"For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God." John 16:27.
Our Lord Jesus Christ received these precious words from the Father who commanded Him to speak them for our comfort. (John 12:49.) They sweetly assure us of the Father's love. We read of God's love — "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) We read also of Christ's love — "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25); and of the Father's love, which is exercised toward those who, through grace, have been brought into relationship with Himself — "the Father Himself loveth you."
The Father's love has wrought for us in accomplishing redemption through the death of His Son, and in Him risen and ascended, according to His eternal purpose; thus giving us life in Christ, and bringing us into the relationship of children, as well as uniting us to Christ by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The Father's love has wrought in us in revealing His Son unto us. When our Lord said to Peter, "Whom say ye that I am?" and he replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus immediately said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 16:15-17.) Thus we see that every one who has apprehended the person of "the Christ, the Son of the living God," has only done so because of a distinct revelation of the Father to him. Without this, whatever else we may have known, we should have been in darkness as to the person of the Son; concerning whom it is said, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 5:12.) To apprehend the person of the Son of God is entirely beyond the scope of the natural man. He may have heard of His name and of His works, he may be acquainted with the external circumstances of His death on Calvary, and of the fact of His resurrection, and yet not know Him. Though to the natural eye Jesus was like another man, "in the likeness of sinful flesh," yet Peter saw, by the revelation of the Father, that He was "the Christ, the Son of the living God."
The Father has also wrought in us in having drawn us to Christ as sinners to a Saviour. It is only by the working of the Father's grace in our hearts that we have thus had to do with Him whom the Father sent. Unless the Father had specially wrought in us in this way, it is certain we should never have found our true place, as hell-deserving ones, at the feet of a gracious Saviour. It is well to have the sense of this fact constantly fresh in our souls; for Jesus said, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw Him;" and again, "No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father." (John 6:44, 65.) Thus we see that the Father's love has accomplished redemption for us, brought us into nearness to Himself, called us into the relationship of children given us the Spirit, revealed His Son to us, and drawn us to Him as our Saviour. How sweet to think of the various yet distinct actions of the Father's love! Well might an inspired servant cry out, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!"
How astonishing then is the fact that there are those on the earth who, though poor and feeble in their own eyes, sensible too of much failure, coldness, and forgetfulness of Him, are the constant objects of the Father's love those on whom He ever looks with a Father's watchful eye, and ministers unto with Fatherly care. He is the perfect Father. He knows the state of heart, as well as the need, peculiarities, and circumstances of each child; and withholds or gives, sends adversity or prosperity, as is most for our real good. He disciplines and chastens for our profit, that we may be in subjection to Him, and be partakers of His holiness. It is well that we should receive all from Him, for all is dealt out in infinite wisdom by the hand of perfect love; for:
"A father's heart can never cause
His child a needless tear."
He desires us to cast all our care upon Him, for He careth for us, to make all our requests known unto Him by prayer and supplication; and in this our Lord encouraged us by saying, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matt. 7:11.)
But one of the children of God may inquire, "How much does the Father love me?" We are told that the Father loves us as He has loved Jesus. (John 17:23.) Our blessed Lord said to His disciples, "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you." His love to us then is the same as the Father's love to Him; and elsewhere we find He prayed that by-and-by the world may know that the Father loves us as He has loved Him. Thus we find that the infinite, eternal, unchanging love of the Father to the Son is the measure of His love to us His children. This, too, will be manifested ere long in answer to His prayer, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word . . . and the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me." (John 17:20-23.) In perfect keeping with the activity of this infinite, eternal, unchanging love, the Father hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:3.) Thus we are always before His eye in all the nearness, acceptance, righteousness, and life of Christ, and blessed in Him with all spiritual blessings; and all this, and more, to be known now for our present enjoyment, and power for service and conflict. What a precious assurance for our poor hearts are these few words of our adorable Lord, "The Father Himself loveth you." It is, indeed, a great secret for our souls when such words are received in faith, and we grasp them as infallible and settled for ever. We shall then be able to say in the hour of deepest sorrow and affliction:
"Although my cup seems filled with gall,
There's something secret sweetens all."
But why do we not enjoy the Father's love more than we do? Because the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, is grieved. When we walk obediently we abide in His love, and enjoy the presence of the Father and the Son. To be loved by the Father is a precious fact for every child of God; but to enjoy the Father's love and presence is the privilege of those only who are walking obediently to His will. Jesus said, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23.) Let no believer imagine then that he will have the comfort of the Father's love, if he is not walking in the truth according to the Father's will. In the path of disobedience the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is grieved, and we are not in the place where the Father's presence can be known. Our blessed Lord said to His own loved ones for their encouragement, "I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:10.)
We are told here who are the objects of the Father's love. They are those who have loved Jesus, and have believed that He came out from God. Not those who say this and that, but those who have the two grand cardinal points of vital Christianity — faith and love. They always go together when there is a divinely-wrought work in the soul, for faith worketh by love. Every true believer loves. He loves the Lord Jesus, and all that are His. He loves the brethren, the truth, the service of the Lord, and all that is in association with Him. The believer loves, and he who loves, believes. Without this love, whatever else he may boast of, he is as "a sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal." Love is a vitally important point; for "if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha." (1 Cor. 16:22.) We love, because we believe the love of God to us. "We love Him, because He first loved us." We most certainly believe that Jesus came out from God; we have no doubt of it. We grasp the divine love that gave Him, and we cannot but love Jesus.
We believe and love. Oh, the preciousness of the Saviour's words, "The Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God."
The more we ponder this precious subject, the more our hearts become melted, and our ways moulded, according to this elevated and eternal relationship. To be "children of God" now, while in mortal bodies, and in a world where sin reigns unto death, is indeed a glorious fact; and, because we are sons, to have the Holy Spirit sent into our hearts, crying, Abba Father, is love so rich, so free, and so abundant, as never could have entered into the heart of man to conceive. And yet, how true it is. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Wondrous grace! All "to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." While looking then to our glorified Lord, we can say:
"Yea, in the fulness of His grace,
God put me in the children's place,
Where I may gaze upon His face,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
"Not half His love can I express;
Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess
This blessed portion I possess,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
"And when I in Thy likeness shine,
The glory and the praise be Thine,
That everlasting joy is mine,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!"