Vol. 33 Num. 9
“Applying Christ’s Love”
First Published: March 3, 2000
This Lord’s Day morning, the Lord willing, we will come to the end of our studies of Jesus’ crucifixion and death in Matthew 27. Then, it’s on to Matthew 28 and in another three weeks we’ll have finished the book. It’s hard to believe. It has been a great privilege to work through the Gospel of Matthew with you over the last three years or so (we started the first Sunday of January, 1997!). I am so thankful for your enthusiasm in response to our study of this great book. It has been enormously helpful to me to prepare these messages. I have learned and grown along with you (one of the great advantages of expository teaching).
Our study of the trial, torture and crucifixion of our Lord has been helpful and convicting to me. And, of course, it forcefully displays his love for his people. One reason that I have wanted to dwell on these things for so long is because of their important for Christian living. The cross of Christ is at the center of Christian salvation and experience. For that reason, I thought it would be useful for us to meditate today on a couple of the practical applications of the doctrine of Christ’s Love for the Church.
For one thing, an apprehension of Christ’s love for the church not only teaches us what true love is--it evokes it from us. Love to God and neighbor flow from God’s love to us, in Christ. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus teaches that our prime duty in life is to love God with all of our being. That’s why J.C. Ryle could rightly say that “Love is the grand secret of true obedience to God.” But Jesus, and his disciple John, also emphasized that this kind of love for God flows from God’s prior love to us. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
What is love? Delighting in God (love of God himself) and seeking others best interest because of delight in God (neighbor love). What are the roots of love? Knowledge of God in his grace. That’s why, if you don’t know God savingly you cannot love him. What are the evidences that we possess this kind of love? Well, there is:
(1) love of communion with him and love of his ordinances;
(2) contentment in God [we love the God of our blessings more than the blessings of God];
(3) hatred for sin;
(4) sympathy – grieving over the things that grieve him;
(5) desire to draw others to him [true love cannot be silent];
(6) we ache in his absence;
(7) we cheerfully do his will even when it conflicts with our ideas and agenda;
(8) willingness to suffer for him.
Another practical implication of the doctrine of Christ’s love for the Church concerns our assurance of salvation. Christ’s love for the church is essential for and foundational to our assurance. That’s why Jesus stresses to his disciples in John 15:9 that “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” You see, if you think that the grounds of your assurance of salvation are found ultimately in what you have done you will never gain assurance. Even your repenting needs repenting of! Why, ultimately, do you persevere in the faith? Because of the perseverance of Christ’s love. Jesus loves us to the end (John 13:1).
So, as you continue to reflect on the love of Christ for you, as it is displayed in his death on the cross, think on these implications (and others). Pray that God will enable you to know and experience his love. And give him thanks for his matchless love.