One of Jesus’ most popular parables illustrated the importance of the foundation upon which people build their lives. The sand and rock were metaphors He used for foundations upon which we build our lives. One foolish man built his house on the sand, but the other man, who was wise, built his house upon the rock. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Jesus is the rock! Jesus, Himself, is the solid foundation for everyone who aspires to be a channel of His love. He is not a mere foundation upon which we build our own lives, or a good model for us to follow, but He lives in us and fills us with all that He is!
Sanctification involves a process of transformation from natural thinking to supernatural thinking. Living to love with Jesus is supernatural because it flows out of Him. Supernatural love moves within the current of supernatural thoughts and beliefs. What is most meaningful about our being in Christ is faith working through love (Gal. 5:6), as Jesus Himself flows through us.
Over the next three months, I invite you to consider some foundational thoughts or beliefs of Jesus Christ that we must also have if we are to live to love with Him. Jesus believed and responded to circumstances and to people from these three foundational truths.
There is only one God, My Father, who is love, from whom are all things.
Experiencing and expressing His love satisfies the deepest longing of My heart.
God’s purpose in all things regarding Me is for My highest good.
Let’s consider these three foundational truths again, now from the perspective of God’s children and their relationship to love.
There is only one God, who is love, from whom and through whom are all things.
Experiencing and expressing His love satisfies the deepest longing of their hearts.
God’s purpose in all things regarding His children is for their highest good, which includes conforming them to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, and preparing them for eternity with Him.
This month, we will focus on the first foundational truth.
There is one God …
For Jesus and for us, there is but one God. This truth is declared in the Scriptures.
“To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God”
“That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:6).
With Jesus, we also hold to the bedrock truth that there is but one God. And He is our Father. There are no other gods, and Satan is not a god. I point this out because some people seem to think of him as an equal opponent to God, but he is not. He can be a powerful adversary against us until we learn to stand firm against his schemes in the power of Christ (Eph. 6:10-12). The devil is a created being, limited and finite. In contrast, God is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and transcendent. The apostle Paul declared this great foundational truth in his letters.
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
“One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all”
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
(1 Timothy 2:5).
… who is love …
After walking with Jesus for three years (while He was in His body) and for decades afterward (in the Spirit), the apostle John concluded and wrote that God is love. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). John’s point in his first letter was that God, who revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ, is light (1 John 1:5), and that light is love. Therefore, the love of God flows through those who believe like Jesus believed, namely, that there is one God, our Father, who is love.
To say that God is love is to say that love motivates all of His actions. God cannot act apart from who He is. That truth may be difficult for us to maintain when we live in this fallen, broken world, but a time will come when we will see all things as He sees them. We will see that His love has never ceased to be expressed to His children in all things. Until then, we hold onto this truth by faith. Jesus knew it when He was on the earth. He came from heaven’s throne to be the “exact representation of the Father’s nature” of love (Heb. 1:3). We know that He knew this, and He knew it so well that He held fast to it even as He was crucified. So doesn’t it make sense that we should adopt the foundations of His faith in spite of our own doubts and questions? His faith in His Father’s love is trustworthy in the storms of our lives.
… from whom are all things.
Have you ever considered what it means to be God? One way to define God is to say that He is the source of all things. If He isn’t the source of all things, and sovereign over them (1 Tim. 6:15), then He isn’t God. If His purposes can be thwarted, then He isn’t God (Job 42:2). To be God must include having the wisdom and power to accomplish His own will (Eph. 1:8-9), which cannot be overruled by any other person or power. Again, the Scriptures declare these truths, in both the Old and New Testaments. A revealing addition to verses 5 and 6 of Isaiah 45, cited above, is verse 7:
“[I am] … the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7).
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, unparalleled among kings of his time, was powerfully brought to the humble recognition of what it means for God to be God, through a season of being abased to live like an animal (see Daniel 4). Afterward, he testified,
“I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
As we grow in our faith, we learn, to our great comfort and relief, that God’s wisdom, power, and sovereign will move in love, not in coercion, intimidation, or terrorism. We already noted above what Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 8:6. Here are some other declarations about God, from the apostles Paul and John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven”
When we say that we believe that all things come from God, we are not saying that He causes all things and is the author of evil. The Isaiah passage above makes an important distinction when God says that He creates calamity and causes well-being. He has created all the elements and systems in the world, and He has allowed them to function according to their design and purpose. The greatest calamity in the history of mankind, the fall of Adam and Eve, occurred according to the counsel of His will, but it transpired because of three elements which He created––all of which were good and without which it could not have happened as it did. 1) He created man in His image with a desire to be like God. 2) He also created and gave Adam a law (without which there could be no sin), and then 3) He allowed the adversary, the devil, a being which He created and allowed to fall, to enter the garden at that time in history. With these elements in place, the Fall was a great calamity created by God, though not perpetrated by Him, and not without a purpose motivated by love, which was, through all of history to reveal the glory of God in and through Jesus Christ.
As for God’s statement that He causes well-being, think for a minute about the state of the world after the Fall. In order for any well-being to occur in a fallen world with men who are enslaved to sin, God must cause it, for we surely cannot! For God to cause any good in a fallen, hostile world, He must be motivated by love. Consider God’s assessment of fallen mankind, that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5), and Paul’s assertions that we are hostile, engaged in evil deeds (Col. 1:21), and unwilling to submit ourselves to God and His law (Rom. 8:7-8). With hearts so self-serving, self-seeking, and self-fulfilling, as well as so dismissive toward the One who has given us life in the first place, who can claim that they deserve to be loved, or to enjoy any good in life? Yet, while we were in this condition, God sent His Son to die for us, to restore the beauty of His image in us that was lost in the Garden, to destroy all the works of the devil, and to redeem and transform us so we can spend eternity with Him! This is God “causing well-being”!
So, to be clear, when we say that all things come from God, who is love, we are not saying He is the originator of evil. Evil and tragedy result from the fallen world, our fallen flesh, and the fallen angel Satan, who hates everything God has created, and especially humans, who bear His image. We can also say that God holds Satan and all men responsible for their deeds. This may be beyond our comprehension, but it is true nonetheless. I know of no greater testimony of this truth than Peter’s explanation of the crucifixion of Jesus to the men of Israel who put Him to death.
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:22-23).
Did you grasp what Peter said? God delivered Jesus to them according to His plan and foreknowledge (this event came from God), but they are guilty and responsible for this atrocious act of murdering the Son of God!
So let us listen to these words and consider this unwavering truth, which is foundational to the flow of love. There is only one God, who is love, from whom and through whom are all things. Because Jesus believed this truth (as He still does), He was and is constantly in a state of abiding with His Father. What should excite us is that we can also abide in Him by thinking about and believing in God like He did. When we think like this, we are building our lives on the rock of Jesus Christ, and we are enabled to love like He loves. What a supernatural adventure!
Do you find yourself struggling with this truth? It might be confirming to know that the Westminster Confession-1646 (Chapter 2, articles 1-2), the Philadelphia Baptist Confession-1742 (Chapter 2, articles 1-2), the 1559 Belgic Confession (Article 8), the Augsburg Confession-1530 (Article 1), and the Confession of Faith of the United Methodist Church-1968 (Article 1), just to name a few, all declare and affirm this profound, glorious truth about God Almighty. It helps to simply recognize that our natural thoughts can turn down wrong paths, and when we become aware of it, we need to reframe our thinking to the way Jesus thinks! I hope you can see how vital this truth is to living to love, and that you’ll build your life on this truth as events occur and God puts people in your path. I urge you to find a way to ingrain this first foundational truth before you this month to help you practice thinking and believing the way Jesus does about our Father. We’ll continue building this foundation next month, and as we practice, we will see Jesus and His faith becoming the firm rock on which we are standing. Hallelujah!
If you haven’t already taken the 60-day Live to Love prayer challenge, I invite you to join the adventure of living to love with Jesus (www.livetolovewithjesus.com). There’s not a better time than NOW to begin. If you’ll begin each day with the attitude embodied in this prayer, you’ll not miss the opportunities God gives you to trust and love for His glory.