I know the Bible is God's word. And all Scripture is God-breathed and essential to help correct, rebuke, train,and teach in righteousness, so the man of God can be thoroughly equipped for all good works... But is it possible for us Christians to turn the Bible into an idol???? And would this be wrong?
I guess it's possible. It could be viewed as a good luck charm or something. But, honestly, I think the Bible is far more neglected than it is idolized by most Christians in the US. This article shows research from last year on how little the Bible is read by American Christians. The data seems to indicate that we're far from idolizing the Bible.
In today’s sermon you referred to God loving Jesus more than us. Can you tell me where I can find this in Scripture?
This isn't found in any one place in Scripture, but is the conclusion from looking at many verses in the Bible. For instance, in 1 Peter we read, "For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”" (1 Peter 1:16-17) God the Father says similar words when Jesus is baptized, yet in all of the other baptism stories in the New Testament, not once does God say these words about another person. There's a unique pleasure that God has in Jesus.
In John 3 we read, "The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”" (John 3:35-36) Here the Father's love for Jesus is emphasized with the fact that God has given everything to Jesus and that through belief in His Son others will be given eternal life (and the consequence for not believing). Again, emphasizing a unique love relationship between the Father and the Son.
In John 5 we read, "So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge,23so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him." (John 5:19-23) Here, again, we find a uniqueness of the Father and Son's relationship. Jesus only does what the Father wants Him to do. We often do things that displease God. The reason for Jesus' obedience, in verse 20, is said to be because of the Father's love for Jesus and that Jesus was shown everything that the Father is doing. This also shows the unique love relationship the Father and Son have as we, Christians, do not see all that God is doing. The verses continue by highlighting more of the uniqueness of the Father/Son relationship when it comes to judgment, giving life, etc...
More examples could be given, but those should be enough to show that 1) There is a unique relationship between the Father and Son that is different than all other relationships, 2) The Father's love for Jesus is included in what makes their relationship unique, 3) Jesus' obedience and work, done on our behalf, were all accomplished because of the love His Father has for Him.
Finally, I don't want this to convey the idea that God doesn't love us. He does! In fact, a tremendous blessing for the believer is that God loves us with the same love that He has for Jesus. And, to be clear, God does loves all people; even people who don't believe in Him. The point I was making in the sermon is the false idea that a loving God can't send people to Hell. Out of His love for Jesus, God will send people -- even people He loves -- to Hell who reject Jesus. Why? Because of His greater love for Jesus.
Last Sunday there was the teaching that God loves Jesus infinitely more than he loves us. Where is the biblical passage that supports this contention? It was also taught that a loving God can “send” people to hell. It was my understanding that by the gift of free will, people are allowed to “choose” hell (a.k.a eternal separation from God). Has Gateway changed it’s core principles on this position?
For your question about God loving Jesus, please see my response to the question directly above this one. Regarding God sending people to Hell, Gateway hasn't changed it's position. Since Gateway was established, she has been part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Our theological positions are posted here and here on our denomination's website and here on Gateway's website. I'd encourage you to look at the Westminster Confession of Faith's Chapter 3 (read all of it, but particularly point 3), Chapter 5 (points 2 and 6), Chapter 9 (points 3 and 4), and Chapter 10 (points 1, 2, and 4) for an understanding of the beliefs Gateway has held regarding your question since she began over 15 years ago.
So something Pastor Josh said on Sunday I’ve been wrestling with. He made the comment that God loves Jesus infinitely more than He loves us. First of all, I think we often think too highly of ourselves so a proper understanding of our place is necessary. However, I’m not able to rationalize that statement with scripture. The first passage that jumped to my mind was John 17 and Jesus’ prayer, specifically verse 23. “...so that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as you loved me.” This would seam to imply Gods love for us is equivalent to the love He has for Christ. This would make sense because when God looks at me, he doesn’t see me, but Christ’s imputed righteousness upon me. So if God sees Christ when He sees me, how does He distinguish His love between us? I agree with everything else said around that statement. That how can God be holy and just and loving and not look at sin and condemn me to hell? The fact that he hasn’t struck me dead is a grace unto itself and it’s only because of His unmerited mercy and grace towards me and the rest of us - and the fact that when He sees me, my sin has been attained for by the blood of His Son. Just hoping you could help me understand the statement better in context of the Text. Thanks!!
The context, in which I made that statement, was a conversation I had with a young man who believed that a loving God cannot send people to Hell. My statement about God loving Jesus infinitely more was directed toward the false idea that God loves people who reject Jesus just as much as He loves Jesus. God does love unbelievers, but He loves Jesus in a different way than He loves them (I used the phrase "infinitely more" to show just how different God's love is for Jesus). John 17 is referring to people who believe in Jesus, not all people in general, or people who reject Jesus. Thus God's love, as stated in John 17, is His love for people who believe in Jesus. God loves them -- those who are in Christ -- with the same love He has for Jesus. This is made more clear with Jesus' statement in John 17:25 where he says that the "world doesn't know You" compared to Him and those who are in Him who do know the Father. All that to say that the "them" being referred to in John 17:23, are believers. Not all people in general.