The Love of God

1 John 4:10
10Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)The first thing—legal commandment—disappears, although it is quite true that we ought to love God, as the commandment demands. "Not that we loved God." Love is the fruit, but never the ground, of my fellowship with God, because I learn that God loved me in my sins (Rom. 5:88But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)); and I learn too that, however excellent, love is a thing not required of a sinner. If it is required, I am lost! But what I now seek to show is, that the sinner is loved when he does not love God. It is the sinner's needs that draw out God's love.
You say, perhaps, "I do not find I love." You mistake the whole matter. "Herein is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us." Do you say, "I admit it; but I do not see that I have any share in it, for I do not feel its effects"? The answer is, "He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and that is the proof of His love." It is the eternal enjoyment of it to know eternal life in the Son; but down here we often question it, because we do not see this love in us. Here then is the proof of it, "He is the propitiation for our sins."
Ah I now I see, when I believe that. In Him, in His death, is the ground of my rest. Therein I learn what love is towards such a sinner as I am. I turn to look at it, not in myself, but in Him, and I rest in God. What my soul rests in is what He is, and what He has done. He has sent His Son as a propitiation. God has loved me not only when I wanted it, but according to His sense of my want. He has not mistaken my case; for Christ on the cross has made propitiation for my sins, and I have found God. My soul rests there. The cloud is taken away forever, for God has given His beloved Son.
If, however, you say, "There are such and such sins which I have committed," I answer that it was for these very sins that Christ died. You ought to hate them. God has both the sinner and his sins before Him; but He does not put the man away, but his sins. He cannot bear sin, and therefore His love has wrought a work to bring the sinner without his sins into His presence.
First, then, there is Christ meeting the need of all who come unto God, and then we learn why it is" Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." It is important we should know not only our need of Christ in approaching God, but also that God in His love gave His Son that we might approach Him John says, " And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us." Faith is always certain, and so I set to my seal that God is true. Thus, believing and looking to God, my soul is certain.
More, "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God." My soul rests in His love, dwells in it, and now I have communion- seeing the work He has done to cleanse my sin, as I learn it in Christ -and I am perfectly happy. Why should such an one murmur or be unhappy? No; for we also have known and believed the love God hath to us. God does not expect fruit from man, but His grace produces the fruit He seeks. Man had no life from which God could expect anything, and so He gives a new nature in Christ that He may produce fruit.
But do I find many sins in myself? Again, we must remind ourselves that Christ is the propitiation for our sins. Believing this, I have rest, and I enter into communion with God in His love. Why, then, do you have fear and torment when you discover sin in yourself? Is it that you cannot trust God's love? that you have not believed the love He has towards you? Have you not had the Father on your neck in your rags? When you know the love God has had to you, you know God Himself. The apostle thus says, " Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment." God's love was manifested to us in sending His Son, that we might have life, and that propitiation for our sins might be made, and now it is perfected that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. I am in Him who will be judging, and He is my righteousness. Why should I not be bold? Nay, "As He is, so are we in this world."
The effect of grace is the cause of our feeling sin, as well as of knowing that it is blotted out, and that we live through Him. "The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them... that the world may know that Thou... hast loved them, as Thou hast loved me." "There is no fear in love." It is a matter of communion; "Perfect love casteth out fear." We are called to learn God's love by the communication of what Christ is for us, and then we are in Him before God as Christ is. If this be true, I find rest to the heart; for the heart rests in God, knows God is perfect, knows He has met all its need, and that all its sin is put away, and hence that He is perfect love.
"We love Him, because He first loved us "; and we pass through this sorrowful wilderness leaning on Him who is bringing us through it. Let me then ask, Do your souls rest in the love of God? J. N. D.