Monday, October 26, 2009

Knowing the Love of Christ that Surpasses Knowledge

"I pray that you . . . know this love that surpasses knowledge." (Ephesians 3:19). John Bunyan observes that there is great benefit in knowing that Christ's love is beyond our understanding. Satan will come to us in times of moral failure with his accusations. These are designed to drive us away from Christ.

"Says Satan, do you not know that you have horribly sinned? Yes, says the soul, I do. Says Satan, do you not know that you are one of the vilest in all the pack of professing believers? Yes, says the soul, I do. Says Satan, does not your conscience tell you that you are, and have been, more base than any person can imagine you to be? Yes, says the soul, my conscience tells me this. Well then, says Satan, now I will appeal to you. Are you not a graceless wretch? Yes. Do you have a heart that is sorry for this wickedness? No, not as I should. Then, says Satan, is not your heart convinced that God will disregard you? Yes, says the sinner. Why then, despair and go dispose of yourself, says the devil. And now we are at the end of the thing designed and driven at by Satan. But what shall I now do? asks the sinner. I answer, remember the words of Ephesians 3:19, Christ loves with a love that surpasses knowledge. And answer Satan saying, though I cannot think that Christ loves me, though I cannot think that God will save me, yet Satan, I will not yield to your accusations. For God can do more than I think He can."

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How High is the Love of Christ?

There are high and mighty people and powers in this world that attack the faith of God's people in this world and threaten peace and justice. God is above all authorities on this planet (Ecclesiates 5:8). There are the powers of darkness that rally themselves against all those who are loved by Christ. "By these we are tempted, sifted, opposed, threatened, undermined . . . we should most certainly be so, were it not for the Rock that is higher than they." (Psalm 61:2). "These are they that our King has taken captive, and has ridden in triumph over their necks." (Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15)

"There are heights also that build up themselves in us . . . we are so inclinable to swerve from right doctrine into destructive opinions. It is from these that we are so easily persuaded to call into question our former experience of the goodness of God towards us and from these that our minds are so often clouded and darkened that we cannot see afar."

"The answer is ready. Get Christ, and go to heaven. . . . in God there is a power that is able to subdue all things to Himself." I have found in the journey that whatever I focus on, I will eventually find. It is therefore essential that I intentionally set my mind and heart on the Lord and His values and purposes for me and this world (Colossians 3:1-3).

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling with personal reflections.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How Deep is Christ's Love?

"Christians have sometimes their sinking fits, and are as if they are always descending. . . Now guilt is a heavy load and burden. The devil and sin, and the curse of the law and death, are gotten upon the shoulders of this poor man, and are treading him down, that he may sink into and be swallowed up of his miry place." (Both Job [Job 30:19] and David [Psalm 69:2,14] share their personal experience of being stuck deep in the mud.)

I have known these deep feelings of shame and regret. They overwhelm me with hopeless thoughts of despair, to the point that life is wasted. David groans, "Deep calls to deep" (Psalm 42:7). What is that? In the previous verse he reveals, "My soul is downcast within me" (Psalm 42:6). "Down? That is deep in the jaws of distrust and fear. And, LORD, my soul in this depth of sorrow calls for help to your depth of mercy; for though I am sinking and going down, yet not so low but that your mercy is yet underneath me: by your compassion open those everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27), and catch him that has no help or resolve in himself. . . . They are said to be everlasting arms that are underneath; that is arms that are long and strong, and that can reach to the bottom and also beyond all the misery and distress that Christians are subject to in this life."

"Although the depths of calamity into which the godly may fall may be as deep as hell, yet this is the comfort, the mercy of God for them lies deeper. And this is that which made Paul unafraid of this depth, 'For I am convinced that . . . neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 8:38-39). Mercy lies deeper for the godly to help them, than can all other depths to destroy them. This is at which he stands and wonders, saying, 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' (Romans 11:33). God is able to find a way to save His people, notwithstanding all the deep contrivances that the enemy has and may invent to make us fall short of reaching home."

I would do well, as did David, to use these truths as spiritual medicine when I find my soul sinking deep into the pit of despair, and preach to myself: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5). And secondly, pray for His help: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O LORD, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy." (Psalm 130:1-2). He alone must be my hope in this life.

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling along with personal reflections.