Do you know the complete definition of godly love? What are the characteristics of God? How does He love?
The apostle John made a profound statement in the Book of I John . He said the following:
I John 4:8 — ". . .God is love." God is love. The entirety of the sentence reads as this: " He that loves not knows not God; for God is love." It's profound, because it's a topic that somehow has been misunderstood by so many people, and there are words that they use in trying to understand this particular love that this great Being has for His creation.
We have found that when you look at a world that we've lived in for so many years, we find people who live in fear of this God; they find that their backgrounds, whether it be a Catholic or a Protestant approach was one of an ever—burning hell or missing out on heaven, and when life ended, you would either throw the switch to go upward, or you'd throw the switch to go downward, and your soul would burn forever or it would rest in eternal bliss.
Then there's the Protestant view of Jesus which finds Him more of a syrupy type of loving, warm type of individual that they look upon in a very different way from the God of the Old Testament, who is looked upon as being severe and harsh and simply incapable of showing any kind of the love that Jesus had in the New Testament. So today I thought what we would do is take a look at what I describe as — one side of God. And I'd like to share it with you today because I believe that we must understand in a broader sense that God is love, but how is He? How is He? How does He show that?
Love, in this particular case in verse 8 , is the highest characteristic of God. God is love, and the one attribute in which all others harmoniously blend. That is His foundational character. It is the character of almighty God is that simply is love. He stands on it; He lives in it; it permeates all of His being, and therefore from that flows all of the qualities that we're going to look at today in the sermon.
The Bible says, "For God so loved the world. . .," according to John 3:16, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We're told that we love Him because He first loved us. All beautiful statements, but words that are used by people calling it unconditional love. But is it really unconditional love that we're going to see today? Or is there something greater and more understanding to come from that particular term — unconditional love? We want to examine that. We want to see that God has many sides of Him, and one of those sides is simply seeing the love of God toward us.
Three weeks ago I quoted to you from a book by Ross Campbell, How to Love Your Children. I'd like to go back to the book because I'd like to focus on something that he said that I didn't read about a few paragraphs later. In his book chapter 3 page 29, he talks about the foundation of child training. He said, "Real love is unconditional, and should be evident in all love relationships. The foundation of a solid relationship with our child is unconditional love. Only that type of love relationship can assure a child's growth to his full and total potential.
"Only this foundation of unconditional love can assure prevention of problems such as feelings of resentment, being unloved, guilt, fear and insecurity."
Now sometimes we have to explain about this word — unconditional love — because the word doesn't always get across the statement that God has unconditional love for His creation. Yet we recognize that the word — unconditional love — is not found in either the Old or the New Testament. It is by the use of that word that people come to certain wrong understandings of the way God's love works.
But Campbell and his book begins to help us understand that this love is a balanced love. It has more than one facet to it, and when we begin to understand that, then we understand how God loves His creation, and secondly how He works with it. And I'm talking about the whole of mankind, and then we'll focus in on you and me in this room later.
He simply points out that when he says the following we see another aspect of this thing of loving your child. He said, "We can be confident that a child is correctly disciplined only if our primary relationship with him is one of unconditional love." Notice the word he used — correctly disciplined — worked with, taught, guided and helped. The attitude is one of loving their being. This is what he is talking about in this particular case, and he goes on to say that if only our primary relationship with him is one of unconditional love, he said, "Without the basis of unconditional love, it is not possible to understand a child, his behavior, or know how the deal with misbehavior."
Now if I changed the word for you just a moment in every we're where it talks about — unconditional — and I use the word — special love — then I think you would find that you would understand that there is a working relationship that a parent has with his or her child in a different way than just simply — unconditional. But it has more to do in this sense of the word of loving the being of an individual, but not necessarily always loving what they do. And you can have that if you understand — they're a child, if you understand that they're a teenager, if you understand they're a baby, if you understand, and that concept is there, you will find a totally different approach to the concept of love. And it really isn't in the same way as some people would look at it — unconditional — because it has its facets of being able to be worked with.
Now we can say, "God loves us." I can say; you can say. "God loves me," and you can understand the fact that as a human being called and chosen and sanctified, begotten by the Holy Spirit of God, He loves us with the deep love. He loves our being; He loves our potential; He loves us now, but He also loves our future. He looks upon us in two different ways. He looks upon us first of all, now, but He also looks upon us in the potential that we have for the future. And He loves that potential, and He loves us in bringing us from this place all the way over to here.
So we recognize that the love of God is a most unique thing, because human beings have great difficulty being able to show this love in totality all the time. But God doesn't love every part of our being that is those parts that are unconverted. He doesn't like some of the things that are there that He is setting about to change. So therefore we understand if He loves our being, He doesn't always love all the things about us that need to be changed, but there's still a perfect love that He has for us.
He helps us understand. He helps us understand our own children, and we can also when you read Campbell's book you can understand a little bit how God looks upon us. So let me read to you the one last statement here that I think is profound. He talks about unconditional love as the ideal, and he says, "We will never achieve it." He says, "I give myself credit for trying to arrive at that wonderful goal; I do this by constantly reminding myself that: one, two, three, four." Listen to what he says.
"I constantly remind myself that number one, they are children. Number two, they will tend to act like children. Number three, much of childish behavior is unpleasant." Yet the love that a parent is to have is to go past that, to overlook that in the sense of the word of going beyond that to see with that child is capable of.
Point number four, he said, "If I do my part as a parent and love them despite their childish behavior, they will be able to mature and to give up childish ways." That's profound, because when you stop to look at, we are children. We are the children of God. That's what it says in dozens of places both in the Old and New Testament. We do sometimes act like children, and — number three — some of, and sometimes much of our behavior is unpleasant yet to God. And last of all God lives in the — now, and the present — with an eye toward the future. He looks at the incredible potential that we have as human beings.
Now let's go back and notice that we can prove that by reading I Corinthians 13:9. Notice what is said here:
I Corinthians 13:9 — "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
Verse 10 — "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." Or that which is imperfect will be done away.
Now this is what He is saying as point number four is being made by Ross Campbell when he said, "If I do my part of a parent and love them despite their childish behavior, they will be able to mature and give up childish ways." Notice what it says in Verse 11:
Verse 11 — "When I was a child, I spoke is a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Is it not the same thing that we're reading that Ross Campbell was talking about, when you love your children? Is this not the way God loves us? I think so. I think so. I think when we begin to understand this Being, I think we can say that God loves me. But He doesn't love parts of me or some things about me He does not appreciate, and He sets about helping me to eradicate those flaws. He loves my being all the while. He loves my potential.
Now when you begin to look at a little bit of the definitions of love, we look at it from two points of view. First of all, we recognize that it was given to us probably about fifty years ago by a man named Herbert Armstrong, a concept about love as human beings. He said, "Love," and it was pointed out last week in the sermon by Mr. Antion, "Love is outgoing concern for someone other than yourself."
Now that's wonderful when you look at the examples that we find of human beings in relationship to human beings and in relationship to God. But we also find out that it is a human aspect that is not perfect that is reaching out beyond themselves. Therefore we recognize that when you read I Corinthians 13, you talk about things that have to do with love, where love suffers long, where love is kind, where love simply is not full of boastfulness, or it doesn't get puffed up. All of those things.
It's a relationship that the human being is working through into a relationship with another human being. But the interesting thing in all of that, there's another definition that I'd like to share with you today on God's love.
You see, if you look at the foundational character of God, then you will find that this definition is not just human, but it is a relationship between a spirit being who is perfect with human beings who are flawed. Listen to what the definition says. "God's love is always doing the right thing." It is always doing the right thing at the right time under every circumstance.
Now I can't say that about me, and you can't say that about you. But if you look at love being outgoing concern that we have as a human being, then you look at and turn around and see God doing something that is going to be perfect with each one of us; He's always going to do the right thing. And therefore, this side of God's love is going to be seen in a few minutes from a different aspect that we will see next week. But they both fit together beautifully, and they give you a total understanding and a concept of this great Being because He always does the right thing at the right time under every circumstance. And you and I can't say that we do that, but He can say that He does that.
Now let's look at some principles from this side. Let's look at the principles where God has this special love of where He works with us, and He deals with us. There are three words that we're going to touch on this afternoon in the sermon. These are three facets of love. There are probably a half—dozen, but I'm going to take the three basic ones that I have worked with all the years in the ministry; I think you've heard the words so many times — mercy, grace and compassion.
Now, lets take a dictionary definition of mercy first of all. It is compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject. It has to do, according to the dictionary, with clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity. Now the very thing that was read this afternoon in the sermonette about the fiery serpent, if you go back and look several chapters before, you will see that the dealing that God had with the children of Israel was on—going to the point that finally God said, "These ten times you have tempted Me. and now," He says, "I'm going to have to deal with you."
