Summary: God’s love rescues us from our hopeless condition in sin.
I. GOD’S LOVE IS GREAT (Ephesians 2:4-5).
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)."
Look at the three previous verses. The man in sin is DEAD, DOMINATED, and UNDER THE WRATH OF GOD. Man’s condition in sin is HELPLESS and HOPELESS. "BUT GOD. . . ."
We have lessened the force of what this verse means by the way we use the word "great." We say that a meal was "great." We say that a movie was "great." We say that a speaker was "great." Yet none of these things even begins to measure up to what the Bible means when it says that the love of God is great. When God tells us that His love is great, He is telling us that it is so great that it goes beyond our own ideas of greatness and our own understanding.
John 3:16 was the verse through which D. L. Moody learned to appreciate the greatness of God’s love. Moody had been to Britain in the early days of his ministry and there had met a young English preached named Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody, "I am thinking of going to America."
"Well," said Moody, "if you should ever get to Chicago, come down to my church and I will give you a chance to preach."
Moody did not mean to be hypocritical when he said this, of course. He was merely being polite. Nevertheless, he was saying to himself that he hoped Moorhouse would not come, for Moody had not heard him preach and had no idea of what he would say should he come to Chicago. Sometime later, after Moody had returned home, the evangelist received a telegram that said, "Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday. Moorhouse." Moody was perplexed about what he should do, and to complicate matters he was just about to leave for a series of meetings elsewhere. "Oh, my," he thought, "here I am about to be gone on Sunday, Moorhouse is coming, and I have promised to let him preach." Finally he said to his wife and to the leaders of the church, "I think that I should let him preach once. So let him preach once; then if the people enjoy him, put him on again."
Moody was gone for a week. When he returned he said to his wife, "How did the young preacher do?"
"Oh, he is a better preacher than you are," his wife said. "He is telling sinners that God loves them."
"That is not right," said Moody. "God does not love sinners."
"Well," she said, "you go and hear him."
"What?" said Moody. "Do you mean to tell me that he is still preaching?"
"Yes, he has been preaching all week, and he has only had one verse for a text. It is John 3:16."
Moody went to the meeting. Moorhouse got up and began by saying, "I have been hunting for a text all week, and I have not been able to find a better text than John 3:16. So I think we will just talk about it once more." He did. Afterward Moody said it was on that night that he first clearly understood the greatness of God’s love.
II. GOD’S LOVE IS INFINITE (Ephesians 3:18-19).
"May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
How can we comprehend the infinite love of God? We can know it, but only in part. We have been touched by His love and bathed in part of it; yet the fullness of such love lies forever beyond us as the vastness of the universe lies beyond the finite, probing eye of man. God’s love is boundless and unfathomable.
One of our seldom sung hymns puts this aspect of God’s love in memorable language. It was written by Frederick M. Lehman; but the final stanza was added to the song afterward, when it was found written on the wall of room of an asylum by a man who, before he died, had obviously come to know the immeasurable extent of God’s love.
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win:
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made;