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Love’s Foundation: Part 3 Becoming Like Christ

    The theme of the last two installments of the Live to Love Blog has been love’s foundation. The cornerstone of the foundation is Jesus Christ. If we want to live to love with Him, then believing what He believed about His Father and the affairs of His life is what makes such living possible. If you haven’t read or listened to the last two Live to Love blogs, then you can go here and do so. You’ll discover that the first two foundational truths necessary for us to believe if we want to live to love with Jesus are 1) There is only one God, from whom all things come, and He is love, and 2) God’s love is enough—His love satisfies the deepest desires of our souls. Now let’s lay the third foundation stone in place. 

God’s purpose in all things is to make us like Christ and prepare us for eternity

    All believers can have unshakable confidence in God’s purpose for everything that He allows or causes to occur in their lives. We can deduce from our first foundational truth that God is working out His good will in all events and relationships. God’s Word says that all things come from Him (“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” 1 Corinthians 8:6). This means that He is at work to accomplish His will and purpose. We are not left to guess what His will and purpose are for His chosen ones.

    And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:28-29). 

    We see from these verses that God is at work in every event of our lives. We also learn what governs all of His actions toward us—the vision of conformity to the image of His Son. This process is called sanctification. God’s children have been placed in the circle of His love and purpose. Becoming like Jesus is like our horizon. It’s the boundary and end result of God’s actions toward us. We can’t get out of the circle of God’s purpose, any more than we can escape the boundary of our horizon. God can’t and won’t do anything, or allow anything, that doesn’t work according to the counsel of His will. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians concerning God’s will and works, “Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). What a foundation we have for this life and eternity! Nothing happens out of His will and purpose for us. This great truth is both humbling and comforting—especially when storm winds blow and when evil invades and highjacks our best-laid plans. 

    Whether we are lying in comfort beside quiet waters, enjoying His presence in the paths of righteousness, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, or trembling in the face of our enemies, we know that we did not get there by mistake, accident, fate, or bad luck—nor are we alone. Yes, we and others may have been deceived or been overtaken by Satan, sin, and the flesh, but all of these are still working according to God’s purpose and toward the glory of Christ. If we did not know and believe this great foundational truth, we would be defined and controlled by our own and others’ sins, resulting in bitterness, despair, and hopelessness. However, because we know that God has allowed or sent the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and that He has a good purpose for each one, we can walk on a path of understanding, patience, and prayer, which leads to our transformation and conformity to His image.

    It’s impossible to live to love with Jesus if we are not firmly anchored into God’s transcending purpose for our lives. Such faith and confidence in the purpose of our Father, revealed in Christ, is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit keeping us plugged into the supernatural powerhouse of His love. This glorious work of the Spirit sets our houses on The Rock. Our hearts therefore can sing and praise Him in the storms of life. We know whose we are, and we know His will for us—to know, trust, and love Him like Jesus does, for His glory. 

    We also have another source of confidence and encouragement. God is going to finish the work He began when He saved us. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Our Father put us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). His death became our death to sin, and His life became our lives. We are being conformed to His death; and His righteous, perfect life in us is the end product in eternity. From the time we became His disciples of love, He has been in complete charge of our sanctification, preparing us for that moment when we enter into eternity with Him (which, by the way, He determined before we were conceived: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” [Psalms 139:16]). When we pass through the veil into His presence, the process of becoming like Christ will be completed. What a day that will be—glory to God! 

    Let’s consider what must occur if we are going to become like Christ and live to love with Him. Unbelief and idolatry are the two greatest hindrances to the flow of God’s love through our lives. They both disconnect us from the source of love and focus our attention and efforts on ourselves and others. So, in love, with our highest good in view, and consistently throughout our lives, God exposes our unbelief and our idolatries and replaces them with faith and trust in Him alone. People who disappoint, disagree with, and hurt us, serve that purpose well. Difficult circumstances also test our hearts to show whether we will focus our hearts on the things that are on the earth or on Him. 

    Circumstances and relationships give us opportunities to demonstrate our trust and love for our Father and the love of Christ to those He puts in our lives. Have you realized that your days on this earth are the only days you have (out of your never-ending life in eternity) to reveal the wisdom, power, and glory of God in our trials through the faith and love of Christ?

    The faith and love of Christ are exhibited as we read in the gospels of His rejection, suffering, trials, and encounters with sinners. We learn from His life on earth what trust in and love for God and love for our fellow man look like, so when these qualities flow in our lives, we know it is because He lives in us. Every situation is an opportunity for the faith of Christ to show, and every relationship is an opportunity for the love of Jesus to flow. When they do, we know we are being sanctified according to His purpose, and we can have confidence that we will spend eternity with Him. Without the storms of life revealing His life in us, we wouldn’t have such confidence and peace. If someone encounters faith-shaking storms in their lives but doesn’t also see Jesus’ faith and love working in them to overcome their “natural, earthly, and demonic so-called wisdom” (James 3:15), then they can have no assurance that they are indeed His children. 

    All tests of faith and love disappear once we die and are in His presence for eternity, so in love, God prepares us for eternity and sets us on the path to His kingdom through trials and tribulations. An important aspect of the apostle Paul’s ministry, besides teaching the gospel and making disciples, was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). It is through our tribulations that hope rises and love flows. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). What is the proven character? It is the faith and love of Christ revealed in and through our lives. As we press on with confidence that God has purposed to make us like Christ and prepare us for eternity through all the events in our lives, we experience the outpouring of God’s love in our hearts that overflows to others. 

    Living to love with Jesus occurs in the lives of His children as they apply these three foundational truths in all the events of their lives. 

  • There is one God, from whom all things come, and He is love.
  • The love of Jesus is enough—He satisfies the deepest desire of my soul.
  • The purpose of God in all things is to make us like Jesus and prepare us for eternity.

    The more you practice applying these truths in your life, the more you will become like Christ! If Jesus lives in you, His Spirit will remind you of them and help you live by them. The result will be the beautiful fruit of the love of God flowing through your life for His glory. You’ll be living to love with Jesus.

 

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