Your Conscience and Your Love for the Church - Radical

Your Conscience and Your Love for the Church

Sadly, Christians are being divided right now, not only by the culture at large but also by other Christians. We often assume that others are either compromising the truth, on the one hand, or too unloving in the way they state their views. So how do we make decisions in those areas where sincere, Bible-believing Christians disagree? In this message, David Platt points out some principles for this kind of decision-making from 1 Corinthians 8. Our love for the truth must be accompanied by a love for one another. We must always ask what’s best for the church.

Your Conscience and Your Love for the Church: All In Good Conscience, Part 2

Church & Culture: A Study in Frist Corinthians series

We’re in 1 Corinthians 8 today for this series we’re calling, “All In Good Conscience.” Just to recap if you weren’t here last week, we looked at what the entire Bible teaches about our conscience, which we define this way: According to God’s Word, conscience is your sense of what you believe is right and wrong.

We talked about how your conscience is personal. No one’s conscience is exactly the same as another’s. As a result, your conscience is imperfect. Nobody has the perfect conscience. And your conscience can change. It can become better or worse, so it needs calibration in alignment with God’s Word and God’s Spirit, through humble learning and selfless love for others.

We talked about how a good clean conscience is critical to intimacy with God, success in life, unity in the church, mission in the world, as well as living and dying for what matters most. A good clean conscience is really, really important. We talked about how Jesus is our only hope for a clean conscience and that Jesus is the only way to a good conscience.

Then we closed with the first two questions we need to ask if we want to live every day with a good clean conscience. As we make decisions every day—some small, some big—the first question we need to always ask toward having a good clean conscience is what does the Bible say? Whenever or wherever God has spoken clearly, we need to align our conscience with His Word. Now the Bible is not always specifically clear on exactly what we need to do in every situation.

I think about a really hard, significant decision I had to make in my life this last week. I didn’t have a clear word from God in the Bible about what to do. I was agonizing— no exaggeration—in tears, just begging for help from God’s Spirit to know what to do.

I also think about a group of students I was meeting with this last week to talk about dating and marriage. We looked at what the Bible says about marriage and had a really good discussion about how that affects whether or whom we might date, knowing that the Bible doesn’t say “date” or “don’t date” at this age. The Bible doesn’t name the exact person you are to marry.

So on this and countless other issues, we don’t have a specific word from God. So then we need to ask a second question which is what does my conscience say? Based on God’s Word and God’s Spirit, what do I sense, as best I can, that I should think or desire or do in a particular situation? We said that if most people ask these questions, they stop here. What does the Bible say? What does my conscience say?

The problem is, if these are the only questions we ask, then we’re not going to have a good clean conscience. We’re going to miss intimacy with God, true success in life, unity in the church and mission in the world. We’re going to miss living for what matters most. In fact, if you only ask these questions, you may actually experience distance from God, you may contribute to disunity in the church and you may hinder the spread of the gospel in the world.

That’s exactly what was happening in the church at Corinth. Let me show you this in 1 Corinthians 8. Follow along with me, starting in verse one.

1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

We’re going to read the whole chapter today, but let me stop right here and just point out from the very beginning that what God is saying in these verses is so needed in our world, especially in the church world today. It is possible, this passage is saying, to have knowledge. Just look at how many times knowledge is mentioned. “[T]his knowledge puffs up… If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know… [I]f anyone loves God, he is known by God.” All of us possess knowledge.

We find out later that this knowledge he’s talking about here involved conviction about a matter of conscience. The Bible is saying it is good to have knowledge that leads you to conviction about all kinds of things. But the Bible is saying at the same time, you can have knowledge and conviction based on that knowledge, but that knowledge can so puff you up that you forget to build others up in love.

Church family, this is so relevant for us today. We live in a church world where people hold so tightly to their convictions, based on knowledge that we assume we have, that we forget how to build one another up in love. Now just to clarify, when I use that term “church world” I’m talking about the broader church culture that we are swimming in, that inevitably affects us as a local church family within it.

So I want to illustrate this by bringing four of our pastors out here on stage with me. They’re going to join me back here. I’ll introduce you to them. Some of you may know these brothers, but I assume not everybody does. Carly has a Haitian background. He and his family moved up here from Florida a couple years ago and started serving in a variety of different capacities in the church. He cares for people so well. We brought him on just this last year and he’s fully stepping into his role as pastor here.

Then James Park has served here as pastor for a number of years. So many things come to my mind when I think about James. His love, his care for people. Here’s what comes to my mind mostly. At staff meetings, we’ll sometimes send in pictures or videos of our families. One of the highlights of COVID over this last year was seeing James and Esther Park and their family doing a lip-sync to a Little Mermaid song, “I want to be where the people are.” It was beautiful. Sorry, James; now when everybody thinks about you, they’ll think Little Mermaid.

Then Chris Lowe, actually our newest pastor at MBC Tysons. Chris is a former college football quarterback, coached high school football after that, then the Lord called him and his wife Anna to move overseas for the spread of the gospel among the unreached. He’s spent a number of years making disciples and multiplying churches in unreached places around the world. Then over the last year, they moved back to the State and the Lord led him and Anna and their six kids here to be part of our church family. So welcome Chris Lowe.

Then Nate is our location pastor. He just got home this last week from India with a new little boy they adopted.

So that gives you a picture of these brothers. One Sunday last fall, I brought up four other people and gave them ropes. They stood in a circle and held onto those ropes as a picture of what it means to be together in the church. So I’m going to ask these guys to do that same thing again.

I actually prefer not to use ropes for this illustration. It would be better if they were just holding hands. But we’re still going COVID style, so we’ll use the ropes.

The four friends last fall are leaders in different churches, followers of Jesus, who have had a significant impact on my life. Yet each of these guys have very different perspectives on a variety of things. I would say on a variety of important things. On that Sunday, I said we live in a church world that is pitting these brothers in Christ against one another.

I should add, it’s a church world that’s pitting me either for or against different ones of them. It all depends on which blog or post you’re looking at. It’s all supercharged, raising everything to the level of a gospel issue that we need to draw swords and divide over in the church. If you’re unaware of what I’m talking about, please know there is absolutely no need for you to go online and try to figure out what I’m talking about. Just keep following Jesus and leading people to Jesus. That’s what we should be doing.

On that Sunday last fall, I said we live in a church world that wants to divide Christians into different camps. Are you with this guy or that guy? Knowing these guys definitely don’t believe the same thing about everything, I definitely don’t agree with any of these guys about everything. But I amidst confident that each of those brothers loves Jesus, loves His Word, would agree with the foundations of what we believe in this church family and they all want to make the gospel known in the world. They’re giving their lives to that.

So I said, “May it be crystal clear at MBC, that despite various disagreements—even strong disagreements—we’re going to be a church in this world that holds on to these ropes. We’re not going to throw rocks at each other; we’re going to hold ropes. This means we’re not going to think the same thing about everything, but we are going to choose not to divide over those disagreements when we agree on what matters most.

Now, here’s the challenge. To use language from 1 Corinthians 8, when knowledge, and conviction based on that knowledge, starts to puff up to the point that people hold so strongly to their convictions that they let go of love for each other this whole picture goes awry. So I want to puff these guys up in a few different ways.

We’ll start with Carly here, puffing him up with theological knowledge, like he’s got Calvinism figured out. He’s got spiritual gifts figured out. He knows how the end times are going to shake out. And if you disagree with him, just be ready. He has centuries’ worth of historical church debates and scores of end-times charts to put you in your place. So if you don’t believe what he believes about these issues in theology, he wonders if you actually even believe the Bible.

James is puffed up with knowledge about COVID. Now, to be fair, this could go either direction, so we’re just going to let it be ambiguous; you’re not going to know which side he’s on, but he has a lot of knowledge about whether masks are helpful or absurd. He has a lot of knowledge about the effectiveness of social distancing or the ridiculousness of social distancing. And he has deep convictions about vaccines, based on a lot of data.

Then we have Chris over here. Since we’re hitting close to home, why not just go for it? Chris, who is new to DC, is puffed up with political knowledge. He thinks deeply about issues of politics, justice, race. Again, we can go different directions here but we’ll just kind of leave it open. He has very deep convictions about how we as a nation should or should not be talking about issues of justice, race and politics. His convictions are born out of deep personal experiences in his life and he has spent a lot of time thinking through those things. He’s puffed up with a lot of political knowledge.

