Four Basic Principles of the Christian Faith

One: God Loves

John 3:16

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, cling to, relies on) Him may not perish - come to destruction, be lost - but have eternal (everlasting) life. Amplified Bible  

This message was preached March 30, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at ToulonBaptist.com

We soon will be into holy week and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we come to this time of year I want to first of all understand the moving force behind all that took place there in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago.

In the process I also want to emphasize that this is one of the basic principles of the Christian faith. In these messages I hope to teach you something, challenge some of the things you believe and challenge you to change the way you live.

The story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than a story. It is a life changing event. It changed the lives of the twelve who thought they were already committed to Jesus. It also changed the lives of those who at the first had rejected Him or only superficially believed in Him. But it also changed the lives of countless thousands who had never heard of Him before.

The first basic principle that brings us the crucifixion of Jesus is the love of God. Now Jesus laid this out very easily for Nicodemus that night. God was moving in the world among these rebels who had turned away from God. He was moving to bring them back to Himself. But what was it that moving God to act so recklessly with His mercy and grace. It was His love. Love for the creation and love for mankind. God was finally making a way for Him to bring these rebels, these sinners back to Himself.

When dealing with this subject there are two dangers. The first is to underplay the love of God. I was studying some old dusty theology books yesterday and discovered that they had very little to say about the love of God. There emphasis was on our obligation to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. It was not until I looked at theology books written in the last 75 years did I find a definite emphasis on God's love.

The second error and the one we are more likely to fall into today is to misunderstand the love of God making it inconsistent with His other characteristics such as His holiness, His justice and His wrath.

"There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. . . How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love--its character, fullness, blessedness--the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him." A.W. Pink, Attributes of God

 

Each week as we consider another of these four basic principles of the Christian faith we will consider them from the same view points as our message today.

  1. God's Love and God
    1. It sets God apart from other so called gods.
      1. "Christianity is really the only religion that sets fourth the Supreme Being as Love. The gods of the heathen are angry, hateful beings and are in constant need of being appeased. But not so our God. His love, like a bridge, spans the gulf of time. It has held up under the heaviest pressure. At different times, such has been the weight of human sins that the best of men have feared that the bridge would give way beneath the burden. But it has borne all things and 'suffered long' even until now." Bancroft, Elemental Theology
      2. Lest of all do the other gods command that we love our enemies and do good to those who torment us.
    2. God's love also displays His relational nature.
      1. Clarke, Christian Theology, 83 -- "Love is God's desire to impart himself, and so all good, to other persons, and to possess them for his own spiritual fellowship." Strong's Sys Theo
      2. God's love for us is only for our best, that is what true love is.
    3. God's love demonstrates His other attributes
      1. Holiness - His love is seen in the extent He went to satisfy His holiness and justice.
      2. His mercy- for without His love, no mercy or grace would have been seen.
  2. God's Love and Us
    1. We are special.
      1. Not of our own.
      2. But because He set His love on us.
        1. Ps 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, but to you goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. NLT
        2. Deut 7:7-8 "The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8 It was simply because the LORD loves you, . . . NLT
    2. We are forgiven - God found a way for love to cover a multitude of sins.
      1. It was not enough that God loved us.
      2. He must find a way to forgive us without violating His character.
      3. To allow the criminal to go free might be a loving thing to do but it is also quite criminal in itself and makes the judge guilty himself.
      4. But love found a way.
        1. Christ is "the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world" Revelation 13:8); 1 Peter 1:19, 20 -- "precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world." While holiness requires atonement, love provides it. Strong's Sys Theo
        2. Christ was "anointed… with the oil of gladness above his fellows," and "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross '(Hebrews 1:9; 12:2). Love rejoices even in pain, when this brings good to those beloved. Strong's Sys Theo
      5. That is what Jesus is telling Nicodemus.
      6. Jesus has already described the method of the atonement.
      7. John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, 15 so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. NLT
    3. His love also tells us we have an invitation to fellowship.
    4. His love for us is eternal and guarantees our place in heaven.
  3. God's Love and Others
    1. We have a message to share.
      1. God loves through Jesus Christ.
      2. Jesus did not say that God so loved the world that everyone might have eternal life. It is for those who come to Jesus and trust in Him for their salvation.
      3. He invites us to invite others to come.
      4. All who come are assured of His love.
      5. We must live out tis great love.
    2. His love is in us and work through us toward others.
  4. God's Love and Our Community of Faith
    1. God's people are unique.
      1. We have a unique relationship to God.
      2. We have a unique relationship to each other.
      3. It is the uniqueness or common uniqueness that makes us a community.
      4. 1 Cor 12:22 In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, 24 while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. NLT
    2. There is a love for one another.
      1. Sincere
        1. 1 Peter 1:22 Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts. NLT
      2. Sacrificial.
        1. 1 John 3:16 We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. NLT