God's Convicting Love (2)

  • Peter preached a sermon, the first sermon preached to Gentiles, in Acts 10. We all remember verse 38, but I want you to notice something. The Spirit of God did not fall when that verse was preached. The Spirit fell suddenly before Peter could even give an altar call.

    Acts 10:43 reads “He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name”. All the prophets and prophecies in the bible, in the old testament, witness Jesus. It’s all about Him. It’s through the power of His name that sins are remitted for those who believe.

    Now look what happened. Verse 44 says that while Peter was still speaking THESE words or saying these things. What words, what things? The words of the previous verses. Just review verses 38-43. While He was still speaking them, the Holy Spirit FELL. What does that tell us? That Holy Spirit loves these words that through Jesus you receive forgiveness of sins and Holy Spirit emphasizes those words with His presence.

    You heard people say “I felt the Holy Spirit power when that altar call was given and people received Jesus as Savior”. If you’ve ever prayed with someone to receive Jesus, you could feel the Holy Spirit power of God falling on them at that time.

    Through Jesus we are all forgiven of all our sins. Hebrews 10:10-18. The Holy Spirit loves that and when He hears it, He hugs us with His love and assurance. In verse 44 that word “fell” is the Greek word “epipipto” which means love hug. This same Greek word is used in Luke 15:20 when describing the Father’s actions upon seeing his prodigal son return. It says he “fell” on his neck, or gave him a big love hug.

    God the Holy Spirit gets so excited when we believe that through Jesus our sins are forgiven forever, that He gives us a big bear love hug. He falls on us in ecstatic love. God desires so much that we believe that His Son’s extreme pain, agony, death, burial, and resurrection were not for nothing, but it was so we could be saved and set free. God gets so excited when we receive all that Jesus did for us and put aside our self righteous acts of performance, that He just can’t contain Himself. He love hugs us.

    You’ll notice that in these verses in Acts 10, the people did not perform any great religious acts, or put on a “holier than thou” persona. They didn’t try to be “good enough” so that God would love them. We do not have to try to be accepted by our own performance. Rather we simply embrace what He has already done.

    God loves us for ourselves, not for our efforts to please Him. He values our love more than our performance. We please God most not when we try to make ourselves good enough, or when we try to perform for God, or adhere to a set of man-made rules. We please God most when we throw ourselves into his arms with all our imperfections and failures and receive what He has done for us.

    We don’t get His love by living up to His or others standards. We find His love in the broken places of our lives. We let him love us there. It’s called relationship.

    Let me close with this from my long time mentor in the ridiculous, radical, inexhaustible, grace of God. His name is Malcolm Smith. Just look at these powerful truth filled words.

    God is not a God of “contract”. He is a God of covenant. Contract is an “if then” agreement. If I do things correctly, keep all the rules, perform just right, then you will reward me. If I don’t perform correctly, then you will punish me and judge me.

    When those who believe in a contract God bump up against the truth of a covenant God, most will default to the contract God because they are bound by performance.

    What they fail to realize is that God’s love for us is so great and so vast, without condition, that it appears scandalous to those who are religious and works/performance oriented.

    God who is love refuses to be God without us. He is the one that must come where we are. He is unalterably, unconditionally, unendingly for you. God walks into our abomination and carries us out of it when religion says “condemn them” for their abomination.

    You see religion and the church have it backwards. They say “go and sin no more and then we will quit condemning you”. Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. It’s God’s convicting love that always provides the gift of “no condemnation” and the power to live a sin free life.

    What can separate us from the love of God? NOTHING!

    Grace and Peace.