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The Love of Christ

by A. C. Gaebelein (1861-1945)

Arno C. GaebeleinThe Patience of Christ was recently the object of our meditation in these pages. Blessed and inexhaustible it is. And now a still still greater theme is before our hearts. The Love of Christ. The heart almost shrinks from attempting to write on the matchless, unfathomable love of our blessed and adorable Lord. All the Saints of God who have spoken and written on the Love of Christ have never told out its fulness and vastness, its heights and its depths. "The Love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). And yet we do know the Love of Christ. While we cannot fully grasp that mighty, eternal Love our hearts can enjoy it and we can ever know more of it. And He Himself whose Love is set upon us wants us to drink constantly of the ocean of His never-changing Love and receive new tokens, new glimpses of it.

Surely His own blessed Spirit, though one feels so insufficient for such an object, will guide us in our meditation. He is with us and in us to glorify Him and take of the things of Christ to show them unto us. The Love of Christ, the Holy Spirit ever longs to make known and to impart to our poor and feeble hearts.

The Love of our Lord is an eternal Love. It is not a thing of time. It antedates the foundation of the world.

"His gracious eye surveyed us
Ere stars were seen above."

He as the Son of God in the bosom of God was the object of Love. "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). And then He knew us and His Love was even then set upon us, before we ever were in existence. He knew our sinfulness, our enmity, our vileness, and in Love which passeth knowledge He looked forward to the time, when He would manifest this Love to us His fallen creatures. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it" (Psalm 139:6).

It was Love which brought Him down from the Glory, which He had with God. What Love to come into this dark, sin-cursed world, a world full of enemies. What Love to leave that bright and glorious home and appear as man, made of a woman entering this world He had called into existence. And there was no room for Him in the inn. It passeth knowledge.

And then that life, which He lived on earth, was lived in that mighty Love.

"A love that led Thee here below
To tread a lonely path in grace,
To pass through sorrow, grief and woe,
The portion of a ruin'd race."

What Love we see in Him, in every step of that lonely path! What compassion, what tenderness in every action in every word we discover, ever new and fresh, in that blessed life of God's unspeakable gift. Wherever we look we behold that Love. Loving compassion rested upon the multitudes; with Love He compassed the poor, the sinful, the oppressed, the heartsick and the outcast. Love carried the weak and failing men, who had believed on him, His disciples. A blessed word it is, which stands in the beginning of the thirteenth chapter in the Gospel of John. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."

His Love for His own was expressed by serving them. He pleased not Himself but had come to minister. He then girded Himself and began to wash the disciples' feet. What humiliation! Yet it was the fruit of Love. All He did was born of Love. His was on earth a constant, a never-tiring, an enduring Love. All the selfishness of His disciples could not quench that Love. Nothing could quench His Love for His own. Nothing will ever quench it. Peter denied Him. "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter" (Luke 22:61). Was it a look of reproach? Was it a frown of displeasure which Peter saw in that beloved face? Far from it. Love in its divine perfection shone out of the eyes of the Son of God.

And after His resurrection that Love was still the same. There was no reproach connected with the restoration of Peter to service. In the greatest tenderness and Love He committed to His disciple, who had so shamefully denied Him, the lambs and sheep so dear to His own loving heart.

Again we say, that Love passeth knowledge. How could man's imagination and invention ever have produced such a loving Person as our Lord, revealing the perfection of divine Love!

But there is greater Love than the Love which we behold in His blessed Life on earth. The greater Love is manifested when He laid down His life. He came into the world to die, to be the propitiation for our sins. He came to take our place on the cross. He came to drink the cup of wrath in our stead and suffer the awful penalty of our sins.

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6-8).

God in Love gave thus His Son, and He gave Himself in Love. From shame to shame, from suffering to suffering, from pain to pain and agony to agony that Love went on to plunge into the deepest sorrow, to reach at last the place where His loving lips had to cry "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

"To death of shame Thy love did reach,
God's holy judgment then to bear;
Ah, Lord, what human tongue can teach
Or tell the love that brought Thee there."

