The Love of Christ (1)
Notes of an Address at High Leigh, 1924
“I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Do not we treasure these words as we make them our own? “The Son of God loved ME and gave Himself for ME.” How glad our hearts are for that individual, personal love of Christ! We get this brought before us in the eleventh of John, “Now He (Jesus) loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” He loved them each, and was there not something peculiar in the character of His love to each one, and is there not that peculiar characteristic that you and I enjoy as we know Jesus for ourselves? It was that the Apostle John revelled in when he spoke of himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Did not Jesus love all the eleven? Surely, but John took that love to his own heart and rested in it. Dear young believer, get alone with Christ; in this day of hurry among men, seek often to be in secret with Him and let the warmth of that love rest upon you. But some of you are saying in these meetings, I have been disturbed, I find there is something in me that seems so contrary, and which does not answer to the love of Christ—I have been finding myself out. Romans 6 and 7 have been a torture chamber to me. How I long to be free from the power of sin that seems to dominate me still! Can it he that I am not a true Christian? I would not like to tell anybody about it, but am I a child of God? “Let this verse comfort you: I am crucified with Christ.” To be crucified was to be judged as unfit to live upon the face of the earth. Are you worse than that? And that one can say, “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The Lord is not disappointed in you; He knows all that you are and knew from the beginning what you would prove to be, but He has picked you up to keep you, for He loved, loves, will ever love you, not because of anything in you, but because He loved you. Oh, the joy of resting in that! The Son of God loved me because He loved me, and He loves me because He loves me. The Son of God stooped from His glory into manhood to pick you up, but He knew all you were before He picked you up. He was crucified for you, and you may take up this language and say, “I am crucified with Him”—that is the end of your sinful hateful self in righteous judgment; “that though living still here upon earth, I may now live by the faith of the Son of God”—a faith that flows from Him and supplies all that you need for all your way.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:34-37).
We have here not so much the personal love of Christ, but the persistent love of Christ. It is just that which is presented in a verse in John 13, Jesus, “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” He loved them perfectly, He loved them right away through. We find in this verse that there are four sides to the love of Christ. It is a love square—“Christ that died.” In His deep love for you He went into the distance and darkness and depths of desolation of the cross. “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.”
The Spirit would occupy us with the resurrection of Christ. In what haste His messengers on the resurrection day were sent to His disciples with the message, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them I ascend . . .” It was not, “Go to those poor sinners and tell them I have borne their sins,” though that was true. He had died to end their sinful history that they might be for ever associated with Him, but He speaks of the height of blessing He had won for them. Christ has no reserve from you. He keeps back nothing that His love can impart. May you and I have no reserve from Him. We also find that He is “even at the right hand of God,” and He is there for us. In love He lives as once in love He died, and that love is active—“He maketh intercession for us.” How is it that we are here tonight? It is the result of Christ’s present loving intercession on our behalf which has brought us hitherto and will bring us to the Father’s house on high.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” The apostle puts his back against that rock of the love of Christ and challenges all comers, and you may face the future, whatever it may hold, with this assurance that Christ will love you just as He did when He laid down His life on Calvary’s cross; for His is an unchanging love.
“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
The apostle takes us on Mount Pisgah. He is looking here at the whole scope of the wonderful purposes of God which have Christ as their centre, and he wants you and me to know the breadth and length and depth and height of His great scheme for the glory of His Son; but we may almost be dismayed and bewildered in the magnitude of it. He goes on however, to say, “and to know the love of Christ.” In all that glory the place nearest to our heart will be the love of Christ that rests upon us, and that love passes knowledge—is unspeakable.
In Ephesians 5:25 the love of Christ is again brought before us, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” I only turn you to that because I want your heart to take in all who compose that assembly in this present day of blessing from Pentecost until that glad day of rapture when love will have its loved ones in the home on high. Never have less in your thoughts than the whole assembly of God.
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
He died for us that we should live, and grace is now supplied that we should not henceforth live unto ourselves. We have all done that, and whenever we have done it we have just lived lost lives with ourselves as a centre. But He would have us live “unto Him who died for us and rose again.” He lives, an object for our hearts, an object for our lives. There is nothing here worth going in for, all here is a bubble that will burst, but there is that which abides, there is a life that lasts, a life that endures for ever, a life lived for the will of God, and you and I constrained by the love of Christ may live unto Him who died for us and rose again. We get in Romans 12, “Present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. . . .” We are His by grace, we are His by purchase, by redemption, but He wants each one of us to be His by presentation. Have you ever honestly and sincerely alone with Him put your body in His hands? He has bought you—deliver the goods.
“Lord, I am Thine, Thy claims I own,
Myself to Thee I’d wholly give,
Reign Thou within my heart alone
And let me to Thy glory live.”