So for a couple of weeks now, we have been looking at what I consider to be the single-greatest truth we can ever have revealed to us—God’s amazing love for us. And church, I want you to know today that this subject is oh so very important to your life! If you need healing in your body, you need to know God loves you! If you need God to meet some financial/material need in your life, you need to know God loves you! If you desire to simply grow in God and become the Christian you are called to be, you need to know God loves you!
Saints, it is all wrapped up in knowing His deep, passionate love that He has for us! Once we are rooted and grounded in His love, our lives can be built on this foundation and brick by brick we can see the fruit of God’s promises manifest in our lives! Amen!
The reason I say this is because the very virtue that we use to receive any & everything from God—faith—is said to “work by love” (See Galatians 5:6). The word “work” is where we get our word “energy” from, so if our faith is “energized” by love then it’s going to be hard for our faith to have any power without knowing we are loved, right? Therefore, we aren’t going to be able to receive much from God, not having energized faith.
So this is why I say knowing & believing God’s love for us is so vital—because it is the foundation of our faith and us receiving everything He has for us. Amen?
Now over the first two weeks of this series, I have talked about the importance of knowing & believing the love that God has for us. So let’s quickly review these very important foundations of God’s love …
We made the point that while many Christians might claim they know God loves them, what most have done is simply mentally accented to the fact God loves us. In other words, they have come to agree with some facts that they have heard or read, but how many of you know that there’s a big difference between knowing something in our heads and experiencing it in our hearts?
Like where I used the illustration of three kinds of knowing last week—there’s the knowing of someone like we might know about a certain famous person, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we know them. Then there’s someone who is a friend that we have spent time with and have come to know. We definitely know that person much more than we know someone whom we’ve never even met. But then there’s the knowing someone like spouses know one another, where they share the same roof, the same bed, and so many other things. That is the intimate kind of “knowing” that is available to you and me when it comes to knowing Love Himself.
So we looked at a few passages of Scripture that talk about this intimate, experiential kind of knowing of His love and saw how this kind of knowledge of His love is not taught; rather, it is caught. This was what he called “knowing the love of Christ that passes knowledge”—that is, experiencing the love that you would never be able to fully understand.
But then last time, we looked at how it is not just important that we know His love in this way; we also need to believe the love that God has for us.
I made the point that next to the “knowing” of God’s love, this is a huge issue in the body of Christ. People do not truly believe that God loves them. Again, they might say they believe that He loves them, but look at their fruit. There is a big difference between believing that He loves us in our head and believing He loves us in our heart. Faith of the heart produces a change in our life. This is the place we all need to desire to get to concerning the love of God—knowing and believing the love God has for us.
So what this means is that it is great that we come to experience the love that God has for us, but there is also the place where we believe in this love whether we ever experience it or not. In other words, while God definitely wants us to experience His love, we need to avoid gravitating towards needing to feel it or have any other evidence of it in our lives. That is not when we are to come to believe the love God has for us. There is only one manifestation of His love that we need, and that needs to settle it for us, and that’s the giving of His Son.
The reason this is important for us to understand is because what so many Christians want is other manifestations of His love for them—like financial, emotional, or physical provision. However, this is not the primary way that God has chosen to manifest His love. Sure, He has promised to provide for us and heal our bodies, etc., but these are not meant to be the manifestation of His love that we look to; only the Cross is! In other words, the only evidence of His love that we need is the giving of God’s only begotten Son. Again, this is how God chose to manifest how much He loves us.
I also made the point that another reason why I feel this is important for us to realize is because the devil likes to tempt us to doubt God’s love for us when our circumstances are not favorable. And too many believers take this bait by basing God’s love for them on the situations and circumstances that occur in their lives. For instance, if a tragedy or disaster occurs in certain Christian’s lives, they begin to question whether God really loves them or not. But what they need to understand is that our circumstances are not in any way a reflection of God’s love for us!
How many times have we heard—when someone has suffered a tragedy or something that they needed did not come to pass in their life—that they do not feel God loves them? This is one of the greatest devices satan uses in our hardships—bringing into question God’s love. This should not be so, saints!
We looked at the example of Abraham and his willingness to give His only begotten son, and how God knew that He feared Him because of His willingness to sacrifice Isaac for Him. We learned from this that we should likewise know that God loves us since He did not withhold His Son, His only begotten Son, from us! In other words, we should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves us and will provide us with everything we need—spirit, soul, and body—simply because He gave us Jesus! Hallelujah!