But there were ten times that God gave to them over that period of time what we describe as simply kindness, clemency, and overlooking what they were doing. He was not strict; He was not severe even though people think that the God of the Old Testament was contrary to the Jesus of the new. But it isn't so. Which you've seen is the two sides of the love of God that is seen by human beings in the Bible or can be seen.
Now the Greek or the Hebrew meanings favor words like — pity, compassion and tender affection. Also another word for this type of mercy is — loving kindness. You'll find that as well in both the old testament and in the new. Ungers Bible Dictionary says the word — mercy — is defined as a form of love determined by the state or the condition of its object. Mercy is defined as a form of love determined by the state or the condition of its object. Their state is one of suffering and need, and they maybe unworthy or ill—deserving.
Now, he goes on to say in another dictionary that mercy is at once the disposition of love respecting such an individual and the kindly ministry of love for their relief. We're going to see in a little bit how mercy is a little bit different from the word — grace. And we'll see how God uses all of them as a part of His very nature as he deals with people. Let's go over the Exodus 34: 6. Let's begin here in Exodus 34:6 , and we read here a little bit about the overall look at the — remember the word — children of Israel?
Exodus 34:6 — Moses writes these words: "And the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long—suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.'" Now this is a description of this side of God. This is a description when you begin to look at the overall look that Campbell is talking about, he is saying this is where God begins in dealing with man. This is what God does. He is actually merciful , gracious, long—suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Verse 7 — "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. . ." Now we look at this particular statement, and we find that when an unusual circumstance occurs by which Moses uses this set of statements to reason with God. Let's go over to the book of Numbers 14:15, and take a look at a section here that concerns how this comes out in the discussion with Moses over the children of Israel. This is, of course, in this particular section before we deal with the ten times, but remember the story that Moses was talking about the problems that the children of Israel had, and God was telling him in verse 11 :
Numbers 14:11 — ". . . How long will this people provoke Me . . ." And you find that patience comes to an end here because God said, ". . .How long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shown among them?" Again some of the same things that was said by Mr.Tannert in the sermonette.
Verse 12 — "I will smite them with (the) pestilence, and disinherit them, and I will make of you a greater nation and mightier than they." Now God had the right to do that. God had the right to get rid of this group of human beings and start all over because He is God, and He always does the right thing. But here's where we see a human being appealing to God and reasoning with Him concerning these human beings who needed mercy. What he did then is he went back to the scripture, and he drew from it the concept that even God Himself said that He would do. Notice:
Numbers 14:13 — "And Moses said unto the Lord, 'Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for you brought (up) these people out in Your might from among them;)
Verse 14 — "'and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that you, Lord, are among these people; and that you Lord, are seen face—to—face, and that Your cloud stands over them, and that You go before them, by daytime in a pillar of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
Verse 15 — "'Now if You shall kill all this people as one man, then (the) all nations which have heard the fame of You will speak, saying,
Verse 16 — "'Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore unto them, therefore He (has slain) slew them in the wilderness.'
Verse 17 — "(And) now, I beseech you, let the power of my Lord be great, according as You have spoken, saying,
Verse 18 — "'The Lord is longsuffering (and) of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression. . .'" Now I have to tell you, that's bold. I don't know about you, but I don't know if I would want to even talk to my boss in the same way that Moses did, because he could have been zapped right then and there. But he was reasoning and appealing to God's side of this kind of love. He was saying, "Give them a chance. They are like children. They are acting stupid. It's really dumb what they're doing." I'm using my own words to point it out, but you know what I mean. And he reasoned with God, and what did God do? He simply said in verse 20:
Verse 20 — "And the Lord said, 'I have pardoned according to your word.'" Now you have to understand that when we look at this particular relationship, we realize that mercy is tied to forgiveness, and forgiveness tied to mercy.
So we recognize that one of the great aspects of God is the ability to show this kind of mercy even though it is undeserved. But because God has that frame of mind, we recognize that you see that both in the Old Testament and the New, where He could have made a cinder relic, where He could have made a grease spot out of the entire nation. But He did not do that. Did He have the right to do that? Yes, He did. Did He do that? No, He didn't. But the answer is that we see that God is very capable of showing on that side of Him that love and that concern that while He could have, He didn't.
Now you read in the same aspect of this in a New Testament concerning Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she talked about the fact that His mercy is upon generation after generation of those who fear Him.
Now we're going to come back in just a little while, and we're going to see that the scriptures I just read to you have a hook to them. They actually have a hook to them. And so when we think about unconditional love, we begin to realize that there is a hook to the unconditional love that God has and really He doesn't use that particular term.
Jesus Christ embodied mercy when he said in Luke 6, "Be you therefore merciful." It's a part of the nature of God. It's a part of love that we learn. Let's go over to Micah 6:8, and notice what it says here in Micah 6:8:
Micah 6:8 — And I think we've read this a number of times. "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Notice what it says, He said, ". . . to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
So one of the great qualities of God on this particular side as He deals with us as His children is the embodiment of this mercy which is a part of the foundational character of God. You must realize to be in mercy signifies that you are liable for punishment, and at the discretion of the judge simply be dealt with because of the fact that you have done that which is wrong and that which is needing to be corrected.
There's a second word now that we want to look at. We see that the starting point in the love of God is really mercy.
But we want to look at a second word that is found in both the Old and the New Testament, and it's called grace. It's called grace. Its defined simply in one sentence as — divine favor unmerited by man. The mercy of God is distinguished from His justice. Therefore what we see is that through this mercy, we have the giving of grace to an individual which is divine favor unmerited by man.
In the English language, there are definitions of mercy and grace, and they seem quite similar, but there are some differences that are found biblically, and we want to look at those a little bit this afternoon as we understand this side of God. Grace is extended to men in relationship to guilt as a result of their sin. Let me repeat that one more time. Grace is extended to men in relationship to guilt which is a result of their sin.
Mercy is extended to man in relationship to misery, which is the result of their situation. Grace is related to guilt; mercy is related to misery. Grace is God taking care of our sin. Mercy is God helping us clean up the mess we're in. That's the difference between the two.
Over in Proverbs 14; let's notice of a little bit of this concerning mercy. This is over in Proverbs 14:20. We see here in Proverbs 14:20 that mercy is not connected in the same way with sinfulness as grace is, this particular mercy that we see.
Proverbs 14:20 — He said: "The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich has many friends.
Verse 21 — "He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he." So we see mercy is not connected with being sinful, but in many cases simply with being poor. Poor people need mercy. Now obviously there are some poor people that have gotten themselves into trouble by sin. There are other reasons why some poor people have gotten themselves into this condition, but He simply shows here that He introduces the concept that mercy is related to the fact that God deals with someone in misery, like somebody who is poor and going through a terrible state.
Mercy is related to a state of being. It relates to people who are in need such as poor people and orphans, etc. So we must recognize that there is a difference. We're not dealing directly so much with sin as we're dealing simply with the need to reach out to someone that is poor. Now we'll come to that in just a moment again because I think it's important that we understand.
We come to another one which is called — compassion of heart. Compassion of heart. The gift of mercy is relative to the compassion of the heart, because mercy and compassion, we always talked about those words as being working close together. God has sympathy in man's suffering. God has sympathy in man's suffering. He has sympathy in our sufferings as well. The gift of mercy is the enablement to sympathize with a suffering person. To be able to sympathize with them, to come along side the poor; to come alongside the sick; to come alongside the destitute, the orphan, the widow, maybe even somebody in prison, and to administer to them yourself as an individual. And perhaps in the human realm, you won't give them anything but your heart.
There are many a time when we would sit with people in a hospital and hold their hand as they were going through a terrible trauma that we knew would end in death. But that is what we were able to give them. We gave them the hope of eternal life. We gave them the hope of the kingdom of God. We gave them those principles, but you gave them your heart. You gave them your service. You gave in your care, and you sat with them many times for hours and hours. But that's compassion. That's the feeling that God has with us. He sometimes sits with us as we go through things that we have to learn, and the Bible says sometimes you learn obedience; sometimes you learn lessons by what you're going through, the sufferings that you have to go through. Not every last one, but sometimes you have to do that.
So when we look at the meanings of mercy and compassion, we realize that mercy is very much a sister to, or a brother to, compassion. The concept is sometimes translated — lovingkindness — in the Old Testament, lovingrindness because again its an outcropping of this love that God has, because God has compassion. He simply withholds many times the just punishment of human beings' sins. Sometimes He simply withholds the just punishment, and we recognize that as we're going to see in a few moments from the sermon today.
Let's go over to James 2, and we read this over in James 2. We must recognize that as human beings as we deal with people, we should strive to remove ourselves from just being so judgmental and critical of human beings to the point that we decide for them their particular problem and what it is. Sometimes you have to live with the fact that they are not ready to understand their difficulty, and therefore it is not our responsibility to pass judgment or condemnation. And learning how to do that is the very same thing that God has done for thousands of years. He has simply waited, and He will wait until they come up in the second resurrection, and in some cases until His judgment has to come when it comes to the book of Revelation, when finally it says, "God is angry every day," because the barrel of sin has been filled up to the brim, and finally the iniquity has come to the full. And therefore He has to take action upon human beings. But notice James 2:12, 13. He says:
James 2:12 — "So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Verse 13 — "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that shows no mercy; and mercy triumphs over judgment." So you really start with what God does. God starts with mercy first, and in the case of the children of Israel as was pointed out by Mr.Tannert, it took time and time and time of these people just simply doing to God what they were doing. They were in His face with their attitude. And finally God said, "Enough."
These ten times now I've pardoned them, but these people are not going into the promised land. So you see that God has that wonderful way of being able to show mercy as the beginning step of love, and the on—going, shall I call it, long—suffering that He has in that particular relationship. Let's read it again. "He shall have judgment without mercy that has shown no mercy; and mercy rejoices or triumphs over judgment ." It is a very, very important principle to operate from.
In the Church of God, we're very critical people, and we find ourselves sometimes being too critical, because we recognize that sometimes people are not yet ready to understand their problem. And we have to be very careful.
Psalm 145. Let's go back to look at how God feels about humankind. One particular aspect of this is the way that He looks upon the human race. Again, they're all His children by creation. Remember what we said to begin with, those four steps that Mr. Campbell talked about. They are children. They will act like children. They will behave like children. They have to mature to become adults. That's what he's talking about. That's what God is looking at when it comes to this particular special love that He has toward human beings. This is Psalm 145:9.
Psalm 145:9 — "The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." When you begin to realize that when God created the heavens and the earth, and He put man on as His supreme creation that He loved the man. He loved the woman. He loves human beings. That's what He is, and therefore He starts with mercy. He starts with compassion. He gives grace. All of those are these beautiful aspects of what we see in the mind of God.
Now let's carry it one step further. Let's talk about special mercy. A very special effect that is going to occur for you and me. I want to return to I Peter 1:2. We see something unique that is going on because as a begotten son or daughter of God, we recognize that there is a special effect to God's very elect. There is a special effect . It is totally unique; it is totally undeserved mercy to those of us who are enjoying it today. This is what God shows us. This is I Peter 1:2.
I Peter 1:2 — "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace . . ." Again, remember that word, what it means to us in its first meaning, " . . .grace and peace unto you (and peace,) be multiplied.
Verse 10 — "Of which salvation," he said, "the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who should prophesy (prophesied) of the grace that should come to (unto) you:" That is the special mercy. That is the special effect to God's very elect, and you have a unique working relationship with this great Being.
Verse 13 — It says: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, and be sober, (and hope) to the end for the grace that (is to) shall be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
I Peter 2:10 — He said: "(Which) in times past you were not a people, but are now (the) a people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." What kind? The kind that He gave to the world? No. It's a very special mercy that He has given because we are the begotten children of God, and right now we are receiving a very special merciful intervention by this great God.
He alleviates the present full potential for judgment for the world caused by the disaster of sin, but only for a little while, but for us you begin to realize that God has alleviated that judgment for forever. Stop and think about that for just a moment, this special effect of mercy that God has. For some people God has given what I describe simply as general mercy. He alleviates the present potential for judgment caused by the disaster of sin. But only for a while, only for a while, because the Bible says the iniquity has not yet come to the full, and therefore this beautiful side of God gives mankind an opportunity to still repent of what he has done. But I think for us, we recognize that God has alleviated that judgment forever because we are the elect.
In a while of course we're going to see that we're going to come before the judgment bar of Christ, as we will see at the end of the sermon. We recognize that this is a very important principle that we must understand. God chooses to extend His special compassion, because it is His pleasure to do so. He's the God of love, and He chooses to love us in that particular way in a very special working love relationship.
I want to turn to Romans 9 for a moment. Romans 9, we read the same thing here, but I think we see it in a little different sense of what He is telling us about the world that He has to deal with in relationship to those of us at this time within the body of Christ as His sons and daughters. This is Romans 9:15. It says:
Romans 9:15 — "For He said to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'
Verse 20 — "Nay but, O man, who art you that reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, 'Why have You made me such (thus)?'" And the answer is that frankly God has simply dealt with us in a different way than He has in an overall sense with the world, because He has given special mercy and compassion to us. Ultimately, that mercy will be extended that we are given today to all human beings. Notice Romans 11:32. He said:
Romans 11:32 — "For God has concluded. . ." or as it says in the margin; you might have that in your margin — has shut them all up together. God has shut them all up together. . . ". . . in unbelief,. . ." God has a reason why He has allowed people to be blind. He has done that. He's chosen some people out of the world to be a part of His church, but not all, but He said that. . . "He might have mercy upon all."
