God Is Love; and That’s Hopeful!

Nine years ago Justin and Margaret Mussel of New Jersey lost a diamond engagement ring. The Mussels married in 2006. In the summer of 2008 they visited San Marco dei Cavoti, an Italian town where Margaret’s family owns a home. The engagement ring slipped off Margaret’s finger, but she did not realize it was gone until days later. The couple made a thorough search of the property, but did not find the ring. Because the ring was lost on international soil, their insurance would not cover the loss of the ring. The couple resigned themselves to the sad fact that they would never see the ring again.

Fast forward to this past summer. Justin and Margaret and their 2 boys took another trip back to San Marco dei Cavoti. They were seated on a bench in the front yard when something caught Justin’s attention. Every time a car drove by with headlights on, he saw something like a flicker of light out of a crack in the sidewalk. He looked closer. Using a screwdriver, he dug into the crack where the flicker of light was coming. And there was the engagement ring lost 9 years earlier. Needless to say, the couple was flabbergasted. More about Justin and Margaret Mussel in a moment. Keep reading, please.

In Sunday School classes in churches, preschool children are taught a foundational concept: God is love. This truth is proclaimed in the Bible in 1 John 4:8: “For God is love.” God’s love is seen clearly when we consider that He supplies our needs, protects and watches over us, gives us His wisdom for problem solving, and continues to love us even when we don’t deserve His love.

But the greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 proclaims the same good news: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We can see from these Bible verses that it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal home, heaven. But we humans have a dilemma. We have not always lived by God’s standards that He shows us in the pages of the Bible. The Bible calls our failure to live God’s way “sin.” And our sin is so bad that it separates us from God, and prevents us from having a personal relationship with Him. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news. God has made possible the way for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to be brought into a personal and real relationship with Him. God did this by paying the price for our sins. When Jesus died on that Roman cross, our sins, and the sins of the entire world, were placed on Him. His death on the cross redeems us from sin’s penalty.

Why did God do this? He loves us like crazy. And you see, love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We sometimes refer to our life lived in sin as being “lost.” Remember the story at the beginning of this post about Justin and Margaret? They lost a ring, but we, because of our sin, have lost something much more valuable—eternal life in heaven. But God in His great love “saves” us from our sinful condition when we trust Jesus’ death on the cross for our forgiveness, and commit ourselves to follow Jesus daily.

You cannot earn your way to heaven, and you cannot “save” yourself from your own sin by doing good deeds. Yet, here is where our hope comes in. You can know for sure that you have eternal life, and that heaven will be your eternal home, by coming to Jesus in faith. Honestly, there is no other way.

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