The Love Which Is Proved by the Death

The Love Which Is Proved by the Death

Editor’s note: Oh! Brethren, it is only the gospel of a dying Christ that can calm the reasonable consciousness of discord and antagonism that springs in a man’s heart when he lets his conscience speak.

There is much bearing upon that in my text, which I can barely spare time to draw out. But let us think for a moment of the fact which is thus the demonstration of the love of God and try to realize what it is that, that cross says to us as we gaze upon the silent Sufferer meekly hanging there. I know that my words must fall far beneath the theme, but I can only hope that you will listen to them charitably and try to better them for yourselves in your own thoughts.

I look, then, to the dying Christ, and I see there the revelation, because the consequence-of a love that is not called forth by any lovableness on the part of its objects. The apostle emphasizes the thought, if we render his words fully, because he says, “God proves His own love.” It is a love which, like all that belongs to that timeless, self-determining Being, has its reason and its roots in Himself alone. We love because we discern the object to be lovable. God loves by what I may venture to call the very necessity of His nature. Like some artesian well that needs no pumps nor machinery to draw up the sparkling waters to flesh in the sunlight, there gushes up from the depths of His own heart the love that pours over every creature He has made. He loves because He is God.

In like manner, another word of my text bears upon this matter, for he says, “Whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Oh! brethren, it is only the gospel of a dying Christ that can calm the reasonable consciousness of discord and antagonism that springs in a man’s heart when he lets his conscience speak. It is because He died for us that we are sure now that the black mountain-wall of our sin, which, to our own apprehension, rises separating between us and our God is, if I may so say, surged over by the rising flood of His love. The cross of Christ teaches me that, and so it is the gospel for men that know themselves to be sinners. Is there anything else that teaches it? I know not where it is, if there be.

That dying Christ, hanging there in the silence and the darkness of eclipse, speaks to me too, of a Divine love which, though not turned away by man’s sin, is rigidly righteous.

I referred, at the beginning of my remarks, to the current, easy-going religion that says, “Oh! we do not want any of your evangelical contrivances for forgiveness. God is Love. That is enough for us.” I venture to say that the thing which that form of thought calls love is not love at all, but pure weakness. Such in a king or in a father would be immoral. It is not otherwise in God. My brother! Unless you can find some means whereby the infinite love of God can get at and soothe the sinner’s heart without periling God’s righteousness, you have done nothing to the purpose. Such a one-eyed, lop-sided gospel will never work, has not worked, and it never will. But, when I think of my Christ bearing the sins of the world, I say to myself, “Herein is love. By His stripes we are healed,” and in Him love and righteousness are both crowned and wondrously brought into harmonious oneness. Is there anything else that will do that? If there be, 1, for one, know not what it is.

Again, when I look on the dying Christ I see a divine love, which is bounded by no limits of time or place. Look at that majestic and significant, commendeth, not commended or proved, as if it were a past fact, sliding away rapidly into the oblivion that wraps all past events as the world gets older, and its memory gets more burdened. It is “commendeth” today, as it commended eighteen hundred years ago.

Remember to whom Paul was speaking-people that had never seen Jesus Christ-many of whom had not been in the world when He left it. Yet He says “that cross stands there for you of this second generation as the present proof of eternal love.”

And, my friends, it stands for us men and women in Manchester as truly as for the men and women of Galilee or of Rome. There is no limit of time at all, either to the power of the proof or to the love that it establishes. But today, as long ago of old, and as it will be in the remotest future, the cross of Christ towers up like some great mountain beacon, when all beneath is lost to sight, as the one eternal demonstration of an everlasting love.

And now, dear brethren, proves is a cold word. It is addressed to the head. Commends is a warmer word. It is addressed to the heart. It is not enough to establish the fact that God loves. Arguments may be wrought in frost as well as in fire; and if I have erred in any measure in that regard this evening, I ask pardon of Him and of you. But it is your hearts I want to get at — through your heads. I do not care to make you orthodox believers in a doctrine. That is all very well, but it is a very small part of our work. I want your hearts to be touched, and that Christ shall be not only the answer to your doubts, but the sovereign of your affections. Do you look on the death of Christ as a death for your sin? In the strength of the revelation that it makes the love of God, do you front the perplexities, the miseries of the world, and the raveled skeins of providence with calm, happy faces? And oh!-most important of all-do you meet that love with an answering love?

There are two passages of Scripture which contain the whole secret of a noble, blessed, human life. And here they are: “God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). If that is your thought about God, you know enough about Him for time and eternity. ‘We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If you can say that about yourself, all is well.

Dear friend, do you believe the one? Do you affirm the other?

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