taking note of what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, we can see what kind of people they were, and who lines up in this category today. This is a very serious topic; we need to be able to see the real and false identity of Christ today. Someone you know may be crossing the line of Pharisee and Christian; or even worse… it might be you.
Read the rest of the blog post to find out what the Bible and ultimately Jesus has to say about it.
Jesus Was Not A Pharisee! - 2 Proofs
First, we must point out the fact that Jesus was MUCH different than the Pharisees. Jesus was not some sort of a true Pharisee and He was not proud of the Pharisees either. This is so important to point out! There are some out there that would say Jesus came to show how to be a Pharisee, or that He was not condemning them but instructing them what to change. This is in complete contradiction of scripture.
I would recommend reading Matthew 12 if you are looking for an example. This chapter gives two proofs of how we know that Jesus is not a Pharisee.
One indication is that Jesus never goes to seek out the Pharisees; the Pharisees always come to Him. Remember, the Pharisees wasn’t a huge group back then. Some say there were less than 10,000 Pharisees in total at the time of Jesus. This means the groups of them that were spread out among the land would be spying on Jesus. Jesus never goes looking around for the Pharisee hang out spots; they always came to catch Him doing or allowing something they believed was wrong.
The reason I point this out is because we need to understand that Jesus didn’t come to earth to instruct the Pharisees. If He did, don’t you think He’d go find them and speak to them? He never went out of His way for them; they were always looking to get in His way. Praise God that these conversations are recorded though! Without them, we’d end up doing the same thing!
The second indication is the attitude and the mood you can feel in the accounts of the Pharisees and Jesus. They are never really happy encounters; they always come with a snobby, arrogant attitude, almost like a Ha! We Got You! kinda attitude. They also always left the conversation more defeated than when they entered, making them very angry, to the point of wanting to murder Jesus! This doesn’t sound like the type of people that want to learn from Jesus, and if Jesus being the Son of God and knowing all things wanted them to learn from Him, I am sure He would not have turned them away as many times as He did.
If Jesus came to be a Pharisee or to teach the Pharisees, He would have shown them much more grace, but instead Christ came making the first to be last and the last to be first.
After accepting the fact that Jesus is not a Pharisee and never encountered them out of His own endeavors, you can now understand each conversation out of a more solid perspective. The Pharisees come to cause friction with Jesus; Jesus turns them away each and every time.
Building up to the conversation in Matthew 22-23, there is a lot of tension. Each time the Pharisees come to Jesus, it is to prove Him wrong or catch Him in the act. They were testing Him.
They wanted Him to fall! They wanted Jesus to mess up so that they can get the crowd’s to look back at them. He stole their thunder; Jesus could actually do something no one has ever done before… He bypassed their "righteousness" (as if they really had any). He became the center stage and the talk of the time.
This tension and anger build-up most likely kept getting worse and worse. They didn’t just want Jesus dead overnight. No, this wrath inside them against Jesus was a build up from every time He either stumped them or proved them wrong. Do you really think they walked away from the conversations they were defeated in saying, “Aw, bummer. We’ll get em next time, boys!”? Doubtful. They probably walked away mumbling under their breath curses and harsh remarks about how stupid this Jesus guy was. Their careers were going down the drain because of Jesus; they wanted revenge!
The Pharisees knew Jesus was sent by God? -2 Proofs
The crazy thing about the Pharisees is that they knew Jesus was from God. We know this because first of all, they wouldn’t try to disprove He was something if they didn’t think He was something in the first place, right? It’s just like any scenario today: if someone said, “I can solve any math problem without a calculator” you’re gonna try to disprove them by asking a bizarre mathematical question. This is exactly what happened with the Pharisees. Jesus claimed to be equal with God. They couldn’t let this kind of bizarre statement stand! When Jesus ended up passing all their tests, they’re spotlight kept becoming threatened and ruined more and more.
We also know they knew Jesus was from God because of the account in John 3, where Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. He states that we know that you are a teacher from God. We, meaning Nicodemus and other Pharisees. I just find it interesting that they knew the truth, but they suppressed the truth, trying to prove to themselves the lie they were telling themselves. Sounds a lot like Romans 1!
We do this all the time. We know a fact, and it seems obvious to us, but instead of accepting it, we try to prove otherwise. Have you ever sinned but tried telling yourself that it was okay or not that bad? That’s exactly what the Pharisees were doing. They knew Jesus was from God. I mean, they saw Him do miracles! They didn’t believe miracles came from anywhere else (one time a Pharisee tried saying He was of the Devil, but Jesus blew that theory out of the water!). But instead of believing, their blind eyes and wicked ways caused them to fall into believing their own lie. Their pride caused them to want to kill the greatest man ever sent by God… God Himself!
What Did Jesus Say About The Pharisees?
Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 indicate a lot about who the Pharisees really were.
We first see they have seated themselves in Moses’ seat. In other words, they have gained a high role of leadership over the Jewish people. They were looked up to; they had the same status that Moses had when He led the Israelite people. They were seen in a spiritual sense “closer to God” by others, and they even probably thought this about themselves.
The next remark by Jesus is to do as they say but not as they do. OUCH!
