with Jeremy Westcott –
We saw last time that love wins. If love does not win in the end then it cannot be love; but love can never be forced, just continually demonstrated again and again, until it eventually overcomes every obstacle, objection, excuse and reason.
That is why I believe in the restoration of all things. God’s love will never stop because He cannot stop being Him: He can never deny Himself and who He is, so He continues to love. And because He is an eternal being, that means He will never stop, so God and love will never fail.
His love never fails, never gives up and can never be escaped because it is filled with age-enduring grace and mercy. That grace and mercy will never cease to be a vehicle for love to be expressed and demonstrated abundantly, lavishly and with extreme desire and intent, without limits. God’s love has no limits: if you put a condition on it, then you have limited it. If love is limited, it is not love. Love must be extreme or it is not love. Love must seem wasteful and undeserved or it is not love.
His love cannot be thwarted by sin, rejection or death – it has experienced all there is and yet has conquered and overcome all things, so that all things can be restored to love’s face-to-face, relational innocence. That is really the nature of what God has done: He has made us innocent. That is how He sees us. Do we feel it? Or do we feel ‘less than’ because we struggle with the concept of unconditional love?
Nothing can separate
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
That really leaves nothing out. That is the nature of that love: there is nothing we can do – or anyone or anything else can do – that can separate us from the love of God. Religion, even though it will probably have you read that Bible verse, will tell you the opposite, that there is something that can separate you from the love of God: your choice. But your choice can only separate you in your own head, it cannot separate you from a God who loves you unconditionally. And that is really what we need to understand and engage.
If you still think you can separate yourselves, or feel separated because of your past life, or things you might do, or thoughts you might have, remember this: God takes no notice of what you – or others – think, He just takes notice of who He is. And He is unconditional love.
Discover who we are
So to know our true identity as sons of God, which is who we are, it is imperative that we know unconditional love by personal, intimate experience and not just in an intellectual way. I would have always said that I believed that God is love but my understanding of that love is very different now that I know it by experience. I have had so many experiences of the nature of that unconditional love, both towards myself and how God has expressed and shown His love to others, that I am absolutely convinced that this is the key, that everyone needs to know. All of us ‘know’ that God is love because the Bible tells us; but the question is, have we all experienced that love as unconditional or do we just know it as a concept or a theory? God wants it to be very practical.
As sons of God, we need to have our lives built on a solid foundation: that foundation is the nature, character and essence of who God is as I AM. I AM is a constant, never changing. He is unconditional love, He is limitless grace and He is triumphant mercy: put all those three together and they make a totally solid foundation on which to build our lives, to grow and mature. All these attributes have to be experienced: that is what God is working to do in our lives constantly, to enable us to experience the reality of who He is and so discover who we are.
Limitless grace, triumphant mercy
Never stop living in the reality of unconditional love, limitless grace and triumphant mercy. A few years ago there was a huge fuss over so-called ‘hyper-grace’. Well, His grace goes way beyond ‘hyper’: it is limitless! There is nothing that limitless grace cannot deal with or overcome.
And His mercy is triumphant, which means no matter what obstacle or hindrance might get in the way of us experiencing unconditional love, His mercy has already triumphed over it! So if we live in that reality, then we can abide, dwell, and remain at rest in that state of conscious awareness that we are loved. We do not have to do anything, it is completely free and unconditional. That may not be easy to accept, because of the way we have been conditioned to think about love and about God. That state of being, immersed in that unconditional love, limitless grace and triumphant mercy, is an expanded state of consciousness, an awareness that forms the foundation of everything we think, feel and do. Therefore we can just be.
Our true identity and our consciousness of that identity is about being, not doing. If we can really get hold of that reality then it will free us up so much to discover just how powerful we are and how amazing our sonship is. Yet it is so hard to just be when we are conditioned to do. All of us have been programmed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, programmed into independence, so that we believe we have to do something.
Probably all of us have been involved in some religious system or other and those systems tend to require performance or adherence to a set of behavioural norms so that we will be accepted. When those norms are projected onto God, as they often are, it leads us to believe that God requires certain things of us, which contradicts the truth of His unconditional love. But Paul wrote:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).
Or, ‘do not be pressed into a religious or political mould, shaped or formed by the political and religious systems you live under, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ We cannot renew our own minds, however hard we try. I used to try to renew my mind by confessing Bible verses over and over again, making confessions and declarations and decrees so that I would believe what I was declaring. I learned a lot of Bible verses that way but it never renewed my mind: the only thing that renewed my mind was an experience of God that changed my mind because now I knew the truth (and that truth was different from what I thought before) and now I agree with Him, which is what metanoia (usually misleadingly translated as ‘repentance’) actually means.
God’s good, acceptable and perfect will is proven or known when we experience it – but we have taught people that you can only know it by faith. Faith is the evidence of things not yet seen, but I want to live in the reality of experiencing everything that God intends for me, not to die never having received it (as happened to all those heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11).
… just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will… (Ephesians 1:4-5).
That is His will: that we would be before Him in love. In the Mirror Bible it says:
He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world. Jesus is God’s mind made up about us. He always knew in his love that he would present us again face to face before him in blameless innocence… (Ephesians 1:4 Mirror).
That is such an amazing statement! Perhaps if we look at our life we would say we are far from blameless; but God is not looking at what we have done, He is looking at what He has done, at what Jesus has done. We are who He says we are, so His love enables us to be face to face with Him without fear (because perfect love casts out fear). His love, expressed as His will, chose us to be restored to face to face, blameless innocence. And when we have been face to face with Him, then we can begin to realise how blamelessly innocent we are.
In God’s heart we are already restored: we just need to catch up with what is already true rather than trying to make it true. He is much more patient than we are, and His patience means that His love will never fail. And His limitless grace and triumphant mercy ensure that we will all know his love unconditionally, one way or another, however long it takes.
This series of blog posts on ‘Unconditional Love’ are excerpted from Mike’s teaching in our monthly Patreon Group Zooms. Scroll down to watch the video of the talk it comes from.
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