Ah! what human tongue can teach or tell the Love that brought Thee there! It passeth knowledge. But with loving, praising hearts, in worship and adoration we can look up to that cross on which the Prince of Glory died and say with Paul, "He loved me, He gave Himself for me." And again we join with the innumerable hosts of His own redeemed in the Glory song. "Unto Him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be Glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:5,6).

And beloved reader, that Love which knew you and us all before we ever existed, that Love which came from Glory for you, that Love which went into the jaws of death, endured the cross and despised the shame, that Love which gave so willingly, gave as we can never give, that Love is still the same. It changes not. His Love knows no fluctuations. That perfect Love cannot grow cold or indifferent. We all had our first love; when first we saw Him with the eyes of faith, how our hearts were enraptured. How soon that Love began to grow cold and decreased instead of increased. Then our walk and service became affected for thus it must ever be when the heart is not responding to His Love and not in living, loving touch with Himself.

Oh! the weeks and months and years of our Christian experience spent without the full enjoyment of His Love and Presence. But has this changed His Love? Has our unfaithfulness, our waywardness, our failure and backsliding affected His Love? No. He is the same loving Lord, the same loving Christ who has borne us and yearned over us, who has prayed for us and kept us. Whenever we turn to Him with broken hearts, confessing our sins, when in shame we hide our faces and tell Him all our failures, we find Him still the same loving Lord as He was when His loving eyes rested upon Peter. Oh! how He must love us! How He must love us, with that Love which passeth knowledge. What treasures that Love contains! Exhaustless it is ever flowing full and free towards His own.

How it must grieve Him to see us so indifferent, neither hot nor cold. How it must grieve Him that we enjoy this Love so little that we permit that Love so little to serve us and give Him so little opportunity to manifest His mighty Love towards us. Alas! we even mistrust that Love. When suffering and loss overtake us, when instead of prosperity, adversity is our lot, we doubt that Love. Fears and anxieties are nothing less than an impeachment of the Love, which passeth knowledge. His Love will never fail. He will see us safely home. Let the forces of the enemy roar, let trials and troubles come, His Love will keep us. His Love is our eternal portion.

"For I am persuaded, the neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).

And soon He will have us with Himself. The church He loved, for which He gave Himself, the church He sanctified by the washing of water, this church He will present to Himself a glorious church (Eph. 5:24-27). Even while on earth He made known His loving purpose, for He prayed, "the glory which thou gavest me I have given them."

It is His Love which will make us sharers of His own Glory and Inheritance. What that Love will do then! How we shall drink deeper of that Love, than we ever could drink here! Oh the depths of the Love to be fathomed in all eternity! Oh the length and breadth and height to be measured! It can never, no never be exhausted.

O, child of God, is not thy poor wandering heart beginning to be warmed? Is the warmth of His Love, the Love of Christ refreshing your soul? Thank God for it. It is but a demonstration of His Love. And do we not want more of it? Do we not need it?

All our indifference, our cold heartedness, our prayerlessness, our self indulgences, our inactivity and all else which mars our Christian lives, is because we do not have the Love of Christ before our hearts. If we were constantly enjoying His Love and this mighty Love would constrain us, what self-sacrificing lives we would live! How we would love one another and in love serve one another. What peace there would be among those of like precious faith. With a better heart knowledge of the Love of Christ, what joy would be ours in all trials and suffering and with what boldness we would approach the throne of Grace and make constant use of our God-given privilege, prayer.

The Love of Christ would lead us on and on in love for souls, in service untiring, and yet the same Love too will make us long and pray for His coming. Oh God our Father, grant unto us all and to all Thy people throughout this world a greater, a deeper, a more real knowledge of the Love of thine ever blessed Son, the Love of Christ, and fill us through it with all the fulness of God. Amen.

From The Lord of Glory... by A. C. Gaebelein. New York: Publication Office "Our Hope", ©1910.

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