Then Nate Reed is puffed up with knowledge about social issues in the Christian life, social issues such as “Should a Christian drink alcohol or not drink alcohol? Should a Christian smoke a cigar or not smoke a cigar?” Again, we’ll leave it open so that you don’t picture Nate in a particular way. Either he is passionate about drinking alcohol in moderation or smoking a cigar periodically on his back porch, or he thinks anybody who drinks alcohol or smokes a cigar is clearly not serious about their relationship with Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit in their body.

So here’s a picture in these four brothers. Obviously, these are just four examples; there are multitudes more. People can get puffed up over entertainment choices, parenting philosophies, schooling choices, financial debt, how the church relates to the government, whether we should celebrate Easter, whether we should celebrate Christmas—all kinds of issues. It’s not that knowledge about these issues informed by God’s Word is not important. To be clear—it absolutely is. But what I hope is obvious at this point is these guys can’t hold a rope with each other if their priority is holding to these convictions that are matters of conscience in their own lives.

What’s worse is we live in a world where we’re constantly encouraged to hold tighter and tighter to these convictions. We live in echo chambers where we surround ourselves with people who think just like us and even reinforce the way we’re thinking. We spend countless hours on social media, not realizing that media is digitally designed to manipulate the way we think, telling us what we want to hear clear down to the very news we consume. We live in a world that’s puffing up our individual convictions and pitting us against those with different convictions. This is what social media thrives on. That’s the way it’s designed.

So you know the world is saying, “You don’t want to be near that guy.” I want you to get the picture here. The world is telling us, “That guy over there is dangerous. He doesn’t even believe the Bible. Is he even a Christian? He must be an enemy of the church.” I wish the language I’m using right now was an exaggeration, but it’s not. This is what’s happening in the world and in the church world we are in.

I want to propose, based on 1 Corinthians 8 that there’s another way God is calling us to live that doesn’t involve compromising your convictions on matters like these, but that does involve loving other Christians who have different convictions on matters like these. So guys, take off your puffed-up convictions and pick up your ropes again. The Bible is not saying, “Just forget about your convictions. Forget about knowing things that inform your convictions.” No. Have knowledge. Have convictions based on that knowledge.

So is there a way for these guys to have those convictions while still holding on to the ropes? I want to submit that it’s not just possible, but it’s God design for us to have convictions based on knowledge while holding on to love for each other in the church. The kind of love that listens to each other’s perspectives with honor for each other, then maybe comes to different conclusions than each other.

In the end, this love looks each other in the eyes and says, “I think so differently than you do about the end times, masks, vaccines, what is or isn’t racism or politically wise, or whether we should drink or smoke a cigar. But I know you love Jesus and His Word, so you’re my brother or sister in Christ and I’m going to live to build you up.” This is what God is calling the church to do. It’s what God was calling the church at Corinth to do.

What we just illustrated here today is unfortunately nothing new. It was happening 2,000 years ago—thankfully, not in the middle of a pandemic and not with social media. But the church at Corinth was dividing like this: “I’m with Paul. I’m with Apollos. I’m with Peter.” They totally dropped the rope. Specifically here in 1 Corinthians 8, their knowledge that led to conviction—based on matters of conscience—had so puffed them up that they had lost love for each other. They were tearing each other down. The word Paul uses is they were “destroying” each other.

Now, the specific difference of conviction and conscience in 1 Corinthians 8 dealt with food that had been sacrificed to idols. So let me take you back a couple thousand years to first-century Corinth in ways that will help us understand what God is saying to us today in the 21st century. The city of Corinth was filled with temples dedicated to different idols, to false gods.

Those temples were the center of social life in the city, so banquets, gatherings, meetings and celebrations took place at these temples. Many times they would be mainly social events, not always explicitly religious events. These temples didn’t just dominate the social landscape, they were central for food production, particularly meat. Most of the meat that Corinthians ate was initially butchered by priests in one of these temples, in the context of idolatry. Then some of the meat would be served there at the temple.

So picture the temple almost like a restaurant where you would go out to eat. Then leftover meat that wasn’t used in the restaurant would be sold in the marketplace for people to then take and eat in their homes. So the question in 1 Corinthians 8 is, “Should Christians eat meat in the temple of an idol? Should a Christian go to a banquet, a work meeting, a family celebration or basically a restaurant, at a temple, and eat the food when that food is technically part of idol worship in that place?”

