Who are those who love God, and how does He know they love Him? And why are they the ones He works everything out for their good?
In Roman 8:28, Paul says, ” We know all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose.” Who are those who love God, and how does He know they love Him? Why are they the ones God works everything out for their good? To love God is to obey Him; to love God is to trust and depend on Him at all times, no matter what season of life we’re in. Those who love God surrender to His will and accept His Son, Jesus, as Lord and Savior. They are not individuals who say they know Jesus or think He was an amazing prophet/philosopher.
True believers can’t escape His love since it resides in them- the Spirit of Love they received after confessing their sins and believing in Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:19, Paul says “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” What a powerful scripture, don’t you agree? This text reveals three things in particular. God knows who’s His, which infers not everyone is God’s or not everyone has chosen His Son; and lastly, those who belong to God must turn away from wickedness. The sealed inscription Paul references here is the Holy Spirit given to those who confessed the Name of the Lord. You see God’s love is not “unconditional” the way some of us have passionately professed over the years within the Christian community or those outside the Church have echoed in the world. If anything, friend, God’s love is “conditional,”but the condition He asks of us is perfect, beyond what we could have afforded to ask ourselves or admit that we needed.
What is the Condition of Receiving and Remaining in God’s Love?
No one can receive nor remain in God’s love unless they confess the name of Jesus, deny this world, live for Him without pretending and fearing the judgment of others once they do. Many tend to view God’s love as “unconditional” based on John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But if you carefully read this text, the condition is stated- whoever believes in Him, “Him” being “Jesus,” ‘would not perish.’
“Believe” in this text in Hebrew means “Devoted to,” “Give Support to.” The same term Scripture used when it said Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:16). In Hebrew it reads Abraham was “devoted to God.” He was loyal to God and God’s (promise) word. The phrase “He who believes in Him,” in John 3:16, holds the same meaning. The person who believes in the one and only Son of God is the one who is devoted to Him. In the original text, this does not translate to a “light-hearted declaration” saying, “I believe in you,” yet the person saying it doesn’t support or walk alongside him or her. What is being said in both scriptural texts is that one who believes in God commits to Him and His cause.
Jesus says to us in John 15:4-5, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” This text is congruent to Romans 8:28. Our relationship with Christ is neither one-sided nor forceful, manipulative, or toxic. God’s is love, but for us to be in His love, we must love Him in return. The measure of His love for us is revealed in our devotion to Christ, the Vine. God’s love is magnetic in that as we (devote) commit ourselves to Jesus, which is the “one condition,” He remains in us through the Holy Spirit, who was given to those who’ve received Him, without pretense, but in humility- seeing their need of Him, to live and be free.
To Complete Be in the Love of God, We Must Commune With Him through Christ
Many who consider themselves Christians have not grasp or refuse to accept that although salvation is free, God will not force it nor His Love on anyone. The love of the Father is not “toxic” like some relationships in our world. Indirectly or due to ignorance, many believe they can do anything they please and for God to still love them without loving Him back or being devoted to Him in return. Many claim to know God but want God to do all the loving and giving while they only receive and take from Him to satisfy their appetite. But my friend God never wanted to have one-sided relationships with us; He didn’t allow His Son to die to have a one-sided relationships with you. He didn’t say we would be saved by embracing His love alone. No. What did Jesus say? “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). It’s important to note here Jesus is saying, “If you remain in me,” which highlights the Free Will God has given us, to choose Him, to choose His love, to choose salvation. You may be seeing where I’m going with this. Yes, here is the one condition that is given again, “If you remain, in other words, if you devote yourself to me, you can never be fruitless, you can never be separated from Him nor God’s love.”
God will not force any human being to accept His love. Therefore His love cannot save any soul unless this soul has surrendered to it. And for the one who has surrendered to it, they are His. Scripture says, The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” God’s love is magnetic in that He draws near to us when we draw near to Him. What separates the believer from the nonbeliever knows God is with them by drawing near to God, to be found by Him. The world does not know God because the world has not sought Him. True believers are, in fact, true believers because once we have received Jesus, we have His Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is knitted to our spirit. We have become one with Him. We remain in Him because, as He said it Himself, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” is only referring to the natural, we are capable of doing in the natural world; it also includes what we can do in the spiritual world and how we can bear the greatest fruit of all, being saved, transformed, from corruptible to incorruptible, like Christ in every way.
Though David never saw God, he remained in God’s love because of the Spirit of Christ that was with Him. David said, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea. Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10). Like Abraham, David was a man who believed in God. As we shared earlier, this means he “devoted himself to God,” and as a result, God’s unfailing love had a firm grip on him. No matter where David was in His journey of life, he could not escape (God’s love) presence. The Lord knew David was a man after His heart, more than anything else. One who kept choosing to pursue Him despite how he felt, what he went through, and what he had or did not have.
If God’s Love is Conditional, Can We Earn it?
Perhaps you are wondering whether I believe in the “works-based” gospel or that we can in “earn” God’s love. Many people who embrace His love as “unconditional” assume they don’t have to deny themselves, to remain in it. Friend, this is not biblical and is a false teaching that has led some to experience a false conversion to the Christian faith. In the New Testament, Jesus warned not only about false prophets but false believers as well. Today we hear much teaching on discerning false prophets but not enough on recognizing false believers and false teachings ( 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Peter 2:1, Romans 16:8, Titus Titus 1:16, Matthew 15:8).
Jesus never spoke about salvation as a matter of talk only and no action on our part. He never made it appear that salvation is “believing in Him” while continuing in our ways and living like the world. Jesus made it clear that those who love God and are in His love have rejected the world and do what He says (Matthew 15:18, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 3:10-11). Interestingly, John 3:16 says, He so “loved” the world, loved ” is past tense in this text, which world is being referred here? Doesn’t the Bible say anyone who loves or is friends with the world has become an enemy of God? Can God contradict Himself? (John 4:4). My friend, God loved us the way He had made us before sin entered this world. Because of His mercy, He compelled Himself to bring us back to who He made us to be- good and- united with Him. God’s memory of who we once were before the fall grew His desire to experience this union with us again. It had nothing to do with us, with us being worthy. We did not deserve His mercy, were not worthy, but the mystery is that He says we are IN Christ.
We cannot earn God’s love nor salvation ( in the way others practice any belief/ religion besides Christianity), but we know we are saved because we follow the will of God (not ours nor worldly ideologies/human opinions ) from the time we devote our lives to Jesus until He returns or calls us home ( Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13). Now, how are we to do this? To “believe in” Jesus until the end? My friend, we can’t unless we remain in the Vine ( John 15:4-5; Matthew 19:24-26). God’s love is magnetic in that it will never let go of those who stay connected to the Vine, who is Jesus, and commit. How can we stay connected to Jesus, you may be wondering? We must commit to His teaching and the will of the Father. Remember, for God knows who are His because, like Abraham, they follow after Him in every circumstance.
Friend, remain in Jesus… until next time!