You see, there are many who want God to prove His love for them, basing His love for us on their circumstances. Saints, the only proof we need that God loves each and every one of us is the fact that He gave us His Son. The disciple whom Jesus loved said that this is the manifestation of God’s love for us (See First John 4:9). It’s not our circumstances or our situation. It’s the Cross, and the Cross alone.
But the fact is, even though our circumstances & situations shouldn’t be things we base God’s love for us on, with most people, they do. And the reason for this is because of what the vast majority of people believe about the Almighty and His “sovereignty.”
You see, there is the common belief about God that if He is God, then He is the Creator of all things. Yes, and as the Creator, He is the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One. This means that He is the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Present God of universe. Therefore, God is the top of the food chain and the One that is, in fact, “Sovereign.”
And you know what? All of this is absolutely true, and just about every true Christian would and should agree to all of these things I just said about the One True and Living God. The problem is, however, in how people then assume God does or does not do things in light of His sovereignty. Let me explain:
Most people believe that because God has all the power, then He can do anything He wants. Yes, if He is the Almighty, then nothing enters our life that He has not allowed. Therefore, if something does or does not happen, then it must be because God decided not to do something about it. And this is, therefore, where doctrines come from that say God “allows’ certain things to happen because of His higher purpose—because after all, His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. These belief systems say things like God is in control and that everything that enters our life has passed through the hands of God and happened because of either His perfect will or His permissive will.
Now, church, before I go any further, I need to go ahead and tell you that the things I am going to tell you today, you might have never heard before. In fact, some of these truths might be a shock to your religious nervous system because these sacred cows of Christianity are ones that many hold near and dear. But its high time that we BBQ these sacred cows so that we can understand the truth about God’s nature and His love for us. Amen? So turn to your neighbor and ask them, “Are you ready for some BBQ?”
You might be wondering what does this have to do with receiving God’s love for us? I believe it has a lot to do with it. In fact, I believe one of the greatest obstacles to understanding God’s love for us is the misunderstanding of who He is and how He operates.
Let me share with you a couple of examples:
Say there is a young boy who had a father who was diagnosed with cancer. The boy is deathly afraid of losing his dad that he loves so dearly, so he, being brought up in church, starts praying every night for God to please heal his dad. Well, after a long fight with the cancer, his father passes away. The boy, already dealing with so many emotions from losing his dad, begins to question God with things like “Why didn’t You heal my dad?” Then at his father’s funeral, their pastor makes comments like— “Well, I guess God needed him in heaven more than we needed him here” and so “God decided to take him.” The boy then becomes very confused and angry thinking, “How could God possibly need him in heaven more than I need him here? Why would God take my father away from me?”
Or how about this example …
There is a young girl who goes over to her cousin’s house for the weekend, and while she is there she is abused by an extended family member. She, believing in God, wonders why He would let that happen to her. Why didn’t He intervene, she asks herself? She then becomes very bitter with God for what she believed was Him letting her be violated like that because in her heart she believed that God could have done something so He must have let that happen to her.
Church, these two examples I’ve just given you are things that have actually happened, and there are countless other examples out there like this that have wounded people. They are also things that make it confusing to people who have gone through situations like this when they are told that God “loves” them—because, in their mind, if God loved them, then He wouldn’t have let situations like this happen to them. So it’s hard for people to receive God’s love when they think that He allows all of the evil that happens to them.
So, this is why I see one of the main reasons people struggle with receiving God’s love is their misguided belief in His sovereignty. Yes, in their believing He is responsible for all the bad things that happen in the world, they cannot understand how He can love us if He causes/allows all of these bad things. And you know what? If God truly is the One responsible for all of the evil and bad that happens in our lives, then it would be hard to accept that He is love because, after all, why would love do that? I mean, you don’t do things to hurt & harm people you love, do you? In fact, why don’t you go and purposely share your cold/flu with your friends that you love and get them sick and then see if they “felt the love”? No, they would actually question your love for them by asking, “Why would you do that? I thought you loved me?” But, church, that’s exactly what the majority of Christianity accuse God of, even though the Bible explicitly declares to us that GOD IS LOVE. No, love does not do things to subtract life; Love is always willing to give abundant life!