Now, I’ll go ahead and tell you that Bible scholars actually disagree on how 1 Corinthians 8 answers that question. Some Bible scholars think the Bible is saying, “No way. You should never eat food in the temple.” Other scholars, traditionally most scholars, think the Bible is saying, “It’s possible to eat food in that temple.” I think it’s kind of ironic that in a passage about conscience, there are different thoughts about how to understand this particular text.

I land on the latter view, with traditionally most scholars, because of the way 1 Corinthians 8 is written. So in this chapter, I want to show you two really important truths that we need to realize, that then lead to two really important takeaways for our lives today. So let’s look at two truths and two takeaways, based on 1 Corinthians 8.

Truth #1 – Followers of Jesus all agree on the foundation of our faith according to God’s Word.

Every word in this first truth matters: Followers of Jesus all agree on the foundation of our faith according to God’s Word. After talking about how knowledge puffs up, but love builds up, the Bible says in verse four, “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’”

Now, we know when the Bible is talking about knowledge here, it’s clear that this is something every follower of Jesus knows: there is one true God. So this means that false gods are not gods; idols are empty. Keep going in verse five:

5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Let me just pause here and speak particularly to those of you who may be exploring Christianity. The verses we just read, specifically verse six, summarizes the core foundation of Christianity. Every one of us has been created by God and for God. You’ve been created to walk with and enjoy and worship God forever and ever in your life. But the problem is all of us have sinned against God. We’ve turned from God and His ways to ourselves and our own ways. We have not lived for God in every facet of our lives. We’ve sinned against God—every one of us has.

As a result of our sin, we are separated from God. If we die in this state of sin and separation from God, we will spend eternity separated from God in judgment due our sin. But the good news of the Bible is that God loves us and has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ, Who has done what we all need. He lived a perfect life of no sin, then, even though He had no sin for which to die, He chose to die on a cross to pay the price for the sins of anyone who would trust in Him. Then He rose from the grave in victory over sin and death, so that anyone, anywhere, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you will trust in Jesus to save you from your sin as Savior and Lord of your life, if you will put your trust in Jesus, God will forgive you of all your sins and restore you to relationship with Him forever. His name actually means the One Who saves us from our sins.

If you have never been restored to relationship with God through faith in Jesus, I invite you today. I’ve prayed that God would bring people today to hear the good news for this very purpose. This is the moment when you can be forgiven of all your sins and restored to relationship with God for all of eternity. Then, when you do—and for all who have—these truths that are reflected here in 1 Corinthians 8:6 form the foundation that unites all followers of Jesus. This is so important.

Even thinking about and talking about unity in the church or differences of conviction, we need to be clear that we’re not talking about differences in foundation. If you deny that Jesus is God or that He died on the cross or rose from the dead, or if you believe your works get you to heaven instead of faith and trust in the work of Jesus, then you’re not a follower of Jesus. You’re not standing on this foundation.

Every follower of Jesus knows and believes these truths and has banked their lives on them. That’s why in the first trust I include the words, “…according to God’s Word.” If we just say followers of Jesus all agree on the foundation of our faith, you might ask, “Well, who determines what the foundation is?” The answer is: God does, in His Word.

The Bible teaches—so we believe—that there is one God, the Father, from Whom are all things, for Whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things and through Whom we exist. In other words, Jesus is our life. He’s our Lord. To be clear, these are not just truths in a Christian’s head. These truths transform our hearts and every facet of our lives. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Truth #2 – Followers of Jesus often disagree on the application of that foundation to specific situations, according to our conscience.

Now, knowing that we all agree on the foundation of our faith according to God’s Word, here’s truth number two: Followers of Jesus often disagree on the application of that foundation to specific situations, according to our conscience. So again, every word there is so important. So, standing on the same foundation, then applying the Lordship of Jesus to a specific situation in life, there may be disagreement according to different people’s consciences. That is what 1 Corinthians 8 is addressing.

Verse seven says, “However, not all possess this knowledge…” Now we’ve moved beyond knowledge about the foundation of our faith that unites followers of Jesus to knowledge that leads to conviction about matters of conscience where followers of Jesus differ. We know this because there were different perspectives among Christians in Corinth over whether or not to eat this food in the temple.

Continuing in verse seven, listen to what the Bible says: “But some…” He uses the word “but.” There’s contrast here in the church. “But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” So let’s follow that. There are some Christians, not all, who used to participate in idolatry in those temples. They used to think about eating in those temples as a form of worship to those idols. So if they eat that food in that temple now, it feels a lot like they’re worshiping those idols all over again. It feels like it’s really being offered to an idol, so as a result they’re defiling their conscience by eating that food. Not everybody feels and thinks like that.