They spoke Truth. They taught the Old Testament, which was ultimately the Word’s of God Himself. I mean, Jesus even quoted the Old Testament. Speaking the Bible is a good thing, right? The problem was they did not live it out themselves. They could say the right things, and looked great on the outside, but they didn’t do as they spoke. They didn’t apply it personally. As long as they looked good and scholarly, that was more important than truly devoting their life to God. They weren’t willing to take on the heavy load of the law they dealt.
We then hear Christ say who the Pharisees truly lived for: the praise of men. WHOA!
Instead of living to bless and glorify God, they lived for the temporary praise of men around them. They wanted to look good on the outside to be respected. Their hearts were not in it for the right reason. Sure, they looked like they were living for God to others, and probably said they were living for God too, but their entire life orbited pride. All they cared about was what everyone else saw in them.
This next statement by Jesus hurts: Jesus says the Pharisees unworthy of their earthly position. YIKES!
If I were a Pharisee, I think this one would have me boiling with anger. He doesn’t only steal the spotlight; He basically says they don’t deserve to have it back! Don’t call them teacher; don’t call them father; don’t call them master. Why? They are not God! He is our Teacher, our heavenly Father, and our one and only Master! This statement is heavy. Jesus just took the leadership position they thought they had and claimed it as His own. He levels the playing field by causing the crowd to hear that the Pharisees are no higher or closer to God than any other man.
Lastly, Jesus describes the Pharisees: Blind Guides, Fools, and Hypocrites. OOF!
Jesus’ gives many reasons for calling them these terms, but the main point is that this is who they are. Anyone listening in on this conversation would have a lot of second thoughts about both Jesus and the Pharisees. They wouldn’t know who to trust, who was right, and what to do about it. But if one were to take all these terms Christ spoke about the Pharisees literally, I don’t think they’d want to follow them anymore.
Bling Guides - The Pharisees leading was going nowhere because they cannot lead. It’s literally like asking a blind man for direction through a maze! The Pharisees looked as if they had the transportation to Heaven, but really, they were in the same boat as the rest of humanity… the boat that was going downstream straight to hell!
Fools - The term fool is a very strong word in the Bible. A fool is usually a description of one who has not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, meaning they are still ignorant to God’s ways. Just look at any of the Psalms or Proverbs; the description of a fool is NOT how you want your leaders to be described. For Christ to say this about the Pharisees must have caused some sharp gasps in the crowd.
Hypocrites - Everyone knows what a hypocrite is. Saddest reality is most Christians are the biggest hypocrites. We say we're not suppose to something because God says so, and do it anyways. This is something the Pharisees struggled with too! They were very good at teaching the law and looking like scholarly teachers, but behind closed doors they didn’t live that way. Sadly, their looks in front of men had caused a blinding pride in their heart. This pride took away the sight of what they were really doing; they didn’t realize (or if they did they didn’t care) that God was watching them the whole time. You aren’t a Christian just on Sundays! Your a Christian 24/7! Their role as Pharisees was only a part-time job.
What Would Jesus Have To Say About You?
Now, as a Christian, you’d say you believe everything Jesus said, right? Of course, so you must believe what He said about the Pharisees. You can see He wasn’t proud of them; He did not show any praise to them. He condemned them for the life they were living! The Pharisees were living a facade! Whether they thought it was pleasing to God or not, this is no way to live life in accordance to God’s word.
Is that you? Are you living the Pharisee lifestyle? Are you faking it to look good for the praise of men, or are you truly living in full devotion to God. There are many that fake it for so long, it becomes their life. Like the Pharisees, if you live the lie long enough, it becomes your reality. It becomes your truth. You go so far to think that the way you are living is ACTUALLY pleasing to God!
Don’t let this happen! What kind of Christians are we? FAKES!?!? Because if that’s true, are we even really a Christian?
Are you doing this because you want to please God, or are you doing things because you feel like you have to please God?
Do you live in accordance to God’s word because you love Jesus Christ, or do you look like you live in accordance to God’s word because you like the idea of Jesus Christ?
Do you live with eternity in perspective because God has saved you, or do you live with the present in perspective looking good for God to save you?
Ask yourself these questions; they are vital questions that need to be answered for the sake of your life. You can’t earn God’s favor by looking good. You can’t live a certain way because it feels right. You can’t walk-the-walk hoping to get by. GOD WILL NOT BE FOOLED! Jesus saw right through the Pharisees; He will see right through you!
So what is it? Are you a Pharisee? Because if you are, I hope you’re like Nicodemus, brave enough to face the reality that you are a sinner that needs to rely on Christ. He’s the one who found favor in God in our place. He is the only option for salvation and union with God. Whether you are a Christian or not, your hope is found solely in Christ. If you don’t go to Him, don’t expect to fix your life on your own. You don’t always have to live a Pharisitical lifestyle; ask God for mercy. Don’t stay under the condemnation that the Pharisees received; come to Christ, the only one who can take away this burden.
Thank you for taking the time for reading this blog post on the Pharisees. I hope I have encouraged and motivated you to stay away from the Pharisee’s lifestyle. If you enjoyed it, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also subscribe to receive emails of my new posts below, or get in direct contact with me by hitting the subscribe tab above.
Hi, I am Michael Jaymes. I am 20 years old, and decided to start writing in the winter of 2017. I have always loved writing, and I get to pour out that passion in my blog. I want to be a motivation, an encouragement, and edify my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that come to MainstreamBlog. I have made my life motto, "I just want to be a blessing." This is where I live that out!