May the Lord direct your hearts into
God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
II Thessalonians 3:5
Several months ago, while attending a social event, I was introduced to a young man by a mutual friend. This young man had been a Christian for the past six months and had been actively pursuing his faith with a collegiate campus ministry. He was preparing to leave for a several year commitment to India to further the work of Christ in that country. His question to me was “What word of advice or encouragement would you give me at this point?” My immediate thought was that this would be something that I would not have a clue about, having never been overseas on any missionary endeavor. As I thought further about what I would want to be assured of were I the one facing this commitment, the verse quoted above came to mind which was shared with him. I would want to be certain that whatever the future would bring that I would be embraced by God’s love while laboring with Christ’s perseverance.
The longer I live I am convinced that every problem I have would be solved if I were fully aware of the depths of God’s love for me. There would be no guilt for the past, for God’s love in Christ has removed this. There would be no fear for the future, because it is in the hands of the One who loves with infinite love and has already numbered and knows what each day will bring. There would be joy for the present, knowing that the One whose love is perfect is also the One who “charts the path ahead of me and lays His hand of blessing on my head.” (Psalm 139:5 Living Bible) And when sorrows come, they would be met with the assurance that He sees, He knows, He controls and will one day reveal how “these light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Corinthians 4:17) Indeed, He has given us multiple illustrations of who He is by His names in the Old Testament. Jehovah-Jireh is the One who forsees each day of our lives and will provide for us what we need when we need it. Jehovah-Rapha is the One who has provided all the healing that we have experienced in our lives. He is the One we can look to as our banner as Jehovah-Nissi. Jehovah-Mekoddishkem is the One who has set us apart for His ministry and work. We daily experience His righteousness in our lives as Jehovah-Tsidkenu. No matter where we travel or whatever situations we find ourselves in, the Lord is there as Jehovah-Shammah. Throughout our lives, we experience Him as Jehovah-Raah, the Lord is our Shepherd. We learn that peace is not the absence of problems, burt the presence of Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord is peace.) As Elohim, we know him as our designer and creator. These are but a few of the names by which the Lord would have us understand the depths of his love for us. They enable us to have a glimpse of how God’s love is demonstrated towards us, but for a far deeper revelation of His love we need to look at His Cross, for it is here where scripture fully and finally describes God’s love for us. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10 KJV) G.Campbell Morgan, in Crises of the Christ, uses the following words, among others, to describe God’s love as manifested in the Cross of Christ.
“All other forces were withdrawn, and alone in a death grapple in the darkness, sin took hold on love and love took hold on sin.” “Love incarnate has taken hold upon sin, and the issue must be a decisive victory for one or the other.”
“Grace in the Cross is the assertion of the unquestioning authority of God. It is the revelation and working of His unquenchable love.” “God is love, and He did not abandon man even when man abandoned Him.” “God enthrones Himself, and asserts the will of essential love as superior to the will of rebellion.” “Men cast His appointed King out into darkness, but in the darkness he was still the King, and prosecuted His reign in love.” “The Cross is the insistence of love. It is the persistence of love. It is love that holds the throne in the darkness. But for love there would have been no cross.”
“Love by determinate counsel and foreknowledge permits man to express his sin in the Cross; and in that very act of full and final expression, grace occupies the throne, sways the sceptre, and reveals, as in no other way, the authority of God and its reason of love.”
“God found even in the midst of the ruin the possibility of redemption, and while God in Christ-for they cannot be separated-became the butt of brutal malice, He responded with tenderness; and when man’s sin has done its worst in nailing Christ to the Cross with lawless hands, in that very Cross God plants the kiss of forgiveness upon the face of the murderers. It is the magnificent and majestic authority of love. He will love. We cannot prevent Him loving, and let me add reverently to that statement, He cannot help loving because He is Love. Love is stronger than death, mightier than the grave. Many waters cannot quench love. That is the anthem of the Cross. God retains the throne of authority because of His infinite love. He will never cease to love a single soul he has created.”
Our hearts are not only directed in II Thessalonians 3:5 to God’s love but also to Christ’s perseverance. This perseverance is not something that we attempt out of appreciation for God’s love, as marvelous as that should rightfully be. Nor is it manifested in our lives by studying the perseverance of Christ and trying to pattern our lives after His. Neither of the above is what Paul has in mind for us in regard to Christ’s perseverance. Indeed, Paul’s reminder to us is that “you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:10) All that Christ is has been made available to us. We are complete in Him. God’s means and method to us is always Christ. He does not give us “things” apart from Him. I Corinthians 1:30 states that when God wants to give us wisdom, He gives us Christ. When He wants to give righteousness, He gives us Christ. When He wants to give us sanctification, He gives us Christ, and when He wants to give us redemption, He gives us Christ. And, in this verse, when our hearts are directed into Christ’s perseverance, it is because the Father has given us Christ as our perseverance. His perseverance is our birthright, purchased for us by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. All that He is we are enabled to appropriate by faith. As you consider this verse, it is my prayer that your hearts would daily be directed into God’s love and Christ‘s perseverance.
In Christ, Richard Spann