But the question that needs to be answered then is— If God is love, then why do these bad things happen and why doesn’t God stop them?
Well, first of all, there are multiple reasons why bad things happen—for one, we have an enemy out there who has come to steal, kill, and destroy. This might be obvious to some of us, but to much of the church, there is a lot of ignorance over the fact that the devil is real and is responsible for a lot that goes on in this world. Again, they believe that God is the One bringing everything into their life, but that’s not true!
You see, in the example of Job, there was an unseen & unknown culprit behind all of Job’s afflictions, satan. From his perspective, it was the Lord who took his children, his possessions, and his health from him. But from our perspective, we see in Job chapter one that it was the devil who brought all these calamities on him.
I wonder how many Christians have been in Job’s shoes. No, not in his shoes from the standpoint of what he went through, but in his shoes in how he was ignorant concerning the source of his problems. You see, you’d have to add to the Bible to say Job knew it was Satan who brought all this suffering on him. Likewise, I don’t think the majority of the church knows this either. I believe most attribute everything to God, but the truth of the matter is that the devil is responsible for some things, and its not rocket science to figure out what those things are. It’s things that are NOT GOOD, things that steal from us, attempt to kill us, and are aimed at destroying us. Amen?
This is how James was able to say that we are to submit ourselves unto God and resist the devil (See James 4:7). We are only able to know what to submit to and what to resist IF we know what comes from God and what comes from the devil.
So, yes, the devil is largely responsible for a lot of the evil we see happening in the world, but contrary to that statement you might have heard—"the devil made me do it”—the devil CANNOT just do whatever he wants to do. He has to have a person who will cooperate with him (and we will learn why here shortly). So a lot of what happens in the world around us is due to flesh—that is, that fallen, sinful nature in people who yield to the enemy’s will and choose the curse & death. Which is exactly what happened in the beginning, and that’s why we have the curse present on this earth, which creates so many of the bad things we have in the world around us.
So there are several reasons why bad things happen that show that it’s not all up to God and prove that He is the not the source of them. Yet there are books trying to explain this very thing. One popular title is “Why do bad things happen to good people.”
Well, the truth is that bad things don’t happen to good people. Why? Because the Bible teaches us that there is none good! If you recall, when Jesus was called “Good” by the rich young ruler, He responded by saying, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (See Matthew 19:17). In Romans 3:12, the apostle Paul said, “There is none who does good, no, not one.” So I think it’s crystal clear that God doesn’t consider any human being “good” when being compared to Him. Now if we compare ourselves among other people, we might be relatively good. But others are not our standard. God is the standard! So standing next to Him, no, there is certainly no one who should be put in the same category as His goodness.
How many of you know that was another mistake that Job made? It was when he didn’t understand why all of those bad things were happening to him, his self-righteousness started accusing God of wrong doing – basically exalting his own character above God’s character. And church, that’s bad. But we do this same thing all the time – saying that so and so was a good person, why did this happen to them. The truth is, we ALL deserve bad things to happen to us when it comes to who we are in the flesh. We all make poor choices, fall short of the glory of God, and are inherently “evil.”
Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Now Jesus was not calling us “evil” here from the standpoint of who we are compared to other evil people on this planet. He is obviously comparing us to the goodness of God. In comparison to God’s goodness, I am, in fact, evil (that is, in my flesh).
But His point was, if I am evil in comparison to God’s goodness, and I know how to give good gifts to my children, then how much more will my Heavenly Father give good gifts to me when I ask Him?
You see, I am not going to give my son a stone or scorpion when he is hungry. No, I will meet His needs and give him the desires of his heart, not give him something that’s harsh and harmful. But again, God’s people have accused Him of this, haven’t they? We’ve said things like – “God gave me this cancer to teach me something” or “God took so and so to heaven because He needed them there more I needed them here.” All kinds of stuff people believe about God and it’s just not true. I said, God is not the source of our tragedies, suffering, etc. And the reason I can say this so matter of “factly” is because GOD IS LOVE, and love doesn’t do that to the objects of its love. Amen?
So the answer to that proverbial question—why do bad things happen and why doesn’t God stop them—is simple. It’s because we live in a sin cursed and fallen world—a world that is under the sway of Satan—and this is due to the fact that because God, in His sovereignty, gave the earth to mankind.
THE EARTH IS OURS
You see, Psalm 115:16 says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.”
