September 21 I Friday
2 Corinthians 13
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” —Romans 5:5
Paul’s letter to the Romans is Scripture’s most comprehensive statement about the reconciliation of people to God. Although Christ’s death forever justifies us in God’s sight, the cross was about more than a legal arrangement. Justification opens the doorway to God, but the heart of the Christian life is a love relationship. Paul states, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ’s death and resurrection are the supreme demonstration of God’s love because on the cross, Christ made peace with sinners who deserved the opposite and made it possible to have a relationship with Him.
We know God’s love objectively because of the cross, but we experience His love subjectively when God places His Spirit within our hearts. If we do not know this inner sense, His love will be an article in our creed but not a power in our lives. Paul describes this experiential knowledge when he prayed that the Ephesian Christians would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [they] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19). God’s love surpasses understanding, but the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts let us begin to know it experientially.
D.L. Moody, a great evangelist of a century ago, describes a time where he was overwhelmed by the love of God while preaching in New York. He writes, “I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be small dust in the balance.”
We may not all experience God’s love in as dramatic a way as Moody, but as Christians, we can know God’s love experientially because God has planted His Spirit in our hearts. Having a love for God and a certainty that He loves us are witnesses to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and His testimony that we are saved. The result, as Thomas Chalmers says, is “the expulsive power of a new affection.” The Christian life becomes about more than an intellectual knowledge that we are loved and justified, but an exciting and active relationship with God where personally and intimately experiencing His love is what motivates and drives us.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You for objectively showing Your love for me on the cross, but also that I can experience Your love subjectively because of Your Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence.