The Undying Love of Christ
by Inglis Fleming
“We have come here this morning just to sit at the foot of Thy cross and to think of Thee.”
So it was that a black African Christian expressed himself in praise at the Lord’s Supper, as he told out his heart’s delight in the Saviour.
And well it is for every believer to sit in the shadow of the cross of Christ in the enjoyment of all that flows to us through the sufferings of the Son of God there, and to contemplate His love and His glory as we repose in the blessed effect of all that He has wrought.
So it is in Revelation 1:5-6. His glory and His love are presented. He is “the faithful witness”—the one green oasis in the midst of barren desert. The One “faithful amidst unfaithfulness.” The One who witnessed a good confession every step of His way. In the midst of a world where the failure of man in every position has been but history repeating itself, He has been the unfailing, unfaltering witness. In this, as in all else, He has the pre-eminence. Then He is “the first begotten from the dead.” He has been into death and has robbed it of its sting and broken its power. The keys of death and hades hang at His girdle of righteousness He is the victorious One who lives, who became dead for the glory of God and who now lives for evermore. In this He has pre-eminence also. His is the victory, and we who believe are but sharers of the spoils.
Then He is “the Prince of the kings of the earth.” He is the coming One who shall reign King of kings and Lord of lords, and all shall be subjected unto Him. Pre-eminence is His in testimony in the past, in victory in the present, and in Kingship in the future.
But as His glories are thus presented, there breaks in, as it were, a choir, praising and adoring Him: “Unto Him that loved 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.” It is a blessed interruption. As though the hearts of saints welled over as His glories were told, and cried with the bride of old, “This is my beloved and this is my friend.”
And mark well it is “Unto Him that loves us,” rather than “loved,” as we have it in the Authorized Version. His love is a present love. It has been expressed in its fullness at the cross, but having reached its zenith there it never goes down. He loves us today “with the same love with which He loved us at Calvary. As some one has said, “His dying love is part of His undying love.” Yes! He loves us. The loving day is an eternal present.
He has cleared us as to our sins. That is past, but the love which led Him to die goes on for ever unchanged and unchangeable. And we should note, too, that His having washed us from our sins—or perhaps we should read it as loosed us from our sins—was in view of what He would make us—a kingdom—priests unto His God and Father. Our sins stood in the way of our being brought into this glorious place—they bound us in our consciences and hindered our freedom in the presence of God. But He has loosed us from them all and sets us down in perfect peace in the light of the throne of God’s holiness. As it has been remarked by another, “He satisfies the affections by His love, He has cleared the conscience by His blood, and has put us in such glorious relationships as He stands in Himself to God and the Father.” Well may our hearts join the singers of praise and cry, “To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” He has found worshippers for His Father, and at infinite cost to Himself has put down every foe and put away every fear from our hearts and left us in happy liberty to worship.
But His undying love is active towards us today. Ephesians 5:25-27 tells the story. “Christ loved the assembly”—the whole of His own today “and gave Himself for it.” That again is His love in the past—His dying love. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” Here is His undying love in operation. He sets the assembly apart from the world. He sanctifies it for His own portion and pleasure. And to be suitable to Himself He cleanses it with “the washing of water by the Word.” As it is pictured for us in John 13 He takes our soiled feet in His loving hands to remove everything which would hinder our having part with Him in His own joys before His Father. And this is ever going on, and He must wash us thus or our intimacy with Himself would be impossible. On our side we should put our feet into the basin, as it were; we should read the Word privately and personally and persistently, and also attend the ministry of His servants through whom He may see fit to minister for our good. Thus shall we be cleansed by the washing of water by the Word and taste more fully and more fully yet the blessedness of our relationship to, and association with, Christ.
But that same undying love awaits the day when He will present that assembly to Himself glorious, not in suffering as now, but in glory—a glorious assembly suited in every way for Himself where He is, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”—no mark of defilement or depreciation, no indication of that out of which or through which it has come. His love has removed every trace of these, and resplendent in His beauty, “comely with the comeliness” with which He has made it comely, it will be like Himself, “holy and without blemish.” It was for this His loved ones were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). It is this which He brings about at infinite cost to Himself in His dying and undying love. And in the joy of that love His own will rest for ever and ever. The need of the activities of that love will be over, and He will rest in His love and joy over His own eternally, when that love has accomplished all that it set itself to bring to pass.