What this verse is saying is that “heaven”—where God dwells—is His domain and where He rules. And this is the reason that heaven is perfect, to where there’s no death, suffering, or imperfection of any kind. It’s because this is God’s sphere of authority and His domain. Yes, heaven is where God has control.
However, here on the earth, we are living in a world that is far from perfection, right? We have all kinds of injustices and so much suffering present on the earth including sickness & disease, and poverty & lack. And do you know why these things exist on the earth. It’s not because God is in control of the earth; it’s because man is in control of it.
This should be easily understood because look at the mess that has been created since the beginning of time. God doesn’t create messes. He creates things in perfection & beauty. No, all of the death, destruction, suffering, etc. that we experience on this earth is not because God willed it. Ultimately, it’s because we willed it. Perhaps not you and I, but mankind as a whole is who has allowed the imperfections that we see in this world we live in. It’s tight but it’s right.
This is what the psalmist said in the second half of this verse—that the earth He has given to the sons of men. That means that the authority over the things that happen on this planet are in mankind’s control.
Now this planet does still have plenty of beauty left in it. But compared to the way God created it in the beginning, the earth is not in the same condition. And that is because of the sin we allowed in it in the Garden of Eden. That’s where this downward spiral began to where the earth was corrupted and lost much of its luster.
Might we use the comparison of a new car: You know, when we get a new vehicle, the paint is perfect, the interior is flawless, and the new car smell is awesome! But the longer we own it, the less “perfect” it becomes. That new car smell eventually goes away. The exterior & interior doesn’t look the way it did when we drove it off the lot. That’s simply because we now own it and it’s now being driven in this world we live in where everything is corruptible, defiled, and fading away. So, the truth is, the reason why our new car lost that new car smell was because we stunk it up.
However, the apostle Peter speaks of an inheritance awaiting us that is “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for us (see First Peter 1:4). And the reason things are that way in heaven is because of this truth—that the heavens are the Lord’s domain.
We see this in the ministry of Jesus—how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (see Acts 10:38)—and when He sent His disciples out to do the same, He had them tell the people that the kingdom of God had come near to them. Why? It was because when people get healed, delivered, blessed, etc. by the Lord, that is a manifestation of God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. In other words, that’s how things are there! Amen!
So, my point is that the reason things here on the earth don’t completely mirror the way things are in heaven is because God is not the One in control of the earth. Now that might run completely contrary to some people’s belief system, but I challenge you to look at it from this perspective of the psalmist—that the heavens are the Lord’s but the earth He has given to the sons of men. Therefore, the earth has become what mankind has allowed it to become. This is through our choices that we’ve made, both in the natural and in the spiritual. For example, if we choose to pollute our planet, we can destroy it from the outside in. If we choose sin and it abounds, that can even destroy earth from the inside out.
WHO HAS THE CONTROL?
Friends, so many Christians believe that if someone gets blessed, it was the Lord’s prerogative to bless them. On the other hand, if someone experiences a tragedy in their life, it was part of God’s purpose for them as well. These also believe that if someone dies prematurely, then the Lord took them. All of these things that the church believes and says indicate something that I firmly believe is a lie from the pit of hell.
You see, all of these Christian clichés that say things like “God is in control” basically are saying that everything that happens in our lives—whether good or bad—is all a part of God’s plan for us. They indicate that the mindset is present that everything that we experience in life has somehow passed through the hands of God. And this is simply not true.
Now please do not take this the wrong way: With the things I am saying here, I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty or condemned who has had any of these negative experiences and has incurred loss in their life. My heart goes out to those who have experienced hurts like these. But in spite of our experiences, we need to learn what the Bible has to say about these things so that we will not believe a lie and can be equipped to change the things we experience in the future. Amen?
Take a child for example: We like to say that children are gifts from God, that He has blessed us with these children. Well, how many of you know that the parents had something to do with that little blessing? Yeah, that’s right! They cooperated with a little law in nature about how children are conceived, didn’t they?
And I know there are people out there that do not practice the various methods of “not trying to get pregnant,” just believing that God will give them as many children as He wants to. Well, I think it is interesting that all of those people have more children than the average family, don’t they? So, unless the husband and wife have something preventing them from having children, they are going to have a bunch of children unless they do something to lessen those odds.
