The Bible clearly shows God's grace and lovingkindness toward us in Christ. High-demand churches obscure this foundational truth with a distorted image of God as a harsh, demanding, disapproving taskmaster over his people. The fearful exhortations and warnings of the Bible are directed toward professing believers who are not trusting in Christ alone for salvation. These promises are sure and true for every Christian.
To minimize the triggers of familiar scriptures, various Bible versions are used here, along with notes from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
Break open Your words, |
let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
By Your words
I can see where I am going;
they throw a beam of light
on my dark path.
|I John 3:1,16||
How great is the deep
and constant love
the Father has lavished on us....
This is how we know
what deep and constant love is:
Jesus Christ laid down His life
"You sent Me,
and have loved them
even as You have loved Me--
with the same deep
and constant love."
"As the Father has loved Me,
so have I loved you.
Now remain in My love."
This is the answer to the inheritance question.
You have been adopted
into the very family circle of God
and you can say with a full heart,
"Daddy, my Father".
The Spirit himself
endorses our inward conviction that
we really are
the children of God.
Think what that means.
If we are His children
then we are God's heirs,
and all that Christ inherits
will belong to all of us as well!
| Zephaniah 3:17
This is an image of a parent soothing a beloved child by singing to it. This is how our God loves us.
| The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
| Deuteronomy 33:12
"This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death" (v. 1). In Christ, we are the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). This promise is for us.
Being settled down between His shoulders is an image of the deepest hug you could ever imagine. That loving security is also evoked by the description of Jesus being in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). This is where Jesus declared the invisible God to us, and this is where we are with Him, even though we often are not aware of it (John 17:23).
The beloved of the Lord
shall settle down securely by Him,
for He shields him
all day long,
and the one the Lord loves
rests between His shoulders.
I have drawn you...
I will have great, cherishing, tender
love for you...
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet My unfailing love for you
will not be shaken
Nor shall my covenant of peace,
well-being and favor be removed,"
says the Lord, who has great,
cherishing, tender love for you.
"I have loved you
with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you
with courteous loving-kindness.
I will build you up again..."
The Lord longs
to be gracious to you;
to show you
great, cherishing, tender love.
| The Lord
surrounds* His people
The Lord's unfailing love surrounds* the man
who trusts in Him.
You are my hiding place,
You will protect me from trouble and
surround* me with songs of deliverance.
| Numbers 6:22-27
God is here commanding His blessing upon His people (Psalm 133:3). As children of God who have believed the promise of salvation made to Abraham (Rom. 9:8), this blessing is upon us. See yourself as one of the little children Jesus took up in His arms and blessed.
|Now the Lord said to Moses,
"Tell Aaron and his sons
that they are to give this special blessing
to the people of Israel:
The Lord bless and protect you;
the Lord's face radiate with joy
because of you;
the Lord be gracious to you,
show you His favor,
and give you His peace and well-being.
This is how Aaron and his sons shall call down
my blessings upon the people of Israel;
and I Myself will personally bless them."
|Ephesians 3:12-20|| In Him and through faith in Him
we may approach God
with freedom and confidence...
I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may...grasp how wide and long
and high and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this love
that surpasses knowledge--
so that you may be filled up
to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able
to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power
that is at work within us,
to Him be glory...
The heart of Paul's prayer is that we may know the Father better. To this end he prays that our mind's eye, so to speak, will be enlightened to see Him differently. In the Assembly, the picture of God was confused with George Geftakys. May the scriptures presented in this section bring the true picture of God back into focus in the eyes of our hearts.
I keep asking
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you
the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know Him better.
I pray also
that the eyes of your heart
may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope
to which He has called you,
the riches of His glorious inheritance
in the saints,
and His incomparably great power
for us who believe.
Satisfy us in the morning
with Your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy
and be glad all our days.
| Because the Lord is my shepherd
I will not lack anything!
He lets me rest
in the meadow grass
and leads me
besides the quiet streams.
He restores* my person*.
He leads me
in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake*.
Even when the way
goes through Death Valley,
I will not be afraid,
for You are close beside me,
guarding, guiding all the way.
You prepare a table for me
in the presence of my enemies,
You have welcomed me as Your guest.
and unfailing, courteous, loving-kindness
chase after me every day of my life.
I will live with You
forever in Your home.
|Lamentations 3, selections|| This I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love
we are not consumed,
for His tender, cherishing,
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself,
"The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
The Lord is good
to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord....
Though He brings grief,
He will show compassion,
so great is His unfailing, tender love.
For He does not willingly
bring affliction or grief
to the children of men....
You came near when I called You,
and You said, "Do not fear."
