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Christmas: The Love of God Manifested

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Christmas: The Love of God Manifested

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“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” —1 John 4:9

The apostle of love, John, has written this epistle. He emphasizes what is seen in the context, that is, what deeds of love are, for true love is revealed by deeds. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7,8).

“In this was manifested the love of God,” that is, the love of the Father who is the source of the salvation of the church. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).

This love is manifested “toward us.” John is speaking of himself and all of God’s people, for they are all subjects of God’s love. But are they not included in the fall of Adam? Yes, they are like we are by nature—strangers, aliens, and enemies of the Lord, and they have deserved eternal death according to God’s just sentence. There was and is nothing in man that asks for the Lord or desires the favor of the Lord. It is only free and sovereign grace that moved God with compassion from eternity to glorify Himself by making His people debtors in regenerating mercy, convincing them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Concerned people pray to their Judge for grace. Also by the love poured in their hearts they love the Lord. Then there is a deep sorrow in their heart concerning their sins and a sorrow to God, and that binds them to the Lord so that they flee from sin. They desire, if it were possible, to live a holy life before Him. The Lord is so worthy and they are so unworthy. They are not worthy to come under His roof. They know that they cannot give satisfaction to the law’s demand of love nor come to the end of the law, for the end of the law is Christ for whosoever believeth. Oh, that knowledge of Him, that looking upon Him—for salvation is in Him—draws out His love more than wine, for the upright love Him!

Of Him it is written that “God sent His only begotten Son into the world” (1 Jn. 4:9). The Son, like the Father and the Holy Spirit, is eternal and very God. The Son is of the same honor and glorification. He is the eternal and natural Son of the Father and love is manifested towards His church in that He was sent into the world. He, the Son of God, has become the Son of man because He has assumed our human nature from the virgin Mary by the work of the Holy Spirit. We can read this in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel.”

He is sent “into the world,” that is, sent to the earth—which is along with all of creation cursed for our sins—to become a curse for His people. He, who possessed the glory and honor of His Father before the world was, has humbled Himself unto death, yes, the death of the cross, so that He would bear the wrath of God against sin, satisfy God’s justice, and remove the curse of the law. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).

God’s love is manifested. Words are too poor to express this for those who have learned something of it in their life. It is possible that a friend might die for a friend, but Christ died for us, says Paul, when we were still enemies. Oh, that the Church would lose all foundations outside of Christ, that He might become more and more precious, suitable, and indispensable to their salvation and that it might be experienced, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love” (Songs 2:4).

He was sent and came voluntarily into the world, for the will of His Father is also His will, and the will of the Holy Spirit. God Himself is the source of salvation. The love of God is one-sided, but, by grace, it becomes mutual. But how loveless the Church many times can feel in herself, while the love from God’s side is unchangeable.

And for what purpose did the Lord send His Son into the world? “That we might live through Him.” By nature, we are all spiritually dead, even though we may be in the land of living. What do we need? To be quickened: “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Now it is possible that a man is quickened by Him who has merited life by conquering death and that from eternity. He did not stay in the grave. The justice of God demanded His death, and also His resurrection. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:9–10).

His people live through Him for their life is hidden with Christ in God. Oh, outside of Jesus there is no life, but only destruction! All God’s people know something of what it is to live through Christ, no matter how hidden and covered He may be for their soul; for He is the life-giving Head of the Church. He works all within them, for outside of Him there is only death. This life is a dying life, and God’s people have to die to all that is not God and is not Christ. “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11). Those people may learn more and more to despise all for the preciousness of Him who was sent into the world. It is to the dishonor of Christ and to the injury of their soul to seek their salvation outside of Jesus in any other, but in and of ourselves we are always doing so.

May the Lord grant us in these days when we are commemorating Jesus’ coming in the flesh and His being sent by His Father into this world, assuming our flesh and blood, to suffer and to die in order to pay the ransom to God and to bring forth life and salvation, that He may also apply that salvation by the Holy Spirit so that those who are seeking life in Christ may find it in Him.

Christ said, “I live and thou shalt live.” Oh, it is all to the praise, honor, adoration, and thanksgiving of the Lord! Paul said, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”

If Jesus had never been born, we all would be lost. But now it is still possible to live through Him. The Lord calls us when we are still dead by Jesus Christ. “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14). His Church may and will live through Him eternally. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:1–3).

It is for the Church that it is said, “that we might live through Him,” and therefore, they boast like Zechariah, not in themselves, but in the grace of the Lord who has manifested His love in sending His only-begotten Son:

Now be the God of Israel bless’d,
Who makes His truth appear;
His mighty handful/ills His Word,
And all the oaths He sware.
Now he bedews King David’s root
With blessings from the skies;
He makes the branch of promise grow
The promis’d horn arise.

Rev. C. Van der Poel is pastor of the Cerefor-meerde Cemeente of Yerseke, The Netherlands.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 december 1990

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

Christmas: The Love of God Manifested

Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 december 1990

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken