… I attended your 9:00 a.m. service this morning and in discussing things afterwards, had one item that we wanted to touch base with you on to see if we misunderstood the message. I’ll give you a bit of information on me a little lower in this email (in the interest of full disclosure), but as for the discussion we had, you stated a couple of times that “God loves us first, then we love him, and if we love him, he will love us even more.” I suppose the question for you is whether the idea of God loving us more (after we love him) is an accurate understanding of the message you were conveying this morning (with the obvious understanding that this was just a part of the overall message you were preaching about this morning)…
… I think we were all struggling with the idea that God could somehow love us more if we love him. It seems like the overall message that you preach about, at least from a conceptual/30,000 foot view, is of a God that loves all people unconditionally and wants to have everyone be in a relationship with Him (and sent Jesus here to die for our sins and that we are saved by the grace of God), and I’m not sure how a God that loves like that could love us more (and love us more if we love him back).
I hope this email doesn’t sound like nit-picking of your message today…our little group was just a bit confused on this point. I appreciate your time. Thanks in advance,
I love your question. It totally encourages me that you are listening, wrestling with what you hear, talking with others about what you hear and most importantly that you want to study the Scriptures to see if the things you are hearing are biblically justified (Acts 17:11) and I appreciate it because it gives me the chance to talk more about God’s love. Below, in bullet points, is what I (http://www.watermark.org/media/series/312/ ) said and what I meant when I said John 14 shows us how God loves us more as we keep His commandments. Let me review the highlights of the message using bullet points for ease and clarity. I think I shared all this in the message yesterday so if you go back and listen you will hear it again…maybe in a slightly different order but it should all be there!
First of all, let me start by clarifying one thing. God CANNOT love anyone any more than He already has if, when talking about love, you are talking about the greatest love possible being the love you show when you give your life for another. (John 15:13) Jesus gave His life for the world (John 3:16, 10:11; Romans 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15; 2:4) so in this sense God loves all of us the same and can NOT love any of us anymore. That being said…here is how God “loves us more”.
God will disclose more (and I used love in this sense) if we abide with Him. John 14:21, 23,-24 make it clear that the more you abide with God the more you EXPERIENCE His love, His goodness, His grace, His kindness. Or to say it another way, we experience more of His love as we love Him more. We have an “epiphany” of Him, an unveiling, opening or revealing as he discloses Himself to us and in this way as we experience MORE of His love, His goodness, His grace and His kindness; we have tasted and seen the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and we therefore know Him more and in knowing Him more receive more of His love. Not only in the joy of our salvation, but in the reality of our experience.
John 14 seems to be saying, “you want to know more of God’s love? Let God who already has and WANTS to love ALL men more, love you more by abiding with Him and learning MORE of His love. Accept His word, believe in His Son, walk in His Spirit, believe in His name and enjoy the blessing of His goodness.” Isaiah says it well: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.19 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land;20 “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18–20)
God loves all men but some men experience MORE of God’s love.
Jesus had this in mind also when in Matt 13:11-13 (see especially verse 12) He told His disciples that He was going to give more of Himself to those who already had the most of Him and the more you take of Him the more of Him you will keep receiving.
Praying you taste and see His love for you by abiding in every way He intends and by running toward every provision He has made for you. I think you will see more of His love every time you walk in it. Remember, a huge part of walking with Him is obeying Him every chance you get, so you may experience His goodness and provision every time you do it. Trust in Him You will never regret any part of God disclosing more (John 14:21) of His person (God is love 1 John 4:8) to you.
God loves us first and will love us in return for our loving His love for us.
1 John 4:19,