O Lord, You took up my case;
You redeemed my life."
|Jeremiah 33:6, 9, 11|| "I will bring health and healing...
I will heal my people ane will give them
abundant well-being and security...
They will be in awe and will tremble
at the abundant prosperity
and peace I provide...."
The Lord is good;
His courteous loving-kindness
|Hebrews 13:5-6|| He Himself has said,
"I will not in any way fail you,
nor give you up,
nor leave you without support.
I will not...I will not...I will not
in any degree
leave you helpless, nor forsake
nor let you down
nor relax My hold on you--
we take comfort
and are encouraged,
and confidently and boldly say,
"The Lord is my helper,
I will not be seized with alarm."
| Matthew 11:28-30
Photo courtesy of Njei
| Come to Me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me
(learn by asking or watching--
a relational imparting),
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy,
and My burden is light.
|Psalm 68:19|| Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour,
who daily bears our burdens.
| "My Presence
will go with you,
and I will cause you to be settled down
"This is the resting place,
let the weary rest...
This is the place of repose."
| Romans 8:28-39
Here is the foundation for coming to terms with our years in the Assembly, and all the other evils and suffering that may lie in our path. Do you feel at a distance from God? It's not true.
that to those who love God,
who are called according to His plan,
everything that happens
fits into a pattern for good...
If God is for us,
who can be against us?
He who did not grudge His own Son
but gave Him up for us all--
can we not trust such a God
to give us, with Him,
everything else that we can need?...
Christ died for us,
Christ also rose for us,
Christ reigns in power for us,
Christ prays for us!
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can trouble, pain or persecution?...
I have become absolutely convinced
that neither death nor life,
neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth,
neither power from on high
nor power from below,
nor anything else in God's whole world
has any power to separate us
from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord!
|John 5:24|| I tell you the truth,
whoever hears My word
and believes Him who sent Me
has eternal life
and will not be condemned;
he has crossed over
from death to life.
|Romans 8:1-2|| Therefore,
there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,
through Christ Jesus
the law of the Spirit of life
has set me free
from the law of sin and death
[past tense, accomplished fact].
|Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself
and God our Father,
who has loved us
and given us eternal comfort
and good hope through grace,
comfort and strengthen your hearts...
from the fountain of Salvation.
This passage, especially in this rendering, makes clear the kind of relationships God wants among his people, including church leaders - in sharp contrast to what many experienced in the Geftakys Assemblies and other spiritually abusive groups.
I Corinthians 13: A Version, by Carl W. Conrad, Ph.D., retired Associate Professor of Classics, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Conrad states, "This is not a 'literal' version, and definitely involves a distinctive interpretation of the Pauline text in the context of an interpretation of 1 Corinthians as a whole." Used by permission.
I Corinthians 13: A Version
1. Unless I make my voice show loving-kindness,
the eloquence of orators
and even lyric ecstasy of angels
is meaningless babel.
2. Whatever powers I may have—
to proclaim God’s will on the issues of the day,
to probe secrets of the cosmos and wisdom of sages,
to overcome any obstacle with boundless trust in God—
they are utterly worthless
unless they serve loving-kindness.
3. I might be
a peerless philanthropist
or ready to die for the right cause,
but doing good
is labor spent in vain.
4. Loving-kindness waits out storms;
it is good-hearted and not jealous;
it isn't egotistical, and doesn't put on airs.
5. It doesn't become ugly,
doesn't try to get its own way,
doesn't lose its temper,
and doesn't hold a grudge.
6. Love isn’t pleased
when someone gets hurt;
what really thrills it
is integrity winning out.
7. Loving-kindness rises to meet each occasion;
it is absolutely trusting,
full of hope,
withstands every challenge.
8. Loving-kindness will always have a role to play.
But someday great issues will no longer matter;
someday eloquence will have nothing to say;
someday throbbing angelic ecstasy will be hushed;
and someday profound insights will be irrelevant.
9. Our deepest insights, after all,
are always biased;
even our visions of the issues
are colored by our time and place.
10. But when the fullness of time comes,
our biased insights
and matters that seem to us important
will lose their importance.
11. A child has its own way of talking,
its own way of seeing right and wrong,
its own way of thinking.
An adult must think and act in grown-up ways.
12. We are like children now:
our images of each other are at best distorted;
when we grow up,
we will look each other in the face.
My clearest visions now are skewed;
when we are fully grown,
we shall see and understand each other
with the wholeness of authentic selves.
13. So there are these three things that outlive life itself:
and of them all,
the one that counts for most is loving-kindness.
—CWC; August 6, 1988, revised