Saturday, September 23, 2017

Section 5: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus


Re-establishing Some Critical Concepts:

            GRACE:

             In recent times, grace has come to be popularly understood to mean “unmerited favor.”   This definition does not even come close to defining the actual meaning of Grace.  But, this error has been repeated so often, at this point, that it has come to seem completely legitimate.  

            One reason that this definition of unmerited favor has been so often repeated is that it is important in substantiating the non-responsible gospel.  This definition is typically used to turn the idea of grace into an exclusion that relieves the believer of the consequences normally connected to wrong doing.  Obviously, this is a key change that nicely fits the non-responsibility idea that the believer has no real obligation to rise above the sin impulse.

An Overspecialization

            So, let’s just look at the real definition of the word.  Webster’s Dictionary defines Grace as, “Seemingly effortless beauty, ease and charm of movement, proportion, or form; a charming quality or characteristic.”   Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary defines it as, “Any excellence, characteristic, quality, or endowment.” 
           
            The Greek word that is translated as grace every time, save one, in the New Testament is “Charis.”   Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (A widely and highly regarded work) gives this definition for that word, “That which affords joy, pleasure, delight.”  Strong’s Dictionary of the Greek Testament (also a very highly regarded work) gives this meaning: “Graciousness (as gratifying) of manner or act.”
 
The Broader Meaning More Accurate

            The idea in these legitimate lexicons is simple.  These completely objective and highly regarded dictionaries give us a much broader definition of grace than is involved in the pop-definition of unmerited favor.  They define grace, in short, as simply a kind of “innate goodness” (innate meaning, from the beginning, or occurring originally or naturally.)

            So, the idea being conveyed in these reputable references speaks simply of a natural or characteristic goodness.  And that is the primary way “grace” should be understood in the New Testament. 

            We should point out, here, that the Bible does not have its own special meanings for the words that it contains.  In fact, just the reverse is true.  It is a necessary requirement for Bible translators that they have a broad and accurate knowledge of both the language that they are translating from, and the language that they are translating to.  This is necessary so that they can employ words accurately as to their established meanings.  In any reputable translation of the Bible, every effort goes toward this accurate rendering into the commonly held usage. 

            So, the contention here is that the truth is far better served when one understands grace as the general references render it:  simply a naturally occurring goodness.  When we understand grace in this way, we soon come to see that to be saved “by grace” speaks more of the naturally occurring goodness in the character and motives of God, than merely to the smaller idea of “mercy.” 

             Certainly, mercy (unmerited favor) is involved in our salvation.  And, it is certainly a part of and a product of God’s grace.  But, grace is not mercy.  The two terms do not interchange equally.  And, to attempt to do so is to greatly narrow and so specialize the idea of grace that its true meaning, and thus, the intent of the scripture, becomes lost. 

A Superior Personal Government

            However, when we understand grace correctly, the stage is then set to understand something astounding.  It is the role that grace plays in the transformation of the believer.   A tremendous awareness, which is entirely lost through the non-responsible idea of “unmerited favor,” is that this same divine grace (naturally occurring goodness) eventually also expresses itself within the believer, through our Spiritual merger with Christ,  

            Through our Spiritual integration with the character essence of Christ, we are literally connected to His gracefulness, just as we are to his other character traits.  And, this naturally occurring goodness (which we share with the character essence of Living Christ) then enables a spectacular change in the way that God’s people are governed and guided. 
           
            Paul makes a profound statement in this regard in Romans, chapter 6, where he says, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  With this statement, Paul confirms that God’s people have transitioned from a personal government based in the external rules of the divine law.  He confirms here that we are now governed by the internal government of grace, this Christ-based instinctive goodness now present within the believer’s heart through the Spiritual merger.  And, this change, changes everything. 

            It provides a wonderfully natural and comfortable guidance to our daily life.  So, grace becomes a very instinctive heart-based personal government to replace the very un-natural and completely awkward government of external rules.  Thus, in the Living Christ, the believer merely begins to naturally do, what he has become in Christ. 

            Obviously, this is a far superior method of personal governance.  And, it is one which absolutely succeeds where that of external rules, even the divine external rules, have failed in the past.  So, the apostle would also write this in Romans, chapter 6.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

What It Is, What It Isn't

            The accurate and truthful view of grace is to understand it as this guiding goodness which is naturally occurring in the nature of God, and now, through the Living Christ, in the renewed nature of the believer.  Understanding this, provides a much broader and more accurate insight into the true nature and the larger redemptive roll of grace.

