God First Loved Us, Part 1

devotional lifeGod First Loved Us, Part 1
1 John 4:7-21

In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes, “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others. This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others. This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.” As we begin a study on salvation, it’s vital to understand the source of our salvation at the very beginning. While we are the recipients of God’s love, his love has everything to do with who God is in his essence, and not who we are or anything we have done.

1. When you read or hear about God’s love, what images or ideas usually come to your mind? What are some different ideas that unbelievers and nominal believers have about the love of God? Give some examples.

 

2. Read 1 John 4:7-21 and write down everything John says about God’s love. What do you think John’s key idea is in this text?

 

3. According to verses 7, 8, and 16, what is the ultimate source of love?

 

4. A loving God is unique to Christianity because love by its nature is focused on and given to another. Only a God who has existed eternally and relationally in three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is able to express love since love focuses on another. Read the following verses and write down what each teaches about love expressed in the holy Trinity*.

• Mark 1:10-11 –

• John 17:24 –

• John 3:35 –

• John 14:31 –

• John 5:20 –

• John 10:17 –

• Colossians 1:13 –

 

*  “The love between the Father and Son also presumably characterizes their relationship with the Holy Spirit, even though it is not explicitly mentioned.” (Grudem) Some theologians have taught that the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit.

Ministering to Men

Men-WorkBelow is an excerpt from my book, Foundations for Godly Manhood.

Hard Work

The process of becoming a genuine and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ is tough. It takes hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It can’t be manipulated over the course of a weekend. It doesn’t materialize from a neatly wrapped program. It’s a day-in and day-out pursuit of Christ, through his Word and prayer, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in a relational context.

While I am all for Bible studies and small groups for both genders, I think there must be a place for men to gather with other men, to study God’s Word and pray, in a context of accountability and encouragement. How many men do you know who would want to talk about lust in the presence of their wives? Or, how many men would want to share how they struggle with pornography with other women in the room?

The Final Goal

The goal of ministry to men is not primarily about producing morally improved men. It’s not primarily about warm-fuzzy experiences; it’s not even about emotional or psychological cathartic breakthroughs.

We may want each of those things to happen, but that should not be the primary target of men’s ministry. Instead, the purpose of ministry to men is to introduce men to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God’s plan for transforming sinful men into redeemed sons of their heavenly Father. This transformation will produce men who passionately desire to become like Christ. They will want to know him better, love him more, and follow him more faithfully.

Such men will still battle sin, but as the Spirit works through the study of God’s Word, prayer, and accountable and encouraging fellowship, these men will become the men God has created, redeemed, and called them to be. And perhaps such men will turn the world upside down for God’s glory and the advancement of God’s Kingdom (Acts 17:6).