The Love of God - Part 1 of 3

by Wayne Barber

There is a particular hymn which I haven't heard in years—actually since before I was married, almost 36 years ago. In the early 60s I worked at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Assembly, held at the Virginia Baptist Assembly grounds in Lynchburg, Va. At night, after the services were over, some of the staff, including myself, would hold "singspirations," which just about everyone who was at the Assembly for the week would attend. One of my dearest friends, Dave Sandridge, who has a wonderful voice, would close the time together with this wonderful hymn. I still get goose bumps when I think about the words to this song:

"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. Oh, love of God, how rich and pure; How measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure, the saints' and angels' song. When years of time shall pass away and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, When men who here refuse to pray; on rocks and hills and mountains call, God's love so sure shall still endure, all measureless and strong. Redeeming grace to Adam's race: the saints' and angels' song. Oh, love of God, how rich and pure; How measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure, the saints' and angels' song.  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. Oh, love of God, how rich and pure; How measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure, the saints' and angels' song." 

It is so sad to think that all over this world there are many who think that God doesn't love them! And the saddest thing of all is that many believers feel that way, even as I write this article. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 5, wants everyone to understand that God has already demonstrated His love in such a way that it should never be doubted or questioned! When we as believers, get down in the mouth, because of the curve balls that life sometimes throws at us, and we think ridiculous thoughts such as "God doesn't love me," we need to be reminded of what it was like to be lost.

This argument that "God doesn't love me" will not hold up against God's word. In chapter 5 of Romans Paul is speaking to the believer! That's important! He begins the chapter by showing how a person can have peace with God.  And then shows how he enters the grace of God: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:1-2). He then moves to the subject of life and how it can be extremely difficult! It seems that these are the times in which believers tend to forget that God has proven His love to us and that we should never doubt it, no matter how difficult life might become!

Paul goes on: "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint" (vv. 3-5).  Paul shows that life works for believers, not against us. He then reminds us that all  these circumstances come our way "because  the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit." Paul wants to make sure that the message of God's love is drilled deep into our minds, so we won't forget it  when we go through tough times.

The way he does this is to show us—just in case we have forgotten—what we were like when Christ came to die for us on the cross. God loved us in spite of us—because love is who God is!  Have you ever noticed how a jeweler, if he has a pearl or a diamond or a beautiful gem, will take a black cloth and will put the beautiful gem against it and then shine a light on it? The darker the backdrop, the more it enhances the beauty of the gem when the light hits it. The black backdrop actually exalts the stone.

Well, sometimes you can't understand God's love because you haven't seen it against the blackness of man's sin and his undeserving condition. The backdrop Paul gives us contains three aspects of the black, sinful condition of man, when Christ came to die for him! And against that background Paul is going to show God's unconditional love for us all! In verses 6-10 we find three terrible shades of the blackness of man's sin: first, man was helpless and ungodly; second, man was a sinner; and third—and worst—man was an enemy of God.

Are you thinking that God does not love you? I'll look forward to showing you just the opposite in my next article. Look up, my friend. You are special to God!

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