            So, grace, understood correctly, is not a term that describes God’s willingness to simply overlook all human failing, thus abdicating His original plan for an obedient, faith-expressive people.  Obviously, when properly defined, grace is hardly the means of non-responsibility.  Rather, grace enables responsibility by providing a very nature-based way to instinctively respond to God and to life in true goodness.

            So, it is the greatest perversion to re-tailor the meaning of grace to lay a foundation which allows one to retreat from responsibility.  Such an idea is not only inaccurate from the standpoint of definition, but it is also in complete disagreement with everything that God has intended for His people from the beginning.
    
                  How Very Logical 

How very logical when you think about it, and how very “amazing,” indeed.   God has found a way to bring effective and consistent heart government to the human being by enabling us to share in the good heart motives of Christ’s through our personal merger with Him.  And then, His graceful instincts become our own to provide an every day, easy government of grace.  It is the natural government of instinctive goodness. 

 And what could be more natural?  As the good impulses which move Christ become our inner impulses and begin to move us, we now become able to serve God with the same natural affinity with which we once served our own self-centeredness.   Where once we instinctively responded to dark and selfish urges, now we respond to the natural impulses of light and true goodness. 

So that’s what God meant when He said, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes; and, you will keep My judgments and do them.”


          SIN:

            Now, let’s consider the issue of Sin.   It is obviously an important issue in Christian theology.  And how we view and deal with sin defines the fundamental conflict between the antichrist gospel and the authentic Gospel. 

The Nature of Sin and the Sin Problem

            To understand how the believer can survive before a holy God in a context of real accountability, it is necessary to first understand the nature of sin and the sin problem.  This understanding begins with a simple idea:  Sin has a twofold natureSin is often expressed as an action.  But, it is essential that we understand that sin does not only exists in the form of an act.  It also exists as an internal value.

The Sin Value

            But, what are values?  Values are those things that we, well, value in our heart.  They are our most dearly held principles, beliefs, tenets, etc. stored on the deepest governing level of our core person.  And, these values, these life governing principles, are so intrinsic to who we are that they are often more like instincts than cognitive thoughts.  And, all of our values, taken together, form our Value System

            And, it is this value system, this collection of values, which serves as a kind of “interpretive life filter” to enable us to sort out the issues of life.  Thus, every day, our values serve as our personal guidance system to decide good and evil, right and wrong, yes or no, etc.  So, indeed, every day, our value system shapes the kind of life we live, determines the quality of that life, and sets the directions our life will take. 

            Thus, our values are supremely important to the outcome of every day.  Jesus said,  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  

Essentially then, our life is, indeed, the product of the values within our heart, our core being.  And that core person is also essentially defined by this value system.  Now, let’s look at the role values play in the nature of sin and the sin problem.

                                        Back to the Sin Issue

            So, while an act of sin may be the more visible and familiar expression of sin, it is still only the product of that deeper, inner dimension of sin, the sin value, within the heart.  But, when we think of sin in these terms, as a value in the heart, it is important that we understand the difference between what can aptly be called the “Essential or Primary Sin Value” and the secondary sin impulses. 

            The essential sin value is the root source of all sin in a person’s life.  And, its basic nature is completely uncomplicated.  It is simply the value of self-determination.  The idea is simply what was described above.  It is the motive, the drive, the desire to do your own thing, even when that “thing” ignores or conflicts with God’s values and directions.    So, it is this very primary sin value, as it drives us to be self-determined, self-guided, self-sufficient in life, which then gives rise to the more secondary sin impulses:  immorality, cheating, stealing, lying, etc.

God's Primary Target

            Thus, it is this essential sin value, this root source of sin, at which God’s redemptive work is first aimed.  Eliminating this rebellious and very compelling sin value from the governing level of man’s heart is the key to restoring fallen mankind. 

            This is true because this value is in direct opposition to the faith value, the nature of which is also very uncomplicated.  The faith value is the diametric opposite of the sin value which insists on self-expression.  But, the faith value is the motive, the drive, the desire to humble one’s self before God by willingly embracing His values and directions, rather than your own.   

The Sin Voice :
Open Hostility vs. Quiet Independence

            So, within our core person of unredeemed man, on the subconscious level, this value becomes a kind of “sin voice,” the constant expression self-sovereignty (self-rule).  And it constantly demands the freedom to be self-determined.

