Loved Yesterday, Today and Forever

With it being Good Friday it is great time to be reminded of the core Gospel truth: That God loved the sinful world so much that He came to earth in the form of a lowly human to suffer an agonising death on a cross as a once and for all perfect sacrifice for the sins of those who trust Jesus. It is an awesome truth that shows to what extent God was willing to go in order to have a loving relationship with His people, and it serves as the primary motivation of worship to Him. As the scriptures say:

19We love because [God] first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

I was reminded today that what is specifically remembered on Good Friday is something that should be joyfully remembered daily. It is the foundation of all Christian belief and the reason for the hope God’s people have in Heaven. Furthermore, without the cross the true extent of God’s love cannot be seen. How great it is to commemorate the death of Jesus in celebration. And so as God’s people lavish themselves on this Good Friday with the beautiful grace that God has provided, I desire to offer three encouragements from scripture that will help with the joy of daily revelling in God’s love.

God loved His people so much that He created them foreknowing He would have to die on a cross

4For [God] chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – Ephesians 1:4-5

There is an age old question that goes like this: If a parent was planning to have a baby but had the foreknowledge that their child was going to grow up into an evil person, should they still decide to have that child? It is a tough question to answer. Many people use examples like Hitler, or Stalin to illustrate the severity of giving birth to a child who will grow up to become evil. They question whether it is worth having a child who will cause countless evils. I personally would not know how to answer that question were I asked it. But, God does have an answer. He has already answered that question by deciding to create humanity. God foreknows all things. He foreknew the fact that Adam & Eve would rebel against Him in the Garden of Eden and cause the fall of humanity. God foreknew that He would have to come down to earth and suffer the punishment for sin on a cross in order to be able to have a loving relationship with His children. And yet He still chose to create them in spite of this.

God loves His people with the exact same love He loved them with on the cross

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

I was recently struck by how readily I affirmed this scripture without truly understanding its riches. I acknowledged the fact that God was the same today as He had always been, but I always carried the underlying assumption that His love was greater for me at the cross because of the amount of suffering Jesus was willing to endure in order that I enter His kingdom. It was almost as if I felt His love for me today had diminished because He was no longer going to great lengths for me. I look back now and realise how me-centred this was. God was gracious towards my ignorance. He pointed out that the love with which Jesus was willing to die for His people is the exact same love He has for them this very day. This means that the love Jesus showed for His people when He choose to be brutally flogged by whips, cruelly pierced by nails, viciously humiliated with insults and forsaken by the righteous wrath of God, is the exact same love He has for His people today and will continue to have for them forever.

God will continue to show His people His love in Heaven by continually reminding them of the cross

11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” – Revelation 5:11-12

Current society is production driven. Goals and targets are assigned and expected to be met. How these targets are achieved is of little importance, as long as the means leads to the ends. It is possible that this culture has influenced some Christian thinking. It certainly affected me. I assumed that once I was in Heaven (the ends) that Jesus’ death on the cross (the means) became largely academic, a thing of the past. But the striking truth recorded in Revelation is that God’s people never stop praising Jesus for His wonderful death. This should not be surprising considering that the cross is where Jesus’ majesty, glory and beauty can be seen most clearly. A king’s throne is the centre of his power and it is the cross that is Jesus’ throne. It is by remembering Jesus hanging on His throne that His people are reminded of His holiness and their sinfulness, and are therefore able come to a deeper understanding and adoration of His awesome love and perfect justice which He brilliantly masterminded through His plan the cross.

It is my prayer that these three encouragements has helped to show that God not only loved His people with the love He showed them on the cross whilst He was suffering, but that He also loved His people with that exact same love before He had even created them, and that He will continue to love them with that exact same love forever and ever because God loves His people the same yesterday, today and forever.

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