Because I've read Pilgrim's Progress so many times through my life--over half the times as assigned reading--I'd fooled myself into believing that I could "understand" John Bunyan. All Loves Excelling proved a challenging read in many ways! It takes a bit of concentration and patience to read and comprehend theology written in the seventeenth century! I think that has more to do with sentence structure and logic construction than the vocabulary. And perhaps each theologian should be judged on his own.
All Loves Excelling provides careful analysis or commentary on several verses of Ephesians 3, Ephesians 3:17-21 to be exact. I'm quoting from the King James.
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The book is divided into four sections: "Describing the Inexpressible," "Desiring the Incomparable," "Obtaining the Unsurpassable," and "Uses and Counsels." Each section is divided into chapters. For example, part one is broken into these chapters: "Ephesians 3:18, 19 in Context," "The Breadth of Christ's Love," "The Length of Christ's Love," "The Depth of Christ's Love," and "The Height of Christ's Love." And part three is divided into these chapters, "Knowing the Nature of Christ's Love," "Knowing the Degrees of Christ's Love," "Knowing the Mystery of Christ's Love." Reading the chapter titles, reading the outline or the appendix, it sounds like a WONDERFUL book. But the outline is more comprehendible than the actual chapters. It seems to make perfect sense in its simplest, most basic form--the outline.
I am glad I read this one, or made my best effort to read it in its entirety! I like a challenge. I may not always feel I succeed. But it's good to try new things, to try new authors, to push past your comfort zone a bit.
So great is God above all that we have read, heard, or seen of him, either in the Bible, in heaven, or earth, the sea, or what else is to be understood. (38)
Do we know how our sins provoke God? how they grieve the Holy Ghost? how they weaken our graces? how they spoil our prayers? how they weaken faith? how they tempt Christ to be ashamed of us? and how they hold back good from us? And if we know not every one of all these things to the full, how shall we know to the full the love of Christ which saveth us from them all? (77)
He that sees himself but little, will hardly know much of the love of Christ: he that sees of himself nothing at all, will hardly ever see anything of the love of Christ. But he that sees most of what an abominable wretch he is, he like to see most of what is the love of Christ. (84)© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible