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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 78 - 1 John 4:9 - The Manifested Love Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Manifested Love.


"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."

-1 John 4:9.



     It is of love that the apostle writes: first, human love, the love of man to man (verse 7); and then of the love of God. Love has a heavenly origin; its birthplace is the bosom of God. And every one who knows love knows something that is truly divine: 'Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.' The absence of love from a heart is one of the worst and darkest signs. A heart that has shut out love is a heart that has shut out God. 'He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.' O profound and wondrous truth, God is love! Is not this simple statement like light from the heaven of heavens? What more fitted to gladden, to soothe, to cure, and to sustain the heart of humanity, than such a revelation of God? What more fitted to scatter earth's shadows, and to brighten its whole wide compass into the sunshine of a true and joyous day?

     I.  The love of God.-Of this love the Bible is the great witness. Paganism knew nothing of it. A God of love and a religion of love were strange things to a heathen. 'God is love' was a new idea to them,-one too high for them,-almost incomprehensible in its vastness and glory. God loves; God loves man the sinner; God loves man with a true and holy love; God loves the unlovable; God loves on and on, through years of resistance and hatred;-nay, God is love. These are truths which contain in them light for the human heart,-a heart hardened and contracted by selfishness and hatred. The dimensions of this love are beyond measure; and it is as free as it is large. It is love for the hateful; love whose patience, tenderness, and gentleness are inexhaustible; love beyond that of father and mother, brother or sister, yet combining in itself all these kinds of love; for the infinite heart out of which it flows is not only the fountainhead of these, but the model according to which they are fashioned. Are we fathers or mothers?-He much more. Have we the deep, tender feelings of father or mother?-He much more. No parent's heart ever beat like His. No parent's affection was ever more than a mere drop of the ocean when compared with His. Let us learn the love of God,-pure and spontaneous; not waiting for our love, but gushing out with a fullness of which we can form no conception. The love of God is like Himself, boundless,-stretching out its all-embracing arms and all-beseeching hands to the sons of men. O love of God! O love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,-how great and true, how precious and peace giving to the weary soul art thou! There is no joy like thine. There is no strength, no health, no liberty like that which thou infusest when thou art shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. 'We have known and believed the love which God hath to us;' this is our rejoicing. We have no good thing to say for ourselves; no boast to make; no goodness; no worth. All we can say is that 'we have known and believed the love which God hath to us.' This is the only account which we can give of ourselves or of our wondrous change.

     II. The manifestation of God's love.-This love of God has not been silent. It has spoken out. God is not dumb concerning Himself. This love of God has not been hidden under a bushel or set on some inaccessible mountain. It is visible to all, near to all, within the reach of all. It is not wrapped in clouds, nor darkly and dimly made known, nor whispered or muttered; it is announced with a clearness and loudness that make all earth and heaven to ring again. The manifestation of the love was the sending of His only-begotten Son into the world; for God so loved the world, that He gave His Son!  It is not, then, of hidden but of manifested love that the Bible speaks love so fully disclosed, so unambiguously expressed, so solemnly pledged, that disbelief of it seems an impossibility. 'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us.' Greater love could not be. A fuller revelation of it could not be. He gave His unspeakable gift: He spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us all. This marvelous manifestation meets all our difficulties, and silences all our doubts. Shall any sinner upon earth, the vilest; say, 'That love does not suit my case; there is not enough of it for me;' or, 'What security have I for its perpetuity?' God gave His Son to show His love to us; God laid our sins upon His Son to show His love; God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, to show His love; God delivered Him to die and be buried for us, to show His love. Was not this manifested love? Was not this love which could not be mistaken? It was not love created by the expiation of the cross. The love produced the expiation, not the expiation the love. The cross is the display of divine love in its fullness. It is the cross that preaches pre-eminently to us the grace of God, and proclaims in all its largeness and sufficiency the love of God. God's answer to every doubt or suspicion of the sinner or the saint is, 'Have I not given my Son?' If men will not read love in this gift, they will read it in nothing else. Here, if anywhere, we hear the message, 'God is love;' for here we learn that 'the Father sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.'

     III. The purpose of this manifested love.-'That we might live through Him.' Without Him death was our portion. Even this great love of God could not reach us without the death of His Son. The love sought life for us, but could only obtain it for us by sacrificing the Son. He has come, and lived, and loved, and died! All that fastened us to death has been unloosed. All that made life impossible has been taken out of the way. There is life to us through Him who died. God's love has found a way for itself to us; it is now free to bless; it can go forth unhindered to the sons of men; for it is love which magnifies righteousness. It has triumphed over human guilt, and brought pardon to the worst of sinners. He who receives God's testimony to the cross gets forthwith all the pardon and all the love which the cross reveals.