This article is a two-parter.
If you did not read the first part, you may find it here:
These words are written primarily to believers in Christ. There is also hope found here for those who do not know Jesus yet.
We left off last week with the fact that God loved us in the past, but I left you with the question
Does God love us today.....NOW....or does He not?
Many people struggle, personally, with the present apprehension of God’s love.
Does God love ME?
Yes, He does love us / me / you, presently.
How do I know this?
Consider, with me, Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Here we see His continuing love. I want you to note two words in this verse:
Commendeth, and Died
This word “commendeth” means to demonstrate…provide evidence for…stand as proof of....to show something by one’s behavior, attitude, or external attributes
The word further means that the action is ongoing with no end in sight; (today and tomorrow and forever).
Next, notice “died.” This word is past tense. It speaks of something that happened one time in the past and will never be repeated (See I Peter 3:18)
So then, “God commendeth (or continuously demonstrates) His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Why did Paul use the present tense (“God commendeth . . .”)? You may have expected him to keep the verb tenses the same. I would have expected Paul to say, “God commended (past tense) His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Was not the death of Christ the demonstration of God’s love? And did not that demonstration happen in the past? So why does Paul say, “God commendeth . . .” instead of saying, “God commended . . .?”
I think the clue is given a few verses earlier. I want you to read Romans 5:3-5. Notice the following words:
Hope - Hopefulness is the intended end result of all God takes us through. He wants us to feel unwaveringly hopeful through all tribulations.
B. Tribulations - Tribulations are the opposition to hope....or are they the pathway to it?
What’s the underlying secret of actually growing in hope through tribulation? It is the assurance of God’s Love! The assurance of God’s love causes us to be hopeful throughout tribulations….Paul gives the answer to hopefulness in tribulation in Romans 5:5.
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
This means that God’s love, which was poured out on Calvary (and in our hearts at our conversion), is still present and active. This is why the verse doesn’t read “has been” or “was” shed abroad in our hearts. His love was and has been shed abroad, but it is still active....it is continually being shed abroad in our hearts.
So Paul’s point is that the Spirit-given assurance and enjoyment of the love of God is the secret to growing in hope through tribulation. Tribulation works patient endurance and proven character and unashamed hope because, at every point of the way, the Spirit of God is assuring us of the love of God in and through all the trouble. This is also why the Devil tries so intensely to convince us that God doesn’t really love us. If the Devil can convince us that God doesn’t really love us, he has won.
Now we can see why Paul uses the present tense in verse Romans 5:8:
“God commendeth His love toward us . . .”
This is the very work of the Holy Spirit referred to in verse 5: God, the Holy Spirit, is pouring out and shedding abroad in our hearts the love of God. God did demonstrate his love for us in giving his own Son to die once for all, in the past, for our sins (v. 8). But he also knows that this past love must be experienced, in all our troubles, as a present reality (today and tomorrow) if we are to have patience, and character, and hope. Therefore he not only demonstrated it on Calvary, but He goes on demonstrating it now by the Spirit. He does this by opening the eyes of our hearts to “taste and see” the glory of the cross and the guarantee that it gives that....Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:35–39.
One day a beautiful, but very troubled little girl came through the door of my day nursery. From the very beginning I became captivated by this child who had so little but needed so much. I was heartbroken that a four-year-old could suffer such heartache and pain. She was born in prison after her mom had used marijuana, crack and cocaine her entire pregnancy.
The little girl was nonverbal and had very little control. I knew her progress would be a mighty battle.
Whenever somebody approached her, she became violent for long periods and ended up in a fetal position on the floor crying out. I found myself praying for her day in and day out.
As months rolled on, I began to bond with this child that no one wanted. She and I worked very hard taking one step forward and four steps back. Daily, we sat in the big rocking chair in my office, swaying back and forth and back and forth. During our rocking time I sang "Jesus Loves Me." She always settled down and became very still at the melody. Though she never spoke, peace seemed to fill her face as she listened to the song.
One day after a very long battle I held my special girl to again calm her fe