So, my point is—there are laws and principles that God has set up in this natural world that if you do not abide by them, you will reap the fruit from the seeds sown. Well, if it is this way in the natural (and it is), then we would be foolish to think that it is not that way in the spiritual things as well - for God has set this natural realm to mirror the spiritual realm.
Saints, we need to understand that there are spiritual laws and principles that God has set up, and He is not in the business of superseding these laws and being the great puppeteer in the sky—controlling and manipulating everything that happens here. Sure, there are times that He does suspend natural laws and performs what we call “miracles,” but this is the exception and not the rule.
And the truth that I want us to begin to see this week is the truth of our authority in Christ—because I am here to tell you, church, God is not the one who is in control of everything that happens on this earth. He is not picking and choosing people to bless, heal, deliver, etc. any more than He is picking and choosing the people who will be saved. No, just like it is in salvation where we must call on the name of the Lord and confess Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior in order to be saved, we must operate according to the other principles of God’s kingdom in order to experience the fruit of God’s kingdom.
So if this planet is given to us and we are the ones who are in control of it, then this should answer all of those questions like “why is there so much death & suffering?” It’s because we allowed it, not God.
Now of course this all started in the Garden, didn’t it? God gave the authority over the earth to Adam in the beginning let him have dominion over the rest of creation and to subdue Eden. But of course, we know what happened. Eve was deceived, Adam partook of the fruit with her, and sin, death, and the curse entered into this world.
But have you ever wondered why God didn’t stop this from happening—because if there was ever a situation the Lord would intervene in and stop, it would be this one, right? Undoubtedly, this was the worst thing any person ever did to another in the history of mankind, right, because Adam’s sin caused every sickness, disease, death, tragedy, etc. So I believe we can see that if God is not going to Personally stop that from happening, then He’s not going to Personally stop other things from happening.
Now He does make efforts to stop these tragedies. He does this by speaking to our hearts, leading us by His Spirit, etc., but unfortunately, we don’t always listen, obey, or pick up on what He is leading us to do. This is oftentimes when these bad things do happen. But on the other hand, there are times where God does get through to us and helps us avoid these tragedies.
One example I can’t help but think about is the 9/11 tragedy of the world trade center. We are told that the world trade center was a lot emptier on 9/11 on that day than usual, and people who didn’t show up that day that normally would have been there said things like their alarm never went off in the morning or they just didn’t feel good about going in on that day. Additionally, we learned that there were a lot of people all over the world who were awakened the evening before and felt led to pray, not knowing why or what for.
So that’s an example of how God works to try and prevent certain tragedies, and the answer to the question of why does He do it that way is because that’s the way He has set things up. Again, the earth is ours. We have a free will. And if we will work together with Him, we can experience His protection, blessing, and providence. But the fact is, most don’t do this, and we become much more susceptible to the bad things that surround us on this planet. Amen?
EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT
So, I am here to tell you that everything that comes into your life is not necessarily God’s will for you! No, LOVE’S will for you is life and life more abundantly! He only desires your good, and that’s because He is good.
James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” What James was saying is that we should never say God is the direct or indirect source of our afflictions. So to say that God took a life in order to bring some good into others lives is a direct contradiction to this verse.
James goes on to say in verse 17 what God is responsible for. He says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” God is the One who gives all the good and perfect things in our lives! God is the Father of lights! That means that there is no darkness in Him. He has no darkness to give! That is why He does not tempt anyone. It is because He does not have darkness to tempt with!
And the great news is that the Father of lights does not change. He does not give good and perfect gifts one day and then the next He pours calamity on us. No! He has no variation or shadow of turning. He is constantly and consistently pouring out His life on us. This is the God that we serve under the New Covenant!
But the truth of the matter is this – love always gives a choice. This is why the opportunity to sin was even given in the Garden. This is why when man took that opportunity, God didn’t stop him. This is because Love isn’t looking for robots that cannot choose right and wrong for themselves. Love desires the objects of its love to freely will to love and honor it back.
But while love gives free will, it’s perfect will is for the ones that it loves to live a happy & blessed life! It does no harm! It is not evil! Sure, there are things that happen to us in life that are painful, but God is not the source of that pain. He is love and love is not complicated. It follows suit with what you desire to do for your children & grandchildren. It seeks to honor & serve you like you seek to honor & serve your spouse. This is who God is and how He has chosen to do things here on the earth. Amen?