TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Basics

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Chapter 17  Part I


This section looks at some basic factors underlying God’s interaction with his people. They show that God’s relationship with his people is not an aloof, impersonal one – far from it. God is always with his people and they can actually know him. Complementary to this is God’s great love and steadfast faithfulness towards his people – two characteristics which are often coupled together in the Bible. Undergirding all God’s interaction with his people is his truly amazing grace.

God Is Always with His People

 “The best of all is: God is with us.” – John Wesley

God and Jesus Christ are with their people

2Cor 6:16b  [Paul, to believers:] We are the temple of the living God, as God himself says, “I will live with these people and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  CEV

2Thes 3:16b  [Paul, to believers:] The Lord be with you all.  NET

This is a blessing or prayer, speaking of Jesus Christ’s presence with his people.

God and Jesus Christ are always with their people . . .

Josh 1:5b  [God:] Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.  ESV

Matt 28:20b  [Jesus:] And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  NET

. . . God’s people are always with God – living in his presence

Ps 73:23  [A psalmist, to God:] But I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  NET

Ps 41:12  [David, to God:] You defend my integrity, and you set me in your presence forever.  GW

God is with his people wherever they go . . .

Josh 1:9b  Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  ESV

. . . God also goes before his people

Deut 31:8  The Lord himself will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forget you. Don’t be afraid and don’t worry.  NCV™

God is with his people in trouble

Ps 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.  GW

Being with his people in trouble, God sees them through it

Ps 91:15  [God, speaking of one who loves him:] When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him honor.  NET

Isa 43:2  [God:] When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.  NET

God in fact lives in his people, and they in him

1Jn 4:13, 15-16  [John, to believers:] We know that we live in God and he lives in us, because he gave us his Spirit.15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has God living inside, and that person lives in God. 16And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  NCV™

Verses that speak of God and/or Jesus Christ living in their people (or vice versa) largely have in view the spiritual union of God and Jesus Christ with their people. This union is in part at least based on God’s people having his Holy Spirit (v. 13).

God’s people are with Jesus Christ even in death

Phil 1:23-24  [Paul, speaking of life and death:] I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, 24but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.  NET

 Questions for Section A

God Knows His People and They Know Him

See also:

God and Jesus Christ know their people

Ex 33:17  The Lord said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have requested, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”  NET

The expression “I know you by name” (cf. John 10:3b ) indicates: intimate knowledge – “I know you very well” (GNT, NCV); and a personal relationship – “I know you personally” (AMP); “you are my friend” (NLT, cf. CEV).

John 10:3b, 14  [Jesus, speaking of himself as “the good shepherd”:] He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. … 14“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – …  NET

God and Jesus Christ know all their people’s needs and troubles

Matt 6:8  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  NET

Rev 2:9  [Jesus Christ, to the church in Ephesus:] I know the distress you are suffering and your poverty (but you are rich). I also know the slander against you by those who call themselves Jews and really are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  NET

God enables his people to know him

Eph 1:16b-17  [Paul, to believers:] I always remember you in my prayers, 17asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better.  NCV™

So God’s people know him . . .

1Jn 2:14a  [John, to believers:] I am writing to you, my children, because you know the Father.  GNT

1Jn 4:7  [John, to believers:] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  ESV

. . . and God’s people know Jesus Christ

1Jn 2:13a  [John, to believers:] I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning.  NET

The expression “him who has been from the beginning” refers to Jesus Christ.

God’s people are friends of God and Jesus Christ

James 2:23  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  NET

John 15:14-15  [Jesus, to his disciples:] You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.  NET

God’s people have fellowship with God and Jesus Christ

1Jn 1:3  [John, to believers:] What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ).  NET

 Questions for Section B

God Loves His People

God loves the whole world but his love for his people has an additional intimacy or a more personal facet (as was noted in the previous section regarding his knowing them). There is also far more latitude for God to express his love in his dealings with those who are in a right or true relationship with him.

God loves his people

John 16:27  [Jesus, to his disciples:] For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  NET

God loves his people greatly

Ps 86:5  [David, to God:] You are good to us and forgiving, full of constant love for all who pray to you.  GNT

Ps 32:10  Wicked people have many troubles, but the Lord’s love surrounds those who trust him.  NCV™

God’s love is with his people always – forever

Ps 89:28  [God, speaking of David:] My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.  ESV

The reference to God’s “steadfast love” is indicative of the constancy and reliability of God’s love. What God says here of his love in regard to David is applicable to each of his people.