Think, for example, about any Jewish Christians in Corinth, who even before they came to faith in Jesus still believed there’s only one God. They had never eaten food in a temple like it was an act of worship to an idol; it’s been nothing more than a social event for them. Paul writes in the next verse, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” In other words, for many of you, eating this food doesn’t seem like disobedience or false worship.

Do you see the difference here? We have two Christians who both believe there is one God, Jesus is Lord of their lives, they agree on the foundation of their faith according to God’s Word, but they disagree on the application of that foundation to this specific situation. In this case, it’s whether to eat food in the temple. Their consciences are calibrated differently. One Christian cannot in good conscience eat that food without feeling like he is dishonoring God and worshiping an idol. For him, it is a spiritual battle. It’s a fight, not to eat that food. For another Christian, it’s totally different. She is fine to eat that food in good conscience. So they agree on the foundation of God’s Word, but they disagree on the application of that foundation to a specific situation where their consciences are calibrated differently.

Like we said last week, and we’ve said again this week, there are so many situations where followers of Jesus have differences of conviction on matters of conscience, such as theological, medical, political, social or any number of issues. So listen to what the Bible says next, specifically to the person whose conscience gives him freedom to eat that food in the temple. God says, “But take care…” (verse nine). Ah, what a great command. Be careful. Take care.

“Take care that this right of yours”—this freedom you feel— “does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge” —this knowledge that leads to your conviction about eating in an idol’s temple— “will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?” In other words, your brother over here who was saved out of this idolatry is in a battle to keep from eating that food. When he sees you eating it, he’ll be encouraged to eat it in a way that leads him to go against his conscience, falling back into the pattern of idolatry that he’s been saved from.

God says, “So by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.” What a word God chooses to use! He says, “You, with all your knowledge and conviction, you’re not building your brother up in love. You’re destroying your brother who thinks differently from you.” And not just that you’re also dishonoring Jesus. Verse 12, “Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.”

This is why Paul, who is writing this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, concludes in verse 13 with, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” Paul says, “Even if I feel complete freedom to eat that food in that temple, I won’t do it if it won’t build up my brother over here. I love my brother too much, so I will not lead him to sin.”

Takeaway #1 – Humbly live according to your convictions.

So what do we take away from this? What is God calling us to do in our lives today? The first takeaway is to humbly live according to your convictions. Please notice in this chapter that God is not saying to forget about your convictions, throwing your conscience out the door. On the contrary, this chapter is saying to both followers of Jesus in this situation, “Live according to your conscience, your sense of what is right and wrong. And do so with humility.”

I love the language in these early verses in chapter eight. Look back at verse two, talking about this knowledge that puffs up. “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” It’s a humble reminder to each one of us that none of us has it all figured out. You don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it all figured out. If we think we have it figured out, we’re imagining.

This means as followers of Jesus we hold tightly to the foundation of our faith. There is one God. His name is Jesus. He is Savior and Lord. Salvation in Him is by grace alone through faith alone in Him. We hold tightly to this foundation. But we don’t hold as tightly to where we eat our food. We don’t hold as tightly to how we think about how the end times are going to shake out. Or how you reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Or the efficacy of masks or vaccines. Or your political calculations on various positions. Or your view of alcohol or cigars. Or a multitude of other things you may be passionate about.

Yes, have convictions based on knowledge and live accordingly. But do so humbly, realizing you don’t have all these things figured out.

Takeaway #2 – Humbly love others with different convictions.

As you humbly live according to your convictions, takeaway number two is to humbly love others with different convictions. So they have a different view of the end times, or masks and vaccines, or they approach things from a different political perspective, or they smoke a cigar every once in a while and you don’t ever think you should. Regardless, humbly love other followers of Jesus who have convictions on matters of conscience that are different from yours. Always consider how you can build them up, how you can keep them from stumbling. This is what God is calling us to today.

So now we have a third question to add where we left off last week. As we make decisions in our lives—small ones, big ones—with a good clean conscience, we should ask, “What does the Bible say?” Where the Bible speaks clearly, align your conscience with God’s Word—period. No questions asked. But when the Bible is not clear on exactly what you need to do, then ask, “What is my conscience saying? What do I sense, as best I can and based on God’s Word and God’s Spirit, that I should think or desire or do in this situation?”

Then, before you act, ask yourself another question: “What will the effect be on other Christians? Specifically, how can I best build up my brother or sister in Christ in love and keep them from stumbling? Even if my conscience says one thing, I will do something different if my action would cause my brother or sister in Christ to stumble.”

There’s a fourth question coming next week, Lord willing. But let me close with this pastoral encouragement for all of us, based on what I would say are my two favorite phrases in this chapter. The first is at the end of verse 11: “So by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.” Those last six words are so powerful, aren’t they? “…[T]he brother or sister for whom Christ died.” Church family, let’s see each other with this label, not as being in this camp or that group. Let’s see each other as brother or sister—a family member—for whom Christ laid down His life. Jesus loved them so much, He lost His life for them. By seeing each other this way, we’ll grow to love each other in ways that lead us to lay down our lives for each other. This is what Christian community is. This is what the church is to be.

Then all the way back up in verse three, we read, “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” Is that not an awesome phrase? Paul takes this word “know” and turns it completely on its head. He says, “You want to talk about knowledge? God knows you.”

I was meditating on that reality this week. It was while I was studying and thinking through how to best help you with this passage, based on God’s Word. It was one of those moments when it just hit me personally in a fresh way—God knows me.

Let me be a little vulnerable here. After writing a book about ten years ago, I’ve received criticism on a whole other level from people in the public sphere. Over and over again I’ve thought about those who criticize me. If they only knew all that God knows about me, they would have so much more reason to criticize me. I mean, the things they’re criticizing aren’t even true. If they knew the truth about every thought and motive I’ve had, I’d be sunk. That’s the wonder and the beauty here in this passage. God does know me and He still loves me. God knows everything about me, including all the times I’ve gone against His Word and my conscience, and all the times I’ve looked out for myself instead of others. God knows the worst things about me and He still loves me.

I want to leave you with this truth to encourage you today. If you’re not a Christian, I want to encourage you that God knows everything about you and He still loves you. Right now, if you will put your faith in Jesus and His love for you, God will wipe away every sin from the record of your life. He will restore you to relationship with Him, to know and enjoy Him for all of eternity.

If you are a Christian, then be encouraged today. I don’t know all that’s going on in your life and I don’t know everything you’ve ever done, but the beauty is God knows everything about you. He knows everything about your past, your present, and He still loves you so much. Just let that soak in. We’re talking about God here! He knows everything about you and He still loves you.

This, I believe, is what enables us to hold the ropes in hard days, knowing that not one of us deserves to be here. God knows and loves you, me, us as His own and this is reason for worship. This is reason to love as we have been loved.

Please bow your head with me. As the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, let me ask you do you know God like this? Do you know the love of God in your life? Do you know Jesus as Lord of your life? If the answer to that question is not a resounding yes in your heart, then I invite you right now to put your faith in Jesus. Just say to God from your heart, “God, I know that I have sinned against You, that I’ve turned aside from You. But today I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sin, that He rose from the dead and He’s Lord. So today, I ask You to forgive me of my sin and be Lord of my life. Restore me to relationship with You.”

If you express that to God in faith, the Bible says He will forgive you of all your sin. You ask, “Just like that? Just by trusting in Him? I don’t have to do anything?” No. That’s the beauty. You think, “It’s too good to be true.” It’s true. God loves you. Trust in His love for you. Be forgiven of your sin today and be restored to God today.

And for all who have trusted Jesus, all who are known and loved by God in Jesus, let’s pray, “God, help us hold fast to the foundation of our faith. God, we pray that You would help us live out of the overflow of that foundation in ways that glorify You and in ways that are good for others. God, we pray especially in the day we are living in—although it’s not altogether that different from 2,000 years ago— help us build one another up in love. Please guide all of our convictions. We need Your help.

Help us think wisely about all these different things in the world and help us love one another in the church when we have some different convictions, as we cling in the middle of it all to You, Jesus. We love You, Jesus. We love Your Word. We love Your Holy Spirit in us. And we are so thankful to be a part of Your church. We shudder to think where we would be without Your grace and mercy. Thank You for knowing us and loving us like You do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

Less than 1% of all money given to missions goes to unreached people and places.*

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Let's change that!