God Was Already There

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Loving and Trusting God

This is how God the Father showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11)

This post builds on Love Takes Action.

Longing for a Father

Tori Petersen grew up in the foster care system where she absorbed a message that she was worthless, hopeless, and unwanted. Attending church gave Tori some relief from the sterile group-home environment, but she wasn’t satisfied by the shallow answers to her questions about God. As she moved through a number of foster homes, her heart grew more and more callous toward the Lord and other people. Tori believed that having a father to love her would solve many of her problems. She wondered, “If God is so good, why hadn’t He given me a father?”

Tori’s English teacher, Laura, was caring and not shallow and she admitted that she didn’t know it all about God and human suffering, but was still learning herself. As Laura taught Tori, Tori’s heart was warming to the Bible’s teaching about Jesus Christ. She posted a YouTube video asking people to forgive her for being mean and angry. As Toni learned from the Scriptures, she saw a Savior who didn’t shy away from pain but embraced it so that others would know His love. Laura and other Christians reminded Toni of Jesus Himself, when she saw how they sacrificed for her.

Tori says that her salvation did not happen in a single grand moment, but through a series of God’s smaller miracles of grace as He gradually chipped away her scales of skepticism. She came to see God more and more clearly as she spent time around people who pursued Christ-likeness. They helped her to understand who her new identity in Jesus, despite her own sins and the sins others committed against her. Now Tori didn’t want to waste her suffering, but wanted to receive it as God’s gift, and to love others as the Lord and others had first loved her. Tori says, “In the end, the father I’d always wanted turned out to be God the Father who was always there, the Father who revealed Himself to me in His own perfect timing.”1

We Practice Love for One Another Because of God’s Big Gift

Jesus often speaks about being sent by His Heavenly Father on a mission to save us. He says, “My food is to do the will of the Father who sent Me and to finish His work….Whoever hears My word and believes the Father who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life….My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. This is the will of God the Father who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but I will raise them up at the last day.”2

Scripture also says: For God the Father so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life….God the Father did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. And along with Christ, God the Father will graciously give us everything else that we need.3

See the way that the Bible heaps it up to impact us? God gave His Son to die on the cross for undeserving sinners. So we must love, if we belong to God. After His resurrection Jesus said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”4

John the apostle writes: God the Father showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.5

John means: Don’t ever forget God’s gift of Jesus or your love will shrink and shrivel. Don’t forget that we Christian were once spiritually dead men, women, girls, and boys. But the Lord raised us new life in His resurrection. Don’t forget the ultimate demonstration of God’s love, Jesus’ self-less sacrifice.

Sin and Salvation

Sin is us substituting ourselves for God in any way. Seeking our honor instead of His, our little empires instead of Jesus’ kingdom, following our own personal whims and wishes, instead of His commandments given by God the Holy Spirit and contained in the Holy Scriptures. But salvation is the opposite. It comes from God the Son offering, exchanging, and substituting Himself for us on the cross.

Isaiah writes: Christ carried our weaknesses and our sorrows weighed Him down. It looked like His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for Jesus’ own sins! But the Lord was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be made whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Jesus Christ the sins of us all.6

So What?

If you’re not yet a Christian, dear reader, call on Jesus Christ right now and ask Him to save you. To all who receive Him and believe in Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.7

If you are a Christian in the Bible way, thank God right now for His unspeakable, indescribable, inexpressible gift of Jesus to be your Lord and Savior! God the Father gives you Christ His Son! The best gift there is, too wonderful for words! Let that cheer your own soul and make you more loving to others, like Laura and others befriended Tori at the beginning of this article.

God gave His Son to die and be raised from the grave for us who are Christ’s followers. Jesus is not just a great Teacher or Example, although He is these. Christ the Son of God came down to die the death of a felon to rescue us from God’s wrath and curse. And Jesus was raised from the dead to secure our justification (our acquittal) and absolve us from all guilt, making us acceptable and right with God.

Again 1 John 4:10 says: This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

To be continued.

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Tori Hope Petersen, “The Father I Yearned for Was Already There,” CT magazine (July/Aug, 2022).     2 John 4:34, 5:24, 6:39-40.     3 John 3:16; Rom 8:32.    4 John 20:21 NKJ.     5 1 John 4:9-11 NLT.     6 Isaiah 53:4-6 NLT.     7 John 1:12-13.