For God So Loved the World
SERMON NOTES: © 2013 By Philip A Matthews
Date: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Church of God, Bakersfield, CA
Title: "For God So Loved the World
Text: Psalms 8:1-9. Key verses 4-5: "What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory & honor.
- In the beginning, God made a "hybrid creature" called human beings, a combination of animal/physical & angel/spiritual, able to commune w/Him on the spiritual level but also part of the physical world. An in-between creature, unique in this world. All of the LOVE He had ("God is LOVE;" it is not from the earth but from out of this world) flowed freely between Him & His new human creation. All of heaven's blessings flowed freely into man's life. The result was that people were blessed, secure, knew that they were valued & esteemed, knew their identity & significance, purpose, reason for living & meaning of life, etc. There was no worry or anxiety, nothing to be afraid of or even threatened by; in fact, no real knowledge that threats even existed b/c they had not yet eaten from the Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of Good & Evil. But then, how could they NOT have such an ideal existence when all of the LOVE & blessings of Heaven were flowing freely to them thru the spiritual channel/connection they had w/God?
- Then they disobeyed and that connection was SEVERED. Completely wacked. The Love & blessings & spiritual communion ceased. This left them without His LOVE & all of the above benefits. They fell completely under the power of their physical dimension alone. They immed felt FEAR, wh/is the natural result of being DISCONNECTED from God. WITHOUT LOVE FLOWING, FEAR rules. People are now born into FEAR automatically. They immed felt guilty, wh/is a form of spiritual insecurity.
Almost every negative thing we feel is merely a form of this FEAR: insecurity, low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness & insignificance, lost identity, purposelessness, worry, anxiety, unprotected-ness, aloneness, permanent anger, pride, hatred, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness, unthankfulness, cynicism, dissatisfaction, lack of peace, blaming God, being driven by what others think, craving approval & acceptance, hiding/facades/putting up fronts, impatience, perfectionism, timidity, depression, feelings of abandonment, contentiousness, and dozens more.
Almost every human action is a response & adaptation to cope with this fear and substitute something for the LOVE we are missing from God: Selfishness; Obsession with survival ('self-preservation is the first law of nature'); Oversensitivity (to stay on the alert for any real or imagined threats); Hoarding of anything gained (power, money, fame, opportunities, or anything considered valuable, to build a hedge of protection and security around oneself); All the forms of aggressiveness and fighting (to scare others off, to keep them from taking advantage of you, to get revenge, to teach them a lesson, etc.); Drinking, drugging, sexual carousing, and pleasure-seeking (to anesthetize oneself to the fear and pain of living separated from God by altering one's perception of reality); The obsession with seeking significance, fame, attention, immortality through great building projects, educational attainments, etc.; Constant preoccupation w/external appearance; Busyness/being a workaholic; being a control freak; aloofness (w/holding emotions from others, even family, to avoid getting hurt again); addictions of all sorts (substances, romantic encounters, shopping, gambling); etc., etc., etc.
Hurting people hurting other people. A "dog eat dog world." Truly a "ball of confusion." ALL very reasonable when we realize who we are, how we are made, and the true spiritual fix we are in.
- Thus, spiritual disconnection forces us into living life under the power of our physical/animal self and obsessively driven by fear. We claim to be free but we are extremely constrained and constricted. Our behavior is pre-programmed. We are extremely bound and cramped. Wh/is an interesting concept b/c the Hebrew word for "Savior" (Yeshua or Joshua, or Jesus in Greek) is based on another word (Yasha) that means "to open wide, to free, to make safe & secure, as opposed to being cramped; therefore, to save." Thus, Paul later writes that Jesus, the Savior, would die "and in this way set FREE those who were slaves all their lives b/c of their FEAR of death" (Heb 2:15). But more on Jesus later.