            Sometimes this is an observably caustic expression which comes out as an arrogant and openly rebellious opposition to God, as might be observed in a very nefarious non-believer.  In this form, the influence of the sin value might be seen as a fist-shaking, “stay out of my way, God, and leave me alone,” kind of attitude.  When the sin value expresses itself like this, it is easily identified for what it is.

            Most often though, it does not express itself in this way, at all.  It is far more frequent that the sin value will simply express itself as a quiet, but resolute, independence.  In this more attractive form, the essential sin value may actually allow us to consciously acknowledge God for who He is.  It may even allow for a casual pursuit of God.   But, in truth, it will never allow us to enter into anything more than a self-protecting encounter with Him.

            And, it should be noted too, that, even in this more attractive form, this quiet independence is still a very real form of rebellion against God’s authority as the Creator.  And, it has the same separating effect.  And, it draws the same stern judgment of God as that more abrasive expression of the sin value.  They are, in essence, the same.

Condemnation, Absent Expression

            So, it is this inner dimension of sin, the sin value, which condemns the soul before God.  And, it does this before it ever expresses itself as an act of any kind.  So, the idea of putting our good works up against our bad works in the balance scales of the final judgement suddenly begins to appear as what it truly is – childish and ridiculous.  What will be examined first and foremost in the final judgement will be our heart, not our works.  And, this will be done with a singular interest in finding out what is the dominant value in this heart – the sin value, or the faith value. 

An Obvious Conclusion

            Even to our minds, then, it becomes obvious that to really answer the problem of sinful actions, one would have to deal, first, with this root cause: the sin value.   And certainly, the all-knowing God has known from the beginning that it is in the heart, including the subconscious heart, and not in the expression, that sin must be remedied.  The act of sin is but the symptom of the real disease within.  Cure the disease and the symptoms disappear.  So, it is this inner dimension of sin at which the redemptive work of Christ is first aimed.
           
Jesus expresses His grasp of this need to His disciples in Matthew, chapter 15, when he asks, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies...”   

The Non-responsible Tactic

            When it comes to the issue of sin, the non-responsible gospel does not actually tamper much with the meaning or nature of the concept.  Rather, it makes sin (both the value and the actual expressions) a moot point by simply, as always, making the believer non-accountable for its existence in his heart and life.

          The Essential Sin = A Deceitful Presentation

  We can be self-determined and still be a moral person.  We can be self-determined and yet consciously pursue the affections of God, at least to a point.  We can be self-determined and still be very principled.  But, even with all of this accommodation and more, it still remains true that self-determination, whether openly hostile or very subdued, will ultimately separate us from God and draw God’s judgment.

We were created to be God-directed creatures, not self-directed creatures.  Adam failed, and mankind in him, not because he shook an angry and defiant fist in God’s face, but because he quietly insisted on setting his own course in life.  It is this kind of volitional sin which has now touched us all through him.  And, it is this kind of sin, the sin of the self-sovereign heart, for which we should be most concerned – as is God.

           FAITH:

Faith Is Also Two Dimensional

            Like sin, faith also has a two dimensional nature.  It also involves the inner, value (or heart motive) dimension and the external, expression (or action) dimension.

            James, in the New Testament, begins to introduce us to the dual nature of faith in chapter 2 of his epistle where he says, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
            Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

            Here, James indicates that the faith value is not meant to be frustrated or defeated by non-expression.  His simple point is that it is inappropriate and incorrect for God’s people not to be a faith-expressive people.  The idea is that faith is not meant to be bottled up and held to only its inner dimension.  It is meant to have its perfection, its completion, through expression, through actions.

The Non-responsibility Twist

            It is odd, and completely incorrect, that we in the modern Church have largely come to think of Sin only in terms of concrete action.  And yet, we now tend to subtract that concreteness from our faith.  But, indeed, James set this error right. 

            Nevertheless, in contrast to James’s authentic Gospel teaching of the need for the believer to be faith-expressive, the non-responsibility view holds that the believer has absolutely no requirement to be so.  This thought, of course, is the logical extension of a belief in the dominance of sin.   Certainly, in a sin dominated condition, there can be no expectation that the believer can consistently express his faith in the real terms of Christ-directed works.  So, again, God must not require him to do so.
 
            Typically, this conclusion is also bolstered by overextending the truth that faith justifies the believer before it finds expression as an action.  This certainly is the case.  It is the embrace of the faith value within the heart which justifies the believer - before it is ever expressed as an act of any kind. 

            But to extend this idea to say that “God, therefore, holds no expectation of expression” is a grotesque error.  And, that is the very error that James discredits in his New Testament writings.
 
