By F.B. Meyer
GOD'S LOVE FLOWS TO US THROUGH THE CHANNEL OF THE BELOVED. (Ephesians 1:6)
We must not think that the Father loves us because our Saviour interposed between his wrath and us, and made Him love us. To think this is heresy indeed. We cannot separate between the Father and the Son, for God is one. As is the Son, so is the Father. It was the one purpose of Jesus to dissipate these untrue and terrible conceptions of the Father, and to make man see that his own life and love were a true reflection of the depths of his Father's heart.
The love of God was not caused by the death of Jesus, but caused it. God did not love us because Jesus died: but Jesus died because God loved us so much as to give Him up to the death for us all. God loved us from eternity; but before his love could have its blessed way with us, it was needful for Him to satisfy the claims of a broken law, to vindicate his righteousness, to be just: and therefore He gave Himself to us in Jesus, who manifested God in the flesh, put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and entered into the Holiest of all to become a merciful and faithful High Priest.
Though God's love was not caused by the Beloved, it comes to us in Him. The ocean fullness pours itself through the channel of the man Christ Jesus. It has therefore all the abundance and wealth of the Divine, and all the adaptation and tenderness of the human. The Only-begotten and Beloved Son is the reservoir in which the great love of God is stored. In proportion therefore as we abide in Him, we shall realize its blessed fulness.
GOD'S LOVE WAS NOT DAUNTED BY OUR SIN. (Ephesians 2:5)
In the day that we were born, we were cast out in the open field, dead in trespasses and sins, and to the abhorring of our person. But He loved us even then. His great love was not diverted by the spectacle of our loathsomeness. He knew what we were, and what we should be, and how much pain and sorrow we should cost Him; but He loved us still. He foresaw our failures and backslidings, and lapses into the darkness of shadow; but none of these things availed to quench his love. So rich was He in mercy that He could afford to be prodigal of his wealth.
It is a great comfort to know that God loved us when there was nothing to attract his love; because He will not be surprised by anything He discovers in us, and He will not turn from us at those manifestations of evil which sometimes make us lose heart. He knew the worst from the first. He did not love us because we were fair, but to make us so. We cannot understand it; but since He began He will not fail nor be discouraged until He has finished his work.
GOD'S LOVE IN CHRIST PASSES KNOWLEDGE. (Ephesians 3:19)
We may apprehend it, but never comprehend it. We may enjoy it without realizing its infinite extent; as a child may shelter in a cave from the incoming tide without being able to compute the dizzy cliffs that rise sheer above it towards heaven. A single gentian sent us by a friend gives some idea of the glory of the Alpine flowers; but how little can we imagine the effect of the myriads that make blue patches on the mountain slopes! Every time we manifest love to others we learn a little more of the love of Christ; but though we give eternity to our inquiries, his love will always pass our knowledge. The arrows will ever be beyond us. There will always be as much horizon before as behind us. And when we have been gazing on the face of Jesus for millenniums, its beauty will be as fresh and fascinating and fathomless as when we first saw it from the gate of Paradise.
ITS BREADTH.--It is broad as the race of man. It : is like the fabled tent which, when opened in a courtyard, filled it; but when unfurled in the tented field, covered an army. It claims all souls. Its Length.--It is timeless and changeless. It never began, it shall never stop. It cannot be tired out by our exactions or demands upon its patience.
ITS HEIGHT.--Stand by the cradle, or lower yet, at the cross, and you behold it, like Jacob's ladder, reaching to the throne of God. A spiral staircase by which the guiltiest may climb from the dark dungeon into the palace.
ITS DEPTH.--There is no sin so profound, no despondency so low, no misery so abject, but the love of Christ is deeper. Its everlasting arms are always underneath. "If I make my bed in Hades, behold Thou art there."
As we consider these things, we can almost hear the voice of God speaking to us as to Abraham: "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward, and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee." When we separate ourselves from our Lots, this land is ours. It is an undiscovered continent on which we are settled; but every year we may push our fences outward to enclose more of its infinite extent.
GOD'S LOVE WAS EXPRESSED IN A SUPREME SACRIFICE. (Ephesians 5:2)
Wherever there is true love, there must be giving, and giving to the point of sacrifice. Love is not satisfied with giving trinkets; it must give at the cost of sacrifice: it must give blood, life, all. And it was so with the love of God. "He so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son." "Christ also loved and gave Himself up, an offering and a sacrifice to God."
And this was very grateful to the Father. It was as the odour of a sweet smell, reminding us of the sweet savour offerings of the ancient Levitical code (Lev_3:5, etc.). To us the anguish of the cross seems one awful scene of horror; but it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.
In love, so measureless, so reckless of cost, for those who were naturally so unworthy of it, there was a spectacle which filled heaven with fragrance and God's heart with joy.
GOD'S LOVE IS AS THE LOVE OF THE BRIDEGROOM TO THE BRIDE. (Ephesians 5:25)
In Eden man needed one to answer to him (Gen_2:18, R.V.). There was none such among the animal creation, and his nature yearned for reciprocity of love. Then God made woman. Either sex without the other is incomplete. Together the twain are one. This is a great mystery; for our Maker is our husband, the Lord of hosts is his name. God needs us, as we need Him. The Son of God yearns for the redeemed who shall answer to Him, and give Him love for his love. Augustine said that God made us for Himself, and that we could never rest till we found rest in Him. We may reverently add that Christ Himself cannot rest satisfied until He has cleansed and sanctified the Church, and presented it to Himself in a union which eternity shall only strengthen. Ah, marvel of marvels, He wants my love! He seeks it of me, and offers his love in exchange!
GOD'S LOVE PASSES INTO HUMAN HEARTS. (Ephesians 6:23)
" Love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The two are one. The stream issues from the common throne of God and of the Lamb; thence it flows downwards to redeemed hearts, and through them to a dying world.
Love and faith are inseparable. We trust before we love. We love, and find it easy to trust. Faith is the open channel down which God's love passes into our nature; and love in its passage hollows out the channel down which it came. Like burnished mirrors that face each other, they flash the sunbeams to and fro. And thus as we live near God we are filled with love, not ours, but his--his love reflected back on Himself--his love flung forward to men.