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God's Love: Our Enduring Song!

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The heart of God is filled with love and in its center stands a cross. The cross-the ignoble means by which God has satisfied the just demands of His Law (i.e., his own holiness) and freely embraced us as sinners. The law stipulates that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So Christ paid that penalty in our place. The apostle John says: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Paul says: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Peter also says the same thing: "For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life (Heb 4:15) and obediently offered himself to God as a ransom for people (Mark 10:45). The full and just demands of the law have been met in Him and His death pays the penalty for our sins (Heb 9:28). God's wrath has been fully satiated and His love flows freely upon this blood-stained ground. God's love is his mercy and grace abundantly showered on those whom He has chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). He promises to freely welcome and embrace all who come to Him by faith.

Therefore, we must trust Him and Him alone for our salvation and Christian life. As Paul said: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:15; see also John 14:21-23; 15:10). What love! What mercy! How the love of God draws our hearts, nourishes our troubled souls, and fills our being with persistent hope!

When Louis Lawes became the warden of Sing Sing Prison in 1920, the inmates existed in wretched conditions. This led him to introduce humanitarian reforms. He gave much of the credit to his wife, Kathryn, however, who always treated the prisoners as human beings. She would often take her three children and sit with gangsters, the murderers, and the racketeers while they played basketball and baseball.

Then, in 1937, Kathryn was killed in a car accident. The next day her body lay in a casket in a house about a quarter mile from the institution. When the acting warden found hundreds of prisoners crowded around the main entrance to the prison, he knew what they wanted. Opening the gate, he said, "Men, I'm going to trust you. You can go to the house." No count was taken; no guards were posted. Yet not one man was missing that night. Love for one who had loved them had made them faithful men.

So it is with God's love poured out in my heart (Rom 5:5). Constrained by God's presence to me in love I simply cannot continue in my wayward ways and sinful paths. It is his persistent love that calms my anxious heart, lowers my defenses, and bids me accept His appraisal of my life. His love leads me into His sanctuary where I find real healing, lasting help, and certain hope. It is the Father's deep love that sent Christ to the cross on my behalf, to pay the penalty incurred through my sin. Have I trusted Him and Him alone for forgiveness? Or, am I still putting that decision off? "Now is the day of salvation," says Paul. Won't you trust Christ today? Right now?

Some people claim they've responded to Christ's love, but in reality they're still estranged from Him. Like any relationship, the choices we make often alienate us from ones who freely love us and sincerely desire our presence and friendship. As long as we continue to disregard God's offer of friendship, by pursuing our own agendas, plans, and schemes, we're alienating ourselves from Him, casting our hope to the ground, and sealing our futures apart from Him.

So be careful that you're not simply "toying around" with believing in Christ. Such people are like the young woman who was being pursued by a young man who truly loved her. As the two sat together overlooking a beautiful lake, the young man proposed to her: "Darling," he said, full of affection, "I want you to know that I love you more than anything in the world. I want you to marry me. I'm not wealthy; I'm not rich. I don't have a yacht or Rolls-Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all my heart." She thought for a minute, and then replied, "I love you with all of my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown." Jesus' love calls us out to faithfulness, and like the prisoners in Sing Sing, it will produce genuine fidelity in us. Those who have really tasted the love of Christ are not at all interested in talk of Johnny Brown!

The Love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell,

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win:

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from his sin.


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


O Love of God how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints' and angel's song.1

1 F. M. Lehman, The Love of God, 1917; as cited in Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 78.

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