“Beloved of God”

In Rome, beloved of God” (Romans 1:7).
The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

“Beloved of God.” How those words must have moved and thrilled that company of Christians in Rome when Paul’s Epistle was first read to them. “In Rome, beloved of God.” In pagan Rome, the centre of the Empire’s glory and the cesspool of the world’s vice, there they were, beloved of God, His treasure, His beloved. They had been gathered together by the gospel from many creeds and classes, some were Jews, some Gentiles, some were free-born and some were slaves; some bore distinguished names and some were of no account, but every distinction among them disappeared before this amazing fact, they were beloved of God. This bound them together as one, and henceforward they were to view each other from that standpoint. God delighted in them, they were beloved of Him. The reproach of Christ was upon them, for His sake they were despised in that proud city, but what of that? They were beloved of God, and that was a distinction that the angels in heaven might have coveted.

Paul had much to tell them of God and His great attributes, and how these all worked together for their present good and their eternal blessing; he had to tell them of God’s wrath, of His righteousness of His power and of His grace, but he begins with His love, for this lay at the back of everything. God is love, and every one of them who had believed the gospel of God concerning His Son was beloved of God. All His attributes serve His love, and every one of them is on the side of His loved ones, and that is why Paul exclaimed “if God be for us, who against us?” “Beloved of God”—What assurance this word must have given them as they settled down to listen to the reading of the letter.

All who have believed may take up this glorious designation. In London, “beloved of God”, in Edinburgh, “beloved of God”; whether we dwell beyond the reach of guns and bombs, or in areas that are continually menaced by death from the air, we are “beloved of God.” Here is strength in weakness, comfort in sorrow, peace in conflict, quietness in danger, confidence in fear. Here is light in darkness, wealth in poverty, hope amid the disappointments of life, and the sure pledge of present grace and eternal glory.

This love is not a doctrine but a fact to be known and enjoyed, and to be depended upon at all times, as a child knows and depends upon his mother’s love without question or doubt. Knowing that God loves you, you can commit all that you value to His care—your possessions, your life and those who are dearer to you than life, even as you have committed your soul to Him. If He permits the great adversary, Satan, to attack you in any of these intimate things, you may still confide in Him and rest in His love, knowing that He turns evil to good, and makes all things work together for the eternal blessing of those whom He loves.

I have said God’s love is not a doctrine but a fact; it is not for the head but for the heart, as the next mention of it in this Epistle proves, and it is too beautiful to be passed by lightly, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given unto us.” It is for the heart and in the heart; but if it fills the heart, it warms and pervades the whole being; the head and hands and feet come under its influence. As the sun flooding a house with its beneficent rays drives out all darkness and chill, so does the love of God act upon the life that is thrown open to it, it is not a carnal love but a, spiritual, and it can only be known and enjoyed by the Holy Ghost, but He dwells in us to give us the inward assurance of it and to keep us in the joy of it. “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.”

We know that our place in heaven has been prepared for us, and God’s love will never be satisfied until He brings us there; but His love is so great and real, He will not keep us waiting until we reach heaven to enjoy it, He has sent His Spirit into our hearts that we might enjoy it now, it is to be our present portion; the confidence, the rest and the joy of God’s beloved is to be ours now amid the strife and trouble of the world that has gone far from God. The Holy Ghost dwells in us that it might be so.

Dwell upon the divinely inspired words; they are spirit and life. Nothing that could be said about them could enhance their blessedness. We cannot gild refined gold. The latest comer into God’s family equally with the oldest saint on earth or in heaven can claim them. Each one of us can say, That means me: I am beloved of God.

I cannot measure His love for it is infinite, and it is as unchanging as it is great; but I am the object of it. It is beyond my understanding, but I rest in it. It separates me from the evil that is in the world, and binds me to God with its unbreakable cords.

But our knowledge of God’s love is small even at its best when compared with its own greatness, and the Holy Ghost does not turn our eyes within us to discover the measure of it there, but He turns us outward and backward to the death of Christ, and tells us that “God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” His argument is arresting and impressive. Says He, “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” A righteous man has some merit, and a good man more, and while it would be surprising yet it might be possible that someone might be found willing to sacrifice his life for such. But who’ll die for a sinner? Who’ll die for a wretch that is neither righteous nor good, who has no merit at all, and who has come short of God’s glory and is only fit for His just judgment? Who’ll die for such an one as that? … CHRIST. He will; He has done it, and in His death we behold the measure and the manifestation of God’s love toward us while we were yet sinners.

 “Oh the love of God is boundless,
  Perfect, causeless, full and free;
  Doubts have vanished, fears are groundless,
  Now I know His love to me.
  Love the source of all my blessing,
  Love that set itself on me,
  Love that gave the spotless Victim,
  Love told out at Calvary.”

With human love there is always the fear of losing the loved object; the warmth of the affection may cool, or death may dissolve the most tender tie; but do we fear to lose this love, the love of God? There are many and mighty adversaries that would rob God of His joy in us, and us of our joy in Him. Can they succeed? Can any power in heaven above or in hell beneath separate us from God’s love? Hear how the apostle concludes this part of his letter, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And what can we say to that, but lift up the heart in thanksgiving to our God and face whatever may be before us in 1941 with confidence, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God. And if we are such, we know that we love Him because He first loved us.

J. T. Mawson