There's an ultimate ability for us to see God's mercy for all mankind when we come to the millennium, we come to the second resurrection that most people in the world don't believe in. Poor Billy Graham. He's eighty—some years of age, and he thinks that he's a failure in evangelizing, because there are more unsaved people, he said, today than there were back when he started. Poor man. He doesn't understand the second resurrection. Isn't that sad? But the day will come when he comes up, and God's going to teach him what the scriptures of Ezekiel 37 and Revelation 20 are all about. And he'll find out that he's been a deceived man, a fine man, but deceived in that particular way.
So, God shows mercy to us simply because He's chosen to do so. Why? Because in God's love He always does the right thing at the right time under every circumstance. Remember that. God always does the right thing at the right time under every circumstance. So finally, what are we to learn from this?
Number one: God loves His creation, like Campbell showed us in his book with his children, He loves His creation.
Number two: These characteristics of God, mercy, compassion and grace, are gifts given for His creation to reciprocate, but some people can't reciprocate today, but the day will come when they can. You see it says to you and me, you and I love Him because He first loved us, and He gave us the love whereby we can love Him.
So there'll come a time when these human beings as the children of God from creation will be able to reciprocate, and they'll be able to do what you and I are striving to do today. You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.
Point number four: Understanding this love, understanding this mercy, understanding this grace should lead us to an ongoing repentance. I want you to notice if you would Romans 2. Let's just read a few more verses that we have here. Romans 2:1. He said:
Romans 2:1 — "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are that judges: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things.
Verse 2 — "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
Verse 3 — "And think you this, O man, that judges them which shall do such things, (and) that do the same that you shall escape the judgment of God?
Verse 4 — This is the key verse that I'm reading down to — He said: "Or despise you the riches of His goodness or we call it kindness or graciousness, and forbearance and long—suffering;" Again, remember that side of God? That is the side that we see from this point of view of love, and its says: ". . . not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
The goodness of God is what we see given to us. We must reciprocate as a world that cannot yet reciprocate because they don't have the ability to do so. It should lead us away from our sinful nature, otherwise we realize that ultimately we sit down to a banquet of consequences, because whatever a man sows he's also going to ultimately reap. God has simply allowed time for that not to occur.
Unless all mankind ultimately sees this, then all mankind will ultimately reap what they have sown, because the iniquity will ultimately come to the full for all man, and this mercy and this compassion is simply given.
Now I said unconditional love is not what God has. I said He has a special love. I want to show you that there is also with this mercy and compassion, a hook. I'm going to take you back to the same scripture that I used in Exodus 34. Let's go back there and read the same scripture, but let's finish the thought. This is Exodus 34. I think you will find that it's most interesting to see that in this same context we have what we describe as — the hook. This love, this mercy, this compassion, this goodness, this kindness is simply God's going to expect a return on His investment.
Exodus 34:6 — "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth,
Verse 7 — "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and (to) the fourth generation." As it says in another place, of them that hate me. So you see, brethren, that ultimately, ultimately God says that what He has shown man, and the love that He has for him, if that man will mature, he will then be the recipient of the ongoing special mercies of God forever.
But ultimately we still all have to meet the same Jesus Christ at the bar of judgment. Let's go to the last scripture that I have today in II Corinthians 5:9. This is II Corinthians 5:9. When it's all said and done, we come back to the fact that mercy, compassion, grace give us the opportunity to move from being a baby, to a child, to a teenager, to a mature adult spiritually. This is what it will give us:
II Corinthians 5:9 — He said: "Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.
Verse 10 — "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he has done, whether it be good or bad." So ultimately we see that this mercy and compassion come to bring us to this particular time of judgment. And the end result of that judgment obviously is the reward that we will receive in the kingdom of God, the cities that we will rule over, the responsibilities we will have, but all of us will ultimately still, with all the special mercy and all of those things, we will still be — and judged for the good or the bad in the sense in the reward that we will receive in the kingdom of God.
So when you stop to look at the foundation of the character of almighty God, you will see that God is love, and this highest character of God is blended into just simply what it says about Him: God is, not has, but God is love, and therefore He is showing us that and all mankind in that particular way.
What we will look at next week is the other side of the love of God to find a complete balance in this concept. It's called — tough love.