- So this should give us a new perspective on how God looks at SIN. To us, we believe people are just being sinful b/c they are inately evil & just WANT to be wicked. We see ourselves as being evil, sometimes so evil we wonder if God would ever forgive us & we definitely have a problem forgiving ourselves. But God, on the other hand, sees sin merely as the natural, automatic SYMPTOM OF DISCONNECTEDNESS. What else CAN we do? How else CAN we act? W/O HIS LOVE flowing into & through us, how can we act/react otherwise? Ps 103:13-14: "Like as a Father pities His children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him. For He knows our frame (Heb. "yetser," i.e., "our formation:" the manner in which we are constructed [a "hybrid"], and the materials of which we are made [body & spirit]). "He remembers that we are dust." God has compassion/mercy on us b/c He knows we cannot do anything EXCEPT act like orphans cut off from LOVE & every positive hope in the world,” b/c we ARE. He is thus much more ready to forgive our sins when they are viewed as "symptoms of disconnectedness." We don't have an excuse, but there IS a reason why we sin.
- So we are spiritual beings now trapped in an all-physical world. Even though many people live like animals, in touch with and indulging only their physical dimension, we still have spiritual longings, a need to have meaning in our lives, a desire to make our lives count for something, a fear that we are alone in the universe, etc., stuff that no mere animal or dog ever feels. A desire that has made every society in history a very religious society, even though few have really known WHO or WHAT to worship. But unless God reaches down to us, there is absolutely NO way we would ever get out of this trap. Now why would He reach down? B/c as LOVE, by His very nature, the very definition of LOVE, He is BOUND to NOT abandon His souls/spiritual beings trapped in this physical realm. He MUST do something, and what He needs to do is somehow INTERJECT some of that missing LOVE into this world by RECONNECTING them to Himself. Being reconnected to the Source of all LOVE & heavenly blessedness would literally REVOLUTIONIZE our lives!
- Thus, He HIMSELF, as LOVE, absolutely MUST come down into our realm. "For God SO loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16, the GREATEST, most profound verse in the Bible). The first thing God, in the form of Jesus Christ, had to do was to atone for and REMOVE our sins, wh/was what prevented us from being RECONNECTED to God. Then He had to usher in the HOLY SPIRIT, wh/is how God actually FLOWS in & through our spiritual dimension once we are reconnected. He also had to show us HOW, as human beings, we have to DENY/CRUCIFY our human selves/fleshly lives on a CROSS in order to permit God's Spirit to be able to continue to flow in us. Then He went on back to Heaven.
- This process is the WHOLE GIST of SALVATION. Notice we haven't said anything about church, or rules & regulations, or big hats & shiny shoes, special days of worship, religious traditions, or anything else that people associate w/churchanity in America. The whole thing is about RECONNECTION. Or as Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:17-21, RECONCILIATION, wh/seems a lot like RECONnection: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath RECONCILED us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION; To (summarize): That God was in Christ, RECONCILING the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the WORD OF RECONCILIATION. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, BE YE RECONCILED to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- So once we are reconnected to God and His LOVE & Spirit are freely flowing into & through us, the ideal result is that all fear in its every form evaporates. No worry or anxiety; no being driven to act out in selfish ways; all peace, love, and joy in the Holy Spirit; etc. John says that "There is no fear in love; but perfect LOVE casts out FEAR¦ He that fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). So if only 10% of Christians ever experience this victory over all fear, what is happening to the remaining 90% of them? If you ain't feeling it, something is wrong! What? Why are they still acting like orphans? They are allowing their human self-lives to dam up the flow of LOVE from heaven. Some, unfortunately, have never experienced God pouring His awesome Love out into their lives (Romans 5:5) and thus need to pray for that experience. Others are refusing or neglecting to empty themselves and live under submission, which is what Jesus Christ came to show us how to do. They are refusing to receive the Spirit or to walk in the Spirit, so that they “do not fulfill the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16-18). The patterns of thinking and acting which are learned while disconnected must be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit through one’s daily disciplines. “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]” (Ephesians 4:23). This ongoing PROCESS (NOT some instantaneous WORK OF GRACE) OF CONTINUALLY EMPTYING ONESELF IS CALLED "SANCTIFICATION." Ask God to "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me (i.e., give me a rigorous TRIAL/TEST), and know my thoughts. And see if there be in me anything that causes You pain/grief, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps 139:23-24). May God bless us all!