            Obviously, this over-extension is necessary to make the believer non-responsible.  But, again, the New Testament makes it clear that, in truth, God holds a very real expectation of expression from a Christ empowered faith.

The Perfect Answer

            Now, let’s look closer at the faith value.  Notice that it is the diametric opposite of the sin value.  When the sin value would dictate in the human heart, “my own will be done,” the faith value would gladly dictate the opposite sentiment: “God’s will be done.”  This makes the faith value the perfect remedy for the sin value.

Merely The Difference

            We should note that we are merely discussing the difference between the faith value and the sin value at this point.  We are not describing a constant tension between those two motives within a believer.  It would be completely inaccurate to understand that, at the point of every issue, the believer’s heart is torn in a life-long battle between these 2 opposing values:  “This time – will it be my will or God’s will?”

            Actually, nothing could possibly be further from the redemptive truth.  While this situation does temporarily occur for the Spiritually incomplete believer, it is absolutely not the usual case for the mature believer who has experienced a personal merger with the Living Christ through the Spiritual baptism.  In the mature, Spirit-filled believer, the impact of the Living Christ on his or her heart eventually erases, entirely, such confrontation.  Obviously, once we are empowered and directed by a shared Value System with the Living Christ within, it is no great matter to then easily and naturally embrace a shared life decision or direction.  We share a heart, why would we not be agreed in our decisions and directions. 

            So, in truth, tension and confrontation is what sinners and, sometimes, Spiritually incomplete believers experience.  But, those things are absolutely not the stuff of a Spiritually mature believer’s relationship with God.   The heart-agreement with God which the Living Christ empowers within the believer makes the “faith answer” so completely natural as to make it a foregone conclusion,  

Faith Ultimately Rules

            So, faith in its inner dimension enables us to embrace God’s will over our own.  It works like this:  At conversion our faith value begins to challenge the sin value for ascendency, first on the conscious level, and, eventually, through the power of the Living Christ within, on the subconscious level.  And, ultimately, through Christ, the faith motive does entirely supersede the sin motive within the believer’s heart.  In the next major section, we will see precisely how this comes to be as we discuss The Dual Role of Christ.

More Will Than Intellect

            We can also notice that the faith value is much more about the will than the intellect.  Redemptive faith does not revolve around an intellectual focus.  It is not really about being mentally convinced of a set of facts, such as, that Jesus is the Messiah or that He died on the Cross.   Redemptive faith is a volitional, a willful, response in the heart to the implications of such facts.

            Again, James was very clear in chapter 2 of his letter in the New Testament that such an intellectual position, absent a humbled and responsive heart, is not at all sufficient to redeem.  He said, “You believe that there is one God. You do well.  Even the demons believe and tremble!” So, James notes that the demons know for certain, the facts of God's existence and the role He plays in the human experience.  But, he is clear that this knowledge of fact still does not engage a redemptive faith in them. 

The Faith That Saves:  “Influential Humility”

            Therefore, it is important that we grasp the precise intent of the New Testament when it speaks of Faith, especially the faith which saves our soul.  In general terms, redemptive faith is a deeply held value within the core person (within the heart).  It is essentially the value of humility.   So, redemptive faith originates as simply an ascendant heart value, which produces this unforced, every-situation heart response to God: “I trust you more than me.” 
           
            Thus, redemptive faith can be described as “influential humility,” meaning, a humility which encompasses the sum of all that we are, the entirety of our personal influence.   And, this profound and pervasive humility is not merely a come-and-go, emotion.  It is, indeed, the superseding motive of our core person, held on the deepest governing level, and causing us to happily embrace the beauty and goodness of God’s benevolence.   And, in practical, everyday terms, this redemptive faith motive expresses itself simply as our willingness to embrace God’s value system and directions, rather than defining those things for our self.

Influential Humility Defines the Believer

            So, it is this influential humility which actually defines a true believer.  Those who believe, to the saving of their souls, are those who humbly entrust themselves (the whole of their influence) to God, trusting in His sufficiency for life more than their own.  This is the truly redemptive faith which one ultimately comes to in John 3:16 where John says, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  The phrase, “believes in Him” denotes a confidence, the willingness to confide one’s self to God, thus making your influence entirely subject to His.

            Obviously then, the faith value, influential humility, is in perfect opposition to the sin value of self-determination.  When understood in this way, redemptive faith is easily seen as it should be.  Indeed, it is not merely an intellectual position on God’s existence or the identity of Christ.  Rather, it is a life transforming heart motive.  And, it is God’s perfect remedy for the sin motive of self-determination.
                    The Great Leap:  

God is profoundly interested in the renewal of His creature.  And, that renewal involves a very simple, but also very profound, change in our life-approach.  That elemental change is our re-direction from the arrogance of self-determination, with its feelings of self-sufficiency, to the humility of faith.

So, when Jesus says if we seek to save our life we will surely lose it, He is underscoring the importance of humility, of relinquishing control of our life to Him.  The idea is to literally confide ourselves to Him in the real terms of embracing both His value system and His directions for our life.  This is the true nature of redemptive faith.

It is no great leap to believe in the existence of the Almighty God.  The empirical evidence of that reality is everywhere to an objective mind.  But, the great leap of faith which saves the soul is to happily and whole-heartedly risk our self to His loving arms.


          THE NATURE OF GOD’S LOVE:

            Now, we are ready to consider one very important and final concept that the non-responsible gospel has deeply corrupted.  It is the nature of God’s love. 

            An important part of the antichrist gospel is the accentuation of the idea that God’s love is unconditional.   Obviously, this is true, but this idea is better thought of as being part of the truth.  In reality, the non-responsible gospel has so exaggerated this unconditional aspect of God’s love that it has all but entirely hidden, from the modern Church, the larger and more accurate concept. 

Love and Respect

            But, to discover the larger picture, let’s begin, not by looking at the idea of love, but by considering the idea of Respect.  These two concepts are very connected, as we shall see.  And, an understanding of the idea of respect is the best way to begin to approach an accurate understanding of God’s love. 

            And, indeed, there are some interesting connections between love and respect.   For example, God often employs love and respect together, in balance, as a molding apparatus. 

In The Nature of God

            Consider the nature of God, Himself.  He is certainly a molding influence upon His creation.  And, we can easily see these two ideas working in balance as we look closely at the nature of God.  God, the Father, very clearly represents an authority figure who commands our respect.  Christ, on the other hand - God, the Son -clearly represents God’s love to us.
 
In God’s Word

            Also, God’s Word, the primary shaping instrument for His creation, has this same dichotomy in its nature.  The Old Testament emphasizes the need to respect His authority.  The New Testament clearly emphasizes His tender love for humanity.

In The Family Structure
           
            In this same vein, God has also established this balance of influences in the family to mold children.  Fatherhood generally represents respect for authority to a child; and, motherhood brings the touch of tender love. 

Now, Some Powerful Parallels

            This connection between love and respect, to serve God's molding processes, is not the only impressive relationship between the two ideas.  There are also some powerful parallels between the nature of love and the nature of respect. 

Respect Comes In Three Types:
Respect Based In Nature

            Respect comes in three types.  First, there is the respect which is based in the human nature.   This is the basic respect that is due to every human being simply because he or she is a human being.  It is not earned.  It is just a part of the human worth and right.

Respect Based in Position

            Second, there is the respect which is based in position.  This is the type of respect that might be given to an officer in the military, or a parent, or a president.  And, neither is it necessarily earned or personally deserved. 

            This type of respect has nothing to do with one’s actual worth or performance as a person.  Instead, it has everything to do with the position they hold.  The military has a saying, “You don't salute the man.  You salute the uniform” (representing rank or position).   This describes, well, the idea behind the respect that is based solely in position.

Respect Based In Performance

            Finally, there is the respect which is based in performanceThis type of respect must definitely be earned.  We can insist that our children always give us the respect of our position as a parent, even when we do it poorly.  But no one, not even parents, can demand the respect that is base in performance when good performance is absent.  This respect must be earned through admirable performance

            It simply isn't possible to obtain this kind of respect by demanding it.  It only comes through merit.  You must genuinely deserve it; or, you simply will not get it.  This is true in the home, in the workplace, or in the sports arena, for example. 

In A Word

            So, we use the single word, “Respect,” to refer to all three types of respect.  But, in fact, to really understand the nature of respect, you must understand that it actually does exist in these three different ways. 

Now, God’s Love

            Now, let’s come back to God’s love.  It has a similar trilateral nature.  God loves us with a love that is based in His nature.  He loves us with a love that is based in His position.  And, He loves us with a love that is base in His expectation of performance.

            To accurately understand God’s love, one must understand all three facets of it.  Always, God’s love exists in these three ways - at the same time.  That is why it is incorrect to simply understand God’s love as unconditional.  It is that; but, we should also understand that it is much more than that.

            It is impossible, for example, to reconcile the idea of the God of judgment with that of the God of unconditional love.  So, in order to have an accurate image of God and accurately predict His responses toward us, we must comprehend the different aspects of His love. 

God’s Love Based In His Nature

            First, let’s consider the aspect of God’s love that is based in His nature.  This is the tender, unconditional love that we hear so much about.  And, it fully fits the popular description.  It is the love of John 3:16.  It is a forgiving love, a securing love, a welcoming love, a non-condemning love.  It is the love of the open arms of God.

            This is the kind of love that good parents give their children in the child’s infancy and earliest childhood. But, this is not the love that entirely rears and matures our children.  No parent can rear children using only this unconditional kind of love without damaging that child.  And, God certainly does not do this with His children. 

God’s Love Based In His Position

            God’s rearing kind of love involves his larger position.  To explain this aspect of God’s love involves a simple statement.  It is this:  God always loves us in the context of His larger responsibility.  In other words, God’s love for us, individually, is always set in His awareness of His larger responsibility to the whole of His creation.

            It is this aspect of God’s love, His position-based love, the love of the Governing Creator, which places Him on the throne of judgment.  It is this position-based love that causes Him to look beyond just the individual child.  To be truly a God of love, He must attend to the higher and larger concerns of the whole of His creation.

            It is this same kind of positional love which causes parents, to say “no” to our children for their own good.  It is this love which causes us to punish children for their wrong doing, and to refuse to give them a position above principal and what is right. 

            As does God, some part of good parents will always love their children with that unconditional kind of love.  But, that is not the love that governs in the realm of our larger responsibility to them and to society.

            The same is true of God’s love for mankind.  Individually, God loves us as dear children with a very basic and unconditional love that is ever in place.  But, though it is always there, it is ultimately subservient to God’s positional love, which is based in the context of His larger responsibility to the whole of His creation. Thus, this position-based love of the Governing Creator is very much a conditional love.

God’s Love Based In Performance

            Finally, let's consider the aspect of God's love which is based in performance.  This is the love of John 14:21 and following where Jesus said this, He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. [the condition] And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”[the merit-based response]
            “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’”
            “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; [the condition] and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’”[the merit-based response] [Brackets added]

            The love described in this passage is a love that requires, even demands, something from us in the way of performance.  This kind of divine love must be meritedIt is not given except in response to merit.

            The New Testament makes it clear to open minds that this highest and most desirable aspect of God’s love will only be experienced by those who have met its conditions.  Consider, for example, in addition to the verses above, The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14 and following).  Then simply continue reading in this same chapter the teachings of Jesus on how He will separate the “sheep” from the “goats” (Matthew 25: 31 and following).  These references speak of an expression of God’s love that is only given in response to genuine merit.

So, God’s love is sometimes unconditional.  But, it is also sometimes very conditional in the ways that we have described.  To understand God’s love only as unconditional will never explain the real God with which we have to do.  However, when we understand His love in this three dimensional way, we can anticipate with much more accuracy His responses to us.

Again, Redefinition

            But, again, we note that a key concept within the authentic Gospel has been redefined to fit the non-responsible narrative.  God’s love, is portrayed in the antichrist gospel as always dismissive of a believer’s real behavior.  Thus, as in many other cases with this bogus gospel, this is an error based in the extreme exaggeration of a partial truth.  

            As a result of the widespread acceptance of this “always unconditional” error, the contemporary Church has largely come to believe that God’s love never requires anything of the believer.  So, again, the non-responsible theme is extended. 

            Nevertheless, this idea is in complete opposition to the truth.  Divine love is, in fact, very often a truly expectant love. And, it absolutely does sometimes require an appropriate response on the part of the believer in the ways that we have looked at.

In Summary
 
            So, again, it is true that God loves us unconditionally.  But, He also loves us in light of His larger responsibility to protect the integrity and well-being of the whole of His creation. And, He loves us accord with the merit of our faith-expressive performance or the absence thereof.   And, He loves us in all of these ways at the same time and at all times. 

Now, God’s Love In Action

            Now, just before we return to sort out that Roman Dilemma of the last section, let’s proceed to one more intervening section.  In this next section, entitled, The Dual Role Of Christ, we will take a look at God’s magnificent love in action by magnifying the role of Christ in redemption to gain more details.  This, too, will help us comprehend the wonder of what we are about to discover when we return to better understand the believer who was trapped in that “Roman dilemma.”

                                 [Continue to Section 6]