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How Deep the Father’s Love

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Published on: November 2, 2019

And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. –Ephesians 3:19

Generally speaking, I am not a listener to so-called Christian Contemporary music. I prefer the old hymns. However, a recent song about the love of God did catch my attention. Both the lyrics and melody are superb. The first stanza of the song says in part:

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell

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It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell

The guilty pair bowed down with care

God gave His Son to win

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from his sin[1]

Our world is awash with talk of love. Everywhere we turn love is proposed as the answer to all human difficulties. The claim is that if we will lay aside our differences and love one another then all our problems will be solved. Is that possible or even probable? In a world that claims to celebrate diversity and inclusion, the claim seems vacuous when compared to practice.

Many of those proposing love as the solution to difficulties are not aware that the love they propose is only superficial. You see, love that is emotion only cannot stand the hot fire of tribulation. Our world sings about the love we should have for all of mankind, but they do not comprehend what love is and that is why day after day the world continues in seemingly unending hostilities.

Can love be legislated? Can laws force people to love when it is not in their heart or mind to do so? Is love the basis for saying nothing when others do what is destructive and evil to themselves and others that these individuals claim to love? Governments the world over have begun taking the action of passing laws that require their citizens to adhere to an arbitrary rule concerning real or perceived treatment of others. The effect in every instance is to silence those who hold a different opinion of what governments are attempting to promote.

Love is not agreeing to disagree. Love is not demonstrated by allowing someone to destroy their life and potentially the lives of others close to them. Love is seeking the best for ourselves and others even if that demonstration of love is unpopular or considered hateful. Love seeks the best for others even when it is misunderstood or rejected.

Love is demonstrated powerfully by intercession. Even then, intercession must be based on a love that seeks the very best for the one in need. This means that love is more than pragmatism. This kind of love is beyond subjective, meaning it does not find its origin in self.

Readers may recognize an immediate issue. What is the basis for this love which motivates intercession that is neither self-serving or pragmatic? The love expressed in the song lyrics and qualifiers above is an objective love. That means it is love not created by an individual based on emotions or self-serving pseudo-altruism. The love being described here is only made possible by the apprehension of an objective standard beyond us and which is readily available for examination, consideration, and adoption by all people.

This love of which I speak is divine love. It originates with God. His love is knowable and can be experienced. The Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of what the love of God rightly understood does to each man, woman, and child that receives it:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.[2]

God’s love is far greater than tongue or pen can describe but the essence of which is described in the supernatural book people refer to as the Bible. John 3:16 says:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

This love God declared He would initiate through Jesus Christ. He first proclaimed it to Adam and Eve in Eden, in the presence of the serpent, who being possessed and used by the devil caused the fall of mankind into sin:

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”[3]

Although Adam and Eve fell for the deception of the devil who used the serpent to conceal his identity, God mercifully proclaimed His love for them by promising a redeemer who would bruise the devil’s head. The intent in that statement is that the redeemer would deal a mortal blow to the plans of the devil. That mortal blow was accomplished on the cross when Jesus Christ willingly died in the place of fallen humanity.

This love of the Father appears as foolishness to a world that is perishing. That is exactly what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” That’s why true Christians are not ashamed to tell everyone about what the Father did through Jesus Christ: it is the demonstration of His power in love for salvation to everyone who believes in Him and receives His promise by faith.[4]

Stuart Townsend penned a song titled “How Deep the Father’s Love,” that captures the essence of the message of God’s love.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.[5]

What love is this that God would send His only Son, the second person of the trinity, to take upon Himself the penalty due man? Romans 6:23 says in part that “the wages of sin is death.” The love of God for His creation is demonstrated by the last statement in that same verse separated by a glorious conjunction: “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

While walking among man Jesus spoke clearly of the type of love we must all have for one another. The apostle John records Jesus saying: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”[6] This kind of love is available to all who place their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross described beautifully throughout the Bible.

This love that the Father bestows upon His children provides a most powerful testimony to a world grasping for anything they believe will address the aching of their souls for acceptance and peace. People desire above all else to be loved and to love in return. This is innate and a primary characteristic of all people.

Friends, love transforms. Love is knowable because love is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of Christ enables people to love as He loved, even unto death. Loving as Christ loves glorifies God the Father and is a testimony to the world of His reality.

Jesus informed His disciples then and by extension those of us today who profess Christ as Lord and Savior, that the world of mankind, those seeking after happiness, security, and hope, will know that we belong to Him by the love that we demonstrate for one another. Our testimony of love matters. It is a shining light in a world with far too little of it.

[1] The Love of God lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. Songwriters: Robby Shaffer, Jim Bryson, Mike Scheuchzer, Nathan Cochran, Bart Millard, Pete Kipley.

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. New American Standard translation.

[3] Genesis 3:1-15.

[4] Romans 1:16.

[5] Stuart Townend Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

[6] John 15:13.

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