November 21, 2016

Proof of Love

by Clint Archer

Private First Class John Eddington held his newborn daughter, Margret, in his arms shortly before he was deployed to liberate Europe from the Nazi occupation. The year was 1944. Before his departure he composed a poignant three page letter expressing his intense love for baby Peggy, as he called her.love-letter

Almost immediately upon arriving in Italy, PFC Eddington was killed in action.

His wife kept the precious letter in a box in the attic for the day Peggy would be old enough to read it for herself. But as time passed Mrs. Eddington forgot about the existence of the letter, and almost never mentioned her late husband. Consequently, Peggy grew up never knowing how much her father loved her.

But in 2014, someone rummaging through Peggy’s late mother’s possessions discovered the box containing a letter addressed to “My Darling Daughter.” The letter was delivered to its rightful recipient. When Peggy, now seventy years old, read the letter she learned for the first time what had been in her father’s heart when he got news that he was leaving for the war. He assured her that she would always be on his mind.

“I love you so much,” John had written. “Your mother and daddy … are going to give you everything we can. We will always give you all the love we have.” He concluded with the words: “I love you with all my heart and soul forever and forever. Your loving daddy.”

Do you think Peggy was unmoved by that declaration? Inconceivable. And yet, sometimes when we study our Heavenly Father’s words to us in the Bible we focus so much on what we are doing wrong (reproof), and what God expects of us (correction), and what God teaches us about doctrine and theology and wisdom (training in righteousness), that we lose sight of the most staggering truth in all of God’s word: God loves us.Peggy receiving a memorial flag

There are a myriad ways God demonstrates his love for us, but here are three for you to ponder this week…

1. Your Father Predestined You

Ephesians 1:4-5 even as he chose [elected] us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

The doctrine of predestination can be tricky. Trying to see where it fits in with faith and repentance can be confusing. Today I’m not going to try unscramble the Rubik’s cube of predestination; that you can find in other blogs by using the search bar. What I want you to savor today is the motive that fueled God’s predestination of people in the first place—his unfathomable love.

David was staggered by God’s foreknowledge. As he wondered in Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God knew you and chose you and wrote a story for you…before you were born.

This is the beauty, excitement, and reassuring security of the vibrant doctrines of foreknowledge and predestination and election. God knew you and chose you before he made the world. He called you out by name before you were born, and pursued you with a passion to secure your inclusion in his family.

And why? Because God loves you.

2. Your Father Adopted You

a-love-letterEphesians 1:4b-5In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

The doctrine of adoption is one of the most precious proofs of God’s love for us. Your salvation is not the result of some cold, theological equation; it is the climax of an epic love story.

God predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters because he loves us and this makes him our Father.

Remember when Jesus’ disciples asked him “Teach us to pray…”? Jesus didn’t say, “Just do what you’ve been doing, prayer is just a conversation.” No,… Luke 11:2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name.”

Paul gets giddy about this in Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Abba is how Hebrew kids say Daddy or Papa.

As cool as I thought it was that in To Kill a Mockingbird Scout Finch called her dad, Atticus, by his first name, I taught my kids to call me Dad. But then one day, at age seven, my daughter read a novel in which the children referred to their father as “Papa.” She promptly adopted the moniker for me and taught it to her two year old sister too. So my two boys call me Dad and my girls call me Papa. And it melts my heart. They could ask for a giraffe for Christmas and, as long as they say Papa, there’s a good chance they’ll get it.

You are fully God’s child and God is your Abba, your Papa…your daddy.

I understand that in public prayer gatherings we are praying corporately to God and that it is more appropriate to reserve our outbursts of personal rapture with our adoption to moments of private prayer. But when you are alone with God and pouring out your heart to him in prayer, it is a delight and a privilege that the Spirit in us causes us to cry out Abba or Papa.

The implications of God’s fatherhood and your adoption into his family are intensely practical. To know that you are a child of God should change the way you view the world: you have a Father who loves you and looks after you. Don’t get sucked into the spirit of fear by which most people live. They focus on the crime and the future employment of their children and corruption. These might all be real fears, but as a Christian this is different for you.

You are not a statistic, you are a child of God.

Just like you look out for the wellbeing of your own kids, so God looks out for his.

Matt 6:31-32 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

3. Your Father Gave His Son for You

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

The pinnacle of God’s proof that he loves us is what he was willing to give to secure our adoption and to bring us into his family. He chose us because he loved us and it cost him the death of his Son.

So how is this going to change your life this very week? Does meeting with the saints to worship and fellowship get in the way of your week? Does your pastor need to guilt you into giving financially to God’s kingdom work? Do you find reading God’s word to be a chore?

If so, you have missed the love in the love letter. If God’s love for you isn’t enough to ignite a flame of zeal for his glory and good works and obedience and devotion and worship… nothing will rouse you from your apathy.

And if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are not a child of God. But you can be.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Excellent. Kinda sad about Peggy but glad she eventually read the letter.

    • Also kinda sad about Christians who don’t read about God’s love.

      • Most of them probably haven’t read Matthew 7:21-13 either…

  • LeeRaleigh

    Beautiful, Clint. Thank you.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    I need to buy the Kleenex with the lotion in it.

  • Helk

    Excellent post- I love Ephesians for how Paul tells the riches of God’s salvation. To the praise of his glory!

    • Ephesians has got to be on most Christians’ list of top 5 favorite Bible books.

  • Thank you. Encouraging and comforting.
    Sorry, Jane H. I bought the last box.
    “…sometimes when we study our Heavenly Father’s words to us in the Bible we focus so much on what we are doing wrong (reproof), and…” So true, and when I finally come to my senses about doing this I realize that when I focus on my failures so much that I lose my joy then I am not thinking of Him and am actually insulting my Abba because I am not crediting Him for His love. Of course, that is another failure :-), but the solution is right there–believe Him that He loves me and enjoy His love. If human daddies want their children to enjoy daddy-love, how more the Father who has infinite love.

    • Great point. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Ira Pistos

    God’s love for us is honestly beyond words. At least in relation to my competency.
    How in His love for us, He sustains us through all trials is heart-breakingly beautiful.

    I’m sure many of you followed the plight of Mariam Ibraheem.
    There’s an article today in the Christian post about her time in prison that really highlights that love.

    I could link it but it’s fairly easy to find.

    • Thanks for the input.

  • Brian Kinzel

    Clint, Thank you. Great article. But Abba does not mean “daddy.” It is Aramaic for “father.” The German New Testament scholar, J. Jeremias, wrote this earlier in his career, and later changed his mind under the mass of evidence against his theory. But despite that his earlier book was translated into English. Hence, since that time the English speaking world thinks the word means “daddy.”

  • Jason

    “They could ask for a giraffe for Christmas and, as long as they say Papa, there’s a good chance they’ll get it.”

    Clint, you either better want a giraffe or hope your children will not read this…

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