At first, the title of today’s study might seem a bit disjointed, the essence of the Gospel and love. You might wonder if it wouldn’t be better to split these into two separate studies. Well, I thought about it, but the more that I explored each, I came to realize that the two cannot truly be separated; they are integral to one another. Without Love, there is no Gospel, and without the Gospel there is no Love. A surprising number of people today do not understand the basic foundation, the basic central core and essence of the Gospel message… all they really know, is that this guy Jesus, at some place and some time, died by crucifixion, and that for some reason He did it for them. (They may also include that He died for their sins).
What I have found is that for most people, these have become empty statements, lacking substance, lacking the essence of God’s Love and their personal identity in Christ. It’s one thing to say with your mouth that Jesus died for your sins – but it’s quite another to apply that reality to your life and to live from that place every single day. To take the fact that Christ has made you a completely new creation, and to apply it personally, and to make that identity completely yours, is the true essence of the Gospel. A fact that has been largely watered-down and even lost in many Christian circles today.
Some people even have trouble accepting the reality that Jesus has given us His identity… He has granted us His righteousness, and His holiness; the very right to His Name, to have His Spirit live in side of us, and to have the very same intimacy with the Father in Heaven, to even call Him our Daddy.
It boggles some people’s minds that this is the New Creation that Jesus gave to us… and that is because they fail to see the second aspect – His Love for us. This is why these two items are inseparable: both the essence of the Gospel and Love… it is not the love of humans to humans primarily, but the love of God to all of us, and each of us individually.
Let me tell you this right at the start: God loves you, personally! And I emphasize that word “personally” because when most people think of God, and think of His love, they usually limit it to corporate, like in a church gathering, as a group. However most people move God to the far back-burner, when it becomes private. In your personal time, you need to know that God is still just as present, and just as engaged in your life, as He is when you are in a gathering with like-minded believers… and I will go one step further. When you are alone with God is when your relationship with Him can really grow, because you will be even more free to simply express yourself honestly to God, without paying any mind about what the person next to you will think. And you will be able to listen to God and commune with Him without being lead on the rails of whatever today’s sermon might be or what the “order of service” is for that today.
In your personal time, it is just you and God. No formalities, no hindrances, no veils. And it is beautiful; the way that God actually intended it. This is what Jesus paid the ultimate price for. Not so that you could just pray a prayer and go to heaven one day; but in-fact so that you could be restored and redeemed back to relationship with the Father, with the very Spirit of Christ Himself living in you, and that you could draw near to God with confidence and full assurance of faith. You don’t need to take my word on this, look at Hebrews 10:22:
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
In contrast to the way that most people approach God (in fear and terror, afraid of what he might do to them); this verse instead tells us that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can draw near to God, not in fear, but with a true heart meaning actually perfect and genuine, and sure. A heart that is true to your real nature and identity in Christ, one that does not need to be fearful or afraid of God because you know that you stand righteous in the very righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself, and you stand holy with His very same holiness as well – and if you haven’t seen the previous study in the verses leading up to this verse, we studied it last week.
When you stand before God today, you can absolutely draw near to Him with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. Take note of that wording: full assurance of faith. Not partial assurance, not half-assurance or even three-quarters assurance, but full assurance. And this is partly why we are even engaging in this study today, so that we can see and fully appreciate and grab-hold of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and who we truly are in Him.
Sadly, I talk with people all of the time who do not really have full assurance of what Christ has done for them personally. Usually because they simply have not been told. Or worse, they have been taught the opposite of the truth. Instead of hearing the genuine Gospel, the good news of jesus Christ, they have been hearing the bad news of an angry and demanding God that is more interested in judging and smiting them, then welcoming them home and blessing them in Christ.
However, as we are reading here, we can draw near to God, in full assurance of faith; and look at the last part of the verse: having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Again as we studied last week, the evil conscience, the one marked with sin, has been “sprinkled away” washed completely clean, by the blood of Jesus Christ. That conscience of sins has no place in you any longer because you are now the new creation. You are not the old creation striving to become new. You are the new creation, full stop. This is simply who you are, because Jesus made you to be exactly that. He made you clean, therefore you are clean. He made you holy, therefore you are holy. He made you accepted, therefore you are accepted.
You have no reason or right to be guilty, ashamed or condemned in your conscience, because that is not even who you are anymore! He washed you, and sprinkled you from an evil conscience! The real issue is that many of us have a form of spiritual identity crisis! We are still identifying with the old self, as if it was still us! So let me say this again very clearly: who you used to be, is not who you are today in Christ Jesus! Stop identifying as your old self, and start living as your new self! Today in Christ you are righteous, holy and fully accepted before God Because Jesus purged you of sin, your old self died with Him on the cross, and the life that you live today, you live through Jesus (that’s Galatians 2:20).
So, why did He do all this? If you honestly take more than a glancing look at everything that Jesus did for you, it can be quite overwhelming and hard to accept. Most people tell me that they have a hard time believing that Jesus really did all of these things, and even worse, there are some Christian denominations that preach the opposite; that He didn’t do all these things!
Now I will concede that it is extremely hard to believe… if you don’t understand the underlying reason behind it: Love. I know it sounds a bit funny, but there are many preachers today, who are preaching about God and about Jesus, but have no real concept of His character or His love; and as a result, their message ends-up lacking any real foundation, because as it says in 1st Corinthians 13:1, Even if I speak with the tongues of men and angels, if I do not have love I become like a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And as we saw some weeks ago, the focus here is on “having love” – specifically the love of God. Without the love of God in a person’s life, without them receiving His love, they will become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal, which in the Bible, brass and bronze are always symbols of judgment and condemnation. Without the love of God, a preacher will end up just making noise and preaching judgment, and ministering condemnation. Without the love of God, there won’t really be any love, because God is Love (1st John 4:8), and He is also Life and Light (John 14:6, 1st John 4:20, 1st John 1:5). Anyone who does not have the love of God, is really still in darkness, and spiritually dead. They may be behind a pulpit; they may hold positions of leadership, or claim to have believed for many years, but all of that is totally meaningless without having the love of God personally for them.
It is the love of God that gives life to the very message of the Gospel. Again, without understanding His love and who God is and His character – without receiving His love, not just corporately but on a personal level, then the Gospel message falls flat. 1st John 4:9-10 says:
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The very proof, the very evidence that God loves us, was the fact that God sent His Son Jesus into the world and He was the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.
And notice, we live through Him. Not for Him, but through Him! We live, with His very life. We translate everything in the world through Him, like a lens or a focal point. We live through His truth, and His truth makes us free.
Romans 5:8 says it like this:
“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
God commends (or demonstrated) His love for us, that while we were yet sinners (which means we aren’t now) – Christ died for us.
When we were at our lowest possible point, sinners, enemies of God, spiritually dead and separated from God, that is when He chose to demonstrated His love by sending Jesus. Why? Because He saw our true nature, He knew our value, because He was the One who created us to begin with. Just because a diamond falls into the dirt, doesn’t mean it stops being a diamond. He has done the work to clean us, and make us totally new. Now you get to simply exist, to be what you were intended to be! Totally pure, totally righteous, totally sanctified in Him!
That is the Gospel, unfiltered and unadulterated! Why did He do it? He loves you, personally!
Receive this truth. Receive your identity! Live your true identity, with a Pure heart. With honesty. And with a clear conscience, just as Jesus intended.