IT is the distinguishing mark of God's people that they know the love of Christ. Without exception all those who have passed from death unto life, whatever they may not know, have learned this. Without exception, all those who are not saved, whatever they may know besides, know nothing of this. An ungodly man may know something about Christ's love. He may believe in the fact of it. He may perceive something of the theory of it. He may even be able to follow Believers in certain' expressions of its enjoyments. But to know the love itself, to taste its sweets, to realize personally, experimentally, and vitally, the love of Christ as shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, is the privilege of the child of God, and of the child of God, alone.
We may begin the exercises of this evening with a question of self-examination, and we may continue them throughout the whole service, trying to press that question home to your consciences—Do I know the love of Christ? Have I felt it? Do I understand it? Do I feel it now? Is it now shed abroad in my heart? Do I know that Jesus now loves me? Is my heart quickened, and animated, and warmed, and attracted towards Him through the great Truth of God that it recognizes and rejoices in—that Christ really loves me, and has chosen me, and set His heart upon me?
If we have grown in Grace, it is absolutely certain that we shall have advanced in our knowledge and reciprocation of the love of Christ. Many here present have believed in Jesus and they know the love of Jesus. But oh, they know it not as some others here do who have gone into the inner chamber and have been made to drink of the spiced wine of Christ's pomegranate! Some of you have begun to climb the mountain, and the view which lies at your feet is lovely and passing fair. But the landscape is not such as would greet your eyes if you could but stand where advanced saints are standing now—and could look to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south—and see all the lengths and breadths and depths and heights of the love of Christ which passes knowledge.
One of the lowest ways of knowing the love of Christ may be described as the doctrinal method—very useful one—but nothing to be compared to those that we shall have to mention afterwards. If a man would know the love of Christ, he should endeavor to study the Word of God with care, attention, constancy, and with dependence upon the Spirit's illumination that he may be enabled to understand aright.
It is an ill day for a man when he ceases to hold fast to the form of sound words which was delivered to us by Christ Himself and His holy Apostles. Depend upon it, doctrinal ignorance will always make Churches weak. But where saints are fed upon the finest of the wheat, and are made to suck of the honey out of the rock, and to eat of the manna and fatness of Gospel doctrine, they will, all other things being equal, become the strongest and most valiant Believers on the face of the earth.
There are in the Word of God certain things really taught. Do not believe that the Bible is a lump of wax to be shaped just as you please. Do not imagine that, "Yes," is right, and that "No," which contradicts it, is right, too. The Lord has written this Book intending to teach us something, and a moderate understanding, sanctified by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, will enable you to know what the Lord does mean to teach you, especially upon such a vital point as this. Do not, I beseech you, say, "Oh, it does not much matter what doctrines I hold." You are as much responsible for using your judgment as you are for using your hands and your feet. God never did free a conscience from His jurisdiction. Conscience is free, but not before God. You have a right to your convictions as far as I am concerned. But if your convictions are wrong, you have no right to them before God. There are certain things that are Truths of God, and there are others that are contradictions—see that you get fast hold of Wisdom—and that you do not let her go.
There is a tendency, however, on the other hand in certain quarters, to make doctrinal knowledge everything. Oh, what is doctrine, after all, but a throne whereon Christ sits? And when that throne is vacant, what is the throne to us? It is the Monarch and not the throne that we reverence and esteem. Doctrines are but as the shovel and the tongs of the altar, while Christ is the smoking sacrifice. Doctrines are Christ's garments—verily they all smell of myrrh and cassia and aloes out of ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad—but it is not the garments we care for so much as for the Person, the very Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verily it is a sweet thing to know Christ's love in the doctrine, and to understand that it is without beginning. That it existed when as yet this world had not been made. Equally precious is it to know the doctrine that this love is without end. When all we see around us shall have passed away, as the foam dissolves into the waves that bear it, the love of Christ to His people shall be the same. And on and on and on throughout eternity He shall never cast them from His heart. Sweet, too, is it, passing sweet, to know that He loves them without change and without limit. That He loves them because He will love them. That He loves them not for anything in them, but simply because He has so much love in His heart that He must let it out—and that He ordains to let it flow forth to them that they may rejoice in it. All this is precious but, O Brothers and Sisters, if you only know these things as they stand in the creed book—if you only understand them as you find them in the catechism—I tell you that you know nothing yet as you ought to know. If this is all your knowledge, you have just begun to learn.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible