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Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

By Hymn Stories

      Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

      "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9)

      We must never underestimate the power of love in our human relationships--whether marriages, family, business associations, or friendships. The divine love of God for man far excels all other forms of love.

      "Love Divine..." is another of the more than 6500 hymns by Charles Wesley, the "sweet bard of Methodism." This fine text--written in 1747--touches various elements of Christian doctrine. It extols the love of God as expressed in the incarnation of Christ. Then it refers to the Wesleyan concept of entire sanctification--that any believer might live without consciously sinning and thereby find the promised "rest" mentioned in Hebrews 4:9. The "Alpha and Omega" of verse two (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) also reflect this Wesleyan teaching, that the experiences of conversion and sanctification are thought of as the "beginning of faith" and the "end or object of faith." The third stanza emphasizes the truth that the Spirit of God indwells the temple or body of each believer, while the fourth stanza anticipates the glorious culmination of our faith when "we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise."

      Although Christians may have differences of interpretation regarding the doctrine of sanctification, we can agree on this basic truth: It ought to be a normal desire for each believer to grow in the grace of our Lord.

      "Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heav'n, to earth come down; fix in us Thy humble dwelling; all Thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion; pure, unbounded love Thou art; visit us with Thy salvation; enter ev'ry trembling heart.

      "Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit into ev'ry troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit; let us find that second rest. Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be; end of faith, as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.

      "Come, almighty to deliver, let us all Thy life receive; suddenly return, and never, nevermore Thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, serve Thee as Thy hosts above, pray and praise Thee without ceasing, glory in Thy perfect love.

      "Finish then Thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be; let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee. Changed from glory into glory, till in heav'n we take our place, till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise."

      For Today: John 3:14-21; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 1:28; 1 John 3:11-24

      God's love must dominate our hearts, minds, and wills. Pray that this will become increasingly true in your life.

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