You are not lovable, BUT…

I found this fortune cookie wisdom being used to mark my place in a book. I’d put it there some time ago but recently pulled the book back out as I was preparing a sermon. The message of the “fortune” was striking to me in that it is the way most people are told to think about themselves. It certainly embodies the message of our culture and also, to the detriment of the truth, the sub-sect of Christendom when preaches a gospel of self-esteem, a gospel centered around looking good, feeling good, doing good, being good, and having good.

The message was striking because the word of God says that the gospel of lovability is no gospel at all (Gal 1:7). If I placed confidence in my own lovability I would be accursed (Gal 1:8, 9), for the simple fact that I am not lovable.

I am constantly drawn to the stark contrast the apostle Paul draws being someone who has been justified by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ and someone who has not been. In verses 6-10 there are four descriptors used of a person who has not yet received salvation: helpless (6), ungodly (6), sinners (8), and enemies (10). The first adjective shows how utterly impotent we are to earn God’s favor on our own. The second and third adjectives show why that is the case. We are ungodly and He is God. We are sinners and He is perfect, holy, righteous, and sinless. The fourth adjective, then, describes our state before God as a result of who we are. We are enemies. It isn’t merely that we are unlovable people, but we are enemies of God. Continue reading “You are not lovable, BUT…”

This is love: A summary of 1 John 4:9-10

In this the love of God has been revealed to us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world in order that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son, the propitiation concerning our sins. (1 John 4:9-10, my translation from the Greek)

There are perhaps no two better verses that sum up the Christian faith, the substance of the good news concerning salvation. I want to unpack them a little bit.

First, it is worth noting that the love of God has been revealed. Humans don’t uncover the love of God. They don’t discover it as if it were some hidden, ancient artifact. The love of God cannot be found by sinful creatures. This is a truth that Paul elaborates on when he describes natural man as dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and adds that the natural man cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). No, the love of God has been revealed.

Second, it has been revealed to a specific group of people; namely, us. But who is the “us” that the apostle John is referring to? In a direct sense he is talking about the same group he refers to in 1 John 1:1-3 – those who have fellowship with Jesus Christ, i.e. Christians. But moreover, John refers to the group later in these verses. It is those who love God. The implication of this is not only that God has revealed His love to a group of sinful human people, but that He has not revealed that love to all. Continue reading “This is love: A summary of 1 John 4:9-10”