“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
Words: Frederick M. Lehman; he wrote this song in 1917 in Pasadena, California, and it was published in Songs That Are Different, Volume 2, 1919. The lyrics are based on the Jewish poem Haddamut, written in Aramaic in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, a cantor in Worms, Germany; they have been translated into at least 18 languages. http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/o/loveofgo.htm
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction (access to His Presence) by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult (rejoice) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:1-11)
The first 11 verses of Romans Five end with a crescendo extolling the amazing love of God. We have peace with God; access to His Presence and His throne of grace; we stand in grace, meaning both His unmerited favor and blessing as well as His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us to resist sin; we have a certain hope of heaven where we will live in the presence and glory of God forever which gives us joy now in this life. And we can even have joy in the midst of our trials because trials actually produce Christ-like character that makes our hope for and anticipation of heaven even more certain. In addition to these objective truths we have the subjective experience of the love of God (v. 5). And God’s love for us encourages our hope that the future glory with God (in heaven) will not disappoint us by being unfulfilled. Heaven will be everything we want and more than we can imagine. Now, having laid this foundation to build our faith and hope in the love and goodness of God, Paul further defines the amazing love of God for us in verses 6-11. We will look at this by asking and answering three questions about God’s love for us. These truths are something we need to meditate on regularly for our three enemies, the world, the devil, and the flesh are always at work to refute the truth of God’s perfect and passionate love for us which was Paul’s (and can be our) greatest motivation for loving God and His people: “For the love of Christ (for us) controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; 15 And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him (our response of love for Christ) Who died and was raised again for their sake.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) My friend and mentor Dr. Ken Boa helps us grasp God’s passionate love for us and I incorporated some of his comments in my teaching below: http://www.kenboa.org/text_resources/teaching_letters/kens_teaching_letter/2111
1) Why does God love us? It is not because we are so lovable. Human love is often based on the wonderful attributes (or perceived) attributes of the beloved. But God shows us in these verses (6-10) the exact opposite of this as He describes us as: 1) Helpless (asthenēs) “weak, infirm, feeble” (to resist sin, to deliver self from God’s wrath and hell); 2) ungodly (asebēs) “destitute of reverential awe towards God, condemning God, impious;” 3) sinners (hamartōlos) – “devoted to sin, a sinner; not free from sin;” and 4) His enemies (echthros) “hated, odious, hateful; hostile, hating, and opposing another; used of men as at enmity with God by their sin.” In other words we are hostile rebels toward God. http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Rom&c=5&v=1&t=KJV#top Thus God’s love for us is CAUSELESS. There is nothing in us that “causes” God to love us. He loves us because He chooses to love us. This should deliver us from the false gospel (Gal. 1:8-9) of performance-based acceptance and the self-condemnation and/or sinful pride that comes from that lie. There are temporal and eternal consequences for our sin (Heb. 12:5-11; 1 Cor. 3:10-15) but never the loss of God’s CAUSELESS love for us. And we are judged and rewarded based on our works done for God’s glory. But we are not saved by works as seen clearly in many verses of Scripture. (E.g., See Romans 3:21-4:8)
2) How much does God love us? 7 “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This shows a self-sacrificing love and in the case of the cross it could not have been more sacrificial; God gave up his only begotten Son and Jesus gave up his life to the point of becoming sin and receiving God’s wrath. (Isa. 53:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21) We know of accounts where a parent risks and/or sacrifices their life for their child, or a fireman risks or sacrifices his life for the one trapped in the fire; or a soldier jumps on the hand grenade to save his buddies, but God’s sacrificial love would be similar (though far more sacrificial) to us jumping on a hand grenade to save a terrorist who just killed our wife and children. So God’s love is MEASURELESS! This means we cannot fathom the breadth, depth, length, and height of God’s love in Christ because it surpasses human understanding (Eph. 3:14-19) and can only be “grasped” by the Spirit’s illumination. So Paul exhorts us to pray that we can grasp it so we can respond to God’s love and become more and more like Him in our love for Him and others (v. 20). “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:14-19)
3) How long will God love us? ”Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (vv. 9-10) [” An a fortiori argument draws upon existing confidence in a proposition to argue in favor of a second proposition that is held to be implicit in the first. The second proposition may be considered “weaker,” and therefore the arguer adduces a “stronger” proposition to support it. The Christian apostle, Paul, made frequent use of this kind of argument, often writing to the effect that, “If [A], then how much more surely [B]”. For instance, in Romans 5:8-9 Paul wrote “… while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.” (See also 2 Corinthians 3:7–11.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_fortiori_argument If God was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son while we were His enemies, sinful and ungodly rebels, now that we are his beloved children, how much more will He love and keep us forever. So God’s love is CEASELESS! “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:32-39)
The doctrine of the eternal security of a believer is clearly seen in these three ways our God loves us: CAUSELESS, MEASURELESS, AND CEASELESS!
In J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, he asks us how we should respond to God’s CAUSELESS, MEASURELESS, AND CEASELESS LOVE? He suggests we answer the following questions to examine the degree of our love for God.
1. If God loves me this much why do I grumble against Him when I have trials? We know from Scripture that He only allows trials so that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus which is for our spiritual and eternal good. So His discipline is only because He loves us and wants our very best. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
2. Why am I ever fearful, distrustful, or depressed?
3. Why do I allow myself to grow cool, formal, and halfhearted in the service of the One Who loves me like this?
4. Why do I ever allow my loyalties to be divided so that God does not have all my heart?
APPLICATION: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)
5. What will those who observe the love that I show others (or show them) learn about God’s love?
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
Music: Lowell Mason, 1792-1872
Tune: HAMBURG, Meter: LM
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.