God shows his love for his people in delivering them . . .

See also:

Ps 86:13  [David, to God:] For you will extend your great loyal love to me, and will deliver my life from the depths of Sheol.  NET

“Sheol” is a reference to the grave.

. . . and God shows his love for his people in protecting them

Deut 33:12b  “The Lords loved ones will lie down in safety, because he protects them all day long. The ones he loves rest with him.”  NCV™

God shows his love in his kindness and blessings to his people

Num 14:19  [Moses, to God:] Please forgive the iniquity of this people according to your great loyal love, just as you have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.  NET

1Jn 3:1a  [John, to believers:] See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children—and so, in fact, we are.  GNT

Jesus Christ loves God’s people – as he showed when he gave his life for them

John 15:9, 12-13  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. … 12My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.  NET

Note: God delights and rejoices in his people

Zeph 3:17  The Lord your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you.  NET

 Questions for Section C

God Is Faithful to His People

See also:

God is always faithful to his people

Ps 25:10  The Lord always proves faithful and reliable to those who follow the demands of his covenant.  NET

God is faithful even if his people are unfaithful and do wrong

Rom 3:3-4a  But what if some of them were not faithful? Does this mean that God will not be faithful? 4Certainly not!  GNT

Neh 9:33  [Levites, to God:] You are righteous in all that is happening to us, because you have acted faithfully while we have practiced evil.  ISV

God shows his faithfulness in helping his people

Ps 91:4  [A psalmist, to those who trust in God:] He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.  GNT

Lam 3:22-23  [Jeremiah, referring to his people:] The Lord’s gracious love is the reason we are not consumed, since his compassions never end. 23They are new every morning—great is your faithfulness!  ISV

1Cor 10:13b  [Paul, to believers:] God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.  NET

God faithfully keeps his promises to his people

Josh 21:45  Not one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized.  NET

Ps 119:140  [A psalmist, to God:] Your promises are proven, so I, your servant, love them.  NCV™

God faithfully maintains his covenants with his people forever

Deut 7:9  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Know that the Lord your God is God, the trusted God who faithfully keeps his covenant to the thousandth generation of those who love him and obey his commands.  ISV

Ps 89:28  [God, speaking of David:] I will show my gracious love toward him forever, since my covenant is securely established with him.  ISV

Note: God remembers his people

Isa 49:14-16  The people of Zion said, “The Lord has turned away and forgotten us.” 15The Lord answered, “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you. 16A picture of your city is drawn on my hand. You are always in my thoughts!  CEV

 Questions for Section D

God Shows Grace to His People

See also:

What God does for his people is based on his “grace” – his free and undeserved favour. God’s wonderful grace in the believer’s salvation is discussed largely in Salvation by Grace, through Jesus Christ. The first subsection here also includes references to it, but this section as a whole primarily deals with the ongoing role of God’s grace in his people’s lives.

God and Jesus Christ show abundant grace towards their people

2Cor 9:14  [Paul, to the Corinthians:]  And in their [needy believers’] prayers on your behalf they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you.  NET

Here Paul speaks of God’s grace in moving the Corinthians to generously give towards supporting needy believers.

1Tim 1:14  [Paul:] And our Lord poured out his abundant grace on me and gave me the faith and love which are ours in union with Christ Jesus.  GNT

By grace God’s people are given spiritual blessings and gifts

John 1:16  [John, primarily to believers:] Out of the fullness of his [Christ’s] grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.  GNT

Rom 12:6  [Paul, to believers:] And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith.  NET

The spiritual gifts given to believers are manifestations of God’s grace (cf. v. 3).

By grace God’s people are entrusted with his work . . .

Eph 3:7-9  [Paul:] I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. 8To me – less than the least of all the saints – this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan – a secret that has been hidden for ages in God who has created all things.  NET

. . . and by grace they are enabled to do God’s work

2Cor 9:8  And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.  NET

By grace God’s people are strengthened

Heb 13:9  [The writer, to believers:] Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from God’s grace, and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by them.  GNT

2Cor 12:9-10  [Paul, speaking of Christ’s response to a request:] But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.  NET

Jesus Christ’s grace was sufficient for Paul in his weakness. For the more Paul was aware of his weaknesses, the more he was open to depending on Christ’s power – in which by grace he was truly made strong.

By grace God’s people avoid sin

Heb 4:15-16  [The writer, to believers:] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  ESV

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians