Here I hope to tie together the first three Is’s, “Truth Is,” “Faith Is,” and “Grace Is,” take a shorter look at the other “Is’s,” and finish the message of the “Is” series. However, “finish” indicates a conclusion of action, and this series is meant to be a starting point. A refreshed understanding of our role with God and in the world He created for us. Thinking about this is why I chose to focus on the three Is’s I did and only highlight the others. I came to understand that these three are the “Bread and Butter,” as they say. These are the vehicle we must drive in our “Pursuit of God’s Character.” To be perfectly clear, all of what “God Is,” is important. But, in studying all that “God Is,” I realized that these three are Foundational to our relationship with Him and our Pursuit of His Character. Quick example: “God Is Love,” but who defines “Love?” God does. So, in order to access or have God’s Love in us, we must first understand the “Truth” of what God says “Love Is.” We then must walk, or have “Faith,” in that Truth. Finally, by having Faith in that Truth we find “Grace,” “Favor in the eyes of God,” and access to His Love. Therefore, this final post is about what “Pursuit Is,” how the “Foundation Is” Truth, Faith, and Grace, and how from this foundation we access all the Gifts that come from what “God Is.”I’ll start with “Love Is.” God’s Love needs no more explanation than this: John 3:16 “God so Loved the world He gave His one and only son…” The “world” – that’s you and me! Who do you love that much? Who else loves you that much? (see also “God Is Pro-choice”)
There are 34 Hebrew and Greek words for Love, but God’s Love is from [G26 agapē], which comes from [G25 agapaō]. These two Greek words occur 258 times, so I could give you a lot of Scripture quotes for “Love Is.” Instead, if I were to take what I have learned and write a definition for “Love Is,” it would look like this: “Genuine” affection for another by a deliberate act of will, in moral clarity, as a matter of principle.
[G26 agapē] ag-ah’-pay love, that is affection or benevolence;
[G25 agapaō] ag-ap-ah’-o a moral sense – embracing, especially the judgement and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle
Like in “Faith Is,” there is the definition, but what is the meaning? In this day of “tolerance” we have all been given selected bits and pieces of what Love Is, but, just as selectively, not been given others. We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind, etc… Love never fails.” But what about 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,” or Numbers 14:18, “The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.” And who hasn’t heard “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? But who can quote the context, the meaning? What about the 26 words that precede this quote: “The commandments ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and any other commandments, are summed up in this one decree: Love thy neighbor as thyself,” or the 57 words that follow: “10 Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” That’s right. Love is Not an excuse to sin, or to justify or tolerate sin. Love Is to “fulfill the law,” with thyself and thy neighbor. This is the context of Romans 13.
As 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” And 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” Love does not make us weak or tolerant of sin, just the opposite! Love gives us the power to stand up to sin and fight for our brother. Love is born in the “Divine Truth” given to us by God; once we have “walked in that Truth,” we can have “Genuine Love” for our brother. 1 Peter 1:22: “Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth, so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart.” How do we do this? John 13:34: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” And John 15:9: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” Isn’t the consistency of God wonderful?!
Love for God Is: obedience to His commandments, “Faith in Truth.” Love for our brother Is: having no fear, “obedience to the Truth” and expecting the same. “Love is:” showing “Genuine” affection for another by a deliberate act of will, in moral clarity, as a matter of principle. Also see: 1 John 2:15, 1 John 4:16
“Hope Is” an easy one. Titus 2:13 “as we await the blessed hope [G1680 Elpis] and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
[G1680 Elpis] el-pece’ (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: – faith, hope.
As with Truth and Faith, Hope and Faith also have an interesting bond. As illustrated in “The Faith of a Cocker Spaniel,” Hope Is the joyful expectancy of Faith. 1 Timothy 1:1: “Christ Jesus our Hope.” Romans 15:12: “…Jesus will appear, One who will arise to rule over the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles will put their hope.” Colossians 1:5: “…the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.”
Our “Hope Is:” the pleasureful anticipation of Christ, who was promised to come before creation. Titus 1:2: “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Our “Hope Is:” the promise of forgiveness and eternal life that Christ’s sacrifice offered. Our “Hope Is:” the promise of Christ’s return. John 14:3: “…I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.” “Hope Is:” the joyful expectation of the fulfillment of what God promises.
One last thing, Romans 8:23: “…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.” Another interesting bond between Hope and Faith. Faith is an active belief in what is not seen, and Hope is the expectation of that same unseen thing. And, if Faith Is “patiently enduring,” then our anticipation of the fulfillment of that Faith must also be patient.
Mercy was defined in “Grace Is.” “Mercy Is:” God’s compassion, the expression of His Love for us. Mercy is Not God moving away from Truth, His word, or His judgement out of compassion. Psalms 33:22: “Let your mercy, O LORD, be on us, for our hope is in You alone.” There are many words for Mercy in the original Hebrew, but their definitions all include something similar to this: “kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; or (subjectively) beauty: – favour, good deed (-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness.” “Mercy Is:” God’s “Loving Kindness,” the acting out of His compassion for us.
“Salvation Is” Here is another one we often get wrong. Most look at the second part of John 3:16: “…that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” and conclude that belief in Christ is Salvation, but we should read on. John 3:17 says: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Verse 17 is clarified in Hebrews 5:10: “… having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” Let’s get a hand from 1 Peter 1:5: “who through faith are protected by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” We can keep this shorter if we piggyback on “Faith Is” for a second. We showed that Faith without works is dead, and that even the demons believe and shudder. The same applies here; even the demons believe in Christ. Belief is only the first step. “Through” belief in Christ, “the source,” “all who obey Him” will receive “eternal salvation” that will be “revealed in the last time.”
“Salvation is” Not “One and Done.” Consider this illustration. When we want to have a nice dinner somewhere, we call and make a reservation. In making the reservation we have not eaten anything; we have merely secured the opportunity to eat at a later date. If between the call and the time reserved we move to another city, break up with our fiancé, lose our job, or any of a thousand things happen causing us to miss our reservation, then we never receive our meal. Christ is “the source” of our “Reservation;” it is “through” Him that we secure a place at the heavenly table. However, as 1 Peter says, that reservation is for “the last time.” If between our accepting Christ (our call) and this “last time” we live a life that does not “obey Him,” we have walked away from our reservation. As 1 Peter says and our previous posts have made clear, “through Faith” (an active walk in Truth) we “are protected by God’s power” (Grace) “for the salvation that is to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7 confirms: “For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness. 8 Anyone, then, who rejects this command does not reject man but God, the very One who gives you His Holy Spirit.” By rejecting God’s commandments, failing to “obey,” we reject God Himself, our reservation, and our place at the table.
1 Peter 1:9 says: “…now that you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” In other words, “Salvation Is:” the object or goal of our faith. “Salvation Is:” the reward promised by God, accessed through Christ, and received by Faith, walking in obedience to Him. Romans taught us that “obedience… comes from faith.” This means that we cannot fake Faith by acting obedient, but that through an “active” walk in the Truth we will be obedient. Thankfully, Romans also says that we do not walk alone, that, in dedication to the Truth, “God’s Influence” guides us. And bonus! Through that influence we can lead others to The Truth.
How do we put this all together to define “Pursuit Is?”
“Faith Is” confidently walking in “Truth” as defined by God, which puts us in God’s Favor or “Grace,” and, from that place of Favor, grants us access to His “Grace,” or Gifts from that Favor. From this place all other Is’s come. The Truth that God created everything seen from the unseen. The Truth that before God created man He planned for his forgiveness. That, from this Truth, “God so Loved the world He gave His one and only son.” From the Truth of God’s “Love” comes God’s “Mercy,” His limitless affection, compassion, and kindness towards us. Our “Hope Is” in the expectation of the fulfillment of the promise of God’s Grace. God’s Gift of Salvation through Christ, knowing that before creation, because of God’s Love and Mercy, His plan was for us to “crush Satan under our feet.” And “Joy Is” the happiness that comes from knowing that out of God’s Love for us came the Mercy to provide a path back to Him through Truth. Truth that promises that while walking in Grace nothing can harm us. Finally, we learned from “The Man From Chad” that “Salvation Is” the unconditional Act of embracing God’s Grace!
“Pursuit Is:” to “commend” ourselves to actively walk “in every way” in God’s Truth and to “obey His commandments.” “Pursuit Is:” to seek God’s Favor with “pleasureful anticipation” that He will honor His promises. “Pursuit Is:” to enter into every day Joyful to be the recipient of God’s Grace. “Pursuit Is:” to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” fear nothing because you have “access” to “the power of God,” and represent Truth as not to put an “obstacle” to Salvation in anyone’s way. “Pursuit Is:” living every moment to “Improve Life” in a never ending effort to achieve God’s Character!
© Scott